Nature Journal Notes
Last entry was all about birds, and we received some awesome examples from community members who were able to capture the essence these fast, feathery creatures! Thank you! It feels like within the last two weeks the local bird activity has increased dramatically. It’s hard to know if this is because I was journaling about them so they seemed more abundant, or if there are more birds around, or a little bit of both. Either way, it has been such a joy to watch them and try to learn more about their unique behaviors and lifestyles.
As we talked about last week, one way to hone in our observation skills is to focus on something very specific. Last week it was birds, and the idea was to start with something like a photograph and then move on to trying to capture them in the natural world. Another way to focus our observational skills is to create journal entries around the various seasons. Seasonal changes can be a really helpful reference, especially when looking at the phenology of an area. Phenology is a branch of science that studies the relationship between climate and periodic animal and plant lifecycles such as budding, migrating, and blooming. Nature journals are an incredible tool for looking at when these major seasonal changes begin to happen over a long period of time.
There are a couple of different ways you can cater your journaling to fit a specific season, so I will go through a few of them. Everything I talk about will be taken from either The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie or Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth, both are exceptional resources if you are looking to learn more about nature journaling!
Each year, especially in Massachusetts, we can count on a fairly dramatic changes in weather, landscape and wildlife activity with each new season. Lucky for us, this means we all have a pretty great base understanding of what to expect during the different times of the year. We are in the height of Spring at the moment, so I will be focusing on springtime phenomena, but a lot of these activities can be done during any time of the year! As a reminder, when you are in the field, be sure to record time, temperature, cloud coverage, weather, and any other details you think may help you when looking back through your data.
Springtime in New England is known for being a damp season filled with showers, as we have definitely been experiencing over the last couple of weeks. With an abundance of fresh hydration, comes some really incredible opportunities for nature! This is when our amphibian friends thrive in vernal pools, our decomposers do some of their best work, and our plants are finally energized enough to start sprouting out of the ground! Here is a list of things you can do in the Spring to try and capture some of these incredible changes:
Another great way to make observations in the Springtime is to focus on a specific branch, plant, or small area and draw it every other day. You’ll find that a lot changes in just a short period of time. You may start by sketching a budding branch and in just a couple of days have a limb completely covered in flowers! By revisiting the same vegetation, you can document when budding begins and how long it takes for a bud to turn into a flower, or for leaves to begin to unfurl. All of this is great information when looking at phenology.
For next week, I challenge you to document some of the change that is going on around you. You can do this by looking for signs of Spring that you know are happening, or by observing one specific piece of nature and revisiting every day or every other day to see how it evolves. I also challenge you to make some personal connections to what Springtime has to offer and check-in with yourself in the coming week. As always, if you would like to share some of your journaling efforts or have any suggestions for our community, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time!
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