The Nature Pages

The Naturalist's Notebook

An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal
by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich. 324 pp. Mariner Books, 2017.

The Naturalist's Notebook
This book is both a guide to nature journaling and a calendar for recording events and observations by date over a five-year period. Inspired by the garden calendar of Gilbert White in the 18th century, it is designed to accommodate brief periodic natural history observations that evoke an "immersion in the familiar" that assure "all is right with the world."

The text suggests ways to become a more attentive and observant naturalist. It explains how to record and organize observations of the natural world so as to better analyze them and recognize subtle patterns. And it describes simple experiments like putting a plastic bag over the buds on a tree to see if it hastens budding. Or changing the mix or quantities of seed in birdfeeders to see what difference it makes in the birds that come to dine.

"A calendar-journal recording natural events and observations eventually leads to greater awareness of our surroundings," notes Bernd Heinrich in his introduction. "It is a tangible memory, leading to both predictions and questions. It suggests what to look for. We may remember events but there is little to connect them unless they are saved in writing and can be stored and compared and connected for deeper understanding of new realities that become clear only over time."

5-Year Calendar-Journal

Back to The Nature Pages

Leaves with caterpillars and butterflies by Jacob l 'Admiral
The process of writing, drawing, or painting forces us to pay attention to details. How those details vary and change through time is roughly analogous to the phenology of flowers in a field, which also relates to time and place. We can catch  bits and pieces that serve as reminders. ~ Bernd Heinrich

Bird Pencil Art Prints
Start by learning the habits of the most abundant species around you, such as American robins or white pines. Even though such commonplace species may already seem familiar, spend the time to really study them. Do you recognize each of the dozen or more sounds that robins make? Do you know when white pines drop their needles or release pollen? Once you know your common species cold - their voices, postures, behaviors, activity patterns - an unfamiliar species wilol become glaringly obvious, challenging you to identify it. And that is how you will broaden what you know about nature. ~ Nathaniel T. Wheelwright

Explore the natural world with Snowy Egret, the oldest independent U.S. journal of nature writing.
Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
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