Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nature Study is About Staying Curious

Hello all,

I greatly appreciate those who have commented recently. I'm glad that my work can be enjoyed by people around the world!

It's been an exciting journey into the world of birdwatching, art, and nature study. I initially became interested in birds almost two years ago during a environmental education internship at a local nature center. For part of my internship I participated in the Washington State Nature Mapping program, where ordinary people count and record local wildlife so scientists can track populations. I partnered up with one of the volunteers, who then took me out on the trail to show me how to identify bird calls. Her vast knowledge of birding blew me away! By the end of my summer internship I was hooked on birdwatching.

One thing I have noticed from my internship (and subsequent experiences, which I won't go into right now), is that once you start birding, it becomes a habit, almost a state of mind. Even when walking to class in the morning, I'm always looking into the trees or up at the sky and making an approximate mental list of what bird species I'm seeing.
Watching birds doesn't have to be a complicated endeavor with high-tech spotting scopes in remote regions of the world (although that can be really fun). All you really need are your eyes and ears. Birding is just about being curious.

Being a busy student entering my last quarter of college, I find that I just don't have the time to sit and write/draw my observations on a regular basis. Also, living in Washington State with cold, rainy, overcast weather for the majority of the year, it can be sometimes hard to be motivated to go outdoors! I think that a good technique for those in similar situations is to keep a sort of mental journal. If I see an unusual bird on a walk and don't have anything to record it with I try and remember all the details I can, then look it up later. I find that I go on my own nature study walks during the spring/summer when the weather is better, or when I get bursts of creative inspiration.

On a side note: after browsing through my bird field guide (I mostly use the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America) about a week ago I realized that the last picture under "Megan's Bird Behavior Field Journal" actually shows a male and a female Common Mergansernot Red-Breasted Mergansers.
The Common Merganser male is mostly white on the underside, while the Red-Breasted would have a speckled breast and grey markings on the underside.
*edit: ok, so it does have a dark marking on its chest. Maybe it is a Red-Breasted after all? I wish I could go see them and look again, but they're already starting to migrate to breeding grounds at this time of year.

I guess my overall message for this post is: it's okay if you're busy or find it hard to get outside. Being engaged with your community and with nature can be as simple as just keeping your eyes and ears open, staying curious, and by asking questions. Keep those questions in your head until you get the time to research, write, and/or draw about it later. And it's okay to make mistakes, learning from them is all a part of the process.

Happy Journaling! Hope you liked my first real blog post!

~ I've been getting e-mails about getting permission to share the nature journal. I'm currently in the process of figuring out the sharing and privacy settings.


  1. Good to see you posting :)

    You could upload it to Home School Launch and link to that for people to download.


  2. Do you know of a way I could find something like this for another area of the country? I live in the northeast so this gives me something to model an idea on for my girls (6 and 4 who we are homeschooling) but I know the birds around will be different... Thanks for your help!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Becky! I actually know of a really good online booklet published by the California Native Plant Society that is a curriculum for nature study that goes over a wide range of subjects for all ages. You can find it here: http://www.cnps.org/cnps/education/curriculum/index.php.
      Also, Chareen has a really good blog post with many neat links at http://everybedofroses.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/tuesdays-treasures-nature-journaling.html.
      Also, you can most likely find bird lists online for birds found in your area. I think you could also use my booklet since a lot of the concepts are the same.
      Good luck!

  3. Congrats on your first real blog post! You do a good job of presenting a fun conversational tone--so while I've never considered bird watching or nature journaling myself, I'll be coming back for more in depth reading later.

    1. Thanks! I actually have a topic in mind for my next post, now it's just a matter of finding time to write it.

  4. Yay~ Another congratulations on your first blog post! It's exciting to see you have a site now, not to mention how interested people are in it. You must be very proud. :D I remember all those drawing sessions where I got to watch you work on your coloring book. And now it's out in the world inspiring people!

    Great job, I'll be watching your blog.~

    1. Thank you : ) Thanks again for posing for the cover XD