I have enjoyed dabbling with journals for many years, and way back when I was a newly-wed, I read a lovely book which suggested giving your journal a theme. The idea behind it was that exploring a theme would give your journal a strong focus to explore deeply.
I think this would be a lovely idea to explore a focused nature journal. Imagine how rewarding it would be to have a dedicated journal, whether it has been kept for a single month, or over several years.
I have been mulling over various ideas for themed nature journals, here are some I came up with. Please do let me know if you have any other ideas:
- Your special nature place: Whilst it is interesting to visit as many different wildlife spots as possible, having a regular place for your nature study, enables you to really get to know this place and you will quickly become an expert on your own little corner of the world. Creating your own field guide would be treasure and an invaluable study.
- A garden journal: Keep notes on the arrangement of your garden, what is planted and where, plus make space to record ideas and plans for future layouts. Record bloom times, fruiting times, harvest times, and general observations of your plants. Research the folklore associated with each plant, its traditional and medicinal uses. Explore non-synthetic pest control, keeping track of your success (or lack thereof!) in your journal. Keep notes on garden visitors; birds, insects, foxes, rabbits, and other mammals. Keep receipts and pertinent information of the provenance of your plants.
- Tree Journal: You could choose to study one tree or several. Firstly establish the species. Is it a native tree? What lives in, on, and around your tree? Record when your tree blooms and fruits. When do the leaves change colour? What colours does it turn? What chemicals are the cause of these colours? Why is the folklore of your tree? What are the traditional uses for your tree? How tall is it? Measure its trunk circumference, take bark and leaf rubbings.
- Weather Journal: Record the weather each day; measure and describe precipitation, temperature, wind direction and speed, cloud formations. Learn how to forecast the weather. Learn about weather folklore.
- A bird journal: Sock your feeder well and record the visitors. Make notes or sketches of any birds you are unable to identify, then you can research later. Include times and dates, notes on the weather and also the food that attracted each bird. Record the bird’s behaviour and specifics such as size, colour and pattern, descriptions of the bill and feet / legs, the call it makes. Note also the courting and mating behaviour, nesting activity, winter residents, summer migrants, nesting behaviour, and how many broods are produced.
- Rocks and minerals journal: Rocks are composed of minerals and are grouped into three categories:Igneous (volcanic) rocks Sedimentary (layered) rocks Metamorphic rocks (rocks that have changed over time.)
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic solids, with definite chemical compositions.
What rocks and minerals are you able to find in your own locality? Create sketches in your journal, record textures and colours, make maps of the locations of what you find. Draw thumbnails of sketches viewed through a lens or microscope. Investigate the history of your nature spot; was it once a mining area? How does this now affect the locality? Research the uses of the rocks and minerals you find.
- Wild flower journal: This could be arranged by month of the year, or flower type, or by colour. Whatever appeals to your way of thinking. Record which are native flowers, which flowers that are classed as weeds (often the most lovely!) Research the folklore and Latin name (Officinalis denotes plants traditionally used in medicine and herbalism.) Make many sketches, take measurements, record colours and textures, include photographs and pressings.
- A Calendar of Firsts:
It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar–the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.
I hope this is helpful & gives you some food for thought. Happy exploring!