Wildlife Observation from Your Garden

While lumbering herds of elephants and stalking Bengal tigers capture the imagination of most animal lovers, we often neglect the nature closest to us. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are part of a habitat, and that the miracle of life exists under our very noses. Studies have found that children today consider nature to be somewhere else"on TV, videos, in the National Geographic only. But in reality, a genuine connection to wildlife and welly boots around the globe is only an extension of a connection to the earth right where you stand. Good naturalists don't gain their knowledge from formal schooling, they Get more detail on Hunter wellies in the field, by direct observation. And this observation can start right in your back garden or at the park down the street.

If you know some one who is interested in their environment and what is going on around them, or you would like to get your children interested in the outdoors, the means to start a journal would make perfect garden gifts. A good place to start would be observing night-time wildlife from the comfort and shelter of your own garden shed or garden office. Who knows what you might see? Starting a nature journal will help you to keep track of all the things you see. You can find further information on http://www.shedsfirst.co.uk/.

The tools needed to start nature journal writing are simple and inexpensive. A notebook and something to write with are a great start. As you gain experience you may add a small set of watercolor paints or colored pencils. You may also use a collecting bag for objects that you want to draw and study indoors. (Although you should collect only fallen objects, where permission is given).

There are no hard and fast rules for nature journal writing, although entering observations using a heading is good practice. For your heading you may include your name, the date and time, the place, weather conditions, your first impressions, wind direction (use a compass for this), and cloud patterns and cloud cover.

Start by looking at the ground. Get a close up view of individual objects. Try to draw one or more in your journal, labeling each item. Take no more than five minutes per object, and give size measurements (you don't need a ruler, just estimate.) Now stand up and draw what comes into view at eye level. Label the object and describe what it's doing, or what it is part of. Look up from where you are standing. Record what you see above, and how it makes you feel. Nature journals are not just for artists. Don't worry if your renderings look like scribbles. The point is that you are connecting to your environment.

You may find yourself discovering both the landscape you live on, and the landscape that lives around you. Those who keep a journal know that journal writing is a form of journeying, and a well-kept pair of shoes can become a treasured record of where we have been, what we have seen, and what we have felt as we've interacted with the world.