Keeping your own Nature Journal

When my husband and I bought our first home, my mother gave me a 10 year gardening journal: a way to keep records of the weather, what was planted and what bloomed. I am not a particularly adept gardener, but I loved keeping track of what was blooming, flying, or crawling. I found joy in the predictable patterns that emerged.  And it was fascinating to see how trends emerged year-over-year.  


But, the Garden Journal is huge. And because it’s not a spiral, the spine gets a little crackly after repeated use.  And some days I like to write a little, some days I write a LOT, and others get missed completely.  In addition, there is an incredible amount of information in the book for gardeners, but I’m not really using it as a Garden Journal as much as a Nature Journal.

What I began wishing for was a smaller, spiral way to keep the same data.  A datebook works, but it’s hard to keep year-over-year data. If you like keeping an annual diary, our Tide Calendars have room for daily notes. And since the tides are already printed on there, they may be a good way to enter keep notes for the citizen science projects like SeaRise, a joint effort between the South Carolina Aquarium and the Southern Environmental Law Project  the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (part of NOAA).

And I like the idea of being able to arrange the data in vertical columns.This journal rearranges time into three-day vertical blocks where you can keep notes over a period of time, and hopefully you’ll enjoy looking back at what you saw in previous years.

There is ever growing evidence that the time we spend in nature is good for everyone on a myriad of levels. Even if you can just find 10 minutes to observe nature, it’s always worth a look. If you keep track of what you see in your own backyard, you’ll eventually find patterns that are reliable predictors of what happens next.

To take your own observations further, you can participate in community science databases like ebird, feederwatch, ebutterfly, or inaturalist. I always find that documenting what I see makes me observe things differently and engage more fully. For more about keeping a nature journal, or nature happenings in the South Carolina Lowcountry, scan the QR code. Happy observing!


If I am going to take notes in the field, I could use my phone, but I absolutely love the phone sized moleskine notebooks.  And I usually have a couple of pilot razor points with me, but they make special pens for the Rite in the Rain book.