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It’s in your nature: Keeping Nature Notes

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    My yearly bird list is kept simple, with enough information to help me log a species and to jog my memory years later on that particular sighting. I’m not noted for my penmanship!

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    My records over the past 30 years indicate that I can expect the arrival of green herons in our region on or about May 5. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published January 12. 2019 07:28AM

By now you’ve gotten the idea that my love of the outdoors, experiencing more of the outdoors and sharing nature experiences with you is my passion. It began with backyard birding, and hunting and fishing outings with my dad and friends. Remembering those special moments is quite important to me; however, I’ve experienced many, many other nature happenings that I may not have remembered if I hadn’t documented them.

My birding “diary of sorts” began the year of college graduation in 1975. Since then, I have amassed copious notes and documented sightings of birds or other nature experiences.

This “diary” has grown from my first notebook in which I recorded about 130 bird species in Carbon County into a similar format which includes other important information. (At least in my perspective) I purchase a spiral-bound lined notebook (about 7 by 10 inches in size) which is not too cumbersome and contains about 150 pages. This allows me to carry it in a pack, stow it temporarily in a vehicle console, and slip in among my nature library books. I can page back to a few years ago, or pull a journal from the shelf to check on a sighting made in 1985.

I’ve found that my first 30 or so species of the year are the expected winter birds, and often from the first week of January until March, I may add only a dozen more. March, with the influx of ducks and the early arrivals, then finds me adding a new species or two almost daily. If you have more than a casual interest in birding, I know you’ll find this nature log to be a fun addition to your hobby. It is most interesting when you page back a few years and notice that wood thrushes and ovenbirds were first sighted by you on or around May 1 every year. It is almost as predictable as the sunrise.

I add more than bird sightings. One page is dedicated to listing some unusual weather and climate events. For example, my note for the end of this year’s journal emphasized that we had more than 21 inches of precipitation above the norm. I’ve listed early snowfalls, big snowstorms, or even that late spring snow that dropped an inch or two in April.

One page for each year lists the mammals, amphibians or reptiles that I observe. (My sighting of snakes for example has dropped the past few years in comparison to the 1980s)

Today’s technology allows you to log things on your computers so no matter what you choose, if this encourages you to get out there and see and appreciate what nature offers you, go for it.

Nature hint of the week: This year’s lack of deep snow cover enables deer to easily travel much farther to get their food and often crossing roads to get there. Even though the hunting season has reduced their numbers, still be alert to deer whenever you drive.

Also, a number of reports of two rare winter visitors, common redpolls and evening grosbeaks, may keep you more on your toes when you watch your feeders this year.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: The harrier was once named the A. sparrow hawk, B. marsh hawk, C. pigeon hawk, D. bridge hawk

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: The yellow-rumped warbler (unlike all the other warbler species) sometimes finds enough berries to survive winter in this area.

Contact Barry Reed at

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