Winter is the quiet season, but, it is magical and wondrous in its own right, there is a lot to see and many mysteries to unravel. Plants shut down making food, animals migrate to warmer climates. It signals the end of a long productive year but, a foot or two beneath the surface, plant roots are still growing, moving toward water and nutrients. Animals are still about. The stars in the sky move in their annual cycles. Life goes on.
This Winter it has been especially important to get outside and explore & I have been making the most of it. Snow, thick ice, fog, sunlight and beautiful skies have all been so appreciated during our third lockdown. Make sure to layer up, warm clothes and waterproof boots will make all the difference and will add to the experience of being outdoors. Hand and foot warmers can make you comfortable enough that you can spend longer amounts of time outside.
Making a journal like a nature diary, recording all of the things you see outdoors is a great way to learn and focus in on nature.
When you are outside use a pocket-sized field notebook & mechanical pencil if you have one to jot down notes and quick sketches. Transfer your notes to your winter nature journal once you are back inside, you can use photographs as references to draw from.
If you are unable to leave home you can still observe nature from your window and make a journal of what you see.
Below are some tips below to get you going. These are adaptable and will suit both adults and children. I have also linked some resources below which may also be off interest. I hope you find this helpful and you can get out and enjoy some outdoor activities, there is so much to see!
Plant Observations for Winter:
Identify winter grasses and plants.
Learn the difference between evergreen (or conifer) trees.
Look for winter seed heads and berries. Which are eaten last by birds and other animals?
Which plants stay green in winter?
Sketch or photograph trees silhouettes.
Record the different types of fallen pine cones. (I noticed the grey squirrels have eaten around some of them and just left the centre core)
Animal Observations for Winter:
Attract birds and other animals to your backyard habitat by providing for their needs of food, water, and shelter. Providing energy-rich food and if you can manage it, unfrozen water will bring many animals to you.
Look for signs of animal activity such as tunnels, trails, and tracks.
Sketch or photograph animals tracks in the mud and snow, this will help you learn and identify them in the future.
Bird Observations for Winter:
Identify winter birds – with so few around and the trees bare they are easy to spot and learn.
Which birds live near you all year-round?
What are the birds eating?
Search for old birds nests in trees, shrubs and under house eaves.
What sounds are they making?
Do you see mixed flocks of birds foraging together?
Hear and learn some common bird songs
Woodland animal tracks
Making your garden an animals winter home
Listen to some relaxing forest sounds
Spring is on its way!