Inside a Naturalist’s Notebook

My study of ground cherries and bull nettle.

My study of ground cherries and bull nettle.

I could be the only human friend of these rodents, often considered pests.

I could be the only human friend of these rodents, often considered pests.

Hi y’all, Amanda here. I’m pretty new to being a naturalist, despite a lifetime of loving animals and nature. I only recently completed my training as a naturalist in 2014, chose wildlife habitat for my 2015 certification hours, and will be certified this February 21st. Joining this volunteer group of scientists, professors, and average folks like myself who have no relevant degree, and discovering an outlet for my interests and curiosity has been one of the best experiences of my life.

As a naturalist-in-training, I was introduced to a great many subjects, including the naturalist notebook or combining art with scientific observation and record-keeping. This is highly personal, and contents depend upon the person creating the journal: it may be all about birds observed at a feeder, or it could be a linear list of weather events. I suppose I’m currently going in a generalist direction, since I record my observations of plant and animal species, noteworthy weather, and experiences I have in the field. I don’t have much time for it now, so this is certainly not a daily or even a weekly pursuit!

Here are two entries from late last fall 2015. I hope you’re as delighted as I was with these little ground plants and the fuzzy hispid cotton rat! Want to try this yourself? The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling looks amazing.

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Tim Snell

I worked with this rat for several years. It is a helpful animal. Cocklebur is a un-desirable plant for most farmers. There are two seeds in each cockle-bur, one usually sprouts the first year and the other sprouts the next year. First year mechanical control only kills the first seed, then mechanical control is required again the second year. The cotton rat eats both seeds when it opens the bur. This biological control of cocklebur is highly desirable, to the point that it is worth leaving habitat nearby to foster healthy cotton rat populations. There are plenty of natural enemies… Read more »


Kudos on following your passion and getting the training Amanda.

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