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Fun with Phenology

Updated on March 23, 2016

What is phenology? It is the rapt observation of our wondrous, phenomenal relatives, the flora and fauna, in their budding, blooming, breeding, migrating dances around the seasons....

It is fully engaging in Nature's Calendar, paying attention to first yearly sightings and seasonal cycles of natural phenomena, and then recording them on phenology wheels and/or nature journals.


I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

— E.B. White

Engaging in phenology, you can make the world a better place, or simply enjoy it - or both!


How? You can use wheels and/or nature journals (methods and links follow below) to explore pheno-pathways of your choice:

Which of these pathways appeals most to you?

See results

Scientists use phenology to learn more about climate change, but scientists can't be everywhere, so naturalists and all nature lovers are invited to help out by...

Source

becoming Citizen Scientists!

A Citizen Scientist is someone who reports their findings about weather and seasonal activity of species to (for example):

Source

Other ways you can participate in phenology

Want to observe but don't necessarily want to report?

Find a Sit Spot

Just go outside, observe and note the weather, first sightings of plants and animals, what's thriving and what's diminishing, in any place of your choosing, perhaps a

  • park
  • water's edge
  • hilltop
  • even your own backyard

Just as long as it is close enough to revisit at least 4x times a year / once a season. You can have several different sit spots.

Don't just passively observe, don't rush this.


Engage all your senses.


Nature Journaling

goes hand in hand with sending and observing. You can purchase an expensive blank journal or cheap notebook and make drawings, insert photos, embellish with leafy (or flowery or animal) borders to create your own work(s) of art. For inspiration, have a look at journals by Edith Holden.

Nature journaling can also be as simple as jotting down the date, time and what you noticed. You can do this in a plain notebook or a pretty engagement calendar such as those created by Marjolein Bastin.

A "ROTAtions" method of journaling, particularly suited to families and groups, is the phenology wheel of time & space

In between each spoke go drawings, photos, written observations, even poetry to capture the changes occurring season to season, month to month

The bigger the wheel, the more room to record. You can zoom it large and post on a wall or bulletin board.

Individual phenology wheel journalists can keep it minimal, small enough to fit in a notebook.

A Home-make nature journal

Source

What if your favourite sit spot is one you have to drive to? You have options:

  • You can use a 4 spoke wheel for once a season visits, perhaps to multiple locations
  • An 8-spoke wheel for a special place you visit on "sabbaticals" every 6 weeks during the equinoxes, solstices and midpoints in between.
  • Partners in Place wheels are divided into 12 for monthly visits

If you are fortunate enough to have a lovely sit spot at near your home (I'm sure you can find one!) you can record daily visits first in a simple journal, notebook or piece of paper, then select favourites to feature on a phenology wheel

It is interesting to compare your phenology recordings over time, not just months and seasons, but also year to year. That way you can discover patterns and changes that are happening in the natural world, and how these changes affect species (including your own!) and how they, (and you!) adapt.

Almanacs

are excellent resources for phenology. They give weather forecasts and best planting dates worded like "when_____is in bloom, you can plant______".

Also weather lore associated with months, saints' days and holidays. (A compendium of these sayings, along with phenological festivals and holidays, is forthcoming)

Website almanacs are amazing, including such delightful tidbits as weather folklore of the day, full moon names videos, seasonal recipes, calendars and more:

Some of the best local phenology almanacs I've found are in Kansas, Missouri and Ohio:

Next up:

Celebrating Phenology

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    • profile image

      mary vandenberg 

      2 years ago

      I feel like a science citizen having worked outside so long and now getting to play outside I notice the changes of the seasons the budding of the trees which I call fuzzy trees and the flowers and bushes love being outside

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