Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nature Journal Entries in February: Beaver and Sun Pillar

This year one of my nature study goals is to get back into the habit of keeping a nature journal. In the past, I've kept an online nature journal that I enjoyed doing. It combined information about a subject and lots of pictures - either from a nature walk that week or photographs I have taken in the past. The online posts also included photos of Sophia's and Olivia's nature journal entries.

What I haven't been keeping up with is my actual nature journal - the one I use colored pencils with and include drawings, doodles, and photographs. I miss doing that.

So, this year I want to do one nature journal entry per month. Last month, I focused on graupel - or granular snow pellets. It was the first time I'd ever seen graupel...and I live in Minnesota.

This month, I did two nature journal entries. One was about a beaver we saw walking in the woods by a ditch a couple miles from where we live; and the other was about a beautiful sunset and sun pillar.

For both entries, I incorporated a photo (or photos) to show what I saw. The first journal entry was about seeing a beaver on the side of the road in the ditch. Sophia got out of the car to take photos.

It was the first time I'd ever seen a live beaver ambling in the woods. We see the lodges on ponds near us, but never any live beavers are walking around like the one we saw on February 11th.

One of the things that I did differently this month for the nature journal entries, is that I used Prismacolor fine-point color pens for writing instead of the Prismacolor color pencils I normally use. The fine points were a lot easier to write with and look much cleaner than the color pencils.

I also was able to get a lot more information on the page - like on the journal entry about the sun pillar and sunset that I did on February 18th.

Some other supplies I would like to gather for nature journaling this year include:
- gel pens
- Prismacolor watercolor pencils
- Prismacolor markers
- Very sharp #2 pencils for quick sketches
- Pencil sharpener
- Six-inch ruler
- A jar lid for making circles
- Tape and a glue stick to adhere items in my nature journal
- A small cup and paint brush when using watercolor pencils

A few quick facts about beavers that I learned:
=> A beaver is a herbivore.
=> The average life span in the wild: up to 24 years.
=> Weight: 60 pounds!
=> Lodges are often in the middle of ponds and can only be reached by underwater entrances.
=> They are one of the largest rodents.
=> They waddle on land, but are graceful in the water.
=> They can swim up to 5 mph.
=> They can remain under water for 15 minutes without surfacing.

The sun pillar is something I don't think I've ever seen before. What is a sun pillar? It's a vertical shaft of light that extends upward or downward from a bright light source - such as the Sun. It is caused by the many reflections off the large, flat face of horizontally-falling plate ice crystals. Most are commonly seen above a very low sun at sunset or sunrise.

Sun pillars are different from sun dogs (which I've seen). A sun dog is when there's a bright spot to the left and/or right of the Sun. They often occur in pairs, one on each side of the Sun.

According to Wikipedia, sun dogs are created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the Sun is close to the horizon."

It's been nice getting back into the habit of nature journaling. Looking at and reading some of my past entries brings me right back to that particular day, walk, or experience. I am so grateful to have written these memories down so I can remember and enjoy them once again.

1 comment:

Barb McCoy said...

I like the idea of including story and facts on your beaver page. Keep up the great work!