Nature Journalling: What is it and how can you get involved

Nature Journalling: What is it and how can you get involved

Throughout July, we’re encouraging our readers to enjoy the countryside as a temporary refuge from our everyday lives. One way to fully embrace nature is through keeping a nature journal. So, for this month’s blog post we hand over to one of our community and events officers, Janet, to find out more:

What is a nature journal?

Personally, I believe a nature journal can be whatever you want it to be. Some people will use it as a study of nature – to document the weather and plant growth. I, on the other hand, have used it to practise my drawing and writing.

I am a naturally creative person (pun definitely intended), but there was always something stopping me from just sitting down and ‘being creative’. So, when I assigned myself the task of starting a nature journal for work (because I thought ‘why not? how hard?’ etc.), it became much more than something I was merely doing for social media content. Instead, it has become a way to be utterly and completely engaged with nature: to actually see what I am seeing and to allow my mind to absorb what I’m experiencing right here, right now. You can learn more about mindfulness and how you can use nature to become more mindful by listening to our new podcast, which can be found here.

I love going for walks because they offer a prime opportunity to focus on the world around us. Whether you’re walking through dense countryside, a suburban street or an urban jungle there is always wildlife to find, underfoot or overhead.  Over the last few months, I’ve used my phone to record what I see and hear. I open the notepad function before venturing out and then add to it whenever I spot anything of interest. I use the Seek App to identify plants and insects and I use the Bird.net App to identify bird song. And that’s it.

Some of Janet’s fabulous journal entries

You could say I’m selective by what and when I record, and I am. Why should I draw or write about something that doesn’t interest me? I want it to be something I enjoyed, not something I felt pressured to do. And, as a result, nature journaling has morphed itself into a little corner of the world I can escape to.

You can choose to document as you go, and many will find that works better for staying ‘in the moment’, but I like to bank my observations – like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter! I make time to put them on paper, normally on a quiet Sunday afternoon, using Google as my image bank. This way I double the time I feel connected to nature.

Try it yourself

The only tips I can give to start your own nature journal are to make sure you make up your own rules and make sure you enjoy it. The apps I talked about earlier help a tremendous amount if you’re a rookie like me, or if you’re like my partner who doesn’t care about the facts but enjoys being outside regardless. And that’s okay too – you don’t need names to feel connected to nature!

What you will need:

  • A notepad, any size will do
  • A pen, pencil, and any material you so wish
  • The outdoors/countryside

At first, it feels a little alien to keep noting the wildlife you’ve seen but as soon as you’ve done a couple of walks like this you’ll be scrambling around trying to keep note. Or, like me this weekend, you’ll be muttering ‘springtime dung-beetle’ repeatedly until you can find somewhere to write it!

Hopefully, Janet has inspired you to give nature journaling a go. We’ve found it’s truly a great way to appreciate nature and take your time to enjoy it. And, as Janet says, you don’t need to be an expert as there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Nature journaling is simply a way to better experience the beauty of nature on your own terms.

We’d love to see your attempts, whatever your age or experience. Make sure to tag us on Facebook @HampshireCountrysideService and Instagram @HampshireCountryside.