How to "witness :: change," or steps for the *beginner phenologist

  • Pick a place and establish a routine. As a phenologist, you’ll want to visit the same place again and again. Choose a location where you can make regular and frequent observations. 
  • Be watchful. Slow down to notice your environment with focus and patience. Use all your senses. Challenge yourself to encounter something new today that wasn’t there yesterday.
  • Take notes. Keep a journal to record your observations and questions. Chronicle the timing of events not just by date, but also noting time of day and conditions. Describe locations with details such as “at the base of the large oak tree in the front yard” or “in the cracks of the sidewalk by my front stoop.”  
  • Start simple. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with species you can’t yet identify, begin by gathering gathering intimate knowledge about something familiar. For example, record gradual and slight changes as they occur for a single tree in your yard.
  • Be patient. Phenology is a long game. Its delights are evident in an instant, and its pleasures reveal themselves through years of diligent practice.

Tools & resources for the *beginner phenologist

  • Journal or Field Notebook
  • Field Guides (identification books for plants, birds, fungus, mammals, insects, etc.) 
  • Other practitioners: 
  • Networks and Citizen Science programs: 
  • Optics (binoculars or a jeweler’s loupe) and simple instruments (measuring tape or thermometer, for example)
*Advice for beginners from a beginner

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