Our Spring Willow Observations


willow spring observations 2019

We had so much snow a few weeks ago that I didn’t think we would see the ground again for a long time. But, during the last week or so the rains have come with warmer temperatures and melted the large mounds of snow. Now that the ground is exposed, we’re beginning to see signs of spring like sprouts of green grass, green leaves of the lilies and other wildflowers poking up through the grass, and the increase in birds that stop by the water and in the grass. What a welcome sight!

willow spring observations 2019 string

We had a chance to go out between rain showers to look at our willow for signs of spring. We had to find the willow with our string attached and it took a bit of navigating to get to it with the standing water from the melted snow and rain. We got fairly close to the willow and it looks slightly greener on the limbs and the buds are getting larger. We also observed some red-winged blackbirds in the area, both by hearing their song and seeing them sitting the willows.

willow spring observations 2019

We’ll soon be seeing new leaves appear on the willows but not quite yet.

willow spring observations 2019


This photo was taken a week after the ones in the beginning of this entry. Look how high the river has come up since then!

The most exciting thing we spotted during our walk was a Belding’s ground squirrel racing from his hole to eat under our birdfeeder. We stopped and watched him with his curiously short tail and chubby body. He evidently ate well all holed up in his den this past season.

Now all we need is for the return of the elk and it will really feel like springtime.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Willow Nature Study

If you’d like to join me in a spring willow study, you can click over to see the original challenge. It’s not too late to get started with a yearlong study of willows!


Outdoor Hour Challenge – Garden Flowers #4 How to Draw Flowers

Don’t panic! I know that many of us have a fear of drawing and the idea of teaching our children to draw makes us anxious! Please give this Outdoor Hour Challenge a try alongside your children. There are plenty of suggestions and a link to a fabulous website of tutorials in the original challenge to make this week’s nature study a complete success.

Keep it simple and if you have any trouble, be patient with yourself. Remember the flower parts that we learned about in the second challenge in this series? Keep those in mind as you look at your flower and try to create a simple sketch in your nature journal.

If you’d like to look for a couple of books at your library, here are two that I really enjoy and they’re appropriate for children of all ages.

I wrote a blog entry a few years ago with a few simple tips to encourage moms who don’t think they can draw. I hope you’ll find some inspiration here if you’re one of those moms:

3 Tips for Nature Journaling When You Think You Can’t Sketch


Link to the Archive Outdoor Hour Challenge –

Focus on Garden Flowers #4 How to Draw Flowers

Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

We’re continuing to work through the Garden Flower and Plants ebook over the next few weeks. If you own this ebook or have access to it in your Ultimate Naturalist Library, you’ll want to get it out and read the first few pages. It outlines how the ten week series of garden challenges work together and can be done in any order that makes sense to your family. The ebook has planning pages as you choose, observe, and then learn more about each garden flower you study.

If you’d like to purchase a membership so you have all of the challenges at your fingertips and the custom notebooking pages too, click over to read all the details and download a sample: Garden Flower and Plant Challenges.

If you’re looking for a more thorough and inspirational book on nature journaling to use with your family, I highly recommend The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. You can read my detailed review here on my blog: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Nature Goals 2019- 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2019  1st Quarter Update

  1. Use the Outdoor Hour Challenge topics to stimulate my interest in my local habitat and help to build my skills as a naturalist. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Outdoor Hour Challenges during the first quarter. Here are links to my favorite challenges: Our Winter Willow Observations – Buds, Galls, and Beavers
  2. Keep a detailed record of my nature observations.  I’m keeping up with my daily nature journal notes and it’s always amazing to me that I have something to write about each day. It’s made me be more aware of the many interesting things that happen right in my own yard and neighborhood. My personal nature journal is going well and there are lots of pages completed already. If you read my Nature Observer entries each month here on my blog, you’ll see the pages as I complete them.
  3. Hiking and Kayaking. We haven’t really been able to do either of these activities yet but this coming quarter should be much better weather and trail conditions for us. I’m anxious to get back in my kayak after the river ice melts. (insert a photo of the the icy river)
  4. Read nature related books this year. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any books yet. I’m going to do something about that this month!

I still think it’s a worthwhile activity to make and work towards nature goals each year. Even though I didn’t quite live up to my goals this past quarter, I’ll make some adjustments to do a better job over the next few months. I’ve had a lot of family obligations in February and March that have kept me from spending as much time outdoors as I would like. I am not going to be discouraged!

I’m doing much better physically with my recovery from my bilateral hip surgery last October. I can walk a great distance and my strength is coming back. I started swimming at my physical therapy and that is really bumping up my stamina. With renewed vigor, I’ll hopefully hit May and June this year with a new ability to hike and kayak to my heart’s content.

How are your nature goals going so far this year?

Nature Study Goals 2019 @handbookofnaturestudy