As I reflect on the past months of my involvement with Nature's Notebook and the Rio Grand Phenology Trail, I am struck by an overwhelming feeling of community. Each interaction at the outreach events we attend leaves each life enhanced in some small way. The bright faces of children visiting our sites, the lessons we learn from each other at our meetings and trainings, the never-ceasing awe that comes with each new discovery at the wonders of nature; all of these things provide us with the inspiration to grow in our environmental stewardship. We owe it to the earth, we owe it to our children, we owe it to each other. As members of this strong network of phenology observers, we become connected to life itself. I look forward to seeing you out there!
Best regards and happy observing,
News From The Trail
It's here! Valle de Oro's new official Nature's Notebook Protocol is ready to use! Developed after 2 years of preliminary data collection and refinement of our observation methods, and packed with detailed information, this protocol is meant to be a guide for new and existing volunteers and staff to hone in on their observational skills. Click here to check it out!
There is no fauna more ubiquitous in our world, or more treasured by humans around the globe than birds. Birds are bellwethers of our natural and cultural health, and make great indicators of environmental integrity because:
They are found in virtually every ecosystem on earth.
They depend upon other biota and natural resources for their existence.
Many bird species migrate, exploiting different habitats during a life cycle.
They are reasonably easy to observe and count.
Both amateurs and professional ornithologists can monitor their populations effectively.
Their populations have been monitored for more than a century (long-term databases exist).
Birds have been used as environmental health barometers at a local level ever since canaries were used to indicate the safety of air in coal mines. Only in recent years, however, have we used monitoring data and analytical tools to use wild bird populations as environmental health barometers on a large spatial level. Birds have so much to tell us; all we have to do is pay attention. But first, we must know who we are learning from. Bird identification is not always an easy task, but with a little study and dedication, we can quickly build our repertoire of feathery friends. Click here for a handy introductionto the birds currently being monitored at Valle de Oro!
The Bigger Picture
Through the efforts of groups like yours, we are growing the pool of observations on birds and other animals that can be used by researchers. With increased effort from Nature’s Notebook observers, we are finally able to look at trends in bird populations and other species that have been identified as threatened by the impacts of climate change. That's why your efforts are so important!
Click here to learn from an inspiring example from Audubon California, which has been using Nature's Notebook to monitor birds for several years.
When multiple groups monitor the same species, we can start to make some interesting comparisons of their phenology! Check out the species list for our RGPT partners and start thinking about whether there are other places we might overlap in the species we track
The Visualization Tool provided by Nature's Notebook is a wonderful tool which allows us to put our data to work. With it, we can create meaningful calendars and scatter plots, explore data from across the country, and find answers to our burning questions.
This tool has a lot of hidden gems and can take some practice to begin navigating. Please join us for an informal workshop to begin delving into Visualization Tool basics. We will walk through examples together and allow plenty of time for questions, discussion, and collaboration. This workshop will teach Trail Leaders to create summaries of their group data to inspire their volunteers. All Trail members are also welcome to attend."