|Redbud starting to appear|
Phenology is the study of when things happen in nature, the seasonal changes that occur every year. For instance, I know that the leaf fall in my forest is about two weeks later in the year than it was 20 years ago because I keep track of the dates. Lest you think I’m totally OCD, for years the only television reception I had was a satellite dish that only worked once the leaves fell in the fall. I knew when to expect to see TV again, and I soon realized it happened a day or two later just about every year.
Tools like e-Bird made it easy to see changes in the arrival and departure dates of bird species I see around my cabin. For Nature’s Notebook, the questions asked about each sighting are more extensive than for those in e-Bird, and the questions vary somewhat with each species. You can submit your sightings online by computer or through an app that’s available for i-Phone and Android users.
The organization has about 50 partnering groups that range from nature centers to student groups and professional organizations. Sponsoring agencies include the National Park Service, The U.S. Geological Service, NASA, NOAA among others.
The only downside I can see is that I haven’t yet figured out if I can enter my data from previous years. One project I’m participating in is about red oaks. My observations will note when the first leaf buds appear, the number of them I see, when the first actual leaves appear, when the leaves are full size, when they turn color and when they fall.
Some publications and educator tools are available for free download to help explain particulars and help with botany. They also have tools, some only in a beta version currently, that let you see the arrival of spring, for example, across the U.S.
Anyway, if such things interest you, I invite you to check it out and see if it’s something you would enjoy participating in.