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Nature Observer – May 2019

We had a tease of spring before the cold temperatures crept back in and the rains came pouring down. My friend keeps track of the rainfall numbers and we’re on track for a record breaking year as far as inches of rain. Here in Central Oregon we have a fairly dry climate, some call it the High Desert because of the low rainfall and dry air. You wouldn’t think so right now with the water standing in our yard and the rivers running very high. I’m dreaming of the long, warm summer days.

In the meantime, we jump outside when the sun is out and work on the garden and get out to observe all the amazing things we have in our area.

Here are some nature highlights from our month.

tree swallow nesting box may 2019 (2)

We have two pairs of tree swallows nesting in our yard again this year. We’ve observed them going in and out of the boxes early in the morning and then later they take off to swoop and dive out over the river. They sometimes come back to sit on the fence in the sunshine. They are such graceful and pretty birds and I’m so pleased they are nesting here again.

nest may 2019

There’s also a nest up on the back of our bbq house. I noted some dried grasses on the ground behind the shed and wondered where they came from. On investigating it further, I looked up to see a big nest up on the top of the wall. The kind of bird has yet to be determined.

western tanager may 2019

What a fantastic surprise to look outside the other day and see the colorful Western tanager at our bird feeder! There ended up being five males and two females that were enjoying the suet feeder.

smith rock hike oregon may 2019

We braved the weather to get in a hike at Smith Rock State Park on a weekday afternoon. It’s a very popular place on the weekends, so my aim was to get there on a day and time when we wouldn’t have so many other people on the trail. Success!

arrowleaf balsamroot

There were so many wildflowers to see along the trail and there were lots of birds too! My favorite flower of the day was most definitely the arrowleaf balsamroot that was growing along the ridge of the canyon. There was quite a display of color!

Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

Lake Clementine nature journal

I attempted to draw a scene from the hike. The water coming over the dam from the lake and the resulting rainbow in the spray was one of my favorite moments to capture as a reminder of this day with my daughter on the American River in California.

porcupine nature journal

My son was out hiking behind our house in the evening and he spotted a slow moving animal in the distance. As he got closer, he first thought it was a beaver but when it climbed a tree he realized it was in fact a porcupine! I still haven’t seen it, even though I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for it when we’re out in the evenings. This page is the result of my research in the hope that I will soon spy my very own porcupine.

I’m still playing catch up in my nature journal so hopefully I’ll have a few more pages next month to share. In the meantime, if you want to look at the page on my website with hundreds of nature journal ideas, please feel free to use them as inspiration.

Getting Started with Nature Journals


There are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download

2 thoughts on “Nature Observer – May 2019

  1. Wow! Beautiful picture of the tanager!

    1. Thanks! He was posing for me on that day. 🙂

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