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Nature Study Goals Update- 3rd Quarter 2021

Nature Goals 2021

3rd Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

Our third quarter was super awesome. Summer always is the best season here in Central Oregon. The sunshine is abundant, the skies are clear, and the opportunities to be outside are endless. We filled our days with gardening, hiking, kayaking, and floating the river behind our house.

We spent the entire month of July sleeping in our backyard tent. Just spending that time outside at night adds to our awareness of the animals that share our habitat. I love hearing the coyotes, the frogs, the owls, and even the unidentified sounds of nighttime. Sleeping in a tent was not on the goal list but it definitely is an aspect of summer nature enjoyment in our family.

July 2021 birds list

Nothing beats waking to the sound of birdsong.

So how did we do as far as working towards my actual nature goals for the year? I am sharing a bit about our progress below as a way to help encourage you to make your own goals. (There is a printable goal notebook page in the Member’s Library.)

If you’d like to read this year’s goal entry, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

garden box sunflowers birds

Backyard Habitat development:   

This quarter we saw an increase in wildlife in our backyard garden. July is the beginning of the bloom time for us and with that comes the bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, birds, toads, and squirrels. So many birds!

Our nesting boxes were busy with anxious bird mamas who were building and tending their nests. I love sitting quietly and watching as they fly back and forth, sometimes stopping briefing in the shrubs that line the edges of most of the backyard. We can watch the swallows feeding their babies with huge dragonflies they caught out over the river. The bluebirds stand guard on the fence posts before taking turns going off for food.

The squirrels have really made themselves at home at the back boundary of the yard. There are Belding’s ground squirrels, golden mantle squirrels, and then gray squirrels. In addition, there are lesser chipmunks who are tiny little critters that move and hop as fast as any animal I’ve ever seen. They all frequent the ground under the bird feeders and then as the season progressed, they moved to the sunflower garden.

hummingbird feeder 2021

The biggest attractions to the yard in the late summer have been the water features. I have two birdbaths and three shallow saucers of water that I keep filled for the birds and other animals. Even the dog’s water dish became a favorite for the birds to bathe in! I highly recommend making some water available in your garden to support the needs of the local wildlife.

black eyed susan summer 2021

We have one small section that we are still going to plant next year in the back and larger section in the front yard. I will take the winter months to draw up some plans for those areas and of course I will consider the needs of the birds, insects, and other animals that live here in my neighborhood.

bee on sunflower 2021

Local Hikes:

In searching for new local hikes, we discovered a new trail that we absolutely love! It is an extension of a hike we take frequently, just adding additional miles to an already gorgeous trail.

deschutes river at benham falls

We have hiked this new portion two times now because we discovered a section that has a grove of aspens.

hike deschutes river trail 2021

We wanted to revisit the place to see if the aspens had turned color, but we were a bit early. I’m not sure if we will be able to hike it again but it is definitely on the list for future adventures.

wildfire smoke 2021 todd lake

Looking at my notes, I realize that we did actually did quite a bit of hiking locally despite the presence of wildfire smoke for much of August. It helps that my daughter and her husband came to visit, and they are always eager to hike here in Central Oregon.

skipper on chrysanthemum

Make notes in field guides

I am continuing to keep notes in my field guides. In fact, it makes my so happy when I’m able to mark a new bird we observe or a new wildflower we identify. I wish I would have started this a long time ago.

kayak little deschutes 2021

Go camping:

We had a fantastic camping trip to the Oregon Coast in August. Newport, Oregon is such a fun place with so many attractions. We had perfect weather with plenty of sunshine for our adventures.

oregon coast newport 2021

We spent an afternoon walking along a back road that parallels the coast and has vantage points for looking out over the rocky shore. Guess who made an appearance? The gray whales were close to shore, and we could clearly see them spouting, their tail fins, and sometimes their backs as they moved through the ocean. It was so much fun!

zygocactus succulent

Learn about succulents

My love for succulents has greatly increased this year. I have been nurturing quite a few plants indoors which has helped me appreciate the variety of succulents there are in the world. I did some transplanting of succulents in my rock garden and so far, they are all doing well. They multiple rather fast so transplanting seems like a great way to spread them without much hassle or cost.

How are your nature goals progressing? Do you need to make specific plans during the 4th quarter to achieve a particular goal? Don’t give up!



Nature Study Goals Planning Page

Look for the Nature Study Goals printable in your Member’s Library.

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership.

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!


Please note that I will be retiring at the end of 2021 and the library will be retiring s well. If you join as a member now, you will have full and complete access until that time to download and save any items you wish to use in the future.


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Nature Study Goals 2021

Nature Goals 2021

New Goals for 2021 and a Reflection on my 2020 Goals

Setting nature study goals each year has been a powerful tool in my life. Creating specific goals keeps you focused and then periodically reviewing the goals allows you to see what you’ve accomplished and how to further reach your goals by breaking the larger goals down into smaller bits. A few things have helped me be successful and I thought you might like to hear about those tips as you perhaps think about making your own nature study goals for 2021.

tent in backyard 2020

Be Flexible

First of all, don’t think of things you didn’t accomplish as “failures”. Maybe the timing wasn’t right for working on a particular goal. I’m thinking specifically of one of my 2020 goals to visit a new national park. I could not have anticipated the impact of a worldwide pandemic when I wrote that goal. Find a way to be flexible if you find you can’t achieve your original goal. We decided to build a “campsite” in our backyard where we could sleep outside whenever we felt like it. Some may call it “glamping”, but it really did fill the need to be outside in nature at night.

Review Your Goals Periodically

Another tip to achieving your nature study goals is to look at them periodically to see which ones can be added to your planner. I keep a weekly/monthly planner and I can add reminders to work at a goal. Can we go for a hike this week? Are we counting birds for Project Feederwatch this week? Do we need to get to the library to gather books for research and planning? Keep an eye on nature study goals as you go along.

Break Larger Goals into Smaller Steps

Breaking larger goals down into bite size pieces is also necessary to achieve more substantial nature study goals. For instance, planning a camping trip will involve some pre-planning. Deciding on a destination, reading about the habitat, making required reservations, gathering equipment, and blocking out time on the calendar are all steps that can be done to accomplish the larger goal of going camping.

Backyard remodel 2020

We achieved our rather large 2020 goal to build a backyard habitat for wildlife by following this tip. Sometimes it is the largeness of a goal that keeps us from reaching it. You can read the first installment in my series to see our first steps: Creating a Wildlife Habitat.

Make a Reasonable List

I also suggest keeping your goal list to a manageable size. It is easy to want to include a lot of great goals but as you start your list of goals, keep it simple. If you are just starting out with nature study, your goal list may only have a couple of items. You can always add things later in the year!

Create Achievable Goals – Don’t be too ambitious!

Another mistake I made in years past is to overestimate my long haul interest in a topic. For instance, one year I made the goal to learn about and then find in real life every rock in a particular book. Wow! That was hugely ambitious and would have taken a miracle to accomplish. We did manage to complete the study of quite a few rocks from the book but my interest really did wane after a few months. A more reasonable goal would have been to “learn more about the rocks in my local habitat”.

I hope you are encouraged to create your own nature study goals after reading my tips. My main message is to make sure you create a list that helps you with your own interests and supports your family getting outdoors to learn more about your own particular habitat.

So, without further ado, here is my list for the upcoming year.

Nature Study Goals 2021

 Nature Study Goals – 2021

Nature Journal Goals: I’m trying out a different format this year for my daily nature journal notes. I’m anxious to share this with you so watch for it in upcoming posts. I’m also testing out some ideas for the Member’s Library that includes a perpetual nature journal using notebook pages I’ve designed. It’s most definitely a work in progress and I’ll be adding them to the Member’s Library after seeing which style works best for me.

  1. Backyard Habitat development: We’re going to keep adding to the wildlife garden we started last year and hopefully add some more beneficial elements that are practical and beautiful in our Central Oregon climate.
  2. Local Hikes: I’m determined to try to find places to hike in all seasons.
  3. Make notes in field guides: This is a project I started last year and I think it’s just a part of what I do now with my field guides.
  4. Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: We are in the middle of the Project Feederwatch season already and it brings us such joy to see our backyard birds come each day.
  5. Go camping: We have a new, much smaller travel trailer now and this opens up some of the more rugged campsites in our area. We can be completely off grid and get out into the forest much easier. We’ve already mapped out some places we want to go explore. Even with COVID restrictions, we should be able to get outside and camp this summer.
  6. Learn about succulents: I’ve developed a love for succulents. The amazing variety and the beautiful colors and shapes have captured my heart. I became aware this year of the flowers that succulents have that I overlooked. So joyfully, right now my succulents are covered in snow and ice but I know that next summer they will again treat me to a colorful display. I have a great desire to learn more!


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables. The library is growing every month and there are plans for publishing 2 new ebooks in 2021! If you join now, you’ll have access to those ebooks as soon as they publish!

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership. Join and make 2021 the best year of nature study ever for your family!

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!

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Nature Goals -End of the Year Recap

Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Well, here we are at the end of another year. 2019 started off with my being extremely hopeful about the prospect of getting outside on my two new hips. I was determined to be strong enough to hike some new trails and to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Then our family situation changed rapidly and it took a rather large chunk of my time and energy. Both sets of our aging parents required us to help them downsize and move out of their homes and into different living situations. We struggled through hospice, strokes, deaths, and moves across state lines.

This was not part of my vision for 2019 at all.

Mt Bachelor sparks lake summer 2019

But, because I know it helps us to stay balanced emotionally, we made time to be outdoors when we had the opportunity. I kept my nature goals in mind and made tentative plans each month to go somewhere new and experience the refreshing powers of the outdoors.  Those plans didn’t always pan out but it helped to keep them in front of us.

nature journal and hiking books 2019

Looking at the definition of a goal I realized that I was indeed working with effort towards an aim or an end. The aim was to use the Outdoor Hour Challenges to learn more about my local habitat, to keep a detailed record of my nature observations, and to keep on hiking/kayaking as much as we could.

I think we achieved most of those goals.

acadia national park october 2019

In addition, I visited a new national park and rode my bike far more than I have in the last decade.

I’m choosing to look at the positives of keeping my nature goals, forgetting the perfectionist tendency to focus on what I didn’t accomplish in 2019. I will start again in 2020 with fresh goals and hopefully a little smoother ride through spring and summer than I had in 2019.