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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 Goals 202:2nd Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

2nd Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

At the beginning of every year, I sit down and create a list of nature study related goals for myself. I realized years ago that without having specific goals to keep me motivated, a whole year could slip by and projects and outdoor activities that are important to me have not been accomplished. If you’d like to read this year’s goal entry, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

Backyard Habitat development:   

I was reading back over the first quarter’s entry and I smiled because I said that the second quarter was going to be the time for “heavy lifting” as far as developing a backyard habitat. Nothing could be truer than that statement!

planting sunflower seedlings 2021

Here are a few of the reflections on what has happened in the garden this quarter:

  • We nurtured seeds in pots, bringing them in and out of the garage at night to avoid freezing them as they sprouted. Our first round of seeds was eaten by mice! I had to replant everything! (Perhaps there is a small greenhouse in the future to make life easier?)
  • Weeded and weeded and weeded again as everything began to grow. We had to weed the beds from last year, pluck the weeds from our gravel walkways, sift out the weeds from the native plants. The majority of this fell onto my shoulders since my husband injured his leg and he had to keep from kneeling on it for over six weeks! Weed management is still an ongoing process and it’s the way we carefully keep the native plants we desire to have growing in the yard.
  • Eventually we planted the seedlings in the ground. Once the nights were warm enough and the big threat of a freeze was past, we were able to get all the seeds and seedlings into their garden beds. We did end up adding a few more automatic drip lines to the new plants to make sure they were properly watered.
  • We were surprised with the number of plants that have reseeded themselves. Practically my whole sunflower bed is filled with volunteer plants from last year’s crop. I’m making a note that we may not need to replant as many seeds next year to have the same beautiful results.
  • It hasn’t taken long for the pollinators, birds, toads, and small mammals to make themselves at home in the garden. We added quite a few more water dishes and saucers around the yard and they are busy spots for everyone on the hot afternoons. So many baths and sips of water!
  • I’ve noticed that the effort to keep as many native plants in our yard as possible has paid off as far as attracting insects. It has taken careful weeding and observations as plants have matured to decide if they stay or not. I’m still learning but the feeling of success is a wonderful reward for all the time spent with my nose in a field guide and on the internet to determine which plants will add value to my wildlife habitat.

Silver Falls 2021

Local Hikes:

We took a day trip to Silver Falls State Park (Oregon) to hike and enjoy the spring waterfalls and flowers.

We didn’t have much of a chance to explore any new hiking trails. As I mentioned before, we had to let my husband’s leg heal before we could really get out and hike again. It’s still my goal to make more local hikes so stay tuned for our 3rd quarter adventures to make up for what we lacked in the last quarter.

bullocks oriole bird may 11 2021 (3)

Make notes in field guides

I’m still making notes in my field guides as a way of documenting my observations. Currently, I’m being vigilant about keeping up with the wildflowers, birds, and butterflies that we identify.

I have to say it is thrilling to note a new species and then marking it in the field guide. We had several “new to us” species of birds to note this quarter.

sea star brookings tidepool 2021

Go camping:

We managed to fit in two camping trips this quarter.

In April, we went camping on the Crooked River, near Prineville, Oregon. It was a SUPER windy weekend but not too cold. We were able to hike up and down the river in both directions. The shrubs and wildflowers were just beginning to come to life, and a few were in bloom. My husband did a bit of fishing and I spent time working on my nature journal.

Tidepools brookings oregon 2021

In June, we traveled over to the southern Oregon coast to camp with a couple of our children. What a great time! The tidepools were amazing because there was a negative tide (which means the low tide exposes things normally under water). We had a couple of beach afternoons in the sun, did a little kite flying, and hiked along the Oregon Coast Trail. It was a perfect week! Even the foggy days were a welcome change from the 100+ degree heat at home.

What do you think? Does it count that I camp out in my own backyard several nights a week?


succulent blooming stonecrop 2021

Learn about succulents

I’ve been trying to identify the succulents that live in my yard. I waited until this one was blooming to identify it with my field guide and the internet. It appears to be a kind of stonecrop. Whatever kind it is, I think its bright yellow flowers are gorgeous and I’m glad it’s growing in a spot I can let it spread.

Learning about succulents is a long term project that I’m really enjoying. I have several other succulents ready to bloom so I hope to share them in my 3rd quarter update.

So what about you? Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

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. 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 2021: 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

1st Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

In the original 2021 nature goals entry, I talked a lot about the process of making goals and then refining goals as you saw the need. Here were the steps:

  • Be flexible.
  • Review your goals periodically.
  • Break larger goals into smaller steps.
  • Make a reasonable list.
  • Create achievable goals.

If you’d like to read the complete entry with all of the suggestions, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

One way that I review my goals and how I’m doing, is to reflect back at the end of each quarter to see how things are going. You can read the goals for the year in the entry linked above. I will give you a little update for each goal below.

garden prep april 2021
We have cleaned up the boxes and made sure the drip watering system is ready to go for seed sowing. Probably going to wait until May 1st to get seeds started.

Backyard Habitat development:  We just started working in the garden in the past few weeks. But, I have on paper a lot of ideas we want to implement this year. For the first quarter we made plans, ordered seeds, and spent time observing what was already working as far as supporting the local wildlife. This quarter will be the heavy lifting aspects of creating more wildlife friendly habitat. If this is something you are interested in doing for your family, you can read my entry: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.

Painted Hills March 2021
Look for an entry in May that reveals our day trip to the Painted Hills.

Local Hikes: We found new places to hike even in the winter as part of this local hikes goal. There are several places along the Deschutes River that are accessible to hiking in the winter. We chose sunny days to explore Sawyer Park and Steelhead Falls. We drove out to the Painted Hills for a day hike with some of the kids. I’m saying this quarter went better than expected and I’m eager to do some spring hiking here in Central Oregon.

Make notes in field guides: I’m keeping up the habit of making notes in my field guides as we identify new species of birds, animals, and plants.

crossbills february 2021
Our unexpected visitors! We had a group of crossbills come through on a Feederwatch count day.

Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: The Feederwatch project is coming to a close here at the end of April. We’ve only missed a couple of weeks of counting and it has helped us be aware of the comings and goings of the birds at our feeders. The GBBC was another enjoyable experience as we took part in the worldwide bird count. I’ll be posting about the particulars soon!

Go camping: We didn’t make it out camping in the first quarter. But, we have several trips planned for the spring season and one for the summer.

succulents april 2021

Learn about succulents: I spent some time reading books about succulents over the quarter. Our library has quite a few to choose from since succulents are a big part of the landscaping here in Central Oregon. I went out yesterday and looked at the ones we have in our yard and they are all looking mighty healthy. I noticed new growth and spreading for many of them. I will continue to work on my knowledge as we get into our real growing season.

I did a pretty good job of keeping all my goals in mind this quarter. Now, I just need to keep it going.

Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

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. 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 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!