Become a Nature Detective in your area! There are so many amazing things to find in nature, can you find something new?
Create an evidence book of all the wonders of nature in your area. Imagine you need to describe/tell someone who has never been to your area what nature you have. Which trees, birds, minibeasts and mushrooms might someone find if they came to visit? You can also add in top tips of where to see the best of nature in your area.
To start find yourself an evidence book. You might have a spare notebook around to use. If not you can easily make one out of string and paper or by stapling some paper together. Make sure you have enough pages for each ‘category’ that you will be evidencing. You can always add more pages as you discover more evidence.
Where can you gather your Evidence?
Do you usually go to a local park? Do you have a favourite area with lots of trees, a river, canal, pond, flowers or even wild animals? Head out on a walk, you could also have a look at a map to see where might be a good new place to explore to find your evidence.
A Nature detective always remember to take their evidence book and a pencil out with them on all different adventures, walks, scoots and cycles in case they see anything new to write down!
You can either collect evidence (remember to only collect things that have naturally fallen and not to pick anything still living) and stick it with glue/tape into your book or you could draw, write or take pictures of what you find and record in your book.
What evidence to gather?
Remember you are trying to show someone who hasn’t ever explored your area what nature is there and what they might find if they visit and explore near where you live. Therefore you don’t need to collect lots of the same thing. If you are gathering evidence to stick into your book there are still some things you might have to draw. e.g. if you see a deer in the woods please don’t try and stick it into your book with tape!
You can add in whatever natural evidence you want. Here’s some ideas to help you get started:
- Tree Leaves -Collect different tree leaves. you could collect fallen leaves (if it is the right time of year) and stick them into your evidence book or you could draw the leaves. Tip: you could show how leaves look different throughout the year, come back at another season and record the differences the leaves have undertaken. Make sure each one is from a different type of tree.
- Birds – Collect evidence of different birds that live in your area. You could draw or take a picture of your birds. Do you know the names of the birds? If you find any bird habitats, note down, draw or take pictures of what they are made of and what you can see inside but don’t destroy them but leave them in place so the birds have somewhere to live, nest and rest. Clues: Look for and identify nests. Listen for bird calls and identify them, you could even video or record the sound of some birds. If you see nest in high places you may be able to take picture of them. Sit quietly, listen and look it is surprising how much you can hear and see.
- Mushrooms – Collect evidence of different mushrooms from your area. Only take pictures don’t pick them as some are poisonous! You could use a mushroom guide to work out which mushrooms you have found to then label the photos or drawings in your evidence book. Tip: Take photos from above, from the side and from below if possible as this will make them easier to identify.
- Wild Animals – Collect evidence of different wild animals that live in the surrounding area. You can take photos or draw the animals rather than try to bring the evidence back. If you can’t see an animal can you spot any other evidence that they are around. For example looking for animal droppings, the nests or homes of some of the animals. Watch out for animal fur caught on bushes.
- Mini-beasts – Collect evidence of different mini-beasts from the woods. Tip: You could try rolling a log over to see if there is anything hiding below it. If you find a very dead log peel some bark off and see if there is anything there. Some insects build things in trees and bushes to catch their pray.
- River animals/plants – spot plants and animals that live in/off the water. Are there any you could collect or draw?
- Nuts & Fruits – Collect, draw or describe different kinds of nuts and fruits from around your area. Who do you think eats these nuts and fruits? Tip: There may be some which have fallen as well as those still on the trees and bushes.
- Special Item – Collect the evidence of one surprise item to show others. This could be your favourite pond, lake, canal or the best place to make a den or the place that you think makes your local area natural, beautiful and worth visiting!
Take it Further
There’s so much to discover in our natural local areas that we might not find it all. Could you share your evidence book with others in other areas across the UK (or maybe even further) and find out about another area from someone else’s evidence book. There are lots of Nature Detective friends out there!
If you enjoyed being a Nature Detective and making an evidence book you could try out Track and Trail to set up and follow paths made by others in your local area.