Autumn Nature Journal Writing Prompts

red nature in autumn collage
red nature in autumn collage

Keeping the autumn nature journal often means capturing the sounds, scents, and colors of a fleeting moment.

Autumn is known as “Fall” in some parts of North America because of the falling leaves of deciduous trees. Here in Philadelphia, it is “Fall”.

I love the Fall. It is hands down my favorite season. The air cools. The maple leaves turn brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows here in Philadelphia. The birds are migrating overhead. And honking Canada Geese fly in formation in crystal clear blue skies.

The Autumn Equinox

The autumnal equinox on September 21 or 22 is the “beginning of fall”. For some people Fall begins weeks before on August 7 (Lamas or Lughnasadh on the Old English and Celtic calendars). This would make the September equinox the mid-point.

September, October, and November are the fall months in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the season is from March until June.

Autumn Nature Journal Prompts

What to write, draw or photograph in the fleeting moments of fall?

The Weather and Atmosphere

  • How does the season affect you and other humans? Forest Bathing: 15 Minutes to Good Health
  • Record the changes in the temperature, length of days, and the weather.
  • Check for new and first frosts on the grass each morning.
  • What does the season smell like? I love the smell of burning wood as people start using their fireplaces again.
  • Notice how plants, animals, and people prepare for winter. Storing Food for the Winter (How to Hoard)
  • Make an appointment to record the position where the sun rises on the equinox. Keep a chart of the rising sun for the whole year of solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days. Winter solstice
  • Go outside on the nights of the season’s full moons. Journal about your experience.

The Plants

  • Which trees and shrubs are changing colors. What colors? What trees and shrubs change first?
  • Draw fall berries and seeds.
  • Collect the leaves and acorns of different oak trees and sketch or photograph them
  • Collect the leaves and seeds of different trees and sketch or photograph them.
  • Draw/photograph/list the fall-blooming native flowers.
  • Draw the harvest. Pumpkins, squash, corn and more.
  • Learn to recognize ragweed. The scourge of seasonal allergy sufferers.

The Animals

  • What insects are still about? Where do you find them?
  • What birds are visiting your feeders?
  • Watch squirrel behavior, from high-speed chases to nest-building and nut gathering.
  • It sounds gruesome, but record road kills by numbers and species. Sometimes you don’t realize that an animal lives near you until you see it dead.
  • What seeds and nuts are animals storing? Storing Food for the Winter (How to Hoard)
  • Are some animals noticeably fatter? Are humans?
  • Find, draw or photograph mushrooms.
  • Listen for the migration calls of geese
  • Watch for fall migration and hibernation activity.
  • Look for insect eggs, cocoons, and chrysalis on plants and beneath logs and rocks.

Remember to collect responsibly.


Autumn in the Natural World by Donna L. Long

Learn the the miraculous ways ponds, insects, turtles, etc. change their bodies to survive winter’s cold and freezing conditions.

Excerpt Plants in Autumn section 

Little plant growth takes place at soil temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). For plants to grow well the soil temperatures need to be between 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius) and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Spring planted flowers take longer to mature than summer planted flowers. Spring planted flowers will take 60 to 90 days to mature. Summer planted flowers will take 45 to 60 days to mature. Late summer planted flowers (around July 1st) will take 90 and 120 days to bloom as the air temperatures cool. 

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