The Autumn Nature Journal

autumn leaves and stones
Vivid autumn leaves and gray stones. Photo by Donna L. Long.

The Autumn Nature Journal records a fleeting moment before winter’s sleep sets in. If you create a special autumn nature journal dedicated to the season, vibrant oranges, golds, and deep reds will the color the pages in photographs, drawings, and paintings. See also: Autumn Nature Journal Writing Prompts

Autumn is a season of change between summer and winter. It is known as “Fall” in some parts of North America because of the falling leaves of deciduous trees. I use the words “autumn” and “fall” interchangeably. See also: Why Do Trees Shed Leaves in the Fall?

I love the Fall. I think it is my favorite season of the year. Where I live in the Mid-Atlantic region, the trees put on a spectacular foliage display. The days are clear, crisp and cool. I take long walks and breathe deeply.

Autumn begins with the Autumnal Equinox. As the earth tilts closer to the sun, days become shorter and nights grow longer.

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

Autumn ends with the winter solstice and the astronomical beginning of the winter season.

A List of Autumn Photography Subjects and Nature Journal Prompts


Fire against the sky. Photo by Donna L. Long.
Fire against the sky. Photo by Donna L. Long.

In the Autumn Sky

Big bright full moons grace the autumn sky. The Harvest Moon is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox. This bright moon’s late evening light after sundown helps farmers work late to bring in the crops. The next special moon is the Hunter’s Moon. It is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. This special moon rises soon after sunset and provides hunters with extra light to track prey. See Also Algonquin Moon Names 

There are new stars in the autumn sky. As summer turns into autumn, a new cycle of stars is visible. In the northern hemisphere Cassiopeia, Pegasus, and Cygnus grace the night sky.

At this time of year, the earth is facing out into space. This gives us a good chance to see The Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galaxy neighbor. Autumn Moons for Nature Journal Keeping

Autumn Weather

The autumn weather changes to cooler temperatures. Autumn’s weather can be wicked. September is the month that averages the most hurricanes. In some areas,  autumn is the season for the most rainfall, due to tropical storms and hurricanes. See also: When is Hurricane Season?

The fair weather of second summer comes as a pleasant reminder of recent days gone by, as the temperatures grow colder.

Gardeners and farmers watch out for the first killing frost which signals the end of the growing season.

reddish oak leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long
Reddish oak leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long

Plants in Autumn

In the Northern Hemisphere, tree leaves change color beginning at the Canadian border and moving down the mountains and into valleys and coastal areas. Deciduous trees delight eyes with brilliant colors of golds, oranges, and reds. Conifers or evergreen trees remain green throughout the year and drop their needles mostly in the spring.

Plants cast their seeds on the wind, hitch a ride on a passerby or get eaten and dispersed by hungry animals fattening up for the coming winter.

This is harvest time. Gardeners and farmers gather apples, pears, pumpkins, squash, and corn. The first killing frosts signal the end of the big harvest.

Summer-into-Fall Blooming Native Plants

A chipmunk among leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long.
A chipmunk among leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Animals in Autumn

Many animals begin their migration to milder temperatures and a steadier food supply. Birds migrate along the flyways of North America. Philadelphia is in the Atlantic Flyway. The parks, forests, and wetlands are excellent spots to see migrating birds. See also: Bird Migration Routes

Some animals hibernate including bats, chipmunks, and woodchucks. Bears go into a deep hibernation-like sleep called torpor.

Many insects die as the colder weather of winter approaches. Some insects migrate deeper into the ground. But there are other insects that hibernate in the egg, larval or pupal stage. Several species of butterflies migrate to warmer climates. Cape May State Park in New Jersey is a top spot to observe migrating Monarchs and Buckeye butterflies. See also Insects in Winter

pumpkin harvest in autumn. Photo by Donna L. Long
pumpkin harvest in autumn. Photo by Donna L. Long

Humans in Autumn

Nature in autumn is a time when the air cools and we humans put food by (like squirrels) for the coming winter. We eat the fall seasonal foods of late summer vegetables and start on the fall and winter foods of pumpkins, winter squash and hearty stews with dried beans.

Wood is chopped and stacked to provide heat when the cold wind blows or the power goes out. We clean gutters to drain melting ice and snow.  We stock up on pantry staples, just in case we become snow-bound.

All these fascinating events happen as winter approaches. I find I take the most photos in this season. I like the brilliant colors on the pages of my autumn nature journal. Your autumn nature journal can record all of it and in living color of sketches or photographs, too.

See also: Autumn Nature Journal Writing Prompts

Nature Journal Diagrams: How to Draw Movement

Nature Journal Page Layouts: Try a New Technique

A List of Autumn Photography Subjects and Nature Journal Prompts

The Seasonal Nature Journal

Seasons: Table of Contents 

Nature in Autumn: An Overview

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