I write the observation checklist below in the back of my field notebook and nature journal. Following it has improved my note-taking tremendously. I begin every journal entry with this information. It is part of the Grinnell system of keeping a naturalist’s field journal.
•time (use 24-hour clock format; 1435 for 2:35p.m.)
•date (use international format: 03 September2007)
•route (how did you get there)
•weather (temperature, cloud types, wind, rain, etc.)
•habitat (backyard, forest, desert, wetland, etc)
•vegetation (where, insect visitors, blooming?)
•sketches, maps, photos, information
•arrival and departure times
•list of species seen
To ensure that you are someone in the future can read your notes here are some tips.
•use acid-free paper (Moleskin Brand makes several models
•use fade-proof, waterproof ink (Micron, Pilot G7, and Stafford Uniball are good models)
•use numbers (“1”) instead of the word (“one”)
•use as few abbreviations as possible
•number journal pages in the margins
My book on using the Grinnell Scientific Nature Journal method is available through lulu.com.