I write this observation checklist 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)
- locality (place)
- route (how did you get there)
- weather (temperature, cloud types, wind, rain, etc.)
- habitat (backyard, forest, desert, wetland, etc)
- vegetation (where, insect visitors, blooming?)
- animal behavior
- general notes
- 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 fadeproof, 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.