"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Blue Belly Brilliance

The boys and I have long been nature lovers and over the past two years or so, I have been working on getting us all into nature journaling. As we have migrated West and lost our Nature Table space with a smaller home I have been working over new ways to deal with science. One way has been to work our nature journals into a more prominent place in our usage. Instead of just using them to draw assigned subjects as we studied certain topics (conifers, frogs and their life stages, snowflakes and how they form etc.) I have changed them to our identifying log.

 We try to take a walk every day in the neighborhood and we have successfully managed to work a weekend family hike into our new Western lives as well. These two venues plus just our general love of nature and honed awareness of the animals and plants around us have given us a steady way to use the journals. When we see interesting things that we don't know about (daily! everything is new!) I photograph and we observe and tell each other what we each can see about the subject. For instance, recently, Nib saw our first lizard! We were all so excited to see one in person and in one of our local parks, a short walk from our house. We all got to see it quite close up and I got some pictures with my iPhone.

Then later in the week, we got to the part where our journals came in handy. We got on the computer together and using whatever markers we could dig up from the photo we took and from our collected observations we looked up that lizard. The lovely thing about identifying things on the internet is that you can get so darn specific. We found several pages that were all just about lizard of the The Bay Area....no other creatures or regions to muddy the waters. Field guides are top notch for browsing and will work for identifying but the internet is a little like asking a noted biologist who knows your area's flora and fauna.

Turned out that Nib's lizard was a Western Fence Lizard also known as a Blue Belly. We didn't get to see our lizard's stomach and it wasn't breeding season so we had no clue they can be the dull grey brown on top and hide a streak of the most mermaidy blue-ish teal on their stomachs. Astounding that skin can be that color! We'll be looking in the spring to catch the show for sure!

The notebooks come out and we print our photo and sketch and draw it in along with a date of our entry and the date we saw the observation. Then some of us have been adding some other views or details from other photos online and we write in whatever fascinating information we read about our new discovery. For instance, this cute little lizard that Nib introduced us to in one of the reasons Lyme's disease hasn't gotten as rampant in this part of the country. A powerful protein in Blue Belly blood de-activates Lyme. When ticks feed on our new, reptile friends, these little, local lizards they are cleaned out and each tick becomes Lyme-free for life! What a wonderful thing to know about! The more I know about Nature the more laughable I think it sounds that we might map it all out and that we as humans are the truly sentient and brilliant species who hold the keys to all things in our little hands.

Nature journaling is giving us a place now to be motivated to indentify and know these know creatures and plants and the amazing stories they all have. We are learning and making dynamic, artistic record books about our unfolding knowledge. What a wonderful world!


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