The desert, with its stark beauty, is a place brimming with unique flora and fauna. There are always ample subjects, from plant to wildlife, to include in a nature study on the desert.
During the summer months, when temperatures remain in the triple digits, it may not feasible to head out during the day for a quick nature walk. Even stepping out in your own backyard for more than a few minutes may prove a difficult task. Desert nature study in the summer months takes some creativity, but it is well worth the effort.
Here are some ways to beat the heat and continue your nature study during the sweltering summer months.
Our family loves going on nature walks. During the summer months we move these walks to very early in the morning or in the evening. We avoid the hottest parts of the day and skip any days with an excessive heat warning.
My girls love picking a short hike in the evening and planning to reach the crest just as the sun is setting. Desert sunsets are a beautiful array of bold, vivid colors. They take cameras and sometimes a sketch book with them to capture the sunset.
Night hikes are also a great way to learn about the desert’s nocturnal animals.
Study the Stars
Summer is a great time to take your nature study “after hours” so to speak. During the day you can study the shapes and learn the approximate location of the summer constellations. Then stay up a little later and find a spot away from city lights where you can look for them in the night sky.
Bird Baths and Feeders
While it may be too hot to play outdoors, you can still observe from indoors. Putting a bird bath or bird feeder in front of a window will allow you to watch for birds throughout the day. Pick up a guide for birds in your area to help you identify them. Keep track of how many birds and of what type show up during the day and look for patterns.
Evening Nature Programs
Check with nearby State Parks, Reserves, and local libraries for special summer programs. Often they will host one or two nights during the summer where they will bring docents to share with the public about desert night life. These free events are typically geared toward the whole family and can be a unique learning experience.
High temperatures do not have to mean a furlough to your outdoor nature study. They do require more intentional planning, precautions, and some out of the box thinking. As always when out in the desert, whether day or night, make sure you are dressed appropriately and have plenty of water.
A big thank you to Destiny Mawson of Some Call It Destiny for writing this article.