This is the time of year when temperatures grow cooler and the leaves from the trees begin to change color and gently fall to the ground. It is the time of year of magnificent colors and crisp smells.
Believe it or not snakes and wildlife are still very active during this time of year, seeking extra food and hibernation areas for the long, cold winter ahead.
Many of us love fall and often take long walks, hike, or sit on the front porch enjoying the views and smells of the season. We are also so curious about our native wildlife. Some would even like to keep a journal of all the things they experience.
Often I receive emails asking how someone can go about keeping a detailed snake and/or wildlife journal. No matter if it is one individual or a whole family, it is great to do this and you can really learn a lot from it.
You can use a regular notebook, a special journal you have bought that you love to write in or whatever your creative mind can come up with. You can title it whatever you wish. Perhaps it is just one living creature you wish to study or many animals, but regardless, plan a day or even mulitple days and put your creative side to work.
Title your journal
Write down the date and time when a species was observed
Be as precise as you can as to where the species was seen. You may want to return to the location again one day.
Remember careful notes may one day help with future efforts to preserve and protect species in the wild.
Make note of the animal's habitat, the particular type of environment in which a species lives, such as a rocky hillside, forest, flowing stream or field.
Include temperature, humidity, precipitation, amount of cloud cover, sunlight, moonlight, and wind activity. Children especially seem to enjoy this.
With your weather notes on a certain snake or wildlife species this will also show how the species reacts to cooler or warmer areas compared to other species.
Describe the type of animal seen, including special markings or unusual coloration.
Try to do a little research on the animal to determine if the species is endangered, threatened, protected, or if it's a species of concern, on a watchlist, or if it's rare, rare and declining, or rare and local.
Take pictures if possible or maybe even try to draw what you see.
Please remember to always observe our native snakes and wildlife from a distance for yours and the animal's safety. Get out and enjoy what Maryland nature has to offer. There is so much to see and do right in your own backyard.
Tammy is a Maryland Licensed Dept. of Natural Resources Snake Trapper. She writes an online column for fredericknewspost.com. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.