What I’ve learned from noticing nature

Common eastern bumble bee on wild bergamot (Photo by Wendy Ho/NCC staff)

Common eastern bumble bee on wild bergamot (Photo by Wendy Ho/NCC staff)

July 14, 2023 | by Wendy Ho

As a busy working parent of two young children, my hours and minutes seem to slip away at every turn of the corner, between parenting duties, work and general adulting. When everyone has turned in for the evening, I grasp at what’s left of the day for some me time, which usually involves folding laundry over an episode on Netflix.

Recently, an article I read inspired me to start noticing nature. I thought it might just be what I needed throughout the day. So, this year, I began to make quick in and out trips to my backyard between work assignments, to stretch my legs or get some fresh air. I know with these mini nature breaks becoming routine, I’ve set a good foundation and will be just a step, hop and skip away from participating in community science.

And this is what the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Big Backyard BioBlitz is all about: noticing nature and sharing your observations. By uploading your species shots or sound bites to the Big Backyard BioBlitz, scientists can use this data to take stock of local biodiversity, track rare species and fight invasive ones.

Deepening my nature connection and knowledge

I’ve read a lot about bee species in Canada. But to see this diversity with my own eyes gave me another level of appreciation for nature. Check out what I observed the other day on just one milkweed plant:

This summer, a colony of common eastern bumble bees decided that the brick steps leading from our dining area to our backyard was prime real estate to set up shop for the season. My family has enjoyed watching the bees leave and enter a hole between the brick and the foundation of the house. The bees rise with the sun and return at dusk, individually and never in droves. Their landing is always carefully calculated. They approach with speed and slow significantly near the landing zone, like a parachuter approaching their landing spot.

It’s an absolute joy to watch and makes my inner child, and my own kids, squeal with joy. Me time now encompasses quick trips outside to check in on the birds and bees and that plant whose name I don’t know yet.

Noticing nature is a fun activity for everyone

Besides just observing, we love to take photos and share them with family and friends, and on social media. I know my love for nature has rubbed off on others when people start asking me to help identify insects and plants, whether something is a native plant or not, even though I am not an expert.

I know you might be wondering if this activity is truly for anyone of any skill level. The answer is a resounding yes! Whether you’re a first-time participant or a seasoned pro, or just a nature lover like me, you can play a role in documenting nature around you from August 3 to 7, 2023, during the Big Backyard BioBlitz.

Last year, people all over the country contributed a whopping 5,224 different species to the Big Backyard BioBlitz  over just five days. Now that’s teamwork!

Turn your gaze to nature and join thousands of other nature lovers who’ll be contributing to valuable science data and make this your much-needed me time or social time with family and friends.

Sign up to participate at backyardbioblitz.ca.

Wendy Ho (Photo by NCC)

About the Author

Wendy Ho is Nature Conservancy of Canada's digital content manager.

Read more about Wendy Ho.

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