Direct Observation

3 Hours of Direct Observation Every Week

Every session, record:

  • Beginning and end time of session
  • Weather conditions (notice details about temperature, wind speed and direction, tide)
  • Changes to habitat (notice tidal changes, moon phases, changes in vegetation, presence or absence of other animals, evidence of the presence of other animals…)
  • Ways your own behavior may affect either the animal or your experience of the animal
  • New details of animal appearance, animal behavior, habitat, or animal’s engagement with habitat and other animals (including you).

Close observation of animal activity:

  • Describe behavior without ascribing meaning or intention.
  • Describe the animal’s appearance (detailed narrative, not list):
    • Coloring
    • Size
    • Gender
    • Sounds
  • As you become more familiar with your animal, notice behavior and activity patterns.
  • Consider using ethograms – written and visual – to develop a language specific to your inquiry.

Every session, conduct reflective writing. Consider and periodically revisit:

  • Why did you select this animal?
  • What were your preconceptions about it?
  • What surprised you about this animal?
  • What has surprised you about yourself?
  • What are you learning?
  • What do you wonder?
  • What conclusions can you draw based on your observations?
  • Notice and record your relationship to the animal in its habitat.
  • What are you feeling physically?
  • What are you feeling emotionally?
  • What are you thinking?
  • How hard is it to stay focused?
  • Do you feel attached to the animal? Antagonistic? Afraid? What?
  • Have you become attached to this animal?
  • Do you seek its recognition?

Other details to include:

Habitat Observations:

  • Location address and/or physical description
  • Ecology (riparian, boreal, alpine, desert, marine….)
  • General characteristics (developed/undeveloped, managed/wild, dense/sparse human population, interior/exterior domestic, etc.)
  • Specific characteristics (types of trees, presence of fresh/salt water)
  • Other animals/species observed in habitat (including humans)

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