ExperiencePlus! Blog

Learning to See

Nature HikeWhether pedaling through the countryside on a bicycle or walking a trail in a natural area, you can enrich your experience by practicing these simple principles:



  • Take frequent breaks to observe your surroundings. I mean, really observe your surroundings. There’s a well-known quote by Sherlock Holmes: "You see but you do not observe." Observing is actively seeing. Notice the terrain, the vegetation, the wildlife and insects. "Look" with your ears as well as with your eyes. Listen for the melodies of birds and the sounds of insects. Pay attention to the scent of the trees, the meadows and the wildflowers.


  • Stop and write down what you observe in a journal. Note the details. Include the date, location, what the subject of your focus was doing, and what eventually happened to it. Here’s a sample of a journal entry: Walking through Pineridge on Saturday, (date), observed primarily yellow bird on a tree near the reservoir. Flew off after one minute in the direction of a passing insect.


  • Next, make a sketch of the bird, noting it’s coloring and other distinctive markings. Draw the leaf of the tree. Anyone can sketch. Sketching helps you to recall details later on. It also helps you focus in-depth.

    After you have entered the details and made a sketch, jot down any questions that come to mind such as: Is the bird a year round resident? What does it eat? Where does it nest? How many eggs does it lay?


  • When you return home, research your findings. Every organism has a niche in a community. A niche is the profession, home life, friends and enemies of a particular species. All the species in a given environment make up an ecosystem. If you pay attention to one species, you can’t help but learn about others in a given ecosystem.



Nurture an inquiring mind and a reverence for all life. Be interested in many things. No matter where you go, be sure to take all your senses with you. You’ll be guaranteed a good time.