Bay Nature

High-five for Bay Nature’s “Naturalist’s Notebook”

Informative and beautiful posts help us see and understand the animals, plants, geology and clouds around us.

Wondering what owl you’re hearing hoot at China Camp? Want a cool resource that helps you identify (almost) anything (almost) anywhere? When we’ve got questions like these about the natural world around us, especially here in the Bay Area, we click on “Naturalist’s Notebook,” produced by Bay Nature magazine and available online and in print. 

For those not aware of this info-packed quarterly publication, Bay Nature is produced by staff and contributors dedicated to connecting people to our natural environment. One of Bay Nature’s regular features is “Naturalist’s Notebook.” This varied and informative grab bag of nature topics is penned—literally—by naturalist, author, and illustrator John Muir Laws. His beautiful field drawings fill the page, and are accompanied by easy-to-understand, hand-jotted notes, explaining what he has drawn. 

Naturalist and author John Muir Laws
Naturalist, author, and illustrator John Muir Laws

Laws is a huge proponent of using sketching to help you see things when you’re out in nature. In his own “nature journals,” Laws picks a seasonal, newsworthy, or just plain interesting topic and combines his words and drawings to help us understand the information better. A recent article by Laws on San Francisco Bay’s seasonal herring runs included drawings of pelicans diving into the water in search of their silvery, squiggly prey. Another piece included drawings depicting how squirrels use their tails as alarm systems. Geology, botany, meteorology—each topic gets explored and explained by Laws.

Friends of China Camp applauds Bay Nature’s high-quality environmental reporting. And we give a special salute to John Muir Laws for helping us see and learn with the help of his beautiful, bite-size postings.—reported by FOCC volunteer Harriot Manley

Credits: illustration by John Muir Laws/Bay Nature, photo by Andrea LauE