It’s easy for busy, daily life to push out the nature time we need. But there’s a way that lets you simply sit in the bush, actually be productive, and not feel guilty! Hello wildlife surveys!


There’s a way you can just sit and be still in nature, without feeling like you should be busy elsewhere. It’s simple and easy, and for workaholics like me, also productive and useful!

You can sit there by yourself or with friends and newfound acquaintances. It’s not a huge time commitment, and in a typical busy week is a much-welcome pocket of stillness.

Wildlife surveys let you sit in the bush, undisturbed, just watching the land, the water…and the passing wildlife.

Read more: A Guide to Wildlife Spotlighting


My Secret Way of Sitting in Nature & Still Being Productive

Brains love tasks, so give yours the job of observing nature for restful productivity

What are those critters up to?

Spring is a popular breeding time, which means wildlife are out and about – and they’re being counted. From platypuses to frogs, birds to koalas, different organisations often call for volunteers to help with their annual surveys.

Counting our fellow inhabitants tells us what’s going on with them, and also with the waterways, the land, and the climate. This is useful hard data we can collect for those making the tough calls on the future.

Read more: Find The Coolest Native Australian Animals

Just Sitting by the River

I recently joined several volunteer surveys for different animals. Each require their own unique way of observation and counting, and are often at different times of the day or night. An easy one to do is watching out for platypus and rakali, which is a dawn or dusk deal.

During my first time, after a short briefing, with clipboard and pencil in hand, we were stationed at sit spots along the river.


My Secret Way of Sitting in Nature & Still Being Productive

Do as Jack Johnson does: sit, wait, wish


We watched, waited, and counted for an hour, recording weather, water conditions, and observations every ten minutes. If you didn’t see a platypus or rakali, it’s a big fat zero. But that didn’t matter. It was surprising how quickly an enjoyable hour went just sitting beside the river, watching and listening.

What Makes it So Tranquil

I saw a kangaroo bounce across the ridge above me as the daylight faded. A pair of ducks made repeat visits, with their exquisite landing sound on the water.

The frog serenade gathered chorus participants, mingling beautifully with the sound of water falling over rocks. Further upstream other volunteers sighted the elusive platypus, who made multiple appearances in its search for a water bug dinner.


My Secret Way of Sitting in Nature & Still Being Productive, journal, river, river rocks, rocks, stream

You never know what you might witness when you give it the time

Enjoying My Sit Spot

On my next survey, it was the same deal: clipboard, sit spot on the water’s edge, fading light, clouds in the sky, reflections on the water. Again the hour passed quickly, just sitting there. Not much happened, apart from the occasional fish splash.

But just as the hour was almost up, a rakali sped past, heading downstream like it was late for an appointment. I never knew they could move so fast! It zipped past in mere seconds, then was heard rustling in the river reeds before being spotted further upstream.

A Joy and Delight

In a culture which prides itself on being busy and productive, I was definitely useful. I recorded data about both rivers, and even spotted a rakali. It felt good to make my own tiny contribution to protecting the nature I love to hike and cycle through.


My Secret Way of Sitting in Nature & Still Being Productive

Caught in a doom scroll? Go for an arvo stroll and find a spot to watch the world pass by


But it was also more than that. It was actually a good, old-fashioned joyful experience. It was the simple delight of sitting still in nature, having nowhere else to be, and watching the land breathe in and out.

Read more: Slow Down at a Forest Bathing Workshop