I'm a voyeur. I love getting that sense of place. Whether it's feeling the vibe of that rusted out car that reeks of possum pee that the redneck kid sits inside to think in a YA novel, or the black tuber forests buzzing with flies that lay eggs in people's eye lids and corners of their mouths in a Science Fiction novel, or the poignant description of mangy dogs skulking about beside equally mangy kids in the urban squalor of a fantasy novel, most places are best described when there's that sense of life.
Yet so many novels feel empty. They might give air time to the teeming masses of faceless humans but they rarely give a sense of a place that is filled by other creatures. What of bird-poop-covered statues and ant-ridden (Oh God, the ants!) trash or ducks with their strings of ducklings? If animals do pop up, there's often a sense of the cliche. The world is filled with wolves and rabbits and prettily singing birds.
Liana Brooks is doing a bunch of wonderful world building articles and one of her latest focuses on Ecosystems. I'm going to give her article a really good read multiple times so that I can remember in my own novels that a sense of place is best achieved when the place isn't empty of life. Particularly in the wilderness.