Monday, November 10, 2014

Nature Study Outing :: At the Pond

We met friends at the pond last week to make some preliminary observations for a year-long pond study I've been hoping to do.  Although we have been to this pond many times, we haven't studied it in any organized way, so this time I wanted to make a quick observation of what we might study more closely on future trips.  I'd like over the course of this year to make seasonal notes, starting this term with a few object lessons on some common creatures and plants.

Our local pond isn't completely stagnant--water does not flow from it, but fresh water does flow into it from the dammed up reservoir, I believe.  (In addition to rainwater, of course.)  The water level was fairly high that morning, probably thanks to the rain we had on Halloween.

Surrounded by sycamores, oaks, poison oak, and cattails, it is a favorite spot for flocks of mallards and coots, tadpoles, and the occasional turtle.  

This time, though, we didn't find as many creepy-crawlies as I was expecting--I was hoping to see plenty of water bugs and lizards, but my kids, armed eagerly with skimming nets, only ended up with one tiny tadpole and a couple flying insects that we're still working to identify.  I thought we would see more activity since it has been such a warm fall.  I'm sure our spring or summer outings will be more fruitful.

The star of this outing ended up being a group of kingfishers, who kept flying from the tip top of the sycamores across the pond to the oaks just over our heads.  We have seen one lone kingfisher before at this spot, but never a half dozen at once, and never so social.  They didn't seem a bit skittish.  We spent so much time listening to their call back and forth, I don't think I'll ever forget their quail-like squawk.

We peeped through our microscope at some pond water and a sycamore leaf, spent some time drawing birds in our nature journals, and I got to work marking appropriate sections from a stack of nature study books.


  1. Hello. I've never commented before, just read and enjoyed. But I am curious about what microscope y'all use? We are thinking this would be a nice Christmas present and knowing what kind y'all use would be a good place to start looking. We live in Colorado, so I enjoy seeing your nature study posts. They are much different than our outings when it comes to the flora and fauna y'all see.

    Virginia Lee

    1. Hi, Virginia! We actually got our microscope for free (it's on loan from our charter school), so I'm not sure whether it is a good value, but my scientist SIL looked it over and said it works just fine. It's this one:

      I actually have my eye on a magiscope (I've read great reviews and it looks easy to use in the field), and I think that's the route I would go if I were buying one:

      Hope that helps! And thanks for reading. :)