Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: Pond in the Hills

The pond by our house is easy to get to but not as teeming with pond life as one might expect.  Last year, we did a term on pond study, and we did have a chance to observe the life cycle of the mosquito, the growth of cattails, pond birds (mallards, geese, coots, kingfishers, and flycatchers), the native trees surrounding...and that's about it.  That particular pond is sorely lacking in creepy-crawlies.

So this time we hit a different pond, farther up into the hills and much more active in water critters.

This is a trail I go through almost weekly during my hill run, but I'm there in the very early morning when the deer and wild turkeys are out but everything else is calm, and I had never taken the kids.

It's a small seasonal pond--during the summer it often dries up completely--but when it's full, there's lots to see.  Tadpoles and dozens of wee frogs and toads.  Dragonfly nymphs and dragonflies.  Swallows, egrets, geese, and mallards.

A marshy trail skirts the edge all the way around, and the kids spent their time circling to a huge fallen tree on the opposite bank, perfect for climbing.

the children always seem to try to get as far from us during their play as they can--see those tiny specks? :)
I have noticed while running there that the wildflowers change week to week.  Earlier in the spring, the place was absolutely blanketed in spring vetch and green grasses.  Now those have dried up and been replaced by early-summer sights: milk thistle, pineapple weed, verbena, mariposa lilies, birdsfoot trefoil, blow-wives, gilia, brodiaea.

A friend of mine has been working to identify California grasses and can pick out wild oats, barley, and rye for us.  And there was plenty there for us to find.

Just over that ridge, beyond the treeline?  The lake.  Up in the hills is a lovely place to be.


  1. Lovely pictures, Celeste. My children also tend to wander away while we are at the creek, going farther and farther upstream until I (almost) lose sight of them. They are always on the look-out for crayfish and other water critters. Such happy times. :)
    Have a lovely day!

    1. There is something about a little physical independence that is intoxicating to children, I think. That (short-lived) sense of freedom! :)