Thursday, June 04, 2009

Last Day of School: Pond Experience

Today, we went on a nature walk for our last day of school. We went pretty early so it wouldnt' be too hot. And, we had a great day! We were using information I'd read in the new NaturExplorers unit, Peaceful Ponds. Again, I really recommend these studies! There is SO much information in them!

We packed some plastic test tubes and a white plastic cup so we could scoop water from the pond. We also packed some bread to feed the ducks, geese, and nutria. And, we packed our cameras, a bug box, and a magnifying lens. I wish we would have packed binoculars!

Our first stop was to feed the usual animals. We were really surprised when a bunch of turtle started swimming over for some pieces of bread! We've fed at this pond many times and never had any turtles come to eat! There were 12-15 of them! If you'll notice the turtle near the middle of the photo, we accidentally had thrown a piece of bread on his back. The nutria which is coming towards him in the photo, ate the bread right off his back!

Another huge surprise was this great egret who came, too! My best guess was that he has figured out fish come to eat the bread so he's hoping for a meal, too. I didn't see him eat anything, but he was wading around just feet from us.

I just liked seeing the egret's toes in this photo.

We found 2 of these NEAT caterpillars. I put this one in our bug box for a few minutes to get a better view. I'm a little afraid to pick up caterpillars as I don't know which ones can sting. So, I picked it up safely with this box. I loved his long, white hairs.

We found this tiny toad in the mud around the pond. I've actually never seen the pond SO shallow. So, a lot of the ground which is usually underwater was "dry" - well, actually it was VERY muddy. I should have had boots on!

While in this area, we scooped several cups of water. We caught some fast-swimming insects which I still haven't identified. And, we caught 2 tadpoles which we brought home. I'm planning on returning the insects tomorrow, and I haven't decided about the tadpoles. Right now, we're feeding them frozen lettuce. We would need to get more pond water if we were to keep them. Or, does someone with more experience have some ideas?
We looked for tracks in the mud and were surprised to see some adult human barefoot prints. Ew! Squishy mud! :-) Anyway, we did find these tracks which I believe are from the nutria.

This was too funny. We came to a area that had 4 pine trees. I challenged Alex to see who could find the first bug. Within seconds, I found this dragonfly... a PLASTIC dragonfly stuck fairly high in a tree! Now, why do you suppose it is there? (I don't have a clue.)

I LOVED these white balls on this tree. They're about the size of a sweetgum. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were biting around here, so this was a quick stop.

And, as we finished our trip around the pond, we came across some of the nutria's dens. They make their homes under some of the trees along the banks. You can actually see quite aways down there!


live4evermom said...

What a neat trip. I've never seen nutria in person.

I'll be at the sethsa homeschool convention Fri and Sat morning. You going?


live4evermom said...

I'm planning on the Woodlands too. Just hubby and I.

Rhonda said...

It looks like a wonderful day with LOTS to see and do. I am going to have to check out those units.Thanks for the links.

Jennefer said...

What a wonderful nature walk. Nutria have always given me the creeps. They remind me of little R.O.U.Ses from the Fire Swamp in Princess Bride! ;) Still what fun to encounter so much wonderful nature in one place. Wow!!!

Robin said...

Looks like a fun experience!
As for the toads, GB and I usually use distilled water with some nice rocks for the tadpoles to swim around. And rather than the frozen lettuce, we just used flake fish food. They love it and grow fast with it. When they get bigger you'll have to switch to crickets or meal worms.
I'm probably going to post this week on our latest batch of tadpoles and I'll include a picture of their habitat. So far, they seem to be doing very well.

Jane said...

Just found your blog. Looks like a great day at the pond!

Melissal89 said...

Wonderful nature study day! You found so many things to observe. I love all your photos! I'm so glad you are enjoying our unit study on Ponds.

As far as keeping the tadpoles, we've only ever used creek water, since we have it closeby. However, I've read that you can put tap water out in the sun for a few days to neutralize the chemicals and make it safe for them. I've never tried the distilled water as was suggested, but that sounds like it works too.


Cindy said...

I LOVE the itty bitty toad!! Studying ponds is one of my very favorite nature studies. I think we're headed out to find some pond plants this week since all the ponds in our area are covered with interesting things to collect and observe.

Thanks for mentioning our units. I'd still love to add your pond dock idea as a guest post. Are you still willing?? :o)

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