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21 October 2014

Nature Study: We Found a Pond!

I was so inspired by the pond study these guys did! The idea of going every week, always to the same place, is one that has appealed to me since she talked about her rationale for going to the same place. I think it was Angelic Scalliwags, anyway, but I can't find it on the blog this morning. But the idea was that, in going to the same place repeatedly, you get to know it in a much more intimate way. You get to know the regular critters, the usual plants, and you can see how they change over the course of a year. Things that you just can't learn in a single visit. I love that idea. So we tried a while back, but the weeds grew up around our first pond and we couldn't get to the water, so that plan fizzled after just a few weeks.

But we found a new pond. And friends to go with us. It's very exciting. 

Nature Study: Pond Study at Baby Steps Blog

It's only a few miles away, and it's plenty wild, so there's lots to see. It's got 2 docks, plus a small shore area, and the rest is wooded right up to the water's edge. In addition to the pond itself, there's a good size nature preserve, and a little nature center with people who Know Stuff.

Nature Study: Black Eyed Susans near "our" pond.

Tons of wildflowers, though most have gone to seed and died back for the winter already. I was quite surprised to see these Black-eyed Susans so late in the season. They're definitely past their peak, but still so cheerful. 

Nature Study: Field in Autumn

It's mostly wooded, but in a few places, it opens up to some great views. 

Nature Study: We found a tree frog by our pond!

This week, we found a frog. Again, a bit surprising for so late in the season. We've been getting frosts already. I would have guessed the frogs would have gone into hibernation or whatever it is they do; we still need to look that up. 

The green stuff on those fingers is duck weed. We asked about that last week at the nature center, and checked it out this week. They told us that it's such a desirable species that people with ponds will often plant it. Interestingly, it isn't slimy at all. Feels a lot like couscous when you touch it; it's all dry and grainy. I was pretty surprised by that. 

Nature Study: Checking out the Gray Tree Frog we found.

The kids had a good time looking the frog over. We talked about how his feet looked like tree frog feet, but we didn't have any way to identify him right there. I was amazed at how tightly he clung to our fingers! He had to be pulled off when it was time to put him back where we found him. We looked him up later and decided that he's probably a gray tree frog. 

Nature Study: Buckthorn gives us an opportunity to learn about invasive species.

Saw lots of these shrubby trees with berries on them. We had a conversation about how they are similar to blueberries, but not quite the same. The guy at the nature center said they're actually buckthorn, which is terribly invasive, so much so that there's a group that periodically comes to help them kill a bunch of it. So we need to do some learning about invasive species. 

Nature Study: Love that autumn maple color!

This one is a maple. The maples are just amazing right now. 

Nature Study: The thistles are almost spent.

The thistle are pretty well spent. But still so pretty. I was pretty surprised to see a bumblebee out so late it the season. She was definitely sluggish, like they get in the fall. 

Nature Study: A sluggish bumblebee, getting the last bits of necter.

I'm not sure what these are, but the seed pods are just so striking against those lovely yellow leaves. Autumn is so beautiful. 

And one more maple. There are do many of these around town; the whole city is just on fire with autumn maple colors. 

Over at Angelic Scalliwags, they had something of a plan as they started out. We haven't gotten so formal as that, at least not yet. But we do look things up as we're there (Hurray for little computers in the pocket!), and this week we're headed to the library to learn about tree frogs and invasive species. But for the most part, we enjoy the pond and keep an eye peeled for interesting things. Can't wait to see what our pond does next.

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