Nature Study: Pond Critters
It’s still really hot here in Georgia, so our nature studies are a bit shorter than they would be on a pretty fall day, but I’m determined to do them weekly — or nearly weekly, anyway!
Thanks to the August edition of Barb’s “Outdoor Hour” newsletter, I decided we’d do a month-long pond-related nature study. For the first week of our study, we studied pond critters in general.
Kathryn said we should go down to check on how the cattails were growing, since we studied them back in January: Cattails in Winter. As we walked towards them, I stopped and pointed out something big and grey. Kathryn said, “It’s a great blue heron!” I agreed that’s what I thought it was, and we verified it with our bird guide when we got home. They are nearly four feet tall, and when it took off to fly across the lake (away from us), we were amazed that it’s wings are even longer than the bird is tall!
We brought a bucket with us, and I intended to scoop out some water from the lake to examine more closely, but plants had grown up all along the edge, and I was wary that snakes might be hiding in that scrubby vegetation. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I had on long pants and boots, but my capri pants and flip-flops were not snake worthy. So we skipped that part of the study.
I saw what I thought were crickets hopping, but then realized they weren’t crickets at all. I said, “Look! It’s the smallest frogs in the world!” Which is probably an exaggeration, but not by much. I caught one of the miniscule frogs to show her — and promptly got peed on. I was surprised how much pee could come out of such a tiny frog. (I do get extra nature-study-super-mom points for that, right?!?) Then Kathryn caught one and I snapped a photo of the frog in her hand to show how very small it was.
In addition to the excitement of a very tall heron and very tiny frogs, we also saw several Canada geese, two ducks (either “black ducks” or female mallards), countless turtles in the pond that would come up for air and blow bubbles, small fish at the water’s edge (probably what our heron friend was fishing for), and several types of dragonflies.
For just a half hour or so at our neighborhood lake, I was pleasantly surprised at our delightful pond study! A perfect start to what I hope will be a year chock full of great nature studies!