Sunday, August 4, 2013

Entry 32: Friendly Neighborhood Spider

Late one summer evening, Alex called me to our front porch.  He had found these big, beautiful spiders.  He and his cousin had gone to the porch to eat their ice cream, it had only been dark for an hour or so.  In the short time since sunset, these two spiders were busy.  We had been out on the porch earlier, in the daylight, and didn't notice if they were at work.  In the space of the front steps there was a web as big as a kitchen table.  These are not the greatest photos, I was in a hurry to be away from the mosquitos and inside... but you can see the great size of the web.  The spider itself was a good inch, maybe a bit more, legs included.  Maybe the size of a half-dollar coin, to give some idea of perception.

And... on the siding of the house... there was a friend.  Another spider, just like the one on the huge web, just hanging around!  You can see the beauty of the spider more in this picture.

Of all the spiders, the orb weaver spiders are the most interesting to find. The webs are so amazing!

Entry 31: Pond Study and Animal Tracks

Earlier in the week.. after school... when we dropped Daniel off for his weightlifting.. we looked around the Woodard Homestead for animal tracks.  With Hurricane Irene blessing us with a lot of rain, we hoped there would be a good chance to find decent tracks to cast a mold by.. A few years ago, when we first met the Woodards, we found a great opossum track and made a mold that was as good as any we found in any book or Internet site!

Daniel had completed an experiment in Apologia's General Science where he made a plaster of paris mold of a seashell, and was determined to make more.. "We have a lot of plaster of paris left, Mom!"  So, to keep him from going in the yard and casting a mold of his size 14 boot print, I suggested looking for animal tracks!

We found a few deer tracks, but they were too sandy to use... and several dog prints.  So many good ones that we couldn't resist making a mold of Noah's cute paw! (Noah is the Woodard's faithful and sweet dog)
We did come across a row of rabbit tracks.  We could follow, by the partial tracks, where the bunny hopped clear across the open muddy area.  They weren't the best tracks to mold, but they had some promise... we did manage one little paw!
Do you spy the tracks?

 This was a spur of the moment rendezvous with nature.. we don't all have hiking boots that fit for this fall yet.. with our summer shoes, in the mud left by Irene.. the children were making mud tracks of their own!

 Thursday was our scheduled no-schedule day!
Kaylee had stayed the night before and was bursting with excitement to have school with us.
So, we planned a nature walk. (Follow the link to our Nature blog for pictures and more description)
First to see cat tails, then to explore at Farmer Frank's pond.

This was our first trial at pond dipping.  We used borrowed equipment.. we will surely collect our own, we foresee repeating this adventure!  I ask the children what they enjoyed the most about our exploring, Millie enjoyed taking photos of the beautiful butterflies.. Alex enjoyed Farmer Frank's big comfy hammock.. Kaylee just enjoyed everything.. Daniel said discovering and identifying two insects was the coolest, and I whole-heartily agree!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Entry 30

Our first Nature Walk of our new school year September 1, 2011...
 First we stopped by the Woodard Homestead again for a look at the cat tails...
And to borrow nets for our pond dipping...
 Using the prompts from the Handbook of Nature Study blog..
we looked for insects around the cattails.. we saw a green dragonfly...
a few butterflies...
And this busy little bumble bee....
 We visited Farmer Frank's pond.. and we hope to return often. 
Our favorite sight was the beautiful Lantana bush overflowing with butterflies. 

  One goal of our walk was to study and observe dragonflies and damselflies...
these fast orange little buggers were extremely difficult to catch on camera...
this was the best of about a dozen shots....
Our pond dipping yielded several minnows, a very interesting 
Mayfly nymph, and a speddy little Whirligig Beetle.
(We initially identified the Mayfly nymph and Whirligig with our
Handbook of Nature Study,
then confirmed our guesses with a google search on the iPhone)

 This black and blue butterfly was difficult to capture with wings spread...
but eventually we did!
 The children got a good jump start on their nature journals..
we had been sketching occasionally throughout the summer,
but not with a purposeful subject to study.
Kaylee tagged along with her never been used nature notebook and rubbed a pecan,
oak and maple leaf for her very first entry. 
We enjoyed such a wonderful first walk of the year!
More on our walk will be posted on Promise Christian Academy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Entry 29

I (Hilda) waited for about twenty minutes, crouching down behind my sister's kitchen sink.. iPhone in hand, waiting for this sweet little hummingbird to stop by...
Here is a wonderful video of hummingbirds...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Entry 28

One day at the beginning of the summer, dad and I were outside sitting on Ms. Lossie's gazebo and we heard some 'chirping'. So dad decided to investigate, and he found these baby birds. There were four all together. He told me I needed to take pictures of them before they flew away from their nest, so I ran inside and got the camera.  These are a couple photos I got.. I think that they were hungry when I took these.

These birds were baby robins. Form the yard or swing, we watched the parent birds feed the babies over and over again.  When we sat in the gazebo to talk and visit with Ms. Lossie's family, the parents were perched nearby with worms dangling from their beaks waiting for us to leave.  They never ventured to fly in and feed the birds while the gazebo was occupied.  We listened to a steady squawking from the babies, and soon we would step out and allow the parents for administer nourishment!  Our cat Pepper would taunt the parents and sit on the railing of the gazebo.  We shooed her away countless times.  Happily, the birds grew and left the nest safely on their life's adventure.  We left the nest in place, for the next bird family.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Entry 27 Kildeer

Our friend, Ms. Lora, called us one day to tell us they spotted a kildeer nest right in their driveway.  We managed to peek at it several days.  We watched the parents ruffle their feathers when we drove by.  The boys say "they started spreading out their wings and freaking out".

 The speckled eggs were very beautiful, and difficult to spot as they 'blended in' with the surroundings.  However, we could always find this next because there were two cinderblocks placed there to keep the nest protected from vehicle tires!
We did not get to see the eggs hatched... we missed the opportunity to see the baby birds.  Ms. Lora tells us that three hatched and two birds survived. 
Here is a link to find out more about the kildeer...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Entry 25 A little green visitor

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Dictyoptera (Mantids and Cockroaches)
Suborder Mantodea (Mantids)