Nature Study:One Year Pond Study Week 5 (Ecosytem, or maybe not!)

It was dark, cold and windy this week at our pond.  But we were to find out that not even the weather can stop what nature intended!
It was dark, cold and windy this week at our pond. But we were to find out that not even the weather can stop what nature intended!

Click here for the previous weeks pond study

Today, week 5 of our pond studies, we concentrated on ecosystems.  At least that is what I had planned.  All the great plans of mice and men….

It started off well enough with Gary doing a teaching session on ecosystems.  There’s something you should know about Gary- he used to be a lecturer many moons ago.  He’s good, very good.  I’m in the hall way on the computer and all I hear from the living room are sighs of contentment punctuated with the odd, ‘Daddy, your SUCH a good teacher!’   I pop my head around the corner for a photo of this apparent perfection and what do I see but Hangman being played on the white board – essential I am led to believe, in the whole concept of ecology!

My lecturing husband, completely in his element
My lecturing husband, completely in his element

I think ponds must have one of the most easily accessible ecosystems, and the children just found the whole thing fascinating (Hangman probably helped!).  In addition to Daddy, I let them explore this web site which they seriously loved.

Source

The goals this week were for the children to:

  • Understand pond ecology
  • Be able to identify any elements of the pond ecosystem in plain sight to them whilst at the pond
  • Be able to discuss the elements they were unable to see either because the season or because of their position ie under the water
  • Be able to use our water periscope to view under the water

However, once at the pond, we were met by a fairly badly injured duck, and it was this which was to take over our pond study:

Can you see the injury just above his leg?
Can you see the injury just above his leg?

It is incredible the difference just one week makes.  Last week all was peace and quiet.  This week, not so much.  The pond was heavily populated with Mallard ducks, with many more than last week.  Also, just seven days ago they were all existing happily and peaceably along side each other.  There was much love in the air when we went down to the pond this week with many of the ducks having paired up:

Pair 1
Pair 1
Pair 2
Pair 2
Pair 3
Pair 3
Pair 4
Pair 4
Pair 5
Pair 5
Pair 6
Pair 6
And even ducks who should know better, paired up....
And even ducks who should know better, paired up (Our mandarin duck paired with a female mallard!)

However, the contest was on for the remaining female ducks.  And what a contest!  It was so noisy and ferocious it completely ruined the peace of the previous week:

Choosing one's life partner is apparently a noisy and messy business!
Choosing one’s life partner is apparently a noisy and messy business!
These two males fought...+
These two males fought…
...and fought...
…and fought…
..whilst the female stood looking on, slightly bemused.
..whilst the female stood looking on, slightly bemused.
The best duck won in the end, and they sailed off into the sunset to beget some little eggs together.
Until the best duck won in the end, and they sailed off into the sunset to beget some little eggs together.

Which brings me full circle to our little injured Mallard we found on the side of the pond.  We believe it had been injured in a fight with another male for a female.  My children are not backward in coming forward and soon they had summoned the local vets to the scene with their net, followed by the RSPCA:

Here, they are checking whether the duck's leg is broken
Here, they are checking whether the duck’s leg is broken

They were so kind, sticking around for a good half an hour to chat with the children and explain why, if at all possible, they leave wildlife in the wild rather than bringing them in for treatment.  My older children are all passionate about nature (inherited from my mum) and they all felt this was the absolute highlight of their week!

The lady from the RSPCA chatting to the children
The lady from the RSPCA chatting to the children

They believed the duck would heal himself, but promised to look in on it the next morning.  We stuck around for a bit longer:

After much preening and cleaning of his wound...
After much preening and cleaning of his wound…
...he went in search of his mate, for whom he had probably obtained his wound in pursuit of..
…he went in search of his mate, who had probably inadvertently been the cause of his injury…
..who he found easily, waiting at the side of the pond for him...
..and who he found easily, waiting at the side of the pond for him…
And they swam off together (into the sunset, to live happily ever after...!!)
And they swam off together (to live happily ever after…!!)

As the RSPCA woman said, there’s more drama down at the pond than on TV!!

  Science Sunday   photo springcarnivalbadge_zpsdf7e7b80.jpg

21 comments

  1. My Pond! I love this part of my week! Firstly, I have the warm and fuzzies just looking at your lovely daughter’s face as she talks to the RSPCA lady… I can see not only genuine interest, but concern for the injured duck shining through. This is what Homeschool is about… for me… that conscious effort to provide learning experiences EVERYWHERE… not just for a couple of hours a day in a building. Your children will never forget what they learnt about that little duck. Awesome! And I must add.. that as I was catching up on my adopted Pond, my little man came peeping over my shoulder and we ended up having an impromptu chat about “the little duck that got hurt and the nice lady that was helping it to get better…” Your pictures were studied and assessed with all the seriousness that he could muster… How is THAT for shared Home School across the continents? 🙂

  2. I agree with Phyllis, you both are great teachers.

    And, my kids would have been just as concerned about the poor duck.

    I’m trying to think of a park or area nearby that has the variety of wildlife your park has and I”m just not thinking of it. The one park I was thinking of is being torn up and remodeled, thus ruining the perfect (though slowly disappearing) duck pond.

  3. What an adventure! Isn’t it great how flexible we can be as homeschoolers? Fab that the RSPCA were able to spend time with the children. And you’ve still got the fun of the practical side of ecosystems to go!

    When we (inspired by you) began our pond study 2 weeks ago, my C(9) observed that there were 4 male ducks to every female. It will be interesting when we visit again next Monday if this has changed. 🙂

  4. I love your photos, they are so close to the birds. Your children obviously enjoy their nature study.

  5. Oh how lovely that your children are so kind and caring like that. I hope he was ok in the end. Lovely way to study – getting out and about. Thank you for sharing your great post with the Spring Carnival.

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