Our One Year Pond Study Week 17: Summer Fauna Count

Our pond
Our pond

Welcome to week 17 of our one year pond study.  For the rest of the posts in this series please see here.

To see our spring flower and fauna count see week 4

The point of doing the seasonal animal counts is to see if there are any changes in numbers, species and so forth.  The animal wildlife at the pond has captured our imagination so much the plant life has suffered from a lack of attention.  However, I ‘m happy with what the children are learning, so we have taken the decision to concentrate on that which interests us the most.

This week we recounted all the wildlife we saw at the pond and making a note of all that we didn’t see:

The children went around the pond with their notebooks counting and naming everything they saw
The children went around the pond with their notebooks counting and naming everything they saw

First we focussed on the ducks:

The Mallards
The Mallards

The first thing we noticed was that the mallards were looking a bit worse for wear:

DSC_0277

There were many suggestions why but we all agreed at the end of the day that we thought they might be molting.  When we got back home we looked at this website  and found that Mallards molt early spring or late summer.  If they were molting it was at the wrong time!  But to look around the pond there were feathers everywhere.  I thought maybe it was because the temperature has only just started to increase so the ducks thought it was just the beginning of spring.  Who knows?  But our Mallards are not looking their best at the moment.  We then counted them.  There were only 17.  Back in March there were 24.  T11 thought that as there were not any nesting Mallards on our pond, the nesting Mallards had flown to a larger pond to breed.  That certainly sounded like a possibility.  It will be interesting to see if numbers increase again over the autumn.

Next up were the Moorhens.  Last time we saw a pair, probably the same pair who are breeding at the moment.  Our pond, whilst too small to support Mallard chicks, is obviously able to support little Moorhen chicks,  of which there are three:

A mum and her chick
A mum and her chick

We also saw one Heron:

Our lovely Heron
Our lovely Heron

Last time we did a count in March there was no Heron.  In fact we didn’t see him until May.  He has been there almost every time since.  There was just the one, as always.

Conspicuous only by its absence was the Mandarin Duck who we saw briefly with another Mandarin, but haven’t seen during our pond study since week 10, in May.  We assume he has also gone to a bigger pond to nest?

We are also missing our pair of Canada Geese.  We last spotted them at the beginning of June.  Maybe they are also nesting.  They were around during the spring count.

One surprise this week was another terrapin.  In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen this:

A new visitor, or a shy resident?
A new visitor, or a shy resident?

Our other terrapin we recognised as a Red-eared Slider.  This one was much smaller, without any obvious red ears.  I brought up a photo of the last one we saw to compare:

Our Terrapin from April
Our Terrapin from April

The new one was definitely smaller, and also looked much younger, with more vibrant colours.   I zoomed in on the new terrapin and actually it does have some red in the ear area, it just isn’t fully developed yet.  We concluded that this too was a Red Eared Slider.  Later on we saw both swimming together, so we have at least two in our pond and who knows how many more.

We were also able to get a couple of photos of some insects, of which there were none during our spring count:

A couple of Dragon Flies mating?
A couple of Dragon Flies mating?  I stand corrected!  Hwee left a message saying they were in fact Damsel flies (thanks Hwee!)
And another insect of which I've no clue what it is!
And another insect of which I’ve no clue what it is!  Maybe another Dragon Fly or May Fly?

It has been interesting comparing the fauna around the pond now, in the Summer, to that which was around during the Spring.  Next week we will be doing our Summer tree study.

Science Sunday  Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

17 comments

  1. That dragon flies photo is beautiful! The movement of the birds is an interesting subject. I’ve realised that the downside of the busy setting of our pond is that baby birds don’t last long. And both sets of our coots and moorhens both seem to have disappeared, despite the coots having been nesting. I wonder if they went somewhere quieter, or else were got by predators. I love how you always come up with a fresh perspective in your pond study.

  2. Do you not have mosquitoes? Here in Winnipeg, those that live near retention ponds (we do not have actual ponds in the city), have to take preventative measure (in spades) since still water breeds mosquitoes – by the millions!!
    Myra, from Winnipeg, where we get “chased” indoors a lot by the pesky mosquitoes.

    1. Is it a turtle? I’m not sure I know the difference but we thought it was a terrapin. Please do tell me if it’s not. I googled the picture and came up with the best match, however I know nothing about either!

  3. Great photos of your pond study; particularly the close-up of the dragonflies showing off their beauty. I do enjoy seeing the progress and change in the pond throughout your posts, hope the children appreciate it as well?

    Nipping over from County Kids.

  4. What a great idea to do a wildlife count! It sure makes for a lot of investigative work, eg why has certain animals appeared or disappeared from the last count, and where have they gone? Thought I’d let you know that the blue insects that were mating are damselflies. Dragonflies are much bigger and sturdier, and their wings don’t fold up when they are resting. Just one of those trivia knowledge that I happen to have. 🙂

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