One Year Pond Study Week 30: Celebrations at the Pond

Here is our pond this week:


Although we have crept into the autumn months, there remains a dusty summer murkiness to the pond.  I think in order for the pond to return to its former glory we need rain and lots of it.  However, when the first day of home school celebrations were discussed the pond was still the first suggestion on everyone’s lips.

First day of home school is rather a tradition in our household.  Much emphasis is put on just how much sugar one can cram into a single breakfast.  The children have oatmeal or Wheatabix everyday without sugar, so anything with sugar is a treat, anything with a double dose is near by Heaven!  Usually first days are celebrated with warm homemade cinnamon rolls.  This year, however, we went to our local bakery and bought jam doughnuts.  Our village bakery is one of the best in the land and is run by one of the nicest ladies ever.  She gets up early, early every morning and bakes everything on the premises fresh for that day.  We arrived at about 7.30ish and they were still warm.  Oh, my:

Munching and ponding at the same time
Munching and ponding at the same time

We decided to do a quick pond study whilst we were there, before heading home for the rest of our celebrations.  Daddy always tries to be available for the first day back as we have one-to-one chats with each child to discuss all of our expectations and goals for the year.  This ensures we are all on the same page so to speak.

The first thing we noticed was that the Mallard Drakes’ colourful coat had returned.  I’m not sure what was going on with my camera, but my pictures really weren’t very good:

It was great to see pairs of ducks again, rather than a cluster of brown birds.
It was great to see pairs of ducks again, rather than a cluster of brown birds.
The colours aren't quite as vibrant as I'm sure they will become.  I look forward to seeing if there is any difference next week
The colours aren’t quite as vibrant as I’m sure they will become. I look forward to seeing if there is any difference next week

Because this happened whilst we were away, we have no way of knowing whether they molted (as they did when they lost their colourful coats a few weeks back) or whether the feathers simply gradually turned back to their normal colours.  It was during week 25, just 5 weeks ago that we noticed the ducks were entering eclipse plumage (after mating they molt).  I looked up this whole phenomenon in order to understand it more:


In the Spring the Mallards have their full coat, looking like the male Mallard we all know and love.  After their mating season, the males are temporarily rendered flightless as they lose all their feathers (including their flight feathers) and produce a dull coloured basic plumage.  At this point they are known to be in eclipse plumage.  And here they stay for a few weeks until their mating season begins once more in early autumn.  It seems the bird then goes through a second molt (we missed this one as we were away on holiday) accompanied by the regrowth of the colourful coat once more.  This is known as the mating plumage.  During the eclipse plumage the birds are quiet, shy and reclusive which is exactly what we observed in week 25 when I wrote up our pond study commenting on the change of atmosphere around the pond.

How cool is that?  We knew nothing about the eclipse plumage at that point and yet we not only observed the physical changes, but because we knew our ducks so well we were able to pick up on the nuances of the character changes.  Seriously, everyone should study one facet of nature for a year.  We are learning so much; nature is giving us so much and yet we do so little to aid the process (unlike much of the education that goes on in our homes).  I love it.

Elsewhere around the pond the children discovered many treasures, some were a little puzzling:

Ponding up a tree!
Ponding up a tree!
As always the children got stuck into the business of discovery
As always the children got stuck into the business of discovery
C10 found a huge mollusc shell!!  Surely that should be at the beach?
And they were soon rewarded for their curiosity.  C10 found a huge mollusc shell!! Surely that should be at the beach?

Of course when we got home we had to look it up and there is indeed a bivalve mollusc called a swan mussel which is found in fresh water.  I was so sure it had come from the beach!  They usually bury themselves quite deeply, but maybe because there is so little water in the pond it was found nearer to the surface.  Or maybe it has been dumped there by someone after a visit to the beach.  It was quite an exciting find, whatever the truth.

T11 found his first conker of the season.  Our guys love conkers so he was pretty excited:


We also spotted some black berries, not quite ripe, but a lovely autumnal colour:

DSC_0463And some pretty purple coloured flowers.  Ahh, I just love the colours of autumn.  Definitely my favourite season of all:


All the while we kept our eyes open for the Moor hens.  Remember shortly before we went away the adult Moor hens had made another nest and hatched two more little chicks, bringing their brood to five in all.  The three older siblings were now independent and although stayed close by each other, they no longer needed their parents.  They were safe and sound this week:

Two of the birds swimming to meet their brother or sister....
Two of the birds swimming to meet their brother or sister….
And there is the third
And there is the third

It wasn’t until just before we left that we managed to get a glimpse of the parents and the chicks (and actually I could only see one chick):

One baby and two parents.  I wonder if the second chick is still alive?
One baby and two parents. I wonder if the second chick is still alive?

And then we spotted a beautiful site right at the top of a nearby tree, across the road:

Can you see?
Can you see?
Our Heron!
Our Heron!

It is so, so good to be back among our friends and know they are all doing so well.

Science Sunday  Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. This is such a lovely idea, I will store it up for the future. I cycle along a canal every morning and am always thrilled to see the resident heron somewhere along the banks. It brightens up my morning! Now I’m going to keep an eye on the ducks to see if I can spot changes to their feathers, I never knew about that so thank you 🙂

    1. Oh, yes…. doughnut happiness just makes everything that little bit brighter!
      Liezel, I really am praying everything will be perfect for you all this week end. I’ll be thinking of you (although not in too much detail, you understand!!)

      1. You are SO sweet! Thank you! After MUCH drama I am thrilled to let you know that my man will be home by early Friday morning! God is good to us. He nearly didn’t make it in time to dodge the incredible traffic influx that occurs at this time of the year for Hajj… if we didn’t get him out this week he would only make it home at the end of the month. NOT an option. God moved heaven and earth for us. We are infinitely grateful!

  2. It’s so interesting reading about your visit to the pond each week 🙂 I’d love to do a year study like this, maybe if my husband gets a longer contract with his next job we will give it a go 🙂

  3. I love your pond study. I never knew all that about ducks. Very interesting. We have ducks in our park pond. Here I didn’t think that pond would make a very interesting study because it is maintained so well by the city. I am glad you had a great back-to-school day. I love the way you and your husband spend time with each child on the first day. It is nice he is so involved with their education. The doughnuts look delicious!
    Have a blessed day!

    1. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have a husband who involves himself whole heartedly in the children’s lives. It is he who keeps me going when I feel I’ve run out of steam and haven’t got enough energy to go anywhere!

  4. You know, after reading about fresh baked jelly doughnuts, I didn’t think much else of the post would register, the drooling and stomach rumbling began, but then again, your posts are always so interesting – it did register! I find it so cool that you all had noticed a change in the ducks, you had gotten to know them so well. The mollusk would be quite a find – and I couldn’t help but smile at T’s conker – my husband is frankly a little obsessed with them, and every fall comes home like a squirrel with handfuls of them he gathers whenever we head out. And your heron – atop those trees! What a sight!

  5. never found your blog before, found it through country kids, and wow I need to read more of this, how amazing to watch the changes for a year. I have never really noticed the changes before either.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.