A Nature Study for Early Spring
Early spring is a great time to visit a pond and observe the new life that is awakening. You may hear the mating call of frogs and find their egg masses. You may see the first salamanders waking up from their winter hibernation. Or if you gaze into the pond, you may spy caddisfly larvae dragging around their house made of stones or bits of leaves.
Here are a few ideas to enhance your visit to a pond.
Learn a New Frog Call
Many different types of frogs start to call in early spring. See if you can learn a few new calls. Visit a pond and listen for frogs. The calls you hear may change weekly, so visit as often as you can.
Go Pond Gazing
Anna Comstock, the author of The Handbook of Nature Study, writes, “People who have never tried to fathom the mysteries of pond life are to be pitied. Just to lie flat, face downward, and watch for a time all that happens down there in that water world is far more interesting than any play ever given at matinee.”
The pond water in early spring is usually clearer of algae than later in the summer, so this is a good time to try to “fathom the mysteries” of the pond.
You may see a bundle of sticks or leaves move on the bottom of the pond. Then you’ll know you’ve discovered a caddisfly larva. The larvae use strong silk and bits of pond debris to make themselves little homes. They pull these around with them everywhere they go.
Here are a few of the questions and activities from Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.
- Of what are the caddis worm houses made?
- How many kinds have you ever found?
- Find an empty case and describe it inside.
- What does the caddis worm do when it wishes to walk around?
- What is the color of the heads and body? How does this help protect it?
- What does the caddis worm eat? Describe how it act when it eats.
You can see that to answer some of these questions would take a long time of observation!
Of course, you can always journal about your experience and have a record to look at later.
Here are some of the caddisfly larvae we saw on one of our visits to our pond in early spring.
I hope this inspires you to visit a pond near you and see what you can find. For a year’s worth of guided seasonal nature activities, check out my nature calendars.