Friday, October 15, 2010

OHC: Wild Goose Chase

Join us as we study nature using The Outdoor Hour Challenges. This year Ryne and Grace are joining with friends Cameron and Avery to explore this beautiful world God made. Moms, Kellie and Casey, are enjoying the adventure as much as the kids.

If you have been following our nature study adventures you will recall that two weeks in a row we failed to find geese to observe. Casey came to the rescue when she remembered seeing geese at a city park, so last week we took our nature study on the road again. We've decided that while we have this gorgeous fall weather we're going to take advantage of it, so we did another picnic. After lunch we started walking a trail that loops around a lake. As we emerged from the woods to our first lake view, we were excited to finally see the geese...

on the other side of the lake.

No problem, we'll just walk around the lake. As we made our way along the lake we spotted a blue heron. He kept flying off, and I didn't have my good camera that day, so I have no good pictures to share. Then we started noticing something really yucky -- lots of huge, dead fish. We were surprised to see fish that big in a relatively small lake. We couldn't imagine what caused all these fish to die, but after a little investigating I located the answer. In late September the area had a powerful hailstorm, with hailstones up to 5.5 inches in diameter. Apparently the hail could have caused a sudden enough drop in the lake temperature to kill the fish. Or another explanation conservation officials suggested was that the cold hail and rain caused the lake to "turn over" which can kill the fish. Several geese in the area were also killed, but thankfully they were removed right away. I will spare you the dead fish pictures.

Now it was getting hot -- really hot. That morning it was cool so we dressed the kids in long pants and short-sleeve shirts. But now it was 1:00 and we were all boiling. Kids were getting grumpy. "Be patient, we're almost to the geese!" Or not. The bridge crossing a creek had collapsed (or at least looked like it) and was blocked off. There was no way to get around the lake, except go back the way we came. At that point, Casey and I were ready to give up on geese forever, but we still had to get back to the car. One redeeming highlight was that on the way back we spotted some turtles sunning on the submerged tree where we had previously seen the heron. They jumped in the water almost immediately so our pictures are the only view some of the kids will get of the turtles. We finally made it back to our starting point and decided to just take the car around the rest of the way to where the geese were resting since the road passed that side of the lake. You could tell however, the kids were being pushed past their limit.

They revived briefly when we finally reached the geese!!! Canada Geese (I don't think I've ever seen any other kind). At least two dozen of them. Bonus -- three ducks were also among the crowd (the challenge included an activity for comparing geese to ducks)! There was a male and female pair of Mallard ducks that stuck close together. The third I had trouble identifying, until I found out there are many domestic ducks living in the wild, especially at city parks like we were at. Hey, I never claimed to know a lot about nature -- I'm learning right along with the kids!

The kids were able to walk up pretty close to the geese, who were mostly resting in a muddy area by the lake. The ducks stayed in the water the entire time. The white duck usually had his head half-submerged in the mucky water. A couple of the kids did quick sketches, but mostly we just observed. Instead of having them fill out the Venn diagram comparing geese and ducks, I just had them orally tell me the differences they were noticing. Here's what they observed:
One fun moment was seeing a couple of the geese fight. What a racket! One finally had enough and flew away. Pretty soon several of them flew away. The kids thought that was pretty neat, and "encouraged" the rest to fly away too. Is it okay to admit that our kids (mostly my son) chased the remaining geese away?

Despite the difficulties we encountered, it was a great nature study and I learned even more just writing this post, which I'm excited to share with the kids. We weren't able to meet for Friday School today because both our families have been sick this week. But next week, Lord willing, we will have something new to explore. We're done goose chasing for now!


  1. Great lesson!

    I think other than Canada geese we've only seen snow geese. Chasing geese is one of the boys favorite things to do.

  2. A+ for effort on this one! It reminds me how much the challenges are just to get outside and see what we can see....for some of us it helps to have a little target subject but it is great that you didn't miss the opportunities that came up before you found your geese.

    I think you were wise in doing some of the challenge orally because we all know the point that is "too much" for our kids. We want them to look forward to their next outdoor adventure not dread it.

    Thanks so much for sharing your day and for being such a great example.

  3. Awesome post, Kellie! I'm SO glad you got a picture of the turtles! I was all thumbs and, by the time I was ready to take a pic, they were back in the water!

  4. Hi, Kellie :) Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    I love that you have another family to do the challenges with you. I may have to round up another family too.

    I am also learning along with my children, and enjoying the adventure. Many times they teach me too!

  5. Perserverence pays off - even with tired kids! Sounds like a great fowl lesson and I LOVE the venn diagram! You're doing such a great job, teacher/mom!