by Stefani on 22-March-2010

Hello all, and happy new week to you!

It was COLD and blustery here this weekend, which was fine because it gave us a chance to come indoors for a while! There was baking, reading, and a good long stretch of poring over field guides in effort to identify all the creek critters that we’ve found on our recent romps.

We’re working on a field guide to “our creek” and thought that you might like a little show and tell.

Who knew there was so much life in such a little smidge of a creek?


Northern Cricket Frog

Large Tadpole (Bull Frog?)

Water Strider, Frog Eggs and Tadpoles

Dragonfly Larva

Daphnia (aka Water Flea - under microscope)

Red Shouldered Hawk

Coon Tracks

Beaver Signs

"Water Pennies" - Beetle Larva

Diving Beetle - Notice the silver air bubble for breathing!

Deer Tracks

Many of these were identified using the Golden Guide to Pond Life.

The water pennies were a bit of a mystery, until we found them here.

The tracks we’re familiar with, but if you’d like a great source for track ID, check out Animal Tracks & Signs.

The Northern Cricket Frog was identified by sound through a Texas Parks and Wildlife database. This was a monumental event for us, identifying our first frog by it’s song (which, incidentally, sounds a lot like shaking a bag of marbles would sound). We’ve been studying frog calls long and hard in order to help with the Texas Amphibian Watch program.

You know how when you learn a new word you begin to hear it everywhere? Learning frog calls is like that. After many MANY playings of our official frog and toad CD, those night noises have begun to have names and faces. Pretty cool stuff.

The hawk was identified through our new Peterson Guide to the Birds of North America. This book was recommended by our dear blog friend and fellow nature nut, Dawn. It’s wonderful because it shows juvenile and female forms of many of the birds, something lacking in most other guides.

Now get out there and get your feet wet!

Mad Woman March 22, 2010 at 12:20 am

I love that you got out there and did this. If I could convince Hubby to come and do this kind of thing, we’d be out there all the time..the kids would love it.

Eren March 22, 2010 at 5:04 am

Oh, this is amazing!!! So stinking cool.

Beth March 22, 2010 at 5:17 am

Awesome! It is high time we get out to a creek here in southwestern VA – you always inspire me to get back out there with my kids. I heard spring peepers the other day! Thank you for documenting all the critters – that is just the kind of inspiration my own kids need!

Laura March 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

Thank you for sharing this — what a wonderful idea! I love the idea of a field guide to something close and familiar, and discovering all that’s truly living there. And your pictures are fascinating! I guess we’re nature nuts over here, too. 🙂

Sarah m March 22, 2010 at 6:04 am

So fun! Thanks for sharing, looks like you and your boys have a great time heading outdoors…though I don’t think I’d let that leech in my house (they freak me out, seriously!) haha!
Sarah M

Stefani March 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

Well I didn’t really know we had it, or might not have! We brought home a bucket of finds and separated them into jars for observing and classifying. It really was remarkable to watch how it moves, a bit like an inch worm.
All the critters, save the tadpoles, are now happily back on their home turf, and we’re leech free!

molly March 22, 2010 at 6:07 am

It is SO true that once you start to recognize the natural world around you, your senses are awakened and you appreciate it so much more. One of the best decisions I made in college was to spend a summer at an Environmental Science College taking a Natural History course. It is probably the course whose knowledge I dip into again and again and again.
What a fun project!

Stefani March 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

OH!!!! If I could do college over again, I would do it so differently. I would take all the classes I wanted to take, and none of the ones I was “supposed to” take. I’d probably never manage a degree but gosh I’d have fun. Natural History would be at the top of the list!

Annie March 22, 2010 at 6:25 am

I love this! Those pictures came out so well- I almost feel like I could reach out and touch all those wonderful creatures. My daughter did a field guide to Vermont (in watercolors) as her holiday gift to family and friends this year and it was really fun. We ended up self-publishing it as a little soft-cover book. I would love to get her going on doing another one centered on the wildlife in our very own backyard.

T March 22, 2010 at 7:43 am

What great finds! We were exploring nature journals this weekend in the local bookstore for our little one! Looking forward to getting out there and meandering about the forests and lakes!

Mikael Behrens March 22, 2010 at 8:21 am

Sounds like lots of fun! Sound is just as important as sight to identify so many kinds of wildlife. You can even buy CD’s of frog sounds!

Hey, here’s something we stumbled on in the creek during one of my bird walks: a snail crawling upside-down on the surface tension on the water! I had never seen this before, have you?



renee @ FIMBY March 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm

what fabulous finds and such a nice new header!

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