In order to prepare for the investigation, I took a quick trip to the library to grab some field guides. Field guides are helpful for finding the answer to "what in the world is this?" questions. Libraries have many field guides to help assist you in identifying birds, trees, rocks, minerals, insects, butterflies, animal tracks, stars, sea creatures, seashells...and the list goes on.
Finding insects is a piece of cake in Georgia. They are EVERYWHERE! It was a special treat, if you can call finding this gross thing a treat, to find the exoskeleton of a cicada. As we grow, our bones grow, but an insect's exoskeleton can't grow with it. When the insect outgrows its exoskeleton, it grows a new one under the old one and then crawls out of the old skeleton. This process is called molting. So, finding this exoskeleton was a neat find.
I'll admit, being a backyard detective is a bit creepy. You never know what you're going to find! I spotted this MASSIVE spider hanging from it's intricate web, near the bushes in our backyard. This find prompted Syd to run full speed into the house to find her father. He came outside and identified this as a garden spider. My fear is of the possibility of there being an egg sac behind it, and of there being thousands of itsy bitsy little spiders being born into the world (MY BACKYARD), growing into these gargantuan, flesh eating beasts. I may have allowed my fear take that a bit too far, but you get my point.
We found this wildflower in the flower bed. Syd was able to use the field guide to wildflowers to identify this as Birdsfoot Trefoil, or what some people like to call "butter and eggs".
Aaron was able to identify the tree in the backyard as silver maple and the tree in the front yard as red maple. They are close cousins.
After spending a few minutes in the backyard investigating and identifying our specimens, we took a walk down to the lake, with the field guides, to see what kind of new things we could discover.
Aaron found a goose feather and a track.
Sydney found lots of minnows swimming, and lots of neat rocks. I was so excited to find one of my favorite birds, the Great Blue Heron. There it was standing silently along the lake, looking so peaceful...that is... until I started stalking it. This is a BIG bird! I couldn't get close enough to get a good picture of it... the closer I got, the more uneasy the bird got, and it didn't take long for it to decide to fly away... not to mention my nerves were getting the best of me as I was moving in closer. This isn't your standard little birdie with a little birdie beak. The bird is BIG. The beak is BIGGER! :D