Beach Grove heron could show gulls a thing or two.
|"Not bad for an old-timer, eh?"|
Notes and photos from wanderings in the Lower Fraser Valley, BC., with a few thrown in from Bella Coola and other BC visits. Favourite spots: Reifel Island, Boundary Bay, Mud Bay, Strathcona, White Rock, Cougar Canyon, etc...
Sometime last summer, a snail I hadn't seen before came home from Boundary Bay with me, hiding in a bag of greens for my hermits. He* was small and dark, slate grey and brown, sort of whelk-shaped, nondescript. Nothing to write home about.
I added him to the tank with some trepidation; the whelks and their ilk are usually predators, and sometimes very hungry. I kept an eye on him, and on the possible food sources in the tank; there are a couple of clams, some mussels, always a few barnacles. When I do a thorough cleaning, I comb through the sand. The clams are still there. The mussels are bigger than they were. But the barnacles I've added just a bit ago are now empty shells.
The snail eats barnacles. Nothing else, it seems.
Barnacles are easy to come by, in quantity. He can stay.
|Last August, heading up out of the sand.|
|The white is dirty, now, algae-encrusted. But the divide is still there.|
|And the new shell is more ridged than the old section, possibly because the snail isn't being rolled around by fast currents.|
|Baby trophon, April, 2012. A few millimetres long. New, sharp sculpturing.|
|Little Nassa, leading the way with her small, unprotected siphon.|
|Trophon bottom, showing the siphonal canal. The opening and exit are just visible.|
|Flipping back the operculum (that reddish lid) to extend the foot.|
|Spotted orange and white skin of the foot. The siphon canal extends to the right, the direction of travel.|
Muricid (whelks and their ilk - rock snails) shells are variably shaped, generally with a raised spire and strong sculpture with spiral ridges and often axial varices . . .
Many muricids have episodic growth, which means their shells grow in spurts, remaining the same size for a while (during which time the varix develops) before rapidly growing to the next size stage. The result is the series of above mentioned varices on each whorl. (From Wikipedia)
Val, the terror of my tank:
Looks good enough to eat!
|Hydroid medusa, against sea lettuce.|
Eelgrass isopods are shy creatures, usually hidden in the shadows, sometimes so firmly attached to the underside of an eelgrass blade as it waves in the current, that they become effectively invisible. This one broke precedent and climbed to the surface to say, "Hello!"
|"And look at my cute cap!"|
Another day of snow with rain for a chaser. Another day of sifting through old photos; my neck is sore, but the computer's happy.
|Wicked-looking spines. I didn't dare move in closer.|
|The male holds his mate by the shoulders and sides. Prickles be damned! This is true love!|
They promised us rain all week, but sunshine for the weekend. What we got was sunshine all week, but Saturday it alternately snowed, hailed, rained, and threatened more of the same, or worse. Neither of us felt like going beachcombing, as we had hoped.
A good day to stay home and get some more work done. Laurie cooked; I sorted and cleaned out half a year's worth of photos. In the last two days, I've managed to delete almost 10 Gigabytes of duplicates, copies of duplicates, copies of copies ... It feels good.
In the evening, when my eyes were burning, and my stick-to-it-iveness was just about dead, I ran across a folder labelled "Strathcona wildlife". It made me laugh, and gave me energy for another hour of work. So I'm passing it on.
These are from street scenes, walking around Strathcona when I was housesitting there.
|Have to start with a cat.|
|Lost in a gravel wasteland. And so hard on her tender toesies!|
|In a window, with reflections. Deer and lizards. (Well, the remains of deer.)|
The tide was low again; not the summer-time half-way to the far side of the bay, but maybe about a third of the way. It was a pleasant walk to the edge of the water, splashing through a few ankle-deep streams, but the sand on the bars was barely damp.
Out on the last sandbar before the tide turned again, many hooded nudibranchs were dying on the slopes, a sad sight, but also a reminder of ongoing life.
|Melibe leonina, the lion's hood sea slug, about 4 inches long.|
These two photos are total duds, but I can't look at them without laughing. This eagle was on the sand at Boundary Bay beach at low tide and 'way off in the distance. The gull came up behind him, and he started to dance.
|"Come on, dance with me!"|
|"We make a good couple, don't we?'|
. . . underwater rabbits, that is. A couple of small anemones arrived in the aquarium towards the end of last November. By the first week of December, one had split iself down the middle twice. A few days later, there were 2 more. These 5 then cloned themselves, making 10. And so it went; at last count, there were about 50.
They started out on the wall of the aquarium, up near the water surface, but now that space is crowded, and they've begun to move to the seaweed and stones in the tank. One group is hanging out on the water pump, making a nuisance of themselves when I need to change the filters.
|On eelgrass. The column is less than 1/2 an inch tall.|
|On a brown seaweed, against a background of Turkish towel.|
The weather gods are capricious this year; undecided, wishy-washy. It's spring, no it's winter, no - spring. How about a bit of rain; not too much; or should the sun be shining now? Hey, let's freeze everything again; why not? People are out in shorts and t-shirts already; can't have that! Make it snow!
It's been snowing for the last two days, mostly small, wet flakes, not quite melting as they fall, switching over to big, lazy blobs, then back to frozen Scotch mist again. It's been enough to pile up 6 inches of snow on the bird bath, and bend down the branches of the maples. They're promising us another day of it, before the thermometer takes another flying leap upwards.
We made it a lazy day, only venturing into the back yard to take a handful of photos.
|Loaded maple branches|
|The cedars shed the snow; the maple doesn't|
|We had to laugh at my heron's hat.|
|Junco on the suet cake|
|Sweet William. Never minds the cold.|
|Tall evergreens across the street.|
I brought home a few stalks of Turkish towel for my hermits, and this little critter came along for the ride.
|Sea urchin, about 1 cm. across|
The North Shore mountains, seen from the southern end of the lower mainland, on a warm February afternoon:
|Front to back: Boundary Bay, Surrey, Vancouver, North Vancouver, North Shore mountains, sky.|
|Zooming 'way in, to a couple of ski slopes. My landmarks when I'm sort of lost; that way's north.|
|More new snow, very welcome.|
I've been spending these rainy afternoons staring into my aquaria, tracking hermits and clams and anemones, peering behind weeds looking for mating amphipods, watching jellies and worms . . .
Here's a small sampler:
|Very small hermit, under an odd-looking seaweed. I've been trying to identify these orange hermits, so far without success.|
|Eelgrass roots, covered with "gunk", mostly hydroids and detritus, with an amphipod. They love to feed on these messy roots.|
|Carnivorous snail, Nassa sp., following another up the glass, hoping to mate. When they're done, they'll both drop to the sand and burrow down out of sight again.|
|Amphipod on rotting seaweed, legs every which way, as usual.|
|Slipper snails, Crepidula sp., on one of the orange hermits.|
A hungry flatworm in my jelly and amphipod aquarium tank approaches a jelly resting on the wall:
|"Mmmm . . . This looks tasty! And no hard shell to worry about!"|
|"Yikes! It's got stingers!"|
|And he backs off, in a hurry, somewhat rumpled around the edges.|
Laurie caught this western conifer seed bug, out for a stroll around the house while the weather was warm. I housed him in a gallon jar with a tiny spider I've been watching since she was a pinhead. He liked it there; a comfortable, even temperature, a few dry leaves to hide in when he wanted to sleep, an interesting view out the door. He wandered over there every day to look at me, ask for a drink. He wasn't hungry; eating can wait for summer and running sap in the trees.
The spider wasn't a problem; she hangs out in a miniature web at the top of the jar, rarely moving, waiting for some tiny flying insect. A skinny mosquito is a week's meals for her.
I took the bug out when I cleaned the jar, and he walked tamely along my fingers, then without any fuss ambled back into his leaf litter. A friendly guy; these bugs usually are.
When the light was right, I took a photo of his underside as he walked on the glass.
|That long needle-like tube is what he uses to bore into the trees for sap. He's missing one leg.|
It's been a tough winter out on the dunes, too dry for BC, the temperatures too changeable. But some lucky seeds will always find themselves a good microclimate.
|Tiny plants in a crack of an old cedar log.|
. . . and a blogger, to boot, these would be my Captchas:
|Bark mining beetle tunnels in weathered driftwood|
|Dragons? Wolves? Fossil millipedes? Zorklwifs?|
I picked this up in a thrift store, some years ago, and it's been resting quietly on a bottom shelf, keeping out of trouble. Finally, its chance came: it waved at me this morning, shouting, "Hey! It's Valentine's Day! My day to shine!"
|Scorpion, 4 1/2 inches long, trapped in acrylic. I don't know where it's from.|