Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Seen in passing

One of a pair of deer browsing across from a mall, taken through the car window.

A frozen moment; he watched me, I watched him. Only my shutter finger moved. And his ears. After a while, he went back to his lunch and I drove on.

Monday, May 02, 2016

While the sun shines

The morning sun is high enough these days to reach my kitchen window and bounce its light off the wall back towards the aquarium for a few minutes; I took advantage of it to get some quick photos with natural light.

First shot. I didn't even bother to turn off the pump; no time to waste. Three anemones, an oyster, red and green seaweeds.

Sun shining through the tentacles of a little pink-tipped anemone.

The second pink-tipped anemone, with barnacles.

The burrowing anemone, reaching towards the light. She always wears this collar of red seaweed these days, and it's usually hiding a fair collection of neighbours; hermits, copepods, sometimes a crab, snails, worms, isopods, and limpets. Can you see the hermit? And the three strands of snail poop?

This rockweed isopod was poking around on the far side of the tank. There are two of them; I don't know how or when they arrived.

Limpet working on new growth on the glass. (I had scrubbed it well the night before, but algae grow quickly.)

And then the sun climbed over the roof and left the tank in dim light again.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Fishing boat dock, revisited.

Last November, I explored the docks where the fishing boats tie up, peering down into the water between the dock and boat sides, and between the old creosoted pilings. The winter has come and gone; the sun shines down the cracks and into the dark crevices again. I retraced my steps yesterday.

There was a stiff breeze, strong enough to blow my jacket over my head when I bent over; the open water was white-capped. The docks danced on the waves, bouncing against the pilings, making squeaking, creaking noises; cables under stress whined, old wood groaned. I had to be cautious, poking my head down gaps over dark water, careful not to let a swaying dock pin my hand against a piling.

Last winter, I found shrimp, kelp, red rock, and black-clawed crabs, purple starfish, yellow sponges, anemones, and a nudibranch. And styrofoam. Too much styrofoam.

This spring, the population mix has changed.

There were still kelp crabs, most quite large.

A large kelp crab on a piling, half underwater. From the way she holds her abdominal plate, half open, I think she's in berry, carrying a mass of eggs. What looks like a lump on her right shoulder (our right) is probably an effect of the water; when she moved about, it disappeared. The blobs on the lower left are styrofoam-coated gunk.

Mussels, along the bottom of a boat. With pieces and dust of stryrofoam.

Around almost every piling, the edges of the dock were covered with brownish, matted weed and these pink and yelllow lumps. I think they may be peach ball sponge, or something similar.

Some of the sponges were a vivid orange. I don't know if these are colour morphs of one species, or three different sponge species.

A circle of twisty, lumpy chains. I saw only one, and couldn't get closer. The circle is about 2 inches across. Eggs, but of what species?

On one of those rubbery boat fender balls, large barnacles have lived and died, leaving empty shells.

These, rescued from an old rope, are pinkish.

I saw no shrimp, though I looked carefully. There were many tiny, darting fish, several orange starfish, down deep; one looked like a leather star or cookie star, with short, wide arms. I couldn't find any purple stars.

Above the water line, there's this:

Old wood, rust, cracked paint, and an opportunistic weed, going to seed.

And there's still too much styrofoam.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

More purple

This time, it's a crab.

Blue, purple, and red-brown crab. Tyee Spit.

Tomorrow: peering past pilings.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lilac to purple

A few flowers from around my block.

Lilac. It seems everybody here has a lilac bush. The streets are perfumed.

Unidentified flowers growing in a great mound by a driveway. Beautiful, even the dying ones in the centre.

I had to sit on the curb for this one. A tiny, tiny vetch, growing in cracks in the cement.

Zooming in.
Vetches can be differentiated from most of the other members of Fabaceae by the fact that the terminal leaflet of each set of leaves is actually a tendril. (Islandnature.ca)

Purple iris

Zooming in. A "come hither" wave for pollinators. The yellow pollen banks remind me of the opalescent nudibranch.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Where the bee sups

The weather has been warm the last few days, so I was chasing bees. They were chasing pollen, and too excited about the new goodies on the trees to stay in any one spot for more than a few seconds. And they had company, which I was too busy following bees to notice until I looked at my photos.

Honeybee on hawthorn, with bags full of pollen. And a tiny fly on a leaf.

Another bee, also carrying shopping bags.

And another bee. With at least two other critters; can you find them?

Metallic fly; looks artificial.

Bumblebee in pink rhododendron.

Same bee, I think. And a tiny beetle. By the shape and size, I would guess it's a carpet beetle.

It looks like the buggy season is starting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fluff monsters

Dandelions are stubborn. And sneaky.

My patch of "lawn" here in Campbell River is about one third grass, half hawkweed, and the rest dandelions. I'm working on digging out the hawkweed, mowing the grass, and cutting down the dandelions as they appear. But the dandelions cheat.

Some of the dandelion heads stand tall, waving defiance. Most of them, though, slide along the ground under the grass until they're ready to go to seed. Then they pop up, toss their fluff into the wind, and sneer at attempts to harness them.

Dandelion seeds, brought inside where they won't reach the lawn. I hope.

A cut dandelion, left lying to die, will go to seed as happily as if it were still attached to its roots. A pollinated dandelion flower cut in pieces will still make seeds. A composted dandelion will leave seeds that can still germinate years later.

Yesterday afternoon, I mowed the lawn short, then walked back and forth, digging out dandelion stalks hiding under the grass until I couldn't find any more. In the evening, when I came home, half a dozen seed heads were standing tall. I collected them, and found another handful of hidden stalks. Today, there were three handfuls of flowers ready to go to seed, all hidden under the grass.

It's discouraging.

Not only do the seeds fly everywhere, they're equipped to hold on tight once they've landed, and maybe gain a bit more distance by sticking to animal fur or feathers. Or my shoes.

The seeds are covered in hooks.

One seed, ready to fly.

Zooming in. Six long ribs on this one, each with dozens of sharp hooks. A seed may have up to 12 ribs.

This species is a somewhat prolific seed producer, with 54 to 172 seeds produced per head, and a single plant can produce more than 5,000 seeds a year. (Wikipedia)


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just plain lucky

If I hadn't been looking at tidepool sculpins. If I hadn't gotten down on my elbows and knees to see the big plumose anemone under the rock in the sculpins' pool. If the sun hadn't angled in at just that moment; I would have passed these by without noticing.

Feather duster worms, on the underside of a huge rock, at the top of the tide pool.

These are big worms, well over an inch wide at the crown. There are hints of others farther back, where the sun hasn't reached; they look almost purplish-black.

Two tubes at the far end, with a few more deeper down, in the shade.

 I touched one tube; the worm in it disappeared instantly and didn't reappear while I waited.

About half of the visible worms were striped; the rest were dark red.

It's good to be home

After the foray into the vibrant colours and light of Mazatlan, I've come back to the clouds, the rain, and the paler spring colours of home; lilacs and pinks and periwinkle blues. And down on the shore, instead of creamy sand, there are rocks covered in blackish seaweeds and sprinkled with snails.

It's good to be home.

And there are colours to be found on the grey beach; it just takes a bit of careful walking and rock-flipping.

Water's edge, with rockweed.

The tide was out, and when I hiked down to the edge, I found that it was in that mid-stage, neither going nor coming; the water was still, the floating seaweeds fixed in place. A good time to be turning over rocks that are usually underwater.

And, of course, there were zillions of crabs and snails and hermits. Under most of the larger stones, one or two gunnels were hiding; they flopped about madly as soon as the stone began to move, and by the time I had put it aside, they were squirming under the next. A kelp crab saw me first, and pinched my fingers; clams squirted their little fountains as I approached. One got me in the face.

Under several stones, I found tiny sea urchins, pink and yellow, the largest barely an inch across.

Sea urchin and purplish seaweed.

Assorted scraps of seaweed. The pale, lacy one is a torn and bleached sea braid; the others are fresh.

The Monterey sea lemon, aka false lemon peel nudibranch, Doris montereyensis.

The black-tipped tubercules distinguish this nudibranch from the "true" or "noble" sea lemon, which is all yellow.

These will grow up to 6 inches long, but the largest I've found this spring was still under 3 inches.

Another view. The two yellow bumps in front are the rinopores, sensory horn-shaped projections, shut down while he's out of water. In back, once the tide comes in, he will extend his feather gills.

Another Monterey, much smaller, bright yellow. With a frilled whelk, two other snails, the arm of a starfish, spiral tubeworms pasted over with flatworm eggs, and the remains of bryozoan colonies. No space is ever wasted.

Barnacle-eating nudibranchs, with their egg ribbons. These grow to just over an inch long; the largest here is about that.

Interesting egg masses that I can't find an id for.

Yellow whelk egg cases.

Juvenile red rock crab who thinks he's hiding.

Pink-tipped green anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, mostly shut down, waiting for the tide to come in.

At the foot of several very large rocks, the water has carved out shaded pools a few inches deep, even at low tide. When I approached, I could see the water ripple as schools of tiny sculpins dashed for cover, usually rousting their companions out of the chosen spot, so that they, in turn, had to hurry to find a new one. Sort of like a game of musical chairs, where the music never stopped until I went away.

Greenish tidepool sculpin. Others were grey; one was a reddish brown.

Big plumose anemone in a tide pool. And something else ...

Those red and yellow things at the upper left? I'll have photos of them tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Move over, Google Earth!

Given a tiny corner of an airplane window, and the pocket Sony, I had to take a few aerial photos.

Dawn over a mountain peak. unidentified. About one hour out of Vancouver, heading to L.A.

I tried to find these places on Google, but gave up. Maybe someone more travelled than I would recognize them.

A gift-wrap curly ribbon of a river. Three minutes after the mountain peak.

Just clouds. Half-way to L.A.

Interesting patch of hills. Baja California? An hour south of L.A.

Barren mountains along the coast. Half-way to Mazatlan from L.A.

Farm lands. Still very dry, but with a few green patches and a river. Nearing Mazatlan.

On the way back, I had no window for the first leg, then I watched the sunset for three hours, as we moved west, chasing the light.