Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I am really impressed with my new camera, the Nikon D7000, once more. Because of this photo:
|Skunk in the dark|
And this one:
|Skunk in the darker shadows of the rhododendrons|
This skunk came to my garden around 8:30 in the evening. The sun had already set, and the shadows of the evergreens, hiding the sky, made him difficult to see, even a few feet away. He slipped away under the fence in the direction of Laurie's flower beds, so we went the long way around, to head him off; he's sprayed under our windows before, and the stink persists for hours.
Sure enough, the skunk headed for Laurie's nice, soft dirt, and "fragrant" bag of manure. Laurie was there in time, (I had gone back for the camera) and threw a rock in his general direction, so the skunk changed his mind and hurried away. By the time I got in position with the camera, he was far away, and all I could see was a hint of movement in the shadows. Laurie couldn't see him at all.
I took a photo, anyhow; documentation, at least. The skunk dashed under the rhododendrons, where I caught him with a second photo.
And the photos, cropped 'way down, and lightened up, actually showed the skunk, and the green of the grass and leaves! Better than my eyes, far, far better!
The skunk was around again tonight. We smelled him, but never saw him.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Among the browns and greens of the leaf litter on the forested slope of Watershed Park, a yellow dotted line appears, moving slowly from one rotting leaf to the next. Don't touch him; he will release toxic cyanide if he's annoyed. It has a pleasant, almond scent, but it will irritate your skin. Let him be; he's busy turning last year's leaves to this year's soil.
This one has 19 or 20 segments, but I couldn't count his feet. Males have 30 pairs, and females 31, for a total of 62 feet. Not the thousand that its name implies.
Monday, June 17, 2013
I never realized before that purple shore crabs have green eyes.
|Purple shore crab, Boundary Bay.|
This was a big crab, as shore crabs go, totally unafraid of me, not even bothering to threaten me as I prodded him into better light. Big enough to defend himself against anything on that beach, he's completely confident of his invulnerability. But watch out for gulls, Professor Plum; your weapons don't intimidate them!
Perhaps because of his size, I was also able to see the hinges on his legs and pincers; they're green, too.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Update on Bubbles in Love.
The hermits have been eating the egg ribbons. I caught one of them at it this afternoon, and there were no more to be found. But tonight, Hammy II laid another ribbon.
|Egg ribbon on sea lettuce. Slime and bubbles.|
H/she laid the eggs, attached to that brown fragment of eelgrass at one end. The last thing h/she did was to glue the whole thing flat against the sea lettuce.
(Poor photo; no time: I have to catch a plane.)
A wasp dropped in to visit, and I wanted to take his photo. He wasn't co-operative, though; he kept running away. So I moistened a sugar cube and put it down in front of him to attract his attention, and get him to stand still.
I stumbled, and dropped the cube on his nose, which put an end to the photo session. The wasp hid under the door sill.
Not to waste my damp sugar cube, I put it on a shelf outside, to see what other insects might be attracted to it. A moth, perhaps?
Later, when I looked, someone else had come up with the same idea; a spider was laying in wait on that sugar cube.
|Sugar cube spider|
|Zooming in, while she waited on the shady side of the cube.|
Great minds think alike, they say.
Friday, June 14, 2013
On a wide, flat beach, small animals seek shelter wherever they can get it. Under the eelgrass, in burrows, on the sides of waterlogged wood, under rocks; or in populated areas, under and around human artifacts, trash, boats, anchors, bottles. One favourite hiding place is an abandoned clam shell, the bigger and more solid, the better.
At low tide, I keep an eye peeled for large shells, especially the older, seaweed-encrusted, barnacle-thickened ones. I look inside each one; no telling what I may find. Sometimes it's a scale worm or two. A couple of weeks ago, it was a collection of those little, unidentified egg casings.
|Scale worm, 1 cm. long.|
|Egg cases. I've seen them identified recently, but can't remember where. UPDATE: Possibly the Leafy Hornmouth, Ceratostoma foliatum.|
On our last visit to Boundary Bay, 'way out near the bottom of the intertidal zone, a clamshell I collected had a live bubble shell snail inside. I didn't have a container big enough for the shell, and in a plastic bag, the critter would dry out, so I walked back towards shore, carrying this clam shell half full of water. But it leaked; there must have been a crack somewhere. So at every little pool, I stopped to fill the shell again. I needed some better way to keep it wet.
When we reached another tide pool full of eelgrass, I dug out several plants, roots, a handful of sand each, and all, and stuffed it all into a plastic bag. I carefully put the clamshell and bubble snail on top, and covered it with more eelgrass, dripping wet. That should hold it.
And my last handful of eelgrass roots and sand came up with a second bubble snail. Two in a day! It went into the bag to keep the first one company.
|Hammy the second, at home in a plastic cup. Love the eyes!|
They both made it home ok, and made themselves at home in the tank right away. They are not like the previous one I had, a Haminoea japonica (I think); it spent most of its time in the sand. This pair wanders around on the eelgrass, and often on the glass walls of the aquarium.
|Belly view, just under the water surface. With a grazing snail. (See the little pink mouth.)|
These two are a native species, Haminoea vesicula, the white bubble snail. They are eating the algae off the inside of the walls, and probably off the eelgrass. When they have been knocked off onto the sand, they usually head straight for a wall and go on up. They move quite rapidly, for a snail.
|Hammy the Third (aka Sir Ham), the smaller of the pair, checking out the big world above the waterline. He looks like some fat owl in a waistcoat. The round "belly" is his shell, and the flesh folds over it.|
I can always find one of these if they're somewhere on a wall, because they leave a slime trail behind themselves. It catches bubbles from moving water, marking their path for several hours.
|A couple of inches of slime trail, with bubbles.|
I had tracked Hammy II to a spot on the front wall, and went looking for Sir Ham. I found him at the beginning of Hammy's trail, hurrying along it, staying with it, like a bloodhound on a scent. When he ran into a gap where a snail had broken the string, he cast about, up and down, until he found it again.
When I checked back, the two were together, doing what snails do in the springtime.
|Hammy II above, Sir Ham below. And an intrusive periwinkle. Ignore that; the bubble shells certainly are.|
They twist around some. At one point, HII was floating free, except where he held onto Sir H. Slime swirled around. This I couldn't get on camera, but towards the end, a long, thick cord dangled down below them, several inches long. When they left to go about their separate ways, it stayed behind, and gradually dissipated in the current.
And the next morning, this is what I found on the eelgrass:
|Ribbon of eggs. Thousands of eggs, it seems.|
This helps to identify the bubble shell; each species makes a different egg mass.
And the next day, they mated again. This morning, there is a new egg ribbon. This afternoon, they were back together. Busy little beasties. I'll be looking for eggs again tomorrow. I wonder if any will survive to grow into new little Hammies.
These snails are hermaphrodites, so both can lay eggs. I don't know who is responsible for the eggs they've laid so far.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Great excitement in the aquarium! Bubbleshells! Two of them! Doing what couples do!
So I've been sitting with my nose to the glass, camera in hand, instead of blogging. Photos and story tomorrow.
For now, here are a few leftover photos from Bear Creek Park, in no particular order.
|Bee on iris bud|
|Mushrooms on wood chips under the firs|
|In the "Oriental" garden, a stone pillar houses a fern.|
|New planting near the entrance to the gardens|
|Tangled roots in the tall trees section|
|And yellow asters.|
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The tide was low again at Boundary Bay, and the sands stretched far ahead. As we hurried out, to get to the eelgrass beds before the tide turned, we passed a man carrying a couple of long, twisted branches across the bare sand. Something to do while the kids splashed in the pools, I guessed.
An hour later, on our way back, we could see some sort of structure ahead near the shore. I laughed, thinking about our human propensity to build, wherever we are, with or without a practical purpose or even a hope of durability. Small children on the beach make sand castles; a bit older, and they're building driftwood shelters and even small shacks. Adults usually just set out chairs and umbrellas; sometimes they mark off their "territory" on the sand with sketchy driftwood corner posts or erect a leafy shelter from the sun.
Sometimes they're more ambitious.
|Driftwood and crab design, artist anonymous|
The driftwood collector was nearby, with a group, children and adults, parents and (probably) grandparents. "I love your creation!" I said to him, as we passed.
A white-haired man with him turned, laughing. "It's called, 'Untitled 57'," he said. "And it's for sale; offer a few thousand, and we'll talk."
|"Untitled 57", detail|
Unfortunately, we weren't carrying cash. Nor were any of the other beachgoers we talked to at the boat ramp. The deal of a lifetime, available only until the tide came in and carried it away, missed!
Monday, June 10, 2013
The wooden bridge over Bear Creek leads past mallards on rocks, salmonberry bushes (and once upon a time, past Devil's Club, but it is not a plant to be trusted where a curious child may reach out, all unknowing, to touch a pretty berry and be stabbed for his temerity) ... Where was I? Going into the native garden section of Bear Creek Park. It's a quiet, green tunnel through an evergreen forest, the sky hidden beyond the evergreens overhead, the only sound the trickle of the creek below the path, our way hedged with rhododendrons, salal, tall ferns, and Indian plum. At their feet, bleeding hearts and vanilla leaf make a green carpet.
|Salal flowers, fuzzy and sticky.|
|Indian plum, ripening|
|Graceful curve of a fern tip|
|New fronds, unrolling|
|Newer still, all curled up|
At the end of the trail, we cross the main path through the park, and enter the tall trees section. We were looking for owls here, where we'd seen a family long ago, and stumbled along the trail, craning our necks to look for round, fuzzy shadows in the deep, round, brown shadows of the trunks and branches far overhead. There were no owls, at least, no owls visible. But there was this:
|Knitted tree scarf|
Looks like someone had figured it was a cold winter, and the trees might catch sore throats.
|A thoughtful touch, maybe?|
Sunday, June 09, 2013
On the banks of Bear Creek
|"Who is that walking on our bridge?"|
She is relaxed, watching us; he is tense, on the alert. After a bit, he got up and prepared to defend his territory. No need; we walked down the trail and left them to their interrupted nap. Tweet
Friday, June 07, 2013
. . . and other imponderables.
|A timeworn branch plays host to a variety of lichens and mosses, against a background of yellow irises with their feet in Bear Creek.|
|Branched lichen, probably Cladonia. The "leaves" (thalli) along the branch may be the same lichen. And a moss.|
The cottonwoods are "snowing". Sometimes, the fluff is shed still adhering to the twigs. Lying in the duff at the base of a stand of mixed cottonwood and pine, we found many of these. Some still hold onto their downy blankets; a few are denuded, showing the seeds still on the twigs.
And here, something has gathered a heap of the white fluff. Odd. What would do that?
And more oddly still, it's all turning blue. This I have never seen. And what would do that? All I can think of is some mold or fungus.
|In the same small woodlot, some unidentified slime or mold has turned a piece of downed white bark yellow and dingy grey-green.|
The trouble with lichen*, molds, and fungi stems from their variability. No two lichens, even from the same species (of which about 20,000 have been identified, so far), are quite alike. Their shapes and colours vary depending on where they live, what materials they are attached to, even the weather. Even more, every small woodlot or forest, every tiny section of brush, may have developed its own variant, found only in that spot.
Approximately 1100 species of lichens have been reported to occur in British Columbia (B.C.). Although this figure may appear impressive, lichens are among the most poorly documented elements of the province's macroscopic flora. Judging from the rate at which new species are being added to the lichen flora, it seems likely that hundreds of additional lichens await discovery in this province. (The Lichens of British Columbia Illustrated Keys)Mushrooms are as "bad" as lichens; a recent (2010) estimate in the American Journal of Botany suggests that there may be over 5 million species in the world. I wouldn't be surprised to find a higher number soon.
And then there's the molds, assorted algae, mosses ("true",peat, and club), and liverworts; a lifetime's study in each category.
So much we don't know! So many beauties we never see!
*Remembering Trouble with Lichen, a science-fiction book by John Wyndham.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
They parade over hills and fields, dwarfing the buttercups and out-shining the wild roses, waving their flocks of rainbow-coloured petals, shaming the butterflies and meadowhawks. You always have to take just one more photo. And then another stalk yells out, "But look at me!"
|Colours range from white, through pale creams and lilacs, to wine-purple and royal blue.|
|Magenta and lilac|
|Pale blue to rosa mexicana|
|Baby blanket pink|
Delicious colours! The bees think so, too.
|Feeding on most flowers, the bees' bags of pollen are yellow or orange. I noticed that these bees' bags are deeper colours; dark orange, red or even deep pink.|
|Nom, nom, nom!|
|Dangling skinny legs!|
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
I've just started on the lupin photos; we took far too many. So many shades, such intriguing shapes, so many foraging bees! It's hard to decide which to keep.
For now, here's one solitary purple bloom.
|Stripy petals, pink stem.|
More tomorrow. Tweet