So this is wordless.*
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...
Making my way along the side of the hill in the vacant lot, I pushed through a thicket of broom and found myself face to face with a pretty stink bug. But by the time I'd pointed the camera his way, he was on the far side of the branch. And no matter how I manoeuvred, bending the plant, crawling underneath, squeezing into a gap on the far side, twisting the branches, twisting myself, he was always on the far side of every twig or branch.
|Probably the red-backed stink bug, Banasa dimidiata. I never got even a glimpse of his back. That's a small weevil on this side.|
|A more typical view of this obstinate creature. Only one claw in focus.|
|A little snail, more co-operative, probably because he's asleep.|
More photos from the vacant lot: things found underfoot.
|In an abandoned cement ring, water, seeds and other detritus is caught in a spider web. I liked the patterns reflected in the water droplets.|
|Just a dying leaf, belly up.|
|Zooming in to show the pattern|
|Leaves and a Nike hoodie. I often find good clothes here, just dropped as if on a bedroom floor.|
|Well, fire-starting stuff, anyway. Part of a 4'x8' sign for "Luxury Duplexes".|
|Face under leaves. Another part of the sign.|
Sometimes, when the clouds threaten rain, the sun doesn't get the memo and keeps right on shining, sneaking underneath the clouds to warm the trees. I love the contrasts in these moments; all dark blue-grey above, yellows and greens below.
|Looking east, with the sun shining low in the sky behind me.|
|Alders, weed trees, in early fall colour.|
|Future forest. At this time of year, it's under a few inches of water. Most of the two-block vacant lot is alder and blackberry bush now; this section is still mixed weeds and baby alders.|
|Facing west, where there's still a patch of blue sky.|
It's been a while since I visited our vacant lot across the street. It's almost a small forest now, with a small clearing in the centre, half underwater. And I've come back with a stack of photos; weeds and seeds, skies and water, human leftovers, and some interesting critters. Skies tomorrow, I think.
For now, here's a hiding spider. I turned over a board under a stand of alders by the creek, and there was her messy web, and a flash of brown as she raced for cover. She's in the photo: can you find her?
|Yes, there she is.|
|Now do you see her?|
I brought in a begonia leaf to give my caterpillars some variety in their diet, and found a tiny red and yellow spider on the underside. Two days later, the caterpillars had remodelled the spider's home, adding windows and a door.
And look what was inside!
|Spiderlings behind a web curtain|
|And looking out the window.|
|Mother and baby. Mommy is 1/2 centimetre long.|
|The remains of the leaf,, with spiders and aphid.|
|Watching over her brood.|
|Zebra leaf slug, Phyllaplysia taylori. It hung around for a couple of weeks, then disappeared when the eelgrass rotted. *UPDATE: He showed up this morning, alive and well.|
|Barnacles on a clam shell|
|Tunicates on eelgrass blade.|
|Three of the Leafy Hornmouth snail hatchlings, pinhead size.|
|Egg case of bubble shell snails. They lay one or two of these a week. I've never seen babies.|
|I think this is another orange striped green anemone; the orange stripes often fade, possibly depending on the diet that week.|
|A new anemone, unidentified, on sea lettuce.|
|The newest anemone, on a blade of eelgrass. One of the brooding anemones, like those I found a year ago. It may not survive; they do not tolerate exposure to air, and I found it on the beach.|
My hermit crabs love hydroids, so I bring home "messy" eelgrass, covered with assorted hydroids and diatom fuzz. Usually, they clean all this off overnight, but this time, they've left me a small cluster of Obelia, right beside the glass wall of the tank.
|A tangled mess, growing from the end of a blade of eelgrass also coated with pink tunicates.|
|Zooming in. Among the hydroids, some small critters have laid their egg masses. To the naked eye, these are just specks of white dust.|
|Some of the taller stalks, showing the polyps in different stages of development. The feeding polyps (the ones with tentacles) sting tiny swimming critters, such as copepods and smaller plankton.|
|Life cycle of an Obelia. Image from Kent Simmons, U of Winnipeg.|
|An empty reproductive polyp. Photo from 2011.|
My little aquarium was getting bare, and the hermit crabs looked bored; nothing to eat but crab munchies, nothing to climb on but bare shells. It has been raining off and on, but Sunday afternoon it looked as if the sun might even deign to show its face. I took the chance and went down to the beach for goodies to re-stock the tank with.
The rain started as soon as I stepped onto the shore. But it was just a gentle drizzle, straight down; there was no wind. And the tide was high, the eelgrass at the edge still green and fresh. I walked south, filling my bag. Eelgrass bearing limpets, hydroids and tunicates; sea lettuce for the crab; stones covered with barnacles to feed the leafy hornmouth snails; green, knobby rockweed plants, mainly for climbing on. A small male crab to keep my female company. A couple of unusual Hairy hermits, very large, very hairy, and wearing the tiniest of breechclout shells. And a few periwinkle snails; Val, the big anemone, loves these.
And then I walked back northwards, taking photos. Grey water, grey stones, grey sky. It was beautiful, but no camera could ever capture it; the beauty compounded of the smell of rain on salt water, the whisper of waves, the feel of slow raindrops on my face and hands, the muted call of birds in the distance, the grey light and the glint of water on stones and seaweed.
I took a few photos, anyhow.
|A few walkers, well bundled up for the rain.|
|Sailboats at anchor. Barely visible in the distance, a line of geese with a few ducks.|
|A rotting log, colonized by barnacles, snails and hermits.|
|Three kinds of snails. And can you find the orange-striped green anemone?|
|Stones, barnacles, seaweeds at the top of the tide.|
|Grey on grey, with every other colour muted.|
|At the top of the beach, semi-protected by the cement walls, a sea rocket in full bloom. They seem to shed the water, even in a hard rainstorm.|
Laurie brought me a spider in a pill bottle. A busy, dancing, jittery little beastie; I had to take his photo through the plastic wall of the bottle.
|Laurie says this looks like someone running. Maybe in a mask, and with a few extra arms?|
|He's made a rudimentary web inside the bottle already, and dances on it head downward.|
This was disappointing. I've seen videos and read descriptions of mating slugs, stories of couples dangling on a rope of their own slime, twisting and intertwining in a slow aerial dance.
So when I came across two slugs in the shade of a flowerpot, obviously mating, I expected something of the same sort.
No. And who am I to decree what counts as fun for someone else, slug or whatever?
|They maintained this position, almost without moving, for 20 minutes.|
I've been setting out hulled sunflower seeds for a chickadee with a damaged beak, and recently he's been sitting in the rhododendron scolding when he can't find them. "Dee dee dee, where's my dinner?" The BirdCam caught the reason:
|"Nom, nom, nom!"|
Just outside my back door, a cobweb spider has laid claim to a gap between a post and the wall, and is raising a large family. The first of her spiderlings left their egg sac three weeks ago.
|Mamma, babies, and future babies in the second sac.|
|Watch your hat!|