Thistle buds, Serpentine Fens
|Bull thistle, Cirsium vulgare. Also known as Spear thistle.|
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...
The Serpentine River lives up to its name. It winds across the flat Fraser Delta farmland, spreading out into wetlands where it finds opportunity, dawdling on its way down to the flats of Mud Bay. In the Fen, a wide, gravelled path winds with it, Northwest, then South again, almost meeting itself as the river carves out a bulbous finger of marsh.
I took a side path, leading across a small bridge, through a thicket, and past tall stands of cattails bordering a former lagoon, now mostly dry, cracked mud, in spite of the previous day's rain.
|No wonder the birds are elsewhere! Two stubborn Canada geese waiting for the water to come back.|
|Hard at work, pollinating. More berries on the way!|
|He's carrying big bags of pollen to take home to the nest.|
|A common red soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva.|
|Hawthorn, needing water.|
|This one has some sort of fungus.|
|White feather. What bird would this be from? About three inches long.|
|Not a house rat.|
The weather was perfect; windy and cool under a heavy cloud cover, just the sort of day for a long walk in the open. The Serpentine Fen beckoned. It's been quite a while since we visited.
|Serpentine River, facing northeast.|
|Tansy, grass, and blackberry leaves. No bees on this one.|
|Goldenrod and tansy|
|Hardhack, dried flower heads. They bloomed early this year.|
It was a hot afternoon. Too hot. Too hot to be walking in the sunshine, too hot to want to eat. So said the mallards at Reifel Island. They sat in the dust, inert, ignoring me and my bag of goodies. Too hot to move.
I went to look, instead, at the carp in the pool, and one mallard roused herself enough to join me on the fence.
|"You know, I think I could manage to eat a crumb or two."|
I found this moth on the washroom eaves at Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
|Solitary underwing. Catocala sp.|
The common names given to species of Catocala are often fanciful and arbitrary. (BugGuide, Unijuga page)
Do spiders eat wasps? Do wasps eat spiders? We've been discussing this in the comments on yesterday's post. Conclusion; yes, and yes.
Even baby wasps eat spiders.
The porch of the building behind the washrooms at Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a quiet corner, rarely visited. There, swallows tend their nests in the eaves, and moths sleep on the walls, undisturbed. And in the shade at the top of the inner wall, black and yellow mud dauber wasps build their baby incubators.
|A dozen little cradles, all in a row.|
|Half a dozen. A new nursery, under construction.|
|Here's a mother wasp, working on an open tube.|
|Adding spiders to the latest tube. The spider hiding on the left doesn't realize her danger!|
Look at an old mud dauber nest and you can decipher what happened to the offspring. A large hole chewed out at the end of a cell means an adult mud dauber successfully emerged. Small holes along the length of the cell mean some kind of parasite came out instead. (From BugEric)
It's amazing, sometimes, how such a voracious, efficient killing machine as a starfish can look so huggable.
|Leading arm of hunting mottled sea star. Baby blues and soft pinks, for extra innocence.|
From my tank:
|All that's left of my bubble shell snails|
|Assorted clam shells. I can't resist collecting these miniatures.|
|They are as delicate as they look. The stained one, beneath, is a different species.|
The tiny six-armed starfish was eating barnacles at the front of the aquarium, so I thought I could get a clear photo of all his equipment; gills and biting pedicellaria and questing tube feet and all. I was hoping to see how they compared to the tool chest of a mottled star.
|Star and barnacles. He is about 1/2 inch eye to eye.|
|Mottled star, out of the water, looking at me. (The eyes are those two red spots on the tips of the arms.)|
|The madreporite, slightly highlighted.|
|Six, two hermits, and barnacles. These are small barnacles; the hermits are even smaller.|
More test shots; back to the aquarium and live critters again.
This first photo is as taken; despeckled, resized, and sharpened only. I left the "dust" in place; it's part of the action.
In the upper levels of the tank, like it would be on the intertidal flats, everything is in constant motion. Here, the red algae sways in the water, and a small family of blue anemones glued to a fragile blade waves its tentacles, hoping to catch some of the swimmers that muddy up the current. Behind, bubbles dance; large ones going down, from the pump; small ones heading back up to the surface, carrying goodies collected en route. Released at the top, the goodies float back down; more specks in the water.
This red algae gathers "dust". I pour clean water over it, or take it out and swish it around in fresh water, and it looks beautifully clean. A few minutes back in the tank, and it's covered in these little specks. Some may be sand, some is detritus, leftovers from critter meals or floating fragments of rotting eelgrass, and the rest is made up of small animals, copepods and amphipods eating detritus, and tiny worms eating copepods and amphipods.
And I hadn't even noticed the hermit until I looked at the photo. There's usually one or two hidden somewhere in this mess.
|Everything going at once|
|Leafy hornmouth snail, Ceratostoma foliatum, sleeping.|
The spot where I usually find moths, the wall beside our front door, has been abandoned. I haven't seen a moth there for months. It's too hot there this summer, maybe. Instead, I find them in cool spots; hiding in my potting shelf, in my bathroom, deep in the rhododendrons. This one was behind the hose when I went out to water the gardens.
|Interesting antennae; notice how they fold down into a V. Sometimes he holds them flat.|
|He looks worried. No need.|
|Waving the antennae, uncoiling his proboscis; "I'm thirsty!" he says.|
I'm still learning how to use the new gear, working with different settings and configurations of camera, lens, and reflectors. I decided it would be simpler to practice on something that was not constantly getting in fights, or wandering off for a bite to eat, or just turning his back on me. Not a hermit nor a shrimp, in other words.
I chose, instead, an old sea urchin test, without its spines, and a sprig of dried everlasting flowers.
This first photo is as it came out of the camera; no processing at all, other than resizing for the blog.
|Almost lace. And there are a few remnants of spines, after all.|
|Close-up of urchin buttons and holes. I think they're where the spines were inserted.|
|White on white, with hints of pink.|
Seeing what my new reflector and light blockers will do. A few shots with the old lens, no flash.
|Plumose anemone in full feeding mode|
|Browns and greens|
|"Missed my exit again!"|
|Flash used here, with white reflector and black backdrop. One of the small anemones.|
I've been working with the new toys today, trying out different flash/camera/reflector setups, reading manuals, wrestling with software. I may have a good-ish photo or two; I still haven't processed any.
And then I put everything away. And went into the bathroom to mop the floor, and found a small pink and orange moth fluttering around the mirror.
I ran for the camera and chased him around the mirror, holding that heavy lens and flash over my head, hoping for a focus.
|Resting, for a brief moment.|
|Hurrying to get away from that horrible light.|
|Carcina quercana, August 2011, in Strathcona.|
I bought myself some camera goodies today; my belated selfie birthday present. A new lens, a Nikon Micro 60 mm. A flash to replace a good one I had that got lost. And an expensive - 2 whole bucks at the dollar store - reflecting screen/foam poster board.
I got home with it all, dropped the whole works on the kitchen table, unpacked the lens and attached it to the camera, and took a couple dozen sample shots, hand-held.
The instructions, which I read later, said to always use this lens with a tripod, but I was too impatient to take the couple of minutes to set it up. And I wiped down the outside of my tank, first, but left the inside as is; after all, I'd scrubbed it well yesterday. So of course, there's a new algae scum fuzzing up the glass. And all the photos are noisy, as a result.
I'm still happy. Even under those conditions, the lens performed better than the 40 mm on its best behaviour.
A few samples: I've done minimal processing on these; cropping, despeckling, reducing noise. And eliminating a few inconvenient copepods.
|"Hail, fellow, well met!"|
|Happy, or at least hopeful, barnacle and his penis.|
|Peaches and the eelgrass ghost.|
|Balancing act. Tiny hermit on the knife edge of an old clamshell.|