I gave Val, the big burrowing anenome, a piece of fish. She swallowed it whole, then showed her appreciation:
|Folds at the mouth of her stomach.|
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...
There comes a day, after a rough spell when life has been a struggle, that I look out and discover that the world is new again, that the birds still sing, and the sun still shines.
Today was that day. Laurie is stronger. The skies were blue, the breeze warm. I got Laurie into a wheelchair and took him across the hospital campus to sit in the sunshine and watch the clouds.
|Same scene as last post, from the same hospital window. 4:30 PM, with a hint of orange as the sun goes down behind us.|
A view from a hospital window early this afternoon. A rainy January day.
|The east side of the hospital looks out onto Green Timbers Urban Forest. It will be a pleasant view in the spring. Right now, it suits my mood. Laurie is not doing well.|
I'll be taking a semi-break from the blog for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. Laurie has been sick for some time, and has ended up in hospital, so I'll be either too busy or too tired, or both, to post every day for a while.
|Laurie on his favourite beach, January, 2013. Boundary Bay.|
The tiny black-clawed crabs that arrived in a holdfast six weeks ago are growing up. The largest, a male, was 5 mm. across the carapace; now he's three times that. He has chosen a hiding spot behind a big rock, but up against the glass - it feels solid, I guess, even if it's transparent - and I've been trying to get his photo. He usually responds by threatening me with dire harm.
|"Armed and dangerous, I am!"|
|His multi-coloured shell and legs are good camouflage in the mess of shell pieces and stones he collects around himself. The back legs are usually raised, holding the rock behind him.|
|His usual pose; always with those dark pincers raised and ready for action.|
January sunshine warms bare trees with their feet in frozen puddles.
|Old leaves, drowned and frozen, feed new buds in the sunlight.|
|Sunlight blazing through a dead blackberry leaf.|
|Old and new.|
|Detail of last year's leaf.|
During the cooler months of the year, most of the vacant lot is under an inch or two of water. I progress by stretching from one clump of dead grass to the next, mostly getting my feet wet when they squelch down into the mud.
In one of the pools, I noticed a patterned stone, with a handful of gravel nearby to sort of stand on. Up close, I saw that the pattern was formed by trails in the flocculated sediment.
|The little circles where grass blades dip underwater mark the surface, about an inch above the stone.|
|Do you see the snail?|
|I've saturated the colours of the snail a bit, to make him more visible.|
|Three snails here, and a few ostracods. (They look like tiny pink marbles. Can you find them?)|
|Common garden grove snail, broken and bleached.|
Well, sort of.
I went across to the vacant lot/new bush, to see what's happening in January. It was as expected, soggy underfoot, treacherous with trailing, leafless blackberry canes and rusting wires, bleak under its coat of dead grasses and bare trees. But there was life there, and I followed the trails, bending to watch things swimming under the ice of the puddles, or chase a beetle until he scuttled under a mass of rotting weeds.
I rounded the base of a rise near the back of the lot, and there, almost spitting distance in front of me was a coyote. A big adult, looking healthy and alert; well fed.
He saw me at the same time. By the time I'd focused the camera, he was racing off into the bush along the creek.
But I got a photo. Not a good one.
|Just the top of his back visible. The orange thing is a piece of trash caught in the branches. His head is behind that.|
|Coyote scat. A nicer word than poop, but the same thing. By the feather remains, I gather that he's been eating birds.|
- Recognize the shape of coyote scat. Coyotes produce scat that is about the diameter of a cigar and is tapered at one end. (ehow.com)
- Droppings will also be frequently located at strategic locations such as cross roads and along trails as coyotes use their droppings to mark territory. (ICWDM)
- Coyote scat often does not have much of a scent. (Wilderness College)
- In one Missouri study of coyote scat, local coyotes were found to have consumed 47 different animal species and 28 different plants.* Thus, don’t be surprised if your coyote scat contains fur/hair, berries, nuts, garden crops, bone bits, grass, leaves or dozens of other appetizing tidbits. (Nature Skills)
When I pick up a hermit crab on the beach, he's generally a grungy brownish black colour, maybe, if the sun is bright and he's not scrunched too tightly into his shell, showing a spot of blue on a knee, or a hint of orangey-red on an antenna. In everyday light, he matches the muddy sand he lives on. It makes sense out here where blending in is protection against becoming lunch for a sharp-eyed gull.
So I am often startled by the colours of a clean hermit in washed sand, under bright lighting.
|Hairy hermit, Pagurus hirsutiusculus, with blue knees and eyes.|
|Grainy hand hermit, Pagurus granosimamus, with orangey antennae and brown eyes.|
Shore crab carapace. No two ever alike.
|He's a young male. His mate is a uniform dull green, about the colour of the background here.|
The public washrooms at Blackie Spit, midwinter:
|Another time, another place. Nowhere on the Lower Mainland.|
|Here and now. Crescent Beach shoreline, from Blackie Spit.|
When I was a kid, oh so many centuries ago, we used to play a game that we called Statues. (Here it is called "Swing the Statue", which is probably a better name.
One player is chosen to be "it." He or she takes each of the other players in turn and, holding them by a wrist or hand, swings them in a circle and then lets them go. The swung player must freeze as soon as possible and hold that position as long as possible. The first player to break the freeze becomes "it." Since the first player swung must hold the position longest, begin with the oldest child first. The entertainment value comes from seeing the strange positions that players end up in and watching them try to hold those positions. (From About.com.)
|"If I don't move, she won't see me."|
Sea anemones reproduce in a variety of ways: by cloning, (splitting or tearing off a part of the parent's body, which then continues to grow as an adult); asexually by budding: or sexually, producing free-swimming planulae, which find a spot and settle to grow into the adult stage.
|Hydroid bud. Released medusas will eventually reproduce sexually. Unlike these, the anemones' buds grow directly into adults.|
|One of several patches, on this and a second clamshell. What species? Time will tell.|
|Orange-striped green anemone. Their colours and shapes are variable, even in the same individual at times.|
|Are these orange-striped? Probably. See the two at bottom left. The stripes are green.|
|Another of the same anemones, on rotting sea lettuce.|
|Brooding or Proliferating anemone, Epiactis prolifera, about 1/4 inch across. On a third clamshell, with several orange-striped babies, kelp, and green algae.|
This anemone has a unique sex life. Young adults are almost all functional females; as they mature they become simultaneous hermaphrodites (having both male and female gonads at the same time, as opposed to being first one sex, then developing into another) capable of fertilizing themselves and others. (From Oregon Coast Aquarium)
... larvae? ... Live on mother's column (digesting yolk, then catching prey) until at least 3 months old and 4 mm diameter, then crawl off. (From wallawalla.edu.)
When starved, Proliferating Anemones will ingest young anemones that have become detached from the parent’s base; however, these are normally regurgitated unharmed, even after several hours in the gut. (OCA)
|Burrowing anemone, Anthopleura artemisia. 4 inches tall and still growing.|
For New Year's Day, I posted a photo of a brand new, freshly hatched, pinhead-sized Leafy Hornmouth snail, just starting out on his adventure. This is the backstory.
It started with the small kelp holdfast I brought back from the beach in November. It came with its own cargo of crabs and worms and starfish, but there was a small blank space on the inner side of the clamshell; here, the pair of big snails* in my tank chose to anchor their latest batch of egg cases.
|The inner side of the clamshell, as it is today. Much-nibbled-on kelp "roots", and the egg cases at the bottom.|
|Three open egg cases. The siphon tip of the latest baby peeks out the exit hole of one.|
Several snails hatching at once, at the beginning of the escape. Several egg cases still have their plug in the escape hatch. (Top two on the left, for example.) But look carefully at the background!
|Waiting for dinner to be served. Flatworms are always hungry!|
|The smallest of the black-clawed crabs, still living in the holdfast.|
|Against the back wall of the clamshell, too tiny to see without a lens, I found a colony of green anemones. Looking again later, I saw that one had a snail in its mouth.|
|Polychaete in his tunnel made of a glued fold in sea lettuce. Tiny, but those jaws will gape as wide as the belly of the beast.|
|Out searching for food. The tail never leaves the burrow, but he can stretch the full width and height of the holdfast colony.|
Observations in San Juan Islands, Washington show that a newly hatched N. lamellosa (Related to my leafies - me) has a 1-2% chance to reach 3mo of age. An individual reaching 3mo has a 35% chance to reach 1yr of age. Older, larger, individuals have a 40-60% chance to survive through subsequent years. Spight 1975 Oikos 26: 9. (From A Snail's Odyssey)
|On his way.|
|Zooming in. Siphon to the left, leading the way. Within a few seconds, he had ballooned off the holdfast root, washed away in the current to a "safer" place.|
|Infant snail, above the water line, surrounded by his own body bubble. Taken through the glass, against the light, which shines through the yellow button at the tip, and shows the ridges on the shell. The dark spot is the operculum, which closes the shell when the snail is resting.|
Sometimes there's too much responsibility for one small struggler.
This little youngster is supporting a free-loading slipper snail, and a busy limpet, while he works his way to the high eelgrass feeding grounds. And his feet are slipping.
|Break time. Holding on tight, resting. And then, forward! Never give up!|
More Blackie Spit photos. We left the river bank and walked back to the car over the fields and old farm country. It's very quiet at this time of year; all those rackety summer critters are sleeping under bark or duff, the shouting blackbirds have gone south; among the human Spit visitors, even the children walk along sedately, encased in puffy down jackets. And the weeds and trees are quiet in their way, toning down their riotous summer colours to cool browns.
|Two berries. I don't know what they are. There were no others for comparison.|
|Dried weeds against an old fence|
|We sat on a bench by the path to rest Laurie's back. I entertained myself taking partial photos of the tree right in front of us, to build a composite once I got home. An alder, still carrying a few old leaves and its mature cones.|
|Unusually-shaped branches and buds. I don't know what this is. There were three in a row, as if planted.|
|Zooming in on those stubby finger-like branches. And two dead leaves.|
|A rotting log, with orange fungus. I didn't even see the spider until I got home. Can you find her and her web?|
|Just a dead branch. I was intrigued by the pattern of the thick bark. The whole branch is about 6 inches across at the widest point.|
|Laurie sees a face here; a fish, he says. I see a skinny moose who's lost his rack. He's very sad about it.|
|Grasses protected from the winds by a tall fence.|
|Teasels against the sky.|