Friday, September 21, 2018

Folded lichen

Lichen on rocks near Gold River:

I like the way this patch folds down over the sharp edge of the rock. The pink dots are fruiting bodies.

The black spots and orangey smudges on the rock beneath are also lichens.

Another patch on the same rock.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Banana slug, out enjoying the damp weather.

Near Gold River. It has been raining off and on, and the stones are wet.

Banana slugs come in yellow, like a ripe banana, in spots like an over-ripe one, or all black like a mushy banana. The name suits them, no matter what colour they are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


At the side of the logging road, there was one of those cement blocks with an iron loop in the top that I've seen in several places and never understood the use of. They sit there for years, developing rust and a thick moss coating. I went over to look at the rust.

Slab cemented to a sloped base, about waist height. (Cropped from the corner of large photo.)

Rusty handle. The moss is a couple of inches deep.

Moving around the slab, looking for an angle on the moss, I noticed a few ends of bones sticking out.

Four bones, buried in the moss.

One is a piece of spine.
The others look like ribs. The longest was eight inches long.

It looks to me like the bones of a small deer, carried up to the slab by an eagle, maybe. I looked around; a few metres away, on the ground, I found a half a leg bone, badly gnawed. It looks like several predators or scavengers had a feast, one on the slab, others dragging their find off to eat in bits.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lichen, mushrooms

Lichen on a dead branch

Showing a hint of green after the rain.

I was looking for mushrooms. It's been a long, dry, hot summer, but now that the rain is back, they should be popping up all over. I found only one small patch, although I poked through duff and moss and under dead branches everywhere I walked. The mushroom eaters found it first, though.

Shelf mushroom about the size of a quarter.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Rain, mist, misty greens.

The fall rains have arrived. And very welcome, too!

Sunday afternoon. Rain, off and on. And the logging trucks are off the roads. I found a Forest Service road at Berry Creek, dropping down from the hills over Upper Campbell Lake, and drove up about 4 km, until the road got too rough for my little car. When it stopped raining for a few minutes, I would get out and walk.

From my first stop, looking back downhill. The orange pipes are an old gate, now rusted too much to be used, I think.

It is peaceful up there, away from the highway. The only sounds are the wind tiptoeing through the branches, the gravel or scree crunching under my slow tires, and the occasional cry of a woodpecker. I drove with the windows down as often as possible, just listening. And breathing; cool, moist, rain-scented air. I found myself grinning like an idiot as I drove.

Second stopping point, looking back over the highway I'd come from.

Higher up, the road followed Berry Creek, far below. I could hear the water rumbling along far down in the valley, but even leaning as far as I dared over the cliffside, I could see no sign of it.

Creek valley to the left, Upper Campbell Lake at the bottom.

Another car passed me as I was stopped at a wide spot in the road. And re-passed me, going downhill now, at the next stop. The driver and passenger were grinning like idiots, too.

Up near the top, where the road is extremely steep, the rain had chosen the middle of the road to make itself a new creek, washing away the small stones and gravel, leaving the bones of the mountain to hammer at mufflers. I crawled along at 5 kmh until I found a flattish spot, turned around and crept back down, foot on the brake all the way.

And still grinning.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Brown spotty eyes

The darner catching her breath in a flowerpot before she flies away ...

A "motorcycle helmet" head.

Dragonflies (and bees) have the largest compound eyes of any insect; each containing up to 30,000 facets, and the eyes cover most of the insect’s head, resembling a motorcycle helmet. In contrast to a human eye, each facet within the compound eye points in a slightly different direction and perceives light emanating from only one particular direction in space, creating a mosaic of partially overlapping images. (Grrlscientist, ScienceBlogs)

Side view. The plant is a succulent, gifted and unidentified.

I left her resting there. When I went back to check, she had gone.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Boxed in

My cat Chia, I think, is a pacifist. Or a naturalist.

She is allowed outside, because we have a mouse and field mouse problem in the woodsheds and storage sheds nestled into the edge of the woods behind the house. She spends much of her time there.

And occasionally, she comes in with something she's found. A mouse, sometimes a bird, sometimes an insect. Always alive, usually undamaged. She brings them in, parks them on the rug, and then sits watching them.

When I come to get them, she doesn't complain. I collect the latest visitor (with birds, I need to throw a cloth over them, because they've always flown to the window and fly away if I come too close. Mice are a bit harder; they lead me a merry chase until they're tired out.)

I get rid of the mice; sorry beasties, you're cute and all, but since I found a nest inside my car motor, I'm not too pleased with you. The birds get carried outside and released. They fly away.

Yesterday Chia brought me a dragonfly. I caught it in a glass box with a mirrored bottom, and took a few photos before I released it outside.

One wing is damaged. Not enough to cause problems with flight. She's female, I think.

"How did you get out there?"

Face to face

She's a darner, with green/blue markings on the abdomen, a yellowish face, and racing stripes on her thorax. The eyes are brown.

I deposited her in a flowerpot outside and she rested there for a few minutes before flying away. I took more photos, trying to get close to those amazing eyes. I'll process them tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Prayer plant flower

My prayer plant has been flowering continuously all summer. The flowers are about 1 cm. (3/8 in.) long.

Maranata leuconeura

A houseplant guide site claims the flowers are "insignificant". I beg to disagree.

The prayer plant is a tropical rainforest native, so it likes water and heat. I have to remember to water it at least every second day, or it starts looking dejected.

I put a couple of stems outside in water for the summer; one of them grew a crop of new leaves and a sturdy root system. The other, in a more protected spot, barely made it. Now, with the beginning of fall, I've brought both inside.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I call him Joseph

Our local hermit crabs, the Hairies, Pagurus hirsutiusculus, are usually a drab greenish-brownish-greyish mud colour. It's a mask; they're wearing a coating of algae, mud, leftover grunge, and sometimes a few barnacles. Underneath all that, they're a pale green, with blue knees and white patches on the legs. The body, of course, is hidden by the borrowed shell.

When they're freshly molted, and haven't had a chance to muddy themselves up yet, the true colours shine through. I caught one a few minutes after a molt, hanging out on the seaweed right in front of the wall, without a shell, showing off his coat of many colours.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet; all the colours of the rainbow.

The photo is fuzzy; the seaweed is swaying, the glass wall algae-coated. But the colours shine through.

Hairy hermit, as found on the shore, in his normal coating of mud and algae.

(Title from the Biblical story of Joseph.)

Deer in the headlights

I took the highway north tonight, getting beyond the light pollution from the city and from industry along the coast, looking for the Northern Lights. Up near Keta Lake, I found them, almost invisible above the rain and fog: a hint of green, waxing and waning, sometimes a flash of red. Disappointing. Maybe another day.

But on the way, a deer browsing beside the road stood to watch me, caught in my high beams.

Worth the drive. 9:23 PM. Sunset was at 7:40.

At Keta Lake, I got out of the car to scan the sky, smelled rotten fish, and scrambled back inside. Could have been a bear, but more likely a raccoon. Or even an eagle. Or a vulture. It was too dark to see anything, even a couple of feet away. After a while, the scent faded, and I got out again. And this time, the mosquitoes found me. Worse than bears!

The perils of a wilderness wanderer.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Enduring beauty

Chinese lanterns. Past, long past, their sell-by date. And still beautiful.

Aka ground cherry.

I collected these from a garden in Comox. Earlier, they were a plant similar to the tomatillo; when the fruit ripened, it was a red cherry inside that papery husk. Now all that's left is the husk and a few dried seeds. The lantern has burnt out. Now they sit on a shelf above my desk. Maybe I'll plant some of the seeds in the spring.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Greedy, Take Two. Or Six.

A week ago I posted the story of a spider and her fruit fly dinner. She had dashed from one end of her web to the other within seconds to catch two flies at once. I wondered then, what would happen if I gave her three flies.

Last night, I took the lid off the fruit fly trap beside her web, and this time a half-dozen flies were caught.

The spider leapt into action, took two steps and stood there, frozen, confused maybe by the signals coming from all sides. She thought about it for a few minutes, then went slowly over to the nearest fly, grabbed it and wrapped it up.

Then she left her dinner hanging, and went for the next, brought it back and wrapped it with the first. Rinse and repeat: she caught all 6 fruit flies and bundled them together before she settled down to eat.

Big meal. The red colouring is fruit fly eyes; 12 of them.

So that question is answered.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Little Miss Mischief

I'm babysitting again. A handful of kitten.


Within fifteen minutes of arriving, she had eaten Chia's food, found the basket of toys and chosen one, and discovered Chia's basket. A few minutes later, she was killing Chia's sock full of catnip. Now she sleeps in Chia's bed.

Chia is not happy.

Short nap on the bookcase before she thinks of more mischief.

She has spent the evening trying to reprogram my computer. Managed to change the screen saver and call up an accessory I've never even seen.

Genius! Evil genius, that is.

And she looks so innocent!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Butterfly wing petals. Five of them.

Checker mallow with hiding ant:

And blackberries, red, green and black. See the ant?

And now the ant has come out into the open. I like those shadows, too.

Taken just north of Sayward. The northernmost record E-Flora has of these is at Sayward, about an hour's drive north of Campbell River.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Old Grandad

Sleeping troll*

Doing philosophy

*From Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic:

He awoke from considering quite a promising line of enquiry about the meaning of truth and found a hot ashy taste in what, after a certain amount of thought, he remembered as being his mouth.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Spare parts

Hermit crab enjoying his lunch.

Shrimp pellets; Yum!

Hermit crabs, besides the chelipeds (pincers) that they use to grab and carry things, have three pairs of mouthparts, which they use to hold and manipulate their food. Here, two are plainly visible as the hermit holds onto his fresh shrimp pellet.

He seems to have lost at least one of his chelipeds, probably after an argument with a crab, or even another hermit. He'll do fine, though; hermits can use the legs to grab their food, too. They're not as efficient, but they'll do. And with the next molt, he'll have a new cheliped. The blue appendage on the left is the growing replacement; hermit blood is blue, and the skin on the new pincer is still thin.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Purple glad

One of my gladiolus stems broke off in the wind, so I brought it inside and took the opportunity to look down its throat.

The white structure is the stigma, the female part of the flower. The stamens (male) are at its base.

The gladiolus has three anthers, three stigmas. And interesting shadows.

Side view. The pollen is purple.
Another view. Just because.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The back side of the cosmos

I've always loved Cosmos flowers, but in my shade garden in Delta, I was never able to grow them. Here, I have the benefit of full morning sun all summer, so this spring I put in a packet of cosmos seeds under my kitchen window.

The house is on a steep slope, so that this window looks out onto the lawn from about a foot above ground level. So I'm now watching my cosmos patch from a rabbit's-eye viewpoint.

They look different from underneath. Still beautiful.

The bees love them.

I even love yesterday's blooms.

Another bee? Same bee?

And I just missed a butterfly. Cabbage white.

The plants will keep on growing until they almost reach the top of the window, and they will bloom until the first frost. Which around here, may take its time arriving.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


The apples on the tree outside my bedroom window are ripe and dropping on the ground. I've collected several bowlfuls for eating, made a batch of applesauce, and baked a few with oatmeal crumbles. The compost bin is full of apple cores, and the house is full of fruit flies.

I've trapped many, but there are always more. And now my corners are full of tiny spiders getting fat on fruit flies. I appreciate their help.

Fruit fly on the kitchen wall.

A few of the apples, with the few fruit flies that didn't leave when I approached.

Fruit flies on a blemish on an apple.

A small cross spider, Araneus diadematus, has built herself a web in a handy location (for me) just at eye level by the kitchen entrance, and seems to be a bit bigger every day. I caught her two days ago with a mouthful of fruit fly:

She's so handy I can even measure her without disturbing her. She's 7 mm long today.

 I've set up a fruit fly trap, which did reduce the airborne population a bit, but then I decided to feed my friendly cross spider. I took off the lid an inch away from her web, and two fruit flies hit the web immediately. Instantly, half a second or less later, Little Miss Patience, here, had dashed across the web and caught one of the flies. As expected.

What surprised me was that now, with her fangs full of fruit fly, she dashed to the other end of the web and grabbed the second fly, then returned to the centre carrying both of them. Which she tied up in one little bundle and settled down to eat.

A veritable feast; a two-fruit-fly taco!

When I came back a few hours later, there was no sign of the flies. The web was clean and repaired, and LMP was sitting in the centre, waiting again.

And the rest of the flies from my trap were loose; they're even perching on my computer screen as I work.

I wonder; if I gave her three flies, would she catch all three together?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Booted up

Echeveria. Just because.

Seen on a friend's back deck

Delicate flowers

Five-pointed bracts

Three colours on one stem! I think these are Portulacea sp.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Morning visitor

Why it's never a good idea to leave dishes in the kitchen sink overnight. Because in the morning, you'll have to chase this guy around and under dirty dishes.

Sowbug hunter, in a clean, dry sink.

I gave him a dishrag to help him climb up the slippery walls, and he showed his appreciation by posing for me.

He's just under 2 inches, toe to toe.

Tegenaria domestica, again. Harmless, except to sowbugs.

Monday, August 27, 2018