Monday, July 27, 2015

Scat, berries, and bugs. And a rat.

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.

From here, the path turned west, ducked through a narrow tunnel of bush - I'm short, and the branches brushed my head - and then along a straight path, hawthorns and baneberry on the left, great mounds of the invasive Himalayan blackberry on the right, sometimes three times or more my height, and loaded with purple-black berries. I passed people with buckets, picking. I tried a few; ripe and sweet. Even after I had left them behind, when the breeze picked up, I could smell their perfume.

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.

Another turn, a short, noisy walk alongside the highway, and then the path came out onto the river bank again. Beautiful silence!

This end of the fen is old farmland, with remains of fences and groves of hawthorn and crabapple, all showing their dismay at this dry summer.

Hawthorn, needing water.

Here the path is bordered on the inner side with weedy grass, all brown and dead. I poked along, chasing grasshoppers and big blue dragonflies, with no luck, and dodging coyote scat.

This one has some sort of fungus.

Besides the coyote scat, every few steps, (one with a hawthorn berry on top, like the cherry on a cupcake), the grass was full of rabbit pellets. Predator and prey, but the rabbits seem to be doing ok.

A hawk was patrolling this dry land, swooping low over the grass, looking for small birds and mice, and maybe a juicy rabbit, too.

Tiny fly, unidentified. About half an inch long. Update: Sand wasp. Thanks, Christopher!


White feather. What bird would this be from? About three inches long.

And a final surprise; swimming along the shore, going downstream at a good clip, I saw this big rat:

Not a house rat.

And over the river, a pair of swallows were catching mosquitoes. Good!



5 comments:

  1. Your 'fly' is a wasp. Specifically, it's some form of sand wasp (Sphecidae), possibly a female on the hunt for prey. She'll capture a spider or another insect, paralyse it with her sting, then carry it back to her nest (perhaps a burrow, perhaps a mud nest, depending on what type she is) to lay an egg on it.

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  2. Thanks, Christopher! I'll update the post.

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  3. And with that information, I found it on BugGuide, in our area, identified as Ammophila, a caterpillar hunting wasp. Thanks again!

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  4. Great photos! Nice getting more info from readers, isn't it?!

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  5. Thanks, Jennifer. And yes, it's one of the reasons I love blogging.

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