|And cold feet|
(I've been sorting files all evening and night. This one from a few years ago turned up, and seemed very appropriate for today; our first snowfall of the year.) Tweet
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...
|And cold feet|
A major part of the cleanup crew in my aquarium is made up of mudflat snails, Batillaria attramentaria, those invasive snails that crunch under our feet on the beaches of Boundary Bay. They probably would be invasive here, too, were it not that the big burrowing anemone eats all she can catch.
Most of them spend their time under the sand; when they venture out, usually to climb the walls scrubbing off the algae, all that can be seen of them are the shells and a hint of dark flesh at the lip. Rarely, one decides to look me in the eye (or camera lens). One of those curious ones was cleaning off a shell right beside the wall the other day.
|Striped face, striped tentacles. And a staring eye.|
|Full-face view. The eyes are at the base of the tentacles, and bulge outward. The one on the right is barely visible from here.|
|Big foot, patterned in green and grey, folded.|
My hermit crabs have been acting out of character these last few weeks; fighting over females, yanking the poor girls about, challenging hermits three times their size, even across species lines. But when I try to get the evidence on camera, oh, they're such angels! Shrimp pellets wouldn't melt in their mouths!
Meanwhile, I'm staring into their habitat, taking random photos, waiting till they let their guard down.
These are today's crop: anemones and well-behaved hermits.
|Another look at Val's tentacles.|
|A tiny orange-striped anemone, once riding a snail, now moved to just west of the pump, and growing fast.|
|Another small anemone, unidentified. It started out as one a few weeks ago, and has now cloned itself twice.|
|Val eats several snails a day, but never bothers the hermits, who shelter cozily under her tentacles.|
|Grainy-hand hermit, in an shell overgrown with algae, etc., and too small for him now, anyways.|
|Checking out new shells. I've just donated the white one, which I think should fit him.|
Things are not always what they seem: I was chasing misbehaving hermits in the aquarium with the camera, (with little success) and happened across a desert plant. Or so it seemed, at first glance.
|Small prickly pear plant in a flowerpot?|
I never tire of this view, and it's even better than usual in fall and winter colours.
|South bridge, from the heron's favourite fishing spot.|
|West bridge, and newly planted shrubbery for next spring's show.|
Life is full of mysteries. And meddling people.
|"Can't drink this. Nor wash my feet. What good is it?"|
This photo always cheers me up:
|"You were saying?"|
I think I've got my computer whipped back into shape. Now I can get back to the good stuff. Like this tiny critter:
|Unidentified, as yet. Something to look up on BugGuide. Very small. How small, I've forgotten. They'll know.|
And back before computers existed, too.
I am fighting a sulking, stubborn, unreasonable hard drive that wants to hog all my yummy photo files for itself and not share. I'm not giving up, but the island is tempting . . .
|Somewhere in mid-channel, from the Tsawwassen-Schwartz Bay ferry.|
At Mud Bay.
|Early, pale sunset. Everything's turning brown, but the tansy's still going strong.|
|New tansy buds.|
|All over buds, and a brown fly|
|Sea rocket, sheltered between the rocks on the shore.|
|Same photo, showing dying stems.|
|And one little brown mushroom in wet grass.|
Sorting old photos, I came across a file of spider shots that I'd put aside "to deal with later", and then forgot about. They showed a pair of American house spiders, Parasteatoda tepidariorum, grandkids of the one I'd been tracking since 2007, still living in the same corner.
I obviously hadn't looked closely at them, back in 2009. I did today. Look what I'd missed!
|Day 1, afternoon. Female in her skimpy web at the bottom, male visitor (suitor) at the top left. The fat, "boxing glove" pedipalps identify him as a mature male.|
|Day 2, 5:48 PM. He approaches with a gift, a silk-wrapped weevil.|
|Will she accept the gift? If not, she may eat him instead.|
|Yes! "Thank you very much; this is delicious!"|
|5:49 P.M. 16 legs. They're mating. He's on the far side; you can still see his pedipalps. She's not letting go of the weevil, though.|
|5:50 Success! He's impregnated her, and escaped uneaten. She's busy.|
|5:55 He rests, she eats.|
|Day 3, 5:07 P.M. She's finished with the weevil, but he's brought her a gift-wrapped bug.|
I am constantly amazed at my sturdy anemone, "Val"; in little over a year, she has gone from a blob of torn tissue to this:
|At rest. Occasionally, she inflates that column by another third, and stretches upward about 4 cm. The tentacles now measure over 4.5 cm.|
|The disc, with its big mouth, flanked by crumbs from her last meal. Open like this, she dominates the whole aquarium.|
November and December are slow months on our beaches. The only low tide of the day is scheduled around 3:00 A.M. Walking the shore in the afternoons, only sometimes are we lucky enough to get a couple of feet of intertidal zone. But the clouds make up for it.
|Boundary Bay, looking south|
The water in Georgia Strait this weekend was flat, even glassy in spots. The ferry skimmed along smoothly, almost imperceptibly, except for the wash streaming straight out behind us. And wonder of wonders, someone had recently washed the windows on the first ferry! I was able to stay inside, in the warmth, and still see the coasts of the islands our route passed.
|First half of the trip across the Strait. Our route marked in red. Google maps.|
|Light beacon on point. I notice that a lot of them now are solar powered.|
|Just a gull playing in the ship's air stream.|
|Hole in the wall. These little, usually unvisited, creek openings have always intrigued me. I want to row over, go and clamber over the rocks, see what's living in there.|
|Another inviting spot. A sun-warmed mossy rock, with light beacon.|
|Huge winch and chain.|
|Ferry and two beacon lights, one on the point, and one out in the channel. Plus a little marker buoy (with a light) beside the ferry. The end of a dock on the far right holds a row of cormorants.|
|Lighthouse on the shady side. Georgina Point, Mayne Island, at the eastern end of Active Pass.|
I made a quick trip to Victoria, for a birthday party. We were early, so we stopped for supper beside the Inner Harbour, and afterwards walked to the Parliament Buildings and back. It was chilly, but that just makes the lights shine brighter.
|Parliament Buildings, Victoria|
My aquarium setup now includes two tanks. In one, the hermits and crabs, a big polychaete worm, four or five kinds of snails, the big (and still growing) anemone from Campbell River, and a varying assortment of temporary visitors all go about their business; eating, mating, climbing, watching me. There's a strong pump with a filter, and a bubbler; everything is constantly in motion.
The other tank is quieter. I don't stir it up; there's no filter, just a smaller bubbler. Here amphipods and copepods breed happily, without being swallowed by the filter. Here, too, the occasional miniature snail or hydroid appears, seemingly out of nothing. It's a good place for babies.
A couple of times, I've seen a transparent bubble with tentacles resting on the glass. Tiny things; I had to bring out the microscope to see the bubble part. A few days ago, I saw a larger one, and thought it might be big enough now to handle the active tank.
|One of the first photos.|
|Resting on sea lettuce. Side view, showing the bell and the central workings.|
|Side view, showing central column.|
This showed up on the wall of the aquarium a couple of days ago.
|Unidentified medusa, about 3 mm. across bell.|