Feeling Like Fall

Today had the feel of fall to me. I think it was a combination of things, starting with the heavy cloud layer that kept the brightness of the day more at a gloomy level than I’ve become accustomed to in this year of sun. Accompanying the gloom, a return to cooler temperatures with the snow on the trees down to around 2000 feet or less (which is a good thing for water supplies). Finally, I also spent a fair amount of time last night and today reading first third of a novel set partially in this region. At least so far the emotional space of the novel makes me resonate more with darkening of fall and darkness of winter. I have not read a novel in a while, so it’s interesting to be reminded of the effects such intensive reading can have one me.

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Two Canada Geese

This past winter a flock of geese could be found out at Starrigavan. As best I could tell, they were all Canada Geese, though some of them seemed distinctly smaller than others. The picture above shows two of the mis-matched geese. What stands out to me is the distinctly shorter neck and maybe smaller head (though I think the goose in front is looking slightly away from me, which makes it a little harder to judge accurately). Despite this, I think the bird in front still qualifies as a Lesser Canada Goose rather than a Cackling Goose. I would be happy to be corrected, however.

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Graywacke Imprints

Recently I noticed some interesting imprints in the graywacke at John Brown’s Beach. As best I can tell, something that was formerly there is no longer there, and that something was different than the rest of the rock. Perhaps it was some sort of softer stone embedded in the harder graywacke that eroded easily? I was also intrigued by the shapes, and am wondering if I could get a positive look at it with silly putty or something.

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White Nudibranch

Last week Rowan found a small white nudibranch at John Brown’s Beach. It was one I had not seen before (which isn’t not particularly notable, since I haven’t spent a lot of time on marine life), but it seemed reasonably distinctive. However, it was not quite as easy to figure out as I had hoped. After some effort looking through the books, I came up with Hudson’s Dorid (Acanthodoris hudsoni). The frosted white tips of relatively conical shaped somethings – [I don't actually know what they're called], together with white (instead of red) gills, seemed like a good match. I hope to get this confirmed, but would be happy to get corrected.

Something else I noticed in my photos (though not at the time) were little spiral shaped things in among the conical shaped somethings. I’m not sure if their occurrence there was coincidental, or if they were actually associated with the nudibranch in a more direct way. I’ve been told they are diatoms, and a little searching on the internet turned up some pretty interesting high magnification photos of other spiral shaped diatoms.

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Black-clawed Crab (Lophopanopeus bellus)

Black-clawed Crab (Lophopanopeus bellus) is a species I’ve seen a couple of times now at John Brown’s Beach. I am uncertain how common it is in general. Rowan found this one during a recent low tide, and since I didn’t recognize it off the top of my head, I decided to take some pictures.

Although this species has been said not to pinch, I discovered this is not strictly the case. It does tend to stretch out its claws and stiffen up when handled, but it will sometimes reach under and try to grasp whatever might be there, as seen in the photo above where it has its claw against my fingernail. Unfortunately, the first time I realized it would do this was when it got my finger and grabbed on. I was a little surprised at how tightly it held on, I finally had to pry a little bit on the pincer with other hand and kind of pull. It actually ended up drawing a little blood and left me with a sore fingertip for a day or so.

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White Trees in the Forest

While taking a break in a spot of sun along Indian Rive trail recently, I was struck by how white the lichen-covered bark of a riparian stand of red alder (Alnus rubra) appeared in contrast with the greens and browns of the surrounding forest. The bark of alder is naturally gray, but unless they are growing in an especially dense stand or an area with significant air pollution, all except the youngest trees end up with bark that appears white from a distance. Closer inspection reveals several different species of lichen in overlapping growth that completely covers the bark.

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