Spruce Cones and Riverside Low-growing Plants

Heavy overcast with periods of rain. Rain becoming heavier and mixed with snow later in the evening. Even later in the evening the mix was trending towards more snow (the forecast is calling for an inch of snow to accumulate overnight).

The forecast was for rain turning to showers in the afternoon. The satellite imagery suggested (to me, at least) there was a chance for a bit of clearing between showers in the afternoon. Rain did fall from time to time this morning and early afternoon, but mostly it didn’t.

In part because of the forecast, I didn’t motivate to head out until later this afternoon. I left even later because a heavy shower started shortly before I initially was going to go. The shower ended up being an extended one, and I went out into the rain anyway.

A 20 year old post recently came up in the ‘On This Day In…” and reading it reminded me of a mystery as yet unsolved. I had twisted open a spruce cone and found a larva in it. My (faint) memory is that it was white, but I don’t remember any details otherwise and didn’t take any pictures. I checked more cones subsequently but didn’t find another larva, though I did find a beetle (which I did not photograph either).

I set out today with the intention of checking out some spruce cones to see what I could find.

I walked down to Crescent Harbor to see if the Pied-billed Grebe might be there. It had been reported yesterday, but I didn’t see it today.

Spruce trees grow among the exposed bedrock between the tennis and basketball courts. I picked up cones and in the first one I twisted open, found something.

It looked more like a pupating larva, but I’m not sure if that’s what was going on. I could see the entry hole. That made me wonder if it was in the cone strictly for protection rather than food.

I was overly optimistic thinking the rain would start to let up not long after I started. By this time my camera was getting pretty wet. I packed it away (which also made it easier to investigate the cones.

It twisted apart a few others, and in one I found a pale (though I thought it was pretty white at the time, in reviewing photos I see it was more yellow) larva. It seemed to have made a tube for itself in the central part of the cone (maybe cones have pith?).

I brought the cones I found something in home. I’ll keep them in a container outside and see if anything might emerge.

My second intention was to visit Indian River and look for Scouleria aquatica.

I went to the elbow just downstream from the road bridge. There are boulders and exposed bedrock there which I have investigated in the past.

I found Racomitrium (I think probably R. aciculare) with sporophytes on a riverside rock right away.

Poking around on other boulders I found what I think is Scouleria, but not with any sporophytes. They are similar enough that I definitely feel more comfortable identifying them if I can see sporophytes (which are distinctly different).

I photographed a couple other mosses and liverworts.

Behind a small patch of liverworts I picked up to get better photos of, I saw a cranefly larva. I took some pictures and left it make its way to cover. It’s not the first time I’ve found a cranefly larva like this. I’m curious which craneflies it would turn into. In hindsight maybe I should have taken it with me to see if it would emerge as an adult.

As I was preparing to leave, the sky brightened a bit and the rain let up.

On the way home, I stopped by the national cemetery and revisited the pin fungi which grown on some polypores. I had first observed them last December but didn’t get very good pictures. I think today’s will be a bit better, but I may ultimately bring some home to photograph under more controled (and better) lighting.

Only three of us at ultimate this evening. As I was driving there, a very heavy shower began. Hail/graupel started to mix in. Fortunately it didn’t last long. We played catch for a bit before calling it good.

I finished up getting quarter three (Jul-Sep) observations into iNaturalist today. So far I’m doing pretty well keeping up with this year’s observations as well. I’m going to try and be more disciplined about uploading observations as I go this year. I’m aiming to do 20 per day. I also want to keep up with photojournal entries. My aim is to keep up with the daily entry, and do at least one from the backlog each day. I’m pretty sure I can keep this up through spring, but it often becomes difficult in summer.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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