Friday, February 13, 2015

11-Oct-2013 Fish Lake County Park, Washington

Autumn morning beauty
I hit the road this morning just as the sun was brushing the hilltops.  The blue of the sky behind the scattered clouds had a depth and intensity that almost made me wish the sun would stay put.  But low-lying fog banks reminded me that Rod had been camping in dampness, so I couldn't begrudge the onset of warm, drying rays.

Tree lantern
Convenient but deadly
While Rod packed up his tent, I watched the early sun turn a nearby tree into a glowing lantern...then witnessed The Tragedy Of The Tent Stakes!  An old gate being the only dry spot in the campsite, Rod draped various items over it while packing.  Unfortunately the gate post, which was an open-ended tube, swallowed most of his tent stakes.

I've since learned that uncapped gate posts are also deathtraps for cavity-nesting birds.  Birds fly in looking for a nesting site and can't get out again.  This is due to the narrow diameter of the tube preventing them from flying, and the slick inner surface preventing them from climbing.  Gate owners: cap your posts!

Location of Spokane Co., Wash. 2013 collecting sites
After a hearty breakfast in a real, non-McDonald's restaurant, we headed southwest of Spokane to Fish Lake County Park.  This was the final sampling site on our Spokane County expedition.

The place was so peaceful that if it hadn't been for the occasional beer cap in the weeds or graffiti on the dock, I could have believed that we were the only people alive.  Even the distant train whistle somehow reinforced this feeling.

Ponderosa-topped ridge
Many cones were in grass
While Rod set to work sifting deciduous litter by the lake, I set off in search of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cones and needle litter.  A ridge above the northeastern rim of the lake provided plenty of both (including the cone decorating the masthead of this blog!).  I collected 10 juvenile spiders from 50 cones, half of them Anyphaena sp. (Anyphaenidae), and three juveniles from a bag of litter.

Another day, another shield bug
And yes, there were shield bugs in the cones here, too.  Two kinds!

There was also a lot of dragonfly activity in the lake's marginal wetlands.

English, Spanish & Russian
I was intrigued to see this trilingual sign which apparently reflects Spokane County's demographics.

All good spider expeditions end with a twilight stop at Mountain High Hamburgers in Easton.  We happily celebrated this tradition before heading over Snoqualmie Pass and back to Seattle.

For Rod Crawford's perspective on the day, click over to Spider Collector's Journal to read his narrative and view his album.

Here end my pine cone spider narratives for 2013.  The next set of blog posts will describe my 2012 pine cone spider survey in an eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) forest in central Massachusetts.  Stay tuned!

View of Fish Lake from cone sampling site

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