Saturday, February 28, 2015

16-Jul-2012 Wachusett Reservoir Gate 14, Massachusetts

Sample site location
Hurrah, another cones-on-the-beach sampling site!  I do love a sampling site with a view.  This day's site was located on the opposite side of the reservoir from the previous week's beach site.

Bluff face in morning shadow
After parking by Pine Grove Cemetery and slipping past Gate 14, I emerged from the twilit forest onto the wide sandy beach located at the foot of Scar Hill Bluffs.  The northwest-facing bluff and beach were still largely in morning shadow when I arrived, but the sun soon topped the bluff-top trees and the beach was awash with light.

This cone laying on sand contained...
...egg sacs, an exuvium & dead ants.
The cones that I sampled had fallen from the eastern white pines (Pinus strobus) growing on the bluff face and the forest above, and had rolled downhill to the foot of the bluff or further onto the flat of the beach proper.  Litter and wrack were almost non-existent here, so there would be no litter sample to compliment these cones.  The cones were all resting directly on sand or on very meager bits of debris.

From this sand-encrusted refugium...
...came this gorgeous salticid.
Tapping 55 cones, I collected 24 spiders.  Half of them were microspiders TBD, but I also collected a number of dictinids and a handsome female jumping spider whose refugium was encrusted with sand.  I wonder whether she had added the sand deliberately, or whether sand encrustration is just an unavoidable fact of life for silk-spinning beach spiders.

Spider wasp
Red-spotted purple
I wasn't the only one out in search of spiders on that beach.  A spider wasp (Pompilidae) was actively hunting spiders to provision  her nursery burrow.  On the hike back to the car another blue and black insect captured my attention.  This red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis) seemed to be making a territorial circuit which included the forest path I was walking.  An irresistible photo op!
Bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) in the morning sun

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