Sunday, July 12, 2015

10-Jul-2015 Wynoochee River Fish Facility, Washington

Site location (click to enlarge)
With a 30% chance of thunderstorms forecast for the Cascades and smoke from almost 200 wildfires in British Columbia still blanketing the Puget Sound and nearby mountains, Rod Crawford and I decided to head to the south end of the Olympic Peninsula where it was expected to be dry and smoke-free.

Unexpected road closures
Despite our best efforts, we didn't entirely escape rain and fire, or threat of it anyway.  The best route to our destination required us to drive a few miles on a private road owned by Green Diamond Resource Company, a timber company.  Green Diamond's roads are normally open to the public, but unbeknownst to us (and to the online mapping tool!) they were now closed due to "extreme fire danger".  The road closure added an hour to our already long drive from Seattle.  And although no rain was forecast for the area, light rain fell during our unplanned detour.

View of fish collection facility from
Douglas-fir trees along service road
But we eventually made it, a little late and a little less dusty, to our destination, a fish collection facility on the Wynoochee River operated by Tacoma Public Utilities.  Western white pine (Pinus monticola) was the only pine cone source I might find in the area.  We had spotted some growing on Green Diamond land near the town of Matlock, but I didn't find any here.  But Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menzieseii) cones were plentiful, and so I made do with tapping 50 not-pine cones I found along the fish facility's service road.  The cones I tapped were laying on a thin layer of needles or on bare ground.

Zelotes fratris female and egg sac
in fallen Douglas-fir cone
Fallen Douglas-fir cones
Spider signs like old webs and refugia were more common in the cones than were spiders, but I did find one female Zelotes fratris (Gnaphosidae) guarding her egg sac.  Harvestmen are not uncommon in fallen conifer cones, and indeed I collected 3 juveniles in these cones.  What was interesting was that they were all the introduced European species Paroligolophus agrestis (Phalangiidae).  This was the only microhabitat at this site from which we collected this species.  I've also tapped P. agrestis from pine cones in several Seattle locations, but they've been collected from a variety of microhabitats elsewhere in the state.

Segestria tube
A female Segestria's front legs are
just visible inside the tube opening
(click to enlarge)
The railing on the FR-22 bridge crossing the Wynoochee River provided a nice framework for web-building spiders and one of the more interesting finds of the day, the tube-dwelling Segestria sp., presumably pacifica (Segestriidae).  When Rod spotted the large female Segestria in my wet vial, he exclaimed "Ooooh!". 

Arnica sp. (rear left), Boykinia sp. (front left), and  Parnassia palustris (front right) were among the many
species of flowers and ferns growing at the base of a weeping cliff face along the river.

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