Monday, July 20, 2015

17-Jul-2015 Evans Lake, Washington

Site location (click to enlarge)
On this trip Rod Crawford and I enjoyed the company of Markku Savela, an avid photographer of lepidoptera and other life forms in Finland and beyond.  Markku arrived with a high-clearance vehicle in addition to his photographic equipment, so I was able to sit back and enjoy the sights as he negotiated the forest roads to Evans Lake.

Evans Lake
An American dipper at Evans Lake
Most subalpine lakes in Washington are only accessible via a solid hike, but not this one.  If you can figure out which unmarked forest road is the correct one and spot the poorly marked trailhead, a few minutes amble down a gentle path brings you to Evans Lake.  Upon reaching the lake the first thing I spotted was the unique songbird American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), which swims under water.  The opposite end of the lake was teeming with mayflies busily mating and laying eggs on lake surface.  Ripe blueberries and huckleberries (Vaccinium sp.) and overripe salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) were available in profusion.

Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)
cone microhabitat at Lake Evans
Cones were about 2 inches
(5-6 cm) long
There were no pines in the surrounding forest, but plenty of mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana). To paraphrase an old saying, when in a hemlock forest, tap hemlock cones.  This was only the second time I tapped T. mertensiana cones, the first being in August 2011 along the Watson Lakes Trail.  Those cones yielded a few immature linyphiids and harvestmen and served as the first record of spiders in T. mertensiana cones, but didn't contribute to the species list for that sampling location.  My Lake Evans cone sample was more interesting.

Coreorgonal petulcus © Rod Crawford
I collected 6 spiders and 2 species from 50 tapped* T. mertensiana cones as well as 1 harvestman.  A female Agyneta (Linyphiidae) awaits species determination, but Rod was immediately able to identify the other mature specimen as a teneral male Coreorgonal petulcus (Linyphiidae).  I tapped C. petulcus once before from western white pine (Pinus monticola) cones in the subalpine zone, in August 2010 on Suntop Mountain

A police car moth (Gnophaela vermiculata)
nectaring on Angelica sp.
Tiny rainbow trout in inlet stream
*A note on tapping mountain hemlock cones:  Mountain hemlock cones are too small to be tapped like pine cones (My pine cone tapping method is described here).  For the Lake Evans cones, "tapping" consisted of a combination of holding each cone upside-down or sideways over my net and tapping it with a small stick, and/or flicking it with my fingers, and then gently twisting it in an attempt to remove the scales.  Scales readily fell from the axes of older, but not newer, cones.

A green comma (Polygonia faunus)
looking cryptic on charcoal...
...until it opened its wings.
I couldn't resist the urge to drop my net now and then and photograph the bumblebees, moths and butterflies along the lakeside path, as well as the fish and other aquatic animals trapped in isolated pools in the almost-dry inlet stream.  As usual, there was more to explore at this collection site than time allowed.
Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) photographed by yours truly atop nearby Beckler Peak.

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