Saturday, December 5, 2015

29-Nov-2015 Salsbury Point Park, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
The dry spell continued long enough to provide Rod Crawford and me another opportunity to make another late-fall collection.  As our destination Rod chose Salsbury Point Park, a small county park located near the foot of the Hood Canal bridge on the northern end of the Kitsap peninsula.  It sounded like a good destination to me, since it would require much less driving than most of our trips, and according to photos on the county's website, it had pine trees.  If cones were available under those pines, I would be able to collect my first-ever cone spider sample in Kitsap County.

Fog makes for fanciful ferry crossings
Hood Canal bridge viewed from park
One of the reasons Rod selected the site was because sunshine was forecast there, and because of its western exposure.  As it turned out, fog blanketed the region for the entire day and temperatures never got above the mid 40s.  Besides creating chilly work conditions, the lack of sunshine meant that ground-active spiders weren't out.  Nevertheless, with the help of new field volunteer Ben Diehl, we managed to find plenty of spiders.  And, there were indeed cones under the pine trees!

Two of the park's several shore pines
Spongy leaf and needle litter
The park has several clumps of shore pine (Pinus contorta) planted around buildings and in little islands in the lawn.  Although a groundskeeper was busy blowing leaves, etc. when we arrived, I had no trouble finding open cones under many of the pine trees.  I rather enjoyed crawling under the trees' low branches to reach the cones.  The pine needle litter was soft and, in one area, quite spongy with vine maple leaves.  And it was much drier than the surrounding lawn.

Many cones got eaten by Douglas
squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasii)
before they could fall
Showy erigonine juvenile
I tapped 100 cones and collected 18 spiders.  Half of them were juvenile erigonine linyphiids with dark bodies and orange legs - very showy in my net.  The only species identifiable in my cone sample was the undescribed Tachygyna sp. #4 (Linyphiidae).  I tapped 4 females and 1 male from the cones.  Rod and Ben also collected the species from beach meadow grass, ferns and conifer foliage.  Interestingly, I did not find it in the associated needle and leaf litter that I sifted.  The only spider I found in common to both microhabitats at the site was juvenile Enoplognatha that look like ovata (Linyphiidae).

Be sure to check out Rod's take on the day here.

Douglas squirrel with a mouthful of bark that I watched it strip from
the trunk of this western red cedar (Thuja plicata)

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