Saturday, May 14, 2016

12-May-2016 Darrington, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
This was one of those days where we had so many excellent options to choose from that it was hard to decide where to go. We finally chose the Darrington area, with a focus on Squire Creek Park.  Leaving Rod Crawford there to start his collecting, I continued on into Darrington to tap some urban cones.  I didn't expect to find any Ozyptila praticola in this part of the state, but there was only one way to be sure!

Northward view from the center of
Nels Bruseth Memorial Park
Lots and lots of fallen Doug-fir cones
In the north part of town is a wooded park called Nels Bruseth Memorial Park, named in honor of a U. S. Forest Service worker, recorder of native American stories and amateur painter who made the small city his home.  I tapped 100 fallen Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones there and collected 11 spiders, 10 of them being Phrurotimpus borealis (Phrurolithidae).  The other spider was a juvenile Xysticus (Thomisidae).  Not a diverse sample, but still worthwhile since we didn't collect P. borealis anywhere else this day.

Pardosa xerampelina female with egg
sac, found under driftwood
Pardosa dorsuncata female with egg
sac, found under driftwood
Returning to Squire Creek Park, I took a break from cone tapping and collected spiders from the picnic shelters and other structures, then found 3 species of wolf spiders under wood and cobbles on a beach on Squire Creek.

My cone tapping companion
Pardosa lowriei female found under
rock on shore
I may as well have continued sampling non-cone microhabitats because when I did tap 50 Douglas-fir cones from the area around the ranger station, I got skunked!  Not one spider present!  That's been a rare occurrence west of the Cascades crest.  Although I didn't find any spiders in those fallen cones, I did enjoy the companionship of a very sweet dog who decided to keep me company while I was in that section of the park.

Shore pines at power substation
Sun-bleached & brittle shore pine cone
After exhausting the microhabitats in the park, we visited a nearby power substation and powerline cut.  Although the power station was well out of sight of the highway, someone had planted shore pines (Pinus contorta var. contorta) along its south side, presumably as a visual buffer.

Whitehorse Mountain towering over the power station
The trees had dropped numerous cones, so I couldn't resist tapping the usual 50.  The cones were so dry that many simply crumbled when I tapped them.  Likewise, the needle litter was so dry that it crackled and popped when I walked on it.  I can't say whether it was due to the desiccated conditions on the ground, but one of the two spiders I collected, a female Grammonota kincaidi (Linyphiidae) was already dead when I found it. The only living specimen I tapped from these cones was a juvenile Philodromus spectabilis.  Like the Darrington cone sample this one wasn't diverse, but it provided species we didn't collect in other microhabitats.

Read Rod's account here!

A hairstreak (?cedar, Mitoura grynea) on the Squire Creek shore
Nels Bruseth's painting of Sloan Peak, as viewed from Sunup Lake.  The original
hangs in the Darrington Ranger Station. Copied from Destination Darrington

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