Monday, July 18, 2016

13-July-2016 Friends Landing, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
It's getting late in the dry season for low elevation collecting, but Rod Crawford had a site in mind in Montesano where he hoped the coastal influence had maintained moister habitats.  He was right!  The forest understory around Friends Landing, which lies in the Chehalis River floodplain, was still lush and green.  A well-maintained paved trail, boardwalk and footbridge around Lake Quigg made the hike from the trailhead to the west end of the lake a breeze.  Looking at aerial photos, Rod had spotted a few conifers in the deciduous forest near the lake outlet, so we agreed it would be a good place to start collecting.

Lake Quigg Outlet

Rod photographing Sitka spruce trunk
Fallen Sitka spruce cones
The conifers turned out to be Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).  I'd only tapped Sitka spruce cones once before, in a dry meadow on Lummi Island.  In contrast, the spruce trees at Lake Quigg were in a tidal swamp, each tree creating its own tiny island.  The only fallen cones available to tap were those that had escaped "tidal cleansing" by falling onto these tiny islands.  I managed to find and tap only 46 cones.  Many cones were still loaded with seeds, meaning there wasn't room for spiders in the cone scale pockets, so I wasn't too surprised to collect only two spiders from the lot.  One was a juvenile linyphiid, the other a penultimate male Xysticus (Thomisidae).

Theridion varians female with
egg sacs and spiderlings
Footbridge over Lake Quigg outlet
While Rod sifted moss and leaf litter, I turned my attention to footbridge railings and found numerous female Theridion varians (Theridiidae) with egg sacs on the underside of the top rail.  Back in June Rod collected an atypically colored T. varians (photo here) on the banks of the Nisqually River.  The females I collected from the Quigg Lake footbridge presented yet another color morph.  Just another reminder that you can't necessarily rely on coloration when identifying spiders.  Theridion varians is a tiny species, so I didn't see the details of what I was photographing at Lake Quigg until I downloaded the images.  As it turned out, I photographed not only a female and egg sacs, but a whole herd of spiderlings as well!


Male Poecilochroa
Moving on to the very tidy campground on the south shore of the lake, I would have stepped on this male Poecilochroa (probably) montana (Gnaphosidae) had he not moved.  Presumably the species didn't evolve that coloration to be cryptic on asphalt, but for sure they are.

Douglas-firs were second cone source
A row of Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) growing between the campground office and the tent camping area provided me with another opportunity to tap fallen cones.  Despite the general moist lushness of the area, the scales on these cones were completely open.  A pleasant surprise!  Yet the spider sample I tapped from them was another yawner.  From 50 tapped cones I collected only 2 spiders: 1 male and 1 juvenile Tenuiphantes tenuis (Linyphiidae).

Read Rod's take on the day here!

Young swallows have almost outgrown their nest
under the eaves of a fishing shelter

A female Lariniodes patagiatus in her daytime retreat
on the outside of an outhouse
Lariniodes patagiatus female

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