Sunday, May 28, 2017

25-May-2017 Mt. Vernon and Minkler, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
With one of Rod Crawford's trip plans available for each cardinal direction, we decided to make Minkler Lake in the Skagit River valley our main destination. On the way, we made a brief stop in Mt. Vernon to beef up an incomplete sample in that gridspace. Both destinations were fine with me. I remain interested in tapping fallen conifer cones in Skagit County, where I have yet to find any Ozyptila praticola (Thomisidae).

Mt. Vernon

Black pine on bank of Skagit River,
Edgewater Park, Mt. Vernon
Fallen cones under the ivy
On the drive into Edgewater Park in Mt. Vernon, I spotted two black pines (Pinus nigra) growing on the wooded bank of the Skagit River. English ivy (Hedera helix) blanketed much of the ground beneath them, making the search for fallen cones more difficult than usual. The river rushing by just a few feet away didn't help matters. But after some searching I was able to find 40 cones to tap. Phrurotimpus borealis (Phrurolithidae), which I've tapped from fallen cones in dozens of locations, was the only identifiable species present in the 12-spider sample.

Minkler Lake

Salticus scenicus capturing a mayfly
(Order: Ephemeroptera) on trail bridge
Location of cone-tapping site
near Minkler Lake
We accessed the Minkler Lake area via the Cascade Trail, a former railroad bed that passes through the forest south of the lake. The few Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees that we spotted from the trail were inaccessible, protected by both barbed wire and a flooded forest floor. Consequently, I spent much of the afternoon collecting spiders from footbridges along the trail.

The marge of Minkler Road
Not your usual
roadside attraction
Back on Minkler Road I thought I'd find cones underneath the young Douglas-firs planted by Skagit Land Trust, but there were none! I finally settled for roadside cones across the street from the Trust land. It wasn't the most beautiful spot to tap cones, but as our recent trip to Harstine Island showed, roadside cones can contain some worthwhile surprises.

I tapped 50 cones and collected 8 spiders from 4 families. The only identifiable species was Enoplognatha thoracica (Theridiidae). Though a common enough species, this was the only mature specimen we found this day.

Neither Rod nor I collected any Ozyptila in any microhbitat in Mt. Vernon or around Minkler Lake.
Minkler, as seen from the Cascade Trail
The only quiet killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) I've ever met,
probably because she was guarding eggs.

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