Tuesday, May 16, 2017

9-May-2017 Harstine Island, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Harstine Island lies directly north of Olympia and west of Tacoma. "So close but yet so far", as the saying goes. The path to it was circuitous but soothingly scenic from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge onward. Our destination was a working forest on the west side of the island, just over the Harstine Bridge.

Cone-source trees on East South
Island Drive, which runs along
the west side of the island.
Some fallen cones were on
moss, others on bare soil
I was curious to tap fallen cones in one or more of the fingers of forest left exposed by a relatively recent clearcut. But since open Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones littered the roadside between our parking spot and the gate into the clearcut I thought, why not tap my way there? I'm glad I did, because I found quite a surprise in those cones!

Female Xysticus montanensis, with
Douglas-fir needle for scale
I tapped 100 Douglas-fir cones and collected 9 spiders and 4 identifiable species. All but one of the spiders in the sample were unsurprising finds for the region and habitat: the phrurolithids Phrurotimpus sp. and Scotinella sculleni, the theridiid Enoplognatha thoracica, and the thomisid Xysticus montanensis.

Surprise! Euryopis formosa
The surprise was a juvenile Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae), the mascot of fallen cones east of the Cascades crest! It's only been found in western Washington once before, beaten from salal by Rod Crawford in 2005 in Lilliwaup. Lilliwaup is only about 15 miles northwest of Harstine Island.

Residual finger of forest produced
uninteresting cone spiders
After collecting spiders from the undersides of boards and bark chunks I found near the road, I took a long, exploratory stroll through the clearcut and collected from a variety of microhabitats there. A second round of cone tapping in a finger of residual forest was decidedly less interesting than the initial round along the road had been: 50 fallen Douglas-fir cones produced 3 juvenile phrurolithids and 1 juvenile agelenid.

Read Rod's account of the day here.

I wouldn't have seen those two deer had I not stopped to watch that hawk.
There be deer here.

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