Monday, February 9, 2015

6-Oct-2013 Bear Creek & Swakane Canyon, Washington

Deer track next to chamomile on road
While Rod packed up his tent, I had time to admire the play of early morning light on the dewy vegetation as well as look for signs of wildlife.  Perhaps this track belonged to the mule deer whose antler I'd found the day before.

Location of Bear Mtn & Bear Ck sites
After a morning snack of Fritos and bean dip, we headed down the southwest side of Bear Mountain to Bear Creek.  Our sampling site offered a grassy field and riparian vegetation for Rod, and small clumps of ponderosas for me.
Nexus of grassland, riparian veg &
ponderosa pines near Bear Creek

Alas, despite slogging though wet grass and hopping rose-guarded creeks, I only found 26 cones to tap.  The result was only two juvenile spiders, although one was an Ebo sp. (Thomisidae).  Only a handful of adult Ebo have been collected from any microhabitat in Washington.  As for the litter, which was bone dry despite the general dewiness of the area, I got skunked (see Def. 5)!

Swakane Canyon
Onward to Swakane Canyon, a favorite spot for butterfly and, as we would soon learn, firearms enthusiasts.  And now spider collectors as well.  What a gorgeous place!

Our collecting area was about 2.5 miles up the canyon from its mouth on the Columbia River.  Here the flat, grass-covered canyon bottom gave way to a pocket of wetlands.  To my delight, ponderosa pine groves were growing on both the canyon bottom and the canyon's south-facing slope, with a few lone trees at the foot of the north-facing slope.  Lots of possibilities!

The unwelcoming committee
With a rattlesnake warning me away from the trees I'd spotted at the base of the canyon's north-facing slope, I turned my attention to three sites on the opposite side of the canyon and sampled 50 cones and a bag of litter from each.

The best and only needle litter I found
Well, scratch that.  My plan had been to sample litter at each site.  But only one site had any litter to speak of, and even so it was thin enough to read the New York Times through.  Rod speculates that the wildfire that swept through the lower canyon in 2010 may have burned the litter.  Perhaps, but that can't be the entire story since there were fire scars on the trees under which I collected my litter sample.  It's a puzzler.
Callobius sp. as found in fallen cone

In any case, these cones had spiders!  From 150 cones total I collected 8 species and 67 individuals including 34 juvenile Steatoda sp. (Theridiidae), three Euryopis formosa and a female of the infrequently found crab spider Xysticus gulosus (Thomisidae).  Even that threadbare needle litter produced two juvenile spiders.

Read Rod's Swakane Canyon narrative here and view his album here.

Next stop, Spokane County!

The view from under a ponderosa pine at the foot of the south-facing slope looking across the floor of Swakane Canyon towards the canyon's north-facing slope

1 comment:

  1. Swakane Canyon was my favorite place to practice target shooting. But now as I started living in Massachusetts, I have joined MA Firearms School to improve my firearms skills further.