Saturday, July 8, 2017

2-July-2017 Cooper Pass, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Rod Crawford had been wanting to sample this gridspace for two years, and now we were finally able to fulfill his wish. I had high hopes that we'd find some western white pines (Pinus monticola) there, since that was our experience in the neighboring Cooper River gridspace.

Douglas-fir cone source with
a glimpse of Cooper Lake
Lots of fallen cones
My first collection site was a rocky clearing just north of Cooper Pass that offered a nice view of Cooper Lake and the surrounding countryside. Based on a still-smoldering campfire and the occasional wad of used toilet paper in the underbrush, this was a popular camping spot. Finding no pines here, I tapped 100 Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones and collected a disappointing 6 juvenile spiders. Two of them were Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae) which can be identified to species here from juveniles, so at least there was that.

Male Misumenops sierrensis trying
to mate with female Misumena vatia
Ceanothus in bloom harbored two
species of crab spiders
Whenever the breeze quieted, the mosquitoes began swarming. I found this a great motivator to keep moving, and so collected quite thorough beat samples from conifer foliage and Ceanothus velutinus shrubs. While collecting from the Ceanothus I happened to scoop a female Misumena vatia and a male Misumenops sierrensis (both thomisids) into my dry vial at the same time, with an interesting result. The male immediately climbed onto the female's abdomen and began maneuvering into mating position.

Rod emerging from a marsh
with a bag of leaf litter
Penstemon and Sedum on
rocky outcrop
Since my Douglas-fir cone sample was so disappointing, Rod suggested we take a closer look at a small white pine that we had passed on the walk to our site. I agreed and sure enough, was able to find 17 cones in the dense stand of bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) beneath. Unfortunately they, too, were spider-poor and contained only one juvenile lycosid. What these cones did have in abundance was resin that had transformed in the summer heat from a solid into a gummy liquid. My hands became so sticky that I could barely get my hand into my pocket to retrieve my dry vial. After I was done tapping those cones I had to use alcohol from a wet vial to clean the resin from my hands. Otherwise, they would have stuck to the steering wheel!

A tailed frog in Kachess River
Impressive structure complete
with shelves, oven and chimney
From there we drove to the nearest Kachess River crossing. Seeing no pine cones, I collected spiders from a rather complex stacked-stone oven at a makeshift campsite, then photographed a tailed frog (Ascaphus truei) on the riverbank before accidentally stepping into the river myself.

Kachess River near Mineral Creek
trailhead, looking upstream.
Female Cybaeopsis macarius
guarding her egg sac under
a streamside rock
Our final stop of the day was further down the Kachess River at the Mineral Creek trail crossing. There were a number of stumps standing midstream, indicating that the river had changed course at some point. I turned riverside rocks while Rod sifted a final batch of leaf litter. Among the three species I collected was Cybaeopsis macarius (Amaurobiidae), a species I had collected in pine cones at Cole Creek the week before.

Read Rod's trip description here.

Sedum in bloom, Arctostaphylos uvo-ursi developing fruit

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