Tag Archive | BC

A photographic species record

5073254804_71691f2caa_bPhotography brings me a great deal of pleasure, and I indulge in it whenever I can. A few years ago, I was with my dad, driving north from Victoria to my brother’s wedding. Along the way is Goldstream Park, a  real gem where the Golstream River empties into Saanich Inlet. We had some time to kill, so we went out for a short stroll with our cameras. It was a beautiful fall day, although the early morning forest was still dark. After photographing some salamanders in the forest, I decided to check out the highway bridge over Niagara Creek for overwintering mosquitoes.

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A western red-backed salamander we found under a log.

 

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Many overintering arthropods can be found in man-made structures. Here are three harvestmen and three Triphosa haesitata under the abutment of the Niagara Creek trestle. I have also found bats, camel crickets and five species of mosquito under similar structures.

 

During my undergrad, I did an Honours thesis on overwintering mosquitoes, and one of my field sites was just upstream, at the railroad trestle above the creek. Here I found several species of mosquito, including Anopheles punctipennis, Culex tarsalis, Culex territans and Culiseta incidens. So when I checked out the highway bridge, I took a few shots of of the mosquitoes. Most of these were the large and very common Culiseta incidens, but I saw a smaller and browner one that I knew was a Culex. Not having many good shots of Culex tarsalis, I strained to reach the camera over my head to shoot the insect. Like many overwintering mosquitoes, this one was still able to fly, so I only got the one shot. Upon reviewing it however, I saw that it was not Culex tarsalis, as I expected, but rather Culex restuans! This species looks much like the common house mosquito, but is distinguished by the two light scale patches on the scutum. I had never encountered this species during my thesis research, as it had not been reported for BC. In talking with Dr. Peter Belton, he urged me to write up the sighting for the Journal of the Entomological Society of BC as a new species record for the province.

Several years passed, where I was busy with tropical field research, and I had put the Culex record on the back burner. When Dr. Belton presented me with a draft of the report, I knew I had to do my part. I added some detail to the manuscript and sent it off. Click here to see the paper!

Not bad for a quick snapshot. Here are some other pictures I took that day:

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On top of the bridge I found this jumper with a droplet for a hat.

 

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Heather (my new sister in law) and my brother.

 

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Pablo !

 

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My dad, with some palinka we smuggled in.

 

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BC Day Long Weekend part 2: Bees in the garden

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A second feature of this past weekend was getting out to various gardens and plantings to see some flower visitors. I first stopped off at the Strathcona community garden, then some gardens near Commercial drive.

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Early morning on Echinacea: often bumblebees don’t make it home in the evening, and I find them dew-wettened, clinging to the flowers they were visiting the previous evening. They are in no mood to fly in this state, and I get the opportunity to experiment with lighting.

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With a diffused flash to the left, and a reflector card on the right, this bee gets the beauty treatment, despite her bad hair day!

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For some reason, this bumblebee looks to me like she is enjoying a belly laugh.

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The advantage of working with immobilized insects cannot be overstated. This shot mixes in the dawn light, hence the sunbeam!

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I found a few other creatures in the garden, such as this awesome sac spider.

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This flower longhorn was one of the few non-bee insects I ended up shooting at Strathcona.

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Here is a dew-wettened honeybee on some kind of mint.

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And a dry honeybee foraging on Echinacea.

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Later, during the heat of the day, I went to Grandview Park near Commercial Drive. This is our native paper wasp, Polistes aurifer.

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There were a whole lot of the introduced wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum) foraging and stalking on catmint. Here is a male on his lookout perch, where he watches for rivals and females to chase.

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One of the few times they are still is during copulation, wherein the male violently grabs the female while she feeds. I believe the white tuft on the male tibia has something to do with shading part of the female’s eye.

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They seem to be having a good time.

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I do not normally chill insects, but this male I chilled for a short time to see what would happen. they are normally out on such hot days, it stood to reason they would be sensitive to chilling. This procedure allowed about a minute of shooting, and in not such terrible positions either.

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Here he is, looking fierce and about to fly off.

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Booty duty: this natural light shot shows a megachilid with a scopa full of pollen.

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Pretty boy: finding the male of Agapostemon texanus is a wonderful thing. The combination of the striped abdomen and brilliant green is hard to resist. They would steal my heart from Coelioxys if they weren’t so damn fast!

Back to the beach!

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Catherine and I had to make a quick run back to Iona Beach last night to retrieve a fallen Raynox DCR-250 and to search out some Micropezid flies for Morgan Jackson. It was a quick trip, but we succeeded on both counts! Of course, I also took the opportunity to do some shooting as well. Here is what we got.

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A Tibellus (Philodromidae) feasts on a damslefly.

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A damselfly feasts on a chironomid midge.

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Weekend Expedition 50: Richmond Nature Park

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Wow! I can’t believe Weekend Expedition is turning 50! Seems like just yesterday we were at Richmond Nature Park, bringing bugs to kids and speculating how cool it would be to walk around and see the place. Catherine and I saddled up after a long week to see what we could see in this Richmond gem, a bog forest habitat just off Westminster Highway. The day was bright and sunny, but it was cool on the trails.

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A male linyphiid (sheetweb weaver) hangs out on Oregon Grape.

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These staphylinids seem to be having a sex party on a flowering Labrador Tea.

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Catherine and I got our animal feeding jollies at home before setting out: we now have some really fat spiders!

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Some prime spotting by Catherine: a female Snakefly!

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This (lauxaniid?) is feeding on the corpse of a barklouse.

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I really like how this chironomid blends into the lit-up leaf.

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This one, in contrast, stands out.

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This place is full of blueberries, all along the trails. None ripe yet though!

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Here is a male Philodromus dispar in silhouette.

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We found a whole bunch of rhaphidophorids (camel crickets) under some bark.

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Back out toward the entrance was a newly-fledged Rufous Hummingbird.

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Mama would come periodically with food.

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The fledgling was already feeding itself as well!

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This throat-stabby feeding looks painful, but seems to work well enough.

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The whole scene was quite wonderful to see. In only a month and a half, they will be shipping out for a long migration south.

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A watery world of gulls

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If you have ever taken the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, the part with the spectacular scenery is Active Pass. This narrow channel separates Galiano Island on the north from Mayne Island on the south, and is a great place to watch out for wildlife. This time of year, thousands of tiny Bonaparte’s Gulls gather in the pass for feeding prior to migration to breeding grounds inland. These gulls have molted into their breeding plumage, and are quite handsome. They are difficult to get close-up shots of, as they are small and shy, and don’t like french fries. Nonetheless, they add to the feeling of abundant life of the sea-land interface of the Pacific Coast in springtime.

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When I can’t get a closeup, a shot like this emphasizing the patterns of the water works nicely too.

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Here the subjects are difficult to discern, but I like the juxtaposition of the small gulls and the big ocean.

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Here you can see some feeding behavior in a raft of gulls.

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The gulls seem to commute from one end of the pass to the other, perhaps following the tides. These waters get turbulent, and I presume lots of organisms get churned out of either end.

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Getting out on deck on the ferry for photography is a great way to spend the time. Especially so now that the weather is fine!

Portrait session with a hummingbird

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Yesterday my brother and I got up to the airport to see if we could shoot some planes with his new (to him) 300 mm f4. We ended up photographing a much smaller bird: an Anna’s Hummingbird male! This little guy was pretty cooperative, as he was just perched on his favourite territorial lookout, so we had some good opportunity to mess around. Almost all these shots were taken in the shade of a cedar, so the light was not too dramatic, but nonetheless it was fun!

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Very rarely, the little guy went into a sunny spot. The full glare of his gorget was a bit too much, so here it is only partially shining.

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Weekend Expedition 44: French Beach Bugs

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This weekend Catherine and I finally got out for an outing in the woods. Her knee is still bad, so it had to be somewhere with not much hiking involved, so we chose to go to French Beach. This park out past Sooke is getting out farther into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and thus has a bit more of the character of a wild west coast beach than those closer to Victoria. Unfortunately for us, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and the temperature was much chillier than the previous day. We did manage a bit of arthropod hunting, and had lunch before a spat of freezing rain sent us back to Victoria.

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The beach was a bit dreary and cold, but that is pretty normal this time of year. If we had managed to get out on Friday it would have been much nicer.

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Our first arachnological find was this remarkably still wolf spider. Here is an example of a “naturally chilled” arthropod that retains a normal posture.

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We did some excavation under the bark of a downed Sitka Spruce, and found this svelte centipede.

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We were delighted to find a lovely Pseudoscorpion under the bark. I am sure the diminutive creature was less happy to see us.

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Of course, some lovely Amaurobiids were to be found as well.

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Royalty: a formerly-winged reproductive Pacific Coast Dampwood Termite.

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At the end of the day, the weekend expedition was a success, as it got us out and active and showed us that there is a life beyond thesis writing!

I don’t get out much…

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Seriously, I don’t get out much! The recent rainy weather has made photography and pretty well all other outdoor activity really unpleasant. In addition, it seems more and more work is piling up that requires my attention. Because we had a rare sunny break yesterday, I went out on the campus for an hour to see what I could see. And what I could see was soggy! The summer insects are gone, and seemingly the forest is once again the realm of water, fungi, dampness and decay.

Update: I read this line in a novel this morning: “In the distance… Simon Fraser University rose up on Burnaby Mountain, a cluster of grey-slab buildings, miserable and gloomy, saved from utter desolation by the surrounding patches of evergreen trees.”

From “A Thousand Bayonets” by Joel Mark Harris.

Seems appropriate!

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Some nice Mycena.

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Witches’ Butter! This is a weird basidiomycete that grows on woody debris (and sometimes bark).

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This is not predation, but just photographic conjunction of an amaurobiid and a millipede.

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The damsel bugs can be found through much of the fall.

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Some kind of Coprinus.

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Chicken-of-the-Woods! This is an older fruitbody, but I probably would have grabbed it when it was younger (if I got out more).

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A hardy orbweaver sits in her tiny web.

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I may not get out, but sometimes insects come in! This Western Conifer Seed Bug came into the lab. looking for an overwintering spot.

Weekend Expedition 29: life isn’t all slo’ mo’

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Well, we have been working hard for 9 days with the Photron SA-5, and this weekend was mostly busy as well. I managed to get some time out to take some photos amongst all the high speed madness. Most of these shots were taken during 6 minute downloading breaks with the camera, and I also snuck in a quick trip to the local community garden.

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Culiseta incidens, probing my finger.

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tanking up!

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Graphocephala fenahi, the rhododendron leafhopper.

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A beautiful syrphid bumblebee mimic, Eristalis flavipes.

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A flower longhorn in the community garden.

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A western yellowjacket delves under bark for prey.

OK, you have made it to the end of the photos. Did I ever mention that I am part American? The following 2 videos were shot at a whopping 10,000 frames per second.

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