Tag Archive | Stanley Park

Arthropod sampling with the Future Science leaders!


This past week has been pretty busy, so getting out and shooting has not really been on my list of accomplishments (my “Ta Da!” list). On Tuesday, I did manage to get interviewed by Global News about invasive ants, and then schlepped across town to assist my friend Tanya Stemberger with a field exercise for high school students in the Future Science Leaders program.

Due to high tides, the planned transect based survey of intertidal organisms had to be scrubbed, so instead, we attempted a transect-based survey of a forest near Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.

I planned to show the students a simple technique for sampling called beating, wherein you strike foliage forcefully and collect any falling arthropods in a sheet placed below. We used small photographic shoot-through umbrellas to do our collection, and then used a simple aspirator to collect the catch. We had planned on sampling 5 sites along a 50 m transect, beating 4 small bushes at each site. Due to time constraints, we only managed to get a single site done.

Nonetheless, with only beating 4 bushes (2 salal, 2 salmonberry) we secured 25 spiders, 1 isopod and 1 harvestman. Many of these spiders were tiny juveniles, but some were just tiny adults. Identifying them in the field was definitely not going to happen in the limited time frame, but there may be hope of at least getting some identifications. Here are some of the spiders that were large enough to photograph well:











It seems the spider diversity seems pretty high, and interestingly, of these spiders I photographed, 4 of the 5 are males.

The most striking thing about this sample (to me anyhow) was the lack of insects. Usually, at this time of year, I expect to see barklice (Psocoptera), springtails (Collembolla) and perhaps a stinkbug (Pentatomidae) or plant bug (Miridae). Nonetheless, it is tough to draw conclusions about the diversity of taxa we found, with only one sample being taken.

Of course, finding such a predator-biased range of taxa seems a little strange, until you consider that every sampling method has its biases. In the fall, when plant growth is limited, finding phytophagous insects out and about is much more difficult, but at a sites such as this, adjacent to a large freshwater source (Lost Lagoon) there is ample prey for web building spiders. These freshwater bodies are still producing abundant chironomid midges, and a few caddisflies.

All in all, this was a great (albeit short) little introduction to terrestrial arthropod sampling. Special thanks to the Stanley Park Ecology Society volunteers for leading us on the great nature walk!



Weekend expedition 46: A few shots from Vancouver


Catherine and I have been in Vancouver for a few days, catching up on some school-related business at SFU, and saying hello to our friends. We made a special trip on Sunday to say hello to Stanley Park with our friend Samantha Vibert, and here is what we saw!


Samantha with a juvenile Araneus diadematus. Shortly after this shot was taken, the spider ballooned right off her finger!


A Golden-crowned Sparrow.


A bright eyed and eager-looking Towhee!


This long-jawed orbweaver was tricky to capture with a non-black background, as I had forgotten to charge my second speedlight’s batteries.


A red velvet mite looking red and velvety, which they like to do.


Ensatina! ensatina! (That is how you spell it right?)



This brown Green Lacewing (Nothochrysa californica) was freshly emerged, and looking rather wonderful. Thanks to v belov for the ID!



A mystery egg sac. Any ideas what it could be?


Amaurobiids are extremely abundant in the old firs and cedars of Stanley Park (and everywhere on the coast).


This one has a cool-looking carapace.


Catherine doing some knitting on a gorgeous spring day.


Weekend Expedition 33: Fall in Stanley Park


Here we are, it is already  Arachtober, and fall weather has definitely arrived. While the rains last week kept me from going out shooting, this weekend we had a beautiful Sunday, perfect fall weather for some photography in Stanley Park.


Migration season has arrived, and all the Canada Geese are definitely in flying mode. There are takeoffs and landings every few minutes on Lost Lagoon in the morning. Go south, oh poopy ambassadors, and spread your green, cylindrical, gifts across America!



This may very well be my last jumper of the year…I found her under some bark on an old cedar stump.


A Snowberry leaf makes a nice perch for this spider.


Termites are of course still to be found in rotting wood. I hope all the Entomology students pay attention: if you do not have these in your collection by now, you aren’t looking hard enough!



A couple crow shots, because i can’t help it…



Flipping logs is something I have been doing since I was a little kid…And this Ensatina is a good reason why!


Ensatina eyes are some of the prettiest of salamander eyes. They are almost like the eyes of a doe.


This is a very odd fungus I found on an old stump. I wonder if it might be a really young fruitbody of a Hericium species.


A tiny Uloborid spider, likely Hyptiotes gertshi.


Looking elegant, stretched out on a grass blade. Metellina?


Some more crow portraits


Some of my favourite photographic subjects to revisit periodically are crows.  These bold black birds seem to me unusually expressive, with minor variations in posture and plumage conveying very different feelings photographically. I like to get in close, to show their eyes and plumage. In the following shots, you can see that some are molting countour plumes around the face. In another month or so, they will be at their sleekest and blackest, and I will probably go out for some more crow sessions.











Weekend Expedition 30: A day off in Stanley Park


A picture of me, with a sizable prey item, trying to hold it together!

It has been a busy couple weeks here in Vancouver, preparing manuscript revisions for an upcoming paper and writing grant proposals for upcoming fieldwork. They way it is looking now, I may soon be travelling to Honduras in the fall for a 3 week expedition to survey for Red-throated Caracaras and Scarlet Macaws in a remote region of Olancho. This trip will also be to familiarize myself with the terrain, meet the local conservationists and researchers, and get rolling on some permitting issues pertaining to future fieldwork. This is an exciting development for species and habitat conservation, as well as for my harebrained scheme to continue research on my favourite loud birds!

Anyway, with all the excitement, it has been tough to find time to go out to shoot, but that is exactly what I did yesterday, hanging out in Stanley Park, and seeing what the late summer had to offer.


At first, I thought this fly was a member of the Orthorrhapha, the group including horseflies, but Morgan Jackson of Biodiversity in Focus correctly ID’ed it as a Tachinid! Don’t believe me? Check out the closeup of the antennae! The species is Euthera setifacies, one of only two species of Euthera in North America.


That’s a Cyclorhaphan, man! Those antennae are aristate!


The Himalayan Blackberry is still being visited by pollinators, but the vast majority of the fruit is ripe.


The ripe blackberry is under heavy attack by Drosophila suzukii, an invasive species of vinegar fly from Japan. This is male shows why  the species goes by the common name “Spotted-winged Drosophila”.


This male Common Aerial Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria) is also a harbinger of fall. Their colony cycle is almost finished, reproductives are being produced, and within a month or so their nests will decline.


When the Bald-faced Hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) start nectaring, it is also an indication their colonies are in decline. Because much of the sugar for the adults is produced by the larvae (trophallaxis!), when larval numbers are low, adults must find other sources of fuel.


A Sierra Dome Spider, Neriene litigiosa (Linyphiidae) has a snack at the top of her dome web. As fall approaches, these become extremely apparent in almost every salal bush.


Our largest native slug, the Spotted Banana Slug eats some skunk cabbage.


The termites are flying, and their long wings and slow flight make for easy snares for web-building spiders. I like how the green of the fern is reflected in the translucent wings.


A Pacific Forktail (Ischnura cervula) hangs out by the water.


A Black Dancer (Mystacides sepulchralis) a type of Caddisfly, rests near Lost Lagoon.


Some kind of Nematus sawfly.


A raccoon checks out the situation before crossing the water.


I love how they hold their tails out!


Those without tails make do.



A very late brood Mallard Duckling from water level.


I was excited to see this male Pine White nectaring.


The omnipresent Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides).


Skippers can be pretty cute!


A lucky Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) takes advantage of the skipper abundance.


An introduced Drumming Katydid female (Meconema thalassinum) hangs out on a fern. Check out Piotr Naskrecki’s awesome blog post showing katydids ovipositing!


A colourful background makes this bumblebee pop!

Weekend Expedition 25: a few from Stanley Park


Some Eudioctria Robber Flies getting it on!

Photography seems to run in my family, with my Dad shooting lots of people and landscapes, and my brother doing lots of aviation and travel shooting.

My Dad was visiting this weekend from Romania, and so I thought I would take him out to find some cool stuff in Stanley Park. Now is a great time for fledgling birds, and all the summer specialties such as robber flies are abundant.


A mother Wood Duck watches her brood.


Wood Duckling!


Fledgling Great Blue Heron, trying to fish.


Young Canada Goose, looking serious.


Crows were foraging in the intertidal of English Bay.


A fledgling crow learns how to get mollusks on the beach.


My dad takes a break while I shoot crows.



Soldier Beetle tosses antennae provocatively.



A monster!


Lacewing larvae are pretty fascinating.


The Eudioctria were a bit randy today.


And hungry! Here is one with a barklouse as prey.


Strategic wing placement?


This Anthidium manicatum was fixated on these flowers. For an introduced species, these are pretty nice looking insects.

Weekend Expedition: Photo Contest!


A fresh-looking syrphid cleans in preparation for flight.

Hello! Well, the Weekend Expedition has come and gone, and I did go out to take some shots for the Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s photo contest. It was not my best day out shooting, and all I can really say about that is that some days I am “on” and some days I am not. Yesterday I was definitely not “on”.

Going out and looking for a prize winning shot is hard! Nonetheless, I went out and did what I could do. 

Below is a gallery of the candidate shots. Have a look and see what you think! Below the gallery is the selection of five images that I submitted to the contest, with extra commentary on why I chose them.

The final five:


Syrphid: I chose this because the isolation of the detailed subject makes for a powerful image. The colours are nice as well!

Mallard Fight!

Mallard Fight! I chose to submit this because it conveys the aggression and action of these common ducks.

Dung Fly

Dung Fly: Again, an isolated subject and a colourful frame.

This Song Sparrow knows where it's at.

This Song Sparrow knows where it’s at. Chosen because it is nicely detailed and has a “spring feel”

Tailless Reflection

Tailless Reflection: I chose this because I like the distorted reflection. I am not too keen on the  light water below, but it is OK nonetheless.

Weekend Expedition Plans: win a contest?

This image, of a gull staring into the window of The Strathcona Hotel in Victoria BC, was taken Jan. 17, 2006, with an HP735 compact (my first digital camera). I won 1st prize in a newspaper photo contest with this.

This weekend expedition I will be heading back to Stanley Park, to take part in the Stanley Park Ecology Society‘s “A week in the life of Stanley Park” photo contest. This contest is open to photos taken from April 6 to 14, so either Saturday or Sunday I will head out and try to shoot something. My best bet is to enter images in the Nature category. It will be a tough contest though, as there are a lot of great photographers making great images in Stanley Park.

I do not have much experience winning contests, but I did get some honourable mentions at the ESC/ESA JAM last fall (thanks Adrian, for the nice write up!). The plan will be to go out, take some strong images, enter the contest, then report back here. Stay tuned!

Weekend Expedition 10: Spring is springing in Stanley Park!


Calling Red-winged Blackbird…These odd fellows are related to the Oropendolas.

This weekend, I returned to Stanley Park to check out some of the early spring action. The herons are beginning nest construction and courtship in the large heronry near English Bay, and there are more and more birds bursting into song and aggression at the slightest provocation. Check out the video of the bill snapping/nest building heron, and then browse around the gallery below to see the highlights of this Weekend Expedition.