I never did get around to posting any photos from our most recent visit to Rock Ridge, with the exception of the unboring beetles. That’s not for lack of any, however. I’ll probably recycle some of last visit’s photos into the post on our next visit (tentatively scheduled for Thursday, weather permitting). However, I’ll also post a couple here. This first one is a posed self-portrait (about the only sort of photo I get of myself, since I’m usually the one holding the camera) looking out over the main lake at Rock Ridge about an hour after sunrise. I’m not aware of a name for the lake, and in fact many of the lakes in the park are nameless, or at least lack any sort of official designation. The same was true of Hemlock Lake over at the first MAPS site (we gave the lake that name). Given that this site is Rock Ridge, perhaps I should start calling it Rock Lake? We’ll have to ponder that on the next visit…
This photo was taken on Big Clear Lake, one of the larger “perimeter lakes” that border the edge of the park. True to its name, the lake is both big and clear. On sunny days it’s easy to see the bottom even ten feet down. The clear waters imply it’s an oligotrophic lake – “oligo” meaning few, and “trophic” referring to the food chain. There’s not a lot of nutrients in this lake, possibly as a result of a granite bottom, and so there isn’t a lot of algae growing in the water column. Lack of algae means lack of plankton, lack of plankton means lack of aquatic insects, and all the way up. That’s not to say that there’s no life in the lake, just that compared to lakes with lots of nutrients this one is relatively depauperate.
I came across this beaver jawbone at the site, nestled in a bed of pine needles. The yellow teeth are characteristic of rodents, and their relative length and the overall size of the bone identifies it as a beaver. Beavers have sharp, strong teeth that grow through their entire lives. They need to be constantly chewing on trees and branches in order to keep them worn down. If they stopped chewing, the teeth would eventually grow into the roof of their mouth and make it impossible for the animal to eat. It’s possible that this bone was the kill of one of the wolf/coyote packs in the park, or it may simply have been a beaver that died of natural causes.
These Olympia Marble caterpillars were found crawling about the tip of a stem of woodland phlox that had gone to seed. The long, thin projection in the foreground, and the one that the little caterpillar is on, are both seed pods. I’m not sure if they were actually eating the seed pods or stem, or if they were there looking for a place to pupate; probably the latter, as the hostplant for the species is given as rockcress, not phlox. I mentioned the adults in another post a few weeks ago, found in similar habitat.
As we were leaving the site we noticed a couple of fish in the short, shallow creek that joins Big Clear Lake with “Rock Lake”. They were close enough, and the water clear enough, to get a passable photo. This one is a Pumpkinseed, identifiable both by the red crescent at the back of the black “ear flap”, and the red and blue striping on the cheek. They look considerably different when out of the water, however, the blue fins don’t really show up and the fish’s body looks green, not brownish red. They’re a common species that I’ve encountered in all of the lakes of the area, or at least those that I’ve looked in.
And a few steps further up the path (okay, so this post ended up being mostly about unposted photos from Rock Ridge), this fishfly flew in front of me and landed on the underside of this branch, where he obligingly stayed put so I could photograph him. I’ve talked about fishflies before, but the ones I’d seen were in the other fishfly genus, Chauliodes. This one is in the genus Nigronia, which have white patches on their wings, and is probably N. serricornis.
We’re starting to pack up the house in preparation for our move, now only a week away. Merlin and Oliver try to help, though I’m not sure they really lend much to the operation. There’s just something about an empty box that a cat can’t resist. We’ll have lots of packing to do, more than the last time we moved – at the time, back in Toronto, half my stuff was already boxed and in storage, which made it a bit quicker. We’re renting a truck and hopefully will be able to do it all in one day, if we’re prepared ahead of time.
And finally, this is a screenshot taken of the front page of the Nature Blog Network toplist. For the first time since I signed up, I’ve made the front page! I’m listed right behind one of my favourite blogs, too. I post this not to gloat, but because I’m proud to see something do so well that I’ve put so much time and effort and devotion into over the last year and a half. Of course, ultimately it’s my readers, all of you folks, that I really have to thank. Without you, I would still just be blogging away to myself. I know that I often fall behind on comments in trying to keep juggling all the balls of my life, but know that I read them all and I really appreciate hearing from everyone! And I do hope to eventually reply to them all (if I get organized, maybe I’ll even start keeping on top of it…).