Sunday, July 27, 2008

The joys of yarrow

I'd like to thank everyone who came out for my edible plant walk this afternoon, even after the sudden change of venue (Fort Normandeau was going to be a busy place so we moved the walk to the Nature Centre).

For those interested in edible plants (or those who would like to know what the post title above means), I have one more scheduled walk coming up in August. This one will be at Fort Normandeau -- really -- on Wednesday, August 6th, at 6:00 pm.

Give us a call at the Nature Centre (403-346-2010) to pre-register.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Seen in the Sanctuary:

White Admiral butterfly on Western Snowberry

Dragonfly. I'm thinking maybe a Four-Spotted Skimmer, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The things you see on the trail

I was going to crop these before posting them, but then I figured that we may as well go with hot-off-the-camera. If you happen to be walking on the Wishart Trail and notice a cross-path with very obvious drag marks (it's more or less midway between the south viewing deck and the bridge), make sure you listen for noises in the brush. Our resident beavers apparently aren't too shy about working during the day. Click on the photos to enlarge them:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seen in the Sanctuary

Thin-legged Wolf Spider carrying egg sac

Fleabane flowering beside the Dr George Trail

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moth. Sort of.

I was taking a stroll on the Dr George Trail this morning when I noticed this moth. It was fairly nondescript as moths go, but what caught my eye was that it wasn't moving. Now, I realise that for most people a non-moving moth would be nothing to write home about, but for me it usually means one thing: look for the spider.

Sure enough, the moth wasn't moving because it was in the process of being breakfast. Here's a cropped version of the above photograph. See if you can find the small, white ball on the top right side of the moth:

The white ball is the abdomen of the spider that's eating the moth. I'm not sure what species of spider this is (it was pretty tiny) but I'm assuming that it's a member of the Crab Spider family (Thomisidae). These spiders are ambush hunters rather than web builders. They hide in amongst flowers or leaves and wait for their prey to come to them. Crab spiders are often fairly well camouflaged since they have to be more or less invisible to the prey that they're hunting.

So how do you find crab spiders, then?

You look for the moth (or bee, or wasp, or fly...) that's not moving.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Flowering things

If you head toward the back door (staff parking lot end of the building) of the Nature Centre in the next little while, you're in for a treat. Our Prickly Pear Cactus garden is beginning to flower, and it's a real show.

After you've admired the cactus be sure to check out what other things are flowering in the Wildflower Garden. When I looked today the Columbines in particular were showing off nicely.

Out on the trails there are many other things flowering, but sometimes you have to look a little more closely to find them. I noticed these Twinflowers blooming beside the Wishart Trail today. They're a personal favourite of mine, partly because it takes a bit of work to find them, and partly because (according to science folklore, anyway) Twinflower is the only plant that Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, chose to name after himself. There's something kind of neat about the man who was naming everything deciding on such a tiny but beautiful flower for his own.

Here's a look at the underside of the bell-shaped flowers, with my fingers giving a sense of scale. If you want to find Twinflowers the next time you're out for a walk, look for a creeping, oval-leaved plant that likes to grow along the edges of the path in moist coniferous or mixed-wood forest.