Spider Collector's Journal (31st page: 2021)                            Copyright © 2021 by  Rod Crawford

Here's the 31st page of narratives of fun (and not so fun) trips to collect spiders for research at the Burke Museum, some accompanied by capable field volunteers: Laurel Ramseyer and new recruits. Most also appeared in Scarabogram, newsletter of "Scarabs: The Bug Society." Dates of field trips head each paragraph. Maps showing the location of sites within Washington state follow the grid system outlined in the Washington Spider Checklist.             RETURN TO INDEX

Where you see this button in a field trip account, click it to get a page of collecting site photos!

Washington map showing locality

5 IV 2021: Early spring was finally becoming warm enough for spiders to move, and Della Scott now had access to Zipcars again, so we planned a short trip (the shortest remaining trip to an unsampled site) to northwestern Camano Island. April 5 proved to be a gorgeous day, and with only a couple of minor wrong turns, we reached the area of Odd Fellows Park, but couldn't find anything that looked like a park. I guess the rumor that the Odd Fellows were selling that property must have been true. First backup plan was the nearby trailhead of Camano Ridge Trail, which worked out fine. The preserve the trail goes through includes mature forest, but the area I needed to sample was clearcut in 2012 and had become too brushy for us to get very far from the parking lot and trail. However, one young maple tree had a beautiful accumulation of leaf litter, which I sifted for two hours or so, getting plenty of spiders and (as it turned out) a fine sample of 17 species including the species named for this island in 1954, Thymoites camano. Good thing I had such a great start, because the limited available moss added only one; conifers, salal and ferns only 6 or 7, plus one nice wolf spider in a small grass patch. But I had two more sites to try in this quarter of the island, so onward!
          Finisterre Fitness Trail (one of those trails built as an adjunct to a housing development) looked like worthy habitat, but the access road was too-clearly marked private. However, a nearby sea-bluff viewpoint turned out to be public, Utsalady Point Park. Something of a pocket park (the whole thing visible from the 3-car parking lot) but with habitats (and a resident bald eagle) to be found. To begin with, I thought I was doing well getting 3 microspiders from 50 Douglas-fir cones, but two were juvenile and I already had the third. But I did add 4 more from shrubs, shore pine and salal, and some Douglas-firs down the road gave me a couple of nice salticids. End result, 30 species, a perfectly OK sample. We'd exhausted known sites too early to see a sunset.

Washington map showing locality

16 IV 2021: For our second Zip-trip, Della and I went to the Cherry Point area (coastal area W of Ferndale, site of a big oil refinery but otherwise rather undeveloped). Not a failure (I got 24 species) but certainly not very much for the effort involved, though we had a beautiful day for it! First, we stopped along Grandview Road so I could hike north along the railroad tracks and beat conifers. A success, but only 5 conifer-dwelling species (and those trees were farther apart than I'd thought), plus a Salticus scenicus active on the tracks. I swept the trackside field on my way back to the road, for only 2 species (at least there was a Xysticus). Little did I know how good that would soon look…
          My next goal was a big field (with cottonwood forest fringe) at the intersection of Lonseth and Kickerville roads. This field looks lush and green in the July 2019 street view. Sere and dry for us! And around 20 minutes sweeping got me not one single spider! Also, just enough lurking blackberry to snag my net every few sweeps. At least cottonwood litter was fairly productive, but the spiders weren't as diverse as I thought. Practically no moss; what little I found was dry and produced no spiders. At all 3 sites, there was no access to understory (what I saw was pretty much all salmonberry interlaced with blackberry).
          My last site was a well-hidden public beach at the south end of Gulf Road. A fine spot with a view of the San Juan Islands! The beach meadow, for a wonder, produced a reasonable sweep sample. The cobble beach had a few Pardosa lowriei, the large gravel bar wolf spider. (I'd got one P. metlakatla at Lonseth Road). Again, the forest practically impenetrable due to blackberry. Just behind the beach meadow was solid wild rose. Nothing under the driftwood. Leaf litter back of the roses was full of ants, but still added a species. Toward the end, just before Della got too tired to continue, I found a gap in the roses that gave me access to the marsh zone behind the beach, where I got in some more sweeping and found what I hoped would be a third Pardosa (but it was juvenile). At the very end of my time, there was some gorgeous conifer foliage I was hoping to access, but when I got close I found it was too marshy between me and the tree. Oh well, another spot filled in on my map.

We look forward to resuming steady field work this year. Watch this space to see how we do!

This page last updated 29 April, 2021