what a day!

(** just click on any of these photos to see a larger version).

Yesterday was “one of those days.” What I mean is, for a hiker-naturalist, it was one of those days when I’m continuously heard to be saying, “Wow! Look at THIS!” And, yes, it’s true, I do get pretty excited by much of what I see when I’m out and about — so, yes, I do say “Wow” pretty often. Yesterday was just such a day — perhaps because it was the first good outing on which we saw a wide variety of invertebrates so far this season. Maybe a few weeks from now, I will barely raise an eyebrow at the sight of a dozen jumbo-sized Narceus millipeds, but for now, even a handful can get me going.

Our hike actually began with the encounter with the Chipmunk which I posted about yesterday. Soon after, the nature of the walk took a distinctly different track after I began picking up the odd bit of decaying wood to look for invertebrates. At the first stick of the day, I was immediately rewarded with a whopping big land snail — well, “big” for this region. I confess to not knowing much about land snails and can probably only identify two species with any confidence – and this is one of them – Neohelix albolabris, the Whitelip Snail (I hope I got that right, but if I’ve erred, perhaps Aydin at Snail’s Tales will add a correction). The shell was about 25mm in diameter. When I picked up the snail, its foot was grasping a decaying leaf which it soon released. I then spent a bit of time examining and photographing the snail. It wasn’t nearly as shy as I thought it might be — many choose to retract into their shells and wait to be set back into the mulch. Not this one. It was a mover.

It didn’t take any time at all before it was tentatively extending its retractile tentacles. If you’re not familiar with snails, they are the four knobby looking things that are visible in the above photo. Fully extended, the upper pair (posterior pair) are longer and have eye spots on the ends (see top photo). The lower pair near the snail’s mouth are the anterior pair and are witout eye spots. When threatened, the snail retracts these sensory tentacles to avoid injury. In the above photo, the “foot” is contracted and looks quite small. However, after I set this snail down, it quickly extended its foot and was on the move, as seen in the top photo.

I found two of these snails yesterday – one very active and photogenic, and a second one that just wanted to be left alone and returned to the mulch under a decaying branch.

Next nice sighting of the day was this dragonfly — a male, teneral (recently emerged) Chalk-fronted Corporal (Libellula julia). At this stage, the male’s colour is similar to a female’s drab brown, but as he matures, his abdomen will become mostly black, and the thorax will become a powdery blue. I’ll try to follow up with a photo of a mature male a little later this spring. In my region, Chalk-fronted Corporals are generally the most conspicuous odonates of spring, often being seen in huge numbers along forest trails. They like to perch low to the ground, often on a sunny spot on leaf mulch, rocks, or in the middle of the trail, and will rise up to zoom around if you happen to stumble into the middle of one of their basking areas.

While turning sticks looking for snails, we were amazed to find at least 2 or 3 Narceus annularis millipeds under almost every bit of decayed wood. They came in all sizes from ones about 4cm long, to a couple like this pair (below) which were probably close to 10cm in length. What a wonderful, colorful find – to discover two of these large millipeds resting side by side on the underside of a small bit of decaying wood.

Of course, while hiking, we’re always on the watch for spiders. We saw quite a few yesterday, but most seemed very active and not interested in posing for photos. I did get a couple of shots of this wolf spider (see below). I’m thinking perhaps some species of Schizocosa – but I don’t know the Lycosidae well enough to identify more than a couple of species with any confidence.

All in all, it was a really good hike after our long winter with little to see in the way of invertebrates other than the winter-active snow surface insects which I’ve been photographing for the past few months. From this point onwards, things should just become a lot more interesting out on the trails. Wow! (-:

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8 Responses to “what a day!”

  1. Rexroth's Daughter Says:

    Ah now those are a fantastic array of photos. You did have quite a day. I thought of you on Saturday. I saw a fine jumping spider on our window. It let me get pretty close to photograph it. I may have to post it, it’s really a beauty. How fun to find such richness out there in the world.

  2. Duncan Says:

    Great stuff Bev.

  3. burning silo Says:

    RD – yes, we did have quite a day – and hopefully, we’ll have a summer filled with many more good walks like this. I hope you will post that photo of the jumping spider!

    Duncan – thanks! (-:

  4. Ontario Wanderer Says:

    You posted a great series of photos and I liked the extra information too. (I’ve not even tried to ID snails.)

  5. Aydin Says:

    Yup, it looks like N. albolabris. To make sure check the umbilicus. N. albolabris has a closed umbilicus.

  6. burning silo Says:

    O.W. – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the photos. I’m afraid I don’t know a great deal about snails. As mentioned, I just know a couple of the larger and more easily distinguished species found in my region. Same goes for aquatic snails. However, I’m trying to learn more.

    Aydin – Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at the snail. And yes, it did have a closed umbilicus, so I guess it would have been N. albolabris.

  7. the Robot Vegetable Says:

    hmm, no photos show up at all, until I look at the comments…


  8. burning silo Says:

    RV – I think it’s just a problem with my server over the past couple of days. It’s been seeming very slow and the photos aren’t loading very well. Seems to happen from time to time. Just one of those little mysteries. (-: