Tiger Beetles at Thomas Cove

I’m not sure when this will be posted. I wrote this on the evening of Friday, August 31st. I’ll post it somewhere along the way on our travels.

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Thursday afternoon, we hiked at Thomas Cove Coastal Reserve, which is located near the town of Economy, Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy. We camped at Five Islands Provincial Park for three nights.

I wrote a couple of posts about Thomas Cove during last summer’s trip. Here are links to them — Part One and Part Two.

The cove is an almost completely enclosed body of water with a narrow opening between the red, rocky headlands. At low tide, the cove pretty much drains completely. There’s a small estuary with a winding creek leading into the surrounding forest on one side (again, see last year’s post for photos). There are two hiking trails at the reserve – one crosses the creek and loops around the peninsula of one of the headlands. The other loops through a predominantly coniferous forest growing from boggy soil covered with sphagnum moss, and then follows the coastline with several lookouts where one can see the town of Economy in the distance. From one vantage point, there’s a terrific view of the hollowed out base of one of the headlands (see above photo — click on it for a larger view). This trail has several sections where narrow board walkways protect the bog beneath.

During several of our past visits to these trails, we’ve encountered Orb Weaver (Araneus) spiders among the conifer trees. This time, we found an interesting pair in a rhododendron near the parking area. Since arriving home, I’ve had a look through my photos from last year and this pair look to be Araneus nordmanni. The female was found on the orb-shaped web.

The other spider — a male, which I presume to be of the same species — was found beneath a leaf just off to one side. See his photo below. He was a rather strange looking character, having long, gangly, twisted-looking legs which he seemed to like to fold rather than extend.

Also found on the same bush were several similarly marked Harvestman (Opiliones) – see above. They were all found resting quietly on leaves in the dappled sunlight.

Before setting out on a hike, we decided to visit a sandbar at the estuary of the creek. In the past, we’ve often found interesting things at that site — almost always several skate egg cases along with other drift. This time, I noticed that there were Tiger Beetles hunting on the sand, so I spent at least 20 minutes or so trying to capture a few photos. The above is one of the better shots. I didn’t bring my Tiger Beetle field guide along on this trip, so couldn’t ID this one in the field. Last year, I found Hairy-necked Tiger Beetles (Cicindela hirticollis – probably C. hirticollis rhodensis) on the beach at The Hawk. However, now that I’m home and have had a chance to compare the photos, the above beetle appears to be something else — perhaps Cicindela repanda. I’ll post an ID after I have a bit more time to study it.

I observed several of the beetles digging like mad in the sand and shot a few photos each time I saw one of them back out of its hole for a second (see above). I was curious to see what would happen when the waves of the rising tide finally lapped into the holes, but they didn’t emerge. However, I did see small breaks in the sand a few inches from their holes and could see signs of some activity below.

Also seen on the sandbar was this beetle which I’ll have to try to find an ID for once I’m home.

Through all of my looking around, Don and Sabrina found a comfortable resting spot overlooking the cove and the headlands. By the time I finished studying the Tiger Beetle activity, the tide was just about full and had filled the estuary to a level we’ve not seen it before. In order to retreat from the sandbar, we got our feet soaked — which was a first. The next day, at Maccan Tidal Bore Park, we discovered that the tide had been about as high as it gets there that day as well.

After leaving the estuary, we hiked the trail loop which lies to the Economy side of the reserve. We found the vegetation lush — as it usually is due to the humidity in these coastal forests. The insect activity was high and I could have spent several hours searching through the wild blackberry and raspberry canes, ferns, and other plants. I photographed several species which I’ll have to find IDs for once home. We also found interesting fungi along the trail – one of which was quite different than any I can ever remember seeing (see above). It was large in size and growing beneath spruce trees on a bluff overlooking the ocean. If anyone happens to know the species, please feel free to post a comment.

By the time we had almost finished walking the loop trail, the tide had peaked and was beginning to fall, so we dropped down onto the shore at the point where I took this photo of Don and Sabrina looking out across the cove (see below). Walking back to the section of shore below the parking area, I found a number of large locust grasshoppers flying and basking on the sand.

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10 Responses to “Tiger Beetles at Thomas Cove”

  1. Robert Says:

    I was wondering how fast you were moving when your feet were soaked.

    While you are at that coast you may enjoying visiting the WWW Tide and Current Predictor. To see the data as a graph, scroll down and click the radio button, GRAPHIC PLOT, and then click the button: MAKE PREDICTION USING OPTION.

    That link will display Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, but there is a link to pick other sites around the world.

  2. am Says:

    Am enjoying your traveling posts. Fine photos of Don and Sabrina today.

  3. Cathy Says:

    My sis, husband and their young daughters waded out to a mudflat while visiting us on Cape Cod. I shouted from the shoreline as the shoes they’d left high and dry in the sand began to bob away with the returning water. Initially they ignored me as I waved and whistled. The pictures I took of their wet slog (children having to be lifted) recorded some tense moments.

    Bev, those spider and beetle pictures make me just a little impatient with my camera (it couldn’t be my lack of skill that’s producing my inferior pixes ;0)

    I wish you’d hand the camera to Don and let him do a similar shot of you and Sabrina. Those are precious.

    That fungus is challenging. I’m fairly good with several common ones. After I’ve photographed them I take a last shot with a quarter or my car keys beside them to help indicate size. That wouldn’t have helped me here, – I’m not good with polypores.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    I love that fungus! What a very cool looking thing. Don and Sabrina seem very relaxed and really enjoying the beauty of the day. This time together for the three of you out on the road must be very good and renewing. Look at all the great things you are taking the time to see. The best part of vacation, slowing down and looking around. You do it so well.

  5. bev Says:

    Robert – Not actually that fast — the tide rarely comes as high as this sandbar and wouldn’t top it on a normal day, so it was just a matter of wading through a bit of water on a trail that sometimes floods a bit on the very highest tides. As you might imagine, we’re pretty careful about where we go exploring on the sea floor at Fundy as it can be pretty dangerous if you get caught out on the mud flats. Thanks for posting the tide calculator. How neat! A couple of days ago, we spent awhile at the Maccan Tide Bore park waiting for the bore to come in. There’s a local fellow who lives nearby – I mentioned him when I wrote about the tide bore last year – and he keeps a schedule posted on a notice board at the park. He has been coming down to watch the bore as often as he can (he rarely misses it) for over 50 years. We’ve met him there on several occasions now. It’s enjoyable to chat with him as he has studied the bore for so many years. Great fun.

    am – Thanks! It was a particularly relaxing day for us.

    Cathy – As mentioned to Robert, we’re super careful about exploring along steep coastlines or onto mudflats as we know how easy one can get into trouble. The Bay of Fundy is particularly dangerous as the tide comes in so fast and rises so high. When we were at the tide bore park mentioned to Robert, I was watching a piece of wood floating upriver just after the bore passed by. You would barely believe how quickly it was zooming upstream.
    I’ll have to get Don to take some photos of Sabrina and I sometime, although you know what kind of photos he takes — see here. Needless to say, we rarely ever let him get ahold of the camera! (o:
    I’m reasonably good on fungi, but that one was pretty unusual. I’ll have to show it to someone from out east to see if I can get an ID. It was big… the size of a dessert plate or so.

    robin – Yes, isn’t it a nice fungus! Very bright yellow. It was a great day and Thomas Cove is one of the best places I know of to spend a day. We very much enjoyed this trip as we spent most of our time on beaches or poking around looking for insects.

  6. Cathy Says:

    Oohhh – I see what you mean about Don and the camera. That’s a hoot – Sabrina as Cujo ;0)

  7. bev Says:

    Cathy – Yes.. poor Sabrina! Not a very flattering photo! (o:

  8. DougT Says:

    I missed this post while I was in California. Great photos. I think that your tiger beetle is another hirticollis. It looks very similar to the one you linke to last year, but with broader maculations. That kind of variation is fairly frequent in tiger beetles.

  9. bev Says:

    Doug – Thanks! I hadn’t gotten around to studying this beetle again, but wasn’t sure which it might be. It certainly does have the hairy neck of the other hirticollis I’ve seen. I should be out west in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to searching for tiger beetles out there. Last autumn, I found quite a few on a sandbar along the Illinois River in southern Oregon, so I’m kind of hopeful for success.

  10. Ted C. MacRae Says:

    Hi Bev–I think your first ID was correct, Cicindela repanda. The humeral marking looks very “C”-shaped, as opposed to “G”-shaped in C. hirticollis (which also has the elytra broader just behind the middle).

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