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Noticing nature field trip

Eight KNPS members with a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the Park spent three hours Feb. 23 walking on snowshoes along a loop from the Riverside Campground entrance while taking the time to stop, listen, look and learn.

Tracks of deer, elk, coyote, squirrels and mice were seen, and eight species of birds were heard or viewed. As the group walked up Jimmy Russell Road and back down Shapeshifter and Hoodoo View Trails, one highlight was a Hairy woodpecker doing some territorial drumming, a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

Here are photos of some of the other natural elements the group encountered:

The temperature was -8 degrees Celsius but that did not deter this little spider from taking a walk on the snow. Thanks to folks at the Royal BC Museum for helping us identify this Hammock spider (Pityohyphantes sp.), which spins horizontal sheet-like webs to catch its prey.

A brief stop on Shapeshifter Trail to look for the Pileated woodpecker we heard calling.

We noticed these tracks on the bark of some aspen trees along Jimmy Russell Road. A little research revealed that they are made by an epidermal bark-mining larvae, but apparently the actual insect that makes them is unclear. A great puzzle for an amateur naturalist to figure out!

This oakmoss lichen (Evernia prunastri) was clinging to a deciduous trunk in the riparian area along Jimmy Russell Road. Oakmoss lichens are fairly rare in the Nature Park and it is always nice to encounter one. There are at least six other lichen species in this picture, including shield, bone, foxhair, wolf, rag and horsehair.

A standing dead Ponderosa pine along Shapeshifter Trail has been extensively worked over by woodpeckers, with most of the outer bark removed. The picture below provides a clue about why.

Hundreds of holes in the inner bark of the dead Ponderosa pine where insects have bored their way into the tree make it a great lunch spot for woodpeckers.

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