Monday, August 21, 2006

the great outdoors

we went on one of our favorite walks on sunday. we began on the shore of the strait of juan de fuca, facing west toward victoria, bc, strolled north along about a mile of the beach at a moderately low tide, rounded point wilson lighthouse, walked along a nicely protected beach, full today (by local standards, meaning sparsely in big population center terms) of people enjoying the mildly hot weather, climbed up through fort worden state park and returned along the top of sandstone bluffs in the forest to our starting point. near the end of our circle we came out of the woods into a large meadow. there were three other hikers a short way ahead. they rounded a stand of tall grass and scotch broom and we noticed that they had stopped and only two were visible. as we came up to them we saw that the third was down on his knees photographing something on the ground of the newly mowed meadow. we, of course stopped to look. there was a paper wasp nest on the ground. the other hikers were surmising that it was a beehive, mainly i suppose because there were clearly visible hexagonal cells. they wondered if a bear had dragged it out of the forest. drawing on the priceless education we have gotten from bev and wayne and glenn and fc, we explained that it was a wasp nest, and that the cells contained wasp eggs and/or larva, which would feed on the larva of other insects placed there by the egg-laying wasp. i crouched down to take a picture. i pulled the white cap off one of the cells and found, to my great surprise, a clearly identifiable wasp larva. then i noticed an adult wasp crawling around the paper shreds. we told them that mud dauber wasps put paralyzed spiders in with their eggs for their larva to feed on; that we had seen pictures of such. it was a grand moment of five people thoroughly entranced by the natural world, sharing a fascination for the varied wonders of life.

point wilson lighthouse, mount baker in the distance

the view from the bluffs-- we didn't get close enough to the edge to look straight down to the beach we had just walked on

did i doom this baby wasp by exposing it? would it have survived and matured in its exposed nest, open to other who knows what eats wasp larva?

the parent?


bonus picture from an earlier walk in fort townsend state park. the legacy of late nineteenth century militancy hereabouts does have its perks in wonderful parks.

we had never before seen a dome-shaped web. the forest was full of them, each with its spider, waiting just below the dome, upside down.

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