Silverfish in washroom

I came across a Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) in my bathroom this morning. I never really seen them in the morning before, and they are usually too fast for me to take pictures of or to catch them.

But I successfully trapped this one inside my critter-container and had a fun time taking pictures and marveling these interesting-looking (but disliked by my mother) creature.

Then I realized that I don't know a whole lot about these insects. That was when I went to Google and Wikipedia for help.

One interesting fact is that Silverfish belongs to the ancient and primitive insect order Thysanura, a group that has existed for over 300 million years. Wow, talking about a living fossil right in my house!

As you can probably tell, it has sensory bristles (and insects from this order are also known as bristletails) that detect air currents produced by predators.

It also has a complete set of abdominal leglets. While the caudal end consisted of a median caudal appendage and paired cerci. The origin of its common name is from the insect's silvery color (as seen in the picture above), as well as the fish-like movements when it's running and escaping from predators.

While taking pictures, I left the Silverfish in an uncovered plastic shallow dish. Thinking it couldn't escape, I turned around to find more information on it. When I turned back, it was gone! Back to hiding in cool and damp places and eating things that contains starch, I guess.

Reference & Other links:
- Barnes, Jeffrey K. (October 6, 2005). "Silverfish". Arthropod Museum Notes. University of Arkansas. Retrieved on 2009-01-29.
- Scanning Electron Microscope pictures of Silverfish: http://www.mta.ca/dmf/silverfish.htm


The day after snowfall

Yesterday it snowed quite heavily in the morning. But you could hardly tell from today's pictures. I guess I like this kind of condition too - soft snowfall and quick melt.

Nice weather today allowed me to escape out of the house in the afternoon.

I cropped some of the pictures below to emphasize on the subject. So, sorry if the image quality isn't too good. Today, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.

What are you looking at? - A Savannah Sparrow, perhaps?

Great Blue Heron

Saw this Northern Flicker perched on top of this tall poplar tree at the golf course. It didn't flew away until I was almost right underneath the tree. It was perched in such a strange position that I had to take some pictures.

As you can see on the ground, there was hardly any snow left. But the Snow Geese are certainly still here. In fact, most of them were feeding on somebody's backyard. I wonder if the house owner knew their property is overtaken by these big white birds.

There were so many that some even spilled onto the roads.

I wonder why the top branches are so straight up in this tree? It's not like they need to compete for sunlight with other trees. Strange.

The red patch is clearly visible in this Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), one of the most abundant birds in North America with 190 million birds in 1974, and probably even more today.

Something spooked the Snow Geese, causing this huge commotion. One of the walkers told me that a Bald Eagle just flew by. Does this mean I get to see a Bald Eagle soon?

At first, a Northern Harrier along the shining horizon.

Then, I saw these two Bald Eagles at the usual hotspot. I guess the best time to see these birds is near sunset. Magnificent birds! But the one in the nest didn't seem to like audiences as it took off to join the one already on a tree before it flew off alone to a tree inside the golf course.

Bald Eagles

If you look closely, all those tiny dots on the sea surface are birds, most likely gulls. And this picture was only a small part of the long coast along Sturgeon Bank. I guess what I want to say is that there are a lot of birds out there!


See you later, Year of the Rat

Went on my usual walk to the dyke to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Wish I could find a cattle to take a picture of to make this post more appropriate, but hard to do so when you live in an urban area.

Well, the weather was still nice this afternoon, and the snowfall warning was issued for tonight, but I am not worried about it. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing the white stuff again. But just not the rain that's following the snow. Yuck.

Puffball - this might be the same kind that I saw back in October, but it puffs now because it's all dried up.

The ground and any water-covered surfaces were frozen with a thin layer of ice or frost. Quite beautiful looking.

Looking closely, you can even see the individual ice crystals on this thin grass straw.

Today was a quiet day, compare to yesterday, and I saw many animals this time around.

Great Blue Heron

Northern Harrier

Bald Eagle

And a large flock of Snow Geese. There is definitely a negative correlation between number of humans present and number of wildlife observed!

While I was hiking along the forest edge, I came across this interestingly-shaped wood lying on the ground, and it reminded me of the way Great Blue Herons move their head to avoid eye contact with humans. Picking this piece of wood up, I stuck it into a hole of lying tree.

And voila, an artwork is finished!

The Heron

The sun was setting, so I headed back home.

I saw the heron again, but this time, there was something beside it. It was a Muskrat!

I am very excited about seeing this old friend again. Although it looks a little bit smaller so I am not completely sure if this is the same one I saw earlier this winter.

Apparently, the heron was very interested in this rodent, although it is much larger than its usual prey size. It kept stalking the poor muskrat and forcing it to jump into the water and swam further down the ditch.

I had a good time watching the muskrat swimming away from the heron, the heron walking close to the muskrat, the muskrat jumping back into the water, and so forth. In the end, the muskrat got away safely and disappeared from my (and heron's) sight.

So the heron flew away.

See you again in twelve years, Year of the Rat. But I hope to see the muskrat again soon.


Beautiful day (good) = many people outside (okay) = few animals seen (bad)

What a gorgeous day! Blue sky with almost no clouds. I certainly got a healthy dose of Vitamin D today.

But with the sunny day, many people came out to the dyke to walk (with their dogs), jog, take pictures, gossip, talk loudly on cellphones, complain about life/relationships, so on and so forth. Certainly not the kind of distractions I would want on my walk.

I saw the usual Mallards and Red-winged Blackbirds. And I got some pretty good shots of the Northern Harrier as it flew quite close to the trail (sorry for the small display images, they will get bigger when you click on it). But that's about all.

The people forced me to walk to places with less people, such as behind the blackberry bushes. Definitely no people, but no wildlife either.

I came across the Northern Harrier again when I was walking back home. Nothing like seeing an animal to brighten up my day.

That's all for today. Nothing exciting to report. I guess wishing too hard for something (a beautiful day) will always result in some unforeseeable consequences (too many people). Sigh.

Oh yeah, Happy Chinese New Year! Year of the Ox - too bad I don't have anything from the Bovidae Family to post.


A day filled with heron sightings

Well, today's weather wasn't as good as yesterday's, but the visibility was still good enough for me to go out and see things. Although it was quite chilly in the afternoon.

In the morning, I went back to Steveston to return some library books and buy groceries. I headed over to the walkway to see what lifers are around. Apparently, nothing was around. Bummer.

While passing by, I went inside that little garden place and saw this beautiful partly-decayed flower (of something).

Red and gold - just in time for Chinese New Year celebration!

In the afternoon, I walked to the dyke to make up my week-long absence.

The Mallards and Wigeons have returned back to this little marsh at the end of Francis Road again.

There were six sightings of Great Blue Herons today with four individuals in total, I think. My mother was jealous that I saw so many this time, and up-close for a few of them too.

Norther Harrier flying by.

Saw this Accipiter resting at the North end of the golf course. It didn't even fly away when I was almost right underneath the tree. Even so, I still couldn't manage to get a good photograph to allow me to identify it. From the red-colored breast, perhaps it is a Cooper's Hawk?

Nice view enjoyed by this certain Accipiter.

Then I continued walking towards Terra Nova. The sky cleared a little bit by then, but still not enough to see the blue sky.

A large group of American Wigeons resting.

While I was walking, a crow ahead of me started croaking loudly. Then I saw something on the dirt mound flying away. It looked like a Northern Harrier from the back! That was when I got excited and walked slowly to where it might have landed. Voila, and there it was! I managed to get three photos before it realized that I was looking at it and flew away. Amazing experience.

First time seeing a non-flying Northern Harrier and up so close too. The owl-like facial disk is definitely quite clear (despite being blocked by grasses).

Then I heard the large group of Snow Geese taking off in the distance. They are still here?

The view walking back home as the sun slowly sets.

To brighten up this post, here's a picture I took while at that garden place in Steveston. What a mosaic of color! It makes me realize that spring will be here in about two months. Hooray!

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