Showing posts from April, 2008

Lehmania valentiana

Judy collected 15 slugs from beneath flower pots in a Richmond greenhouse on 19 February, for me to paint for the book "Identifying Introduced Land Snails and Slugs in Canada, With a Guide to Native Genera". I've been keeping them in a clear plastic salad box with damp paper towel, crushed eggshell, and romaine lettuce, calling them "my little pigs" for the way they devour the lettuce, turning the heavy-veined leaves into soggy lace, and then lying packed together in clusters like miniature piglets, sleeping it off. They have also been laying eggs, which you can see glowing like a mass of pearls through their translucent sides - most visible on the right hand side. There are paler and darker individuals. The darker ones appear to be more mottled, and the paler ones show the characteristic "watery tail". The slime is clear and the breathing hole, or pneumostome, has a pale rim. The best character for identification of this rather nondescript lookin

Cepaea shells in tunnels

April 7, 17:30 Fred called us down the road a little way to a discovery he'd just made while checking for the big banded Cepaea land snails that hibernate at the edge of the ditch across from the Pentecostal church. He wrote in his journal: I decided to pull up the grass along the metre of the bank where we'd found the most last year, but I only turned up a few dead shells along most of the metre. But when I got to a little notch in the shore where I'd found some dead shells last year, there were a lot of dead shells, and as I pulled them out and felt further in, there were yet more shells. By the time I'd pretty well come to the end of two 30cm burrows, about 6cm diameter, and a big central chamber, about 10cm diameter and packed full of shells, and a central burrow about 40 cm into the bank, I had about 2 litres of shells, with a few living snails admixed. All were Cepaea nemoralis. This certainly looks like the accumulated shells left by a predator -- but which one

Robins are back!

3 April 2008 Highway 2, 1.9 km. west-southwest of Maitland, Grenville county, Ontario. The birds are back in force, but the landscape is still in the grip of winter. the ground is locked beneath snow which is still knee-deep in places. Nonetheless, there is motion evereywhere we look, and sound to accompany it. Robins, standing tall, patrol their boundaries, Starlings pop in and out of the eaves, performing their sliding whistle, Grackles fill treetops, screeching, Geese travel in phalanxes overhead, honking back and forth, and Kildeer fly up suddenly from the roadsides. road traffic is a mortal danger to birds distracted by spring . This lovely female Robin had collided with a car. We had passed her but Fred ran back. Looking into her still brown eye, I knew I had to further postpone my slug watercolours to paint her portrait on a journal page.