Here’s a little guy I photographed at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Not the same fisher species in the story but fairly hard to tell apart. Hard to tell apart from a mink at first glance, too. But minks are notably distinguished from fishers by their pink nose.
The most common type of Chilipoda (the class of invertebrates we call centipedes) is the Garden Centipede Lithobius forficatus. They are, in fact, the most common centipede in our country. Seldom more than 2 inches long (50 mm) these little arthropods are often found under logs, leaves, or rocks throughout forests and backyards. Our moist Northwest climate does not bother the Garden Centipede at all as it prowls about its subterranean world hunting other small invertebrates. Like all centipedes they have venomous fangs called forcipules which are actually legs, a adaptation unique to centipedes. Thanks to my new tripod I was able to get several nice macrophotography shots that display the various parts of centipede anatomy. The first picture gives an idea of the relative size of the centipede, the second shows the body plates with one pair of legs per segment as opposed to millipedes which have two. Photo number three is a head shot. Note the antenna and dark eyes. The eyes are simple sensors of darkness or light. Centipede antenna, however, are very sensitive physical and biochemical detectors. They are the animal’s prey detector and the primary instrument by which the centipede senses its environment. The fangs are the rounded appendages at the side of the head. The last photo (in which the centipede decided to prop itself up on a worm) shows the extended rear legs. These legs are not used for walking. In some species they are used to grasp and hold prey.
Sure, we’re known as the Evergreen State. And with good reason; we’ve got gobs of green over here pretty much year round near the coast. But we can boast our own contribution to the world of fall color too. Maple trees and our year round resident Anna’s hummingbird help to brighten things up.
The rains have returned and with it one of my favorite species of wildlife – salamanders. We are blessed with many of the little guys here in the Northwest. Here’s a few of the most common. They’ll probably even turn up in your backyard.
Well, not in the true scientific sense of the term. But we do have some unique garter snakes along our rocky beaches. As you see in the photos above these serpents dwell among the rocks and grass near the shore and readily plunge into the very cold salt water of the Sound. These ones were discovered just south of the Narrows bridge. I suspect they dine on small shore creatures during low tides.
We are blessed in the Northwest with some outstanding examples of birds in the corvid family. Highly intelligent (they are among the most intelligent of all bird species) aggressive, and vociferous, you can’t help buy notice these avians. And corvids can always be depended on to put on a show. It might a glittering family of magpies, a crow catching a snake, ravens tying to wake up a brown bear, or a stellar jay annoying other birds at the feeder. These guys always steal the avian show. Stellar jays, like other blue birds, are not really blue, of course. That beautiful hue is actually a structural color – a trick of sunlight reflecting off the molecular composition of the feather’s cellular structure and keratin.