Thursday, June 10, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Click on photos for full size image.
I raised a couple of questions in my own mind, and maybe in yours, in a couple of recent posts. So, in the interest of scientific accuracy, I conducted some intensive research. Here are the surprising results. Surprising because it turns out I'm not as full of it as I thought I might be.
First, I made a strong insinuation that the otter I saw the other evening busting out of the willows behind a fleeing duck was trying to catch and eat that duck.
Who, me?
Thanks to the Washington DNR we can set the record straight:
"What they eat: River Otters are carnivorous (they eat meat). They eat a variety of animals, including fish, crustaceans, amphibians, snakes, water insects, snails, worms, small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, turtles, and any aquatic invertebrates." (Emphasis mine.)
It doesn't say what kind of birds, but I would imagine that a Baltimore Oriole or an Eagle would be much less likely to end up on the menu than a duck. Sitting on the water. With the green void yawning beneath it.
Makes me wonder if that little lost duckling will ever find its Mama, or its brothers and sisters. Or if he already has--in Duck Heaven.
Second, I made the outrageous observation that I had seen some female damselflies swarming, but that I hadn't seen any males. I said that because the damsels I had seen were pale olive in color, while the damsels I typically see are the Common Bluet. Which are blue.
I did cover myself by suggesting that they might be different stages of the insect.
Thanks to the Encyclopedia Brittanica we find that my second stab at it was correct. As you can see by these illustrations, when the adult emerges from the nymphal shuck it is pale olive in color. Then, through some mysterious process that is not specified--another molt?--they take on their blue color.

This is a picture I took last year of a newly emerged adult. I bet the nymph swam up and attached to the float tube, and the adult emerged and crawled up next to me.
Well, I feel better.

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