Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scariest Bug Ever

This huge bug (2" long not counting the tail and antenae) scurried rapidly across the trail at Trout Brook Valley in Easton/Weston today. He was so big I thought he was a crayfish at first, although he scurried more like a big cockroach. I forgot my camera so I put him in a container and brought him home for identification. I'm no bug expert, and had a hard time figuring this one out. My husband suggested he looked like an earwing on steroids. By looking at the general descriptions of the various insect orders, I found some unexpected similarities with crickets. But look at those claws! Reminded me of a mole or a grizzly bear. So I Googled "crickets" and bingo, I found the "mole cricket."

He made such racketwith those claws trying to get out of the tupperware my husband thought it was our puppy digging around under the couch.

They say the mole crickets are actually pretty benign and don't bite, but I didn't test it out. And they say some can fly (oh, dear God, we could have these things flying around?!!).

In addition to the crazy bug, I found five letterboxes that had been planted six years ago in the park and were still in great shape.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Painting Letterboxes

I finally got my act together today and spray painted all my letterboxing containers at the same time. For those of you who don't go letterboxing and have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, letterboxing is a hobby where boxes containing a hand-carved rubber stamp and logbook are hidden along trails for people to find. It's common to try and camouflage letterboxes with camo tape or spray paint. Lock n' Locks are by far the best plastic containers available, holding their water-tight seal even after repeated rounds of freezing and thawing.

Black is the color of choice for spray paint since boxes are hidden in dark holes. This was about 25 boxes and it took me five minutes to spray paint them once everything was laid out on the paper.
I use a very light coat, since you need just enough to conceal the container (not actually give it a good coating) and a light coat is less likely to chip off. I leave the stickers on while painting and remove them after the paint is dry to create a clear window into the box (in case some park police think it might be a bomb or something).

OK, now I've got lots of boxes all set to go. Time to make some stamps and logbooks!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shelton Canal Wildlife

Some people have assumed that the Shelton Canal has little or no wildlife value because when the hydroelectric plant was built in the 1980's, the flow to the canal was reduced, and there simply wasn't enough oxygen in the water for fish to survive.

Today my husband and I were nearby at Riverview Park checking out some recent trail work when he mentioned he saw kids fishing in the canal the other day. I peered over the concrete wall, and sure enough, there were lots of good-sized sunfish for the kids to catch. (Note this is NOT a place to take the kids fishing - there are train tracks alongside the back of the canal).

And then I saw the circular sunfish nests along the bottom of the canal. Lots of them. Sunfish don't need as much oxygen as trout, but they are more sensitive than carp (I've accidentally killed pet sunfish more than once while the goldfish in the same water were fine).
Speaking of... an 18" carp did start rooting in the weeds below us. He made quite a commotion. I wondered if there were any bass. Usually if there are sunfish, there are also bass, often in some very tiny, skeegy ponds. I did finally see one small bass. Then a duck flew in, swam around, and climbed ashore.

Bonus! A cute little muskrat swam came by. Not bad for a canal with no wildlife value!