Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reports on late fall/early winter activity

1. 11/14: Buck Mt. Creek, new riffles above Riffle B.  Almost all bugs were found in leaf packs, and the leaves are now starting to decompose in good fashion.  Also, most of the bugs were in leaf packs that were close to or up against the shore.  Consequently, I found 3 good sized Darner Dragonflies in them.  I did not, to my surprise, find any Perlids; I did find, to my surprise, a small Coenagrionidae.  Certainly any samples done at this time should concentrate on getting good leaf packs to sort through.  Oh.  There were also some fat cranefly larvae in the packs.  Bug list:  dominated by small winters – picked up 30-40 off of leaves; also found a number of tiny Perlodids; one flathead (Maccaffertium), and one small minnow (Acentrella).  One fingernet was a Chimarra.

2. 11/20: Rapidan @ private property pull-off.  I had to hunt for the bugs.  At first I didn’t even see them in leaf packs.  But in the end, that’s where they were.  Best were the thick packs that had formed right behind a single large rock.   Found:  lots of Large Winters (all Taeniopteryx), now juvenile size (1/4 inch long), good number of Perlids (Acroneuria), some Chloroperlids, tiny Perlodids, one Small Winter, one Pronggilled mayfly, one Brachycentrid, one Rhyacophilid, one Giant Stonefly.  Also found a Fingernet and a Poly – but think they were both eaten by the Perlids!  Water was high/normal and very cold. Oh, also saw a good number of Brushlegged mayflies, and maybe one Small Minnow (lost him).

3. 11/21: Powells Creek in Crozet.  Lots of thick leaf packs and lots of bugs in the leaf packs.  Found a lot Perlids – genus Acroneuria (few) and Eccoptura (many); no Neoperlas.  I also found lots and lots of small winter stones: many are now in full hatching color, and in fact I saw some that had already hatched  (so Small Winters hatch as early as mid-November, if not before).  Mayflies?  A fair number of flatheads, all Maccaffertium, and a few Brushlegged mayflies.  Also found a few tiny Perlodid stones.  I found no large winter stones in this stream.  Stream seemed to be very, very rich in bug life – all bugs in leaf packs, including the odd cranefly.

4. 11/25: Went back to “Riffle C” at BMC.  The leaf packs are still dominated by small winters which increase in size and color.  Also, I found more Perlodids, which are also growing as well.  Saw more “fat” crane fly larvae as well.  I also lifted some rocks and found mayflies and netspinners on the rocks: Flatheads (Maccaffertium only) and Brush-legged.  Still no sign of Perlid stones, and no sign yet of any cased caddisflies.

5. 11/27: Reservoir Road.  I don’t think this stream is worth doing: the drought and reservoir shut-down seem to have taken a heavy toll.  After searching through numerous leaf packs, I did manage to find 5-6 large winter stones and one black fly (Simulium) – and that was it.  Water was very cold.  Didn’t see any signs of life of the rocks.

6. 11/29: Whippoorwill Branch:  Lots of small winter stones in the leaf packs and a fair number of Perlids.  I did not see any mayflies and no Perlodids.  The only thing I saw on the rocks were water pennies: no Uenoids and no Glossos.  Also, no sign yet of Strophopteryx (also no Taeniopteryx here?).

7. 12/4: Powells Creek in Crozet.  Water was high, but clear, after 2” of rain on Wednesday.  Still found lots of leaf packs along the stream banks and caught up on branches in mid-stream.  Still seeing the same bugs, e.g. Perlids (Acroneuria and Eccoptura), small winters, 1 large winter, Perlodids (getting bigger: either Isoperla or Clioperla – the latter, I think [YES]), and flatheads (all Maccaffertium).  Chubby craneflies, of course.

8. 12/6: Doyles @ 674.  Water a little high and fast – but not bad.  Only found leaf packs out in center wrapped around branches.  But I found a surprising number of small winter stones on the bottoms of rocks.  The small winters I found here – and there were a lot of them – all seemed smaller and less mature than those I’ve just seen at Powells and BMC.  The three large winters I found, on the other hand, were pretty good sized and very colorful.  I also found 4-5 black flies, and they were all Prosimulium (so, is it a seasonal thing?), and I found a Perlodid which turned out to be Diploperla!  In the three Perlodids I found at Powells on Saturday, one was Clioperla and two were Diploperla.

9. 12/8: BMC, riffle A.  Very cold with ice at the stream edges.  Still no sign of Uenoids or Glossos, but I did find my first two “Strophopteryx” large winters.  Also found two tiny small minnows (genus tbd).
Quite a few small winters of various sizes and stages of development; the Taeniopteryx larges are by now pretty large and colorful.  Found 4 Perlodids – all Clioperla.  Also finding some black flies – all genus Prosimulium, but these are “singles”  -- i.e. I’m not seeing any “colonies” yet.  Found bugs in leaf packs, but I also found quite a few bugs on the bottoms of rocks. 

10. 12/11: BMC, riffle C.  Water level is good, but the water is very cold on the fingers and toes.  First sitings today of 1) Uenoidae case making caddis, and 2) Glossosomatidae (Saddle-case) case making caddis, both very small at this point, of course.  I also saw some large winters and some small winters – but both seemed diminished in numbers.  The dominant bug in the sample was the Strophopteryx genus of large winter stonefly – lots and lots of them.  All of them very small.  Didn’t find a single mayfly.  Saw one water penny and one hellgrammite.  I think the big news is that the bugs have moved to the rocks – there are still some bugs in the leaf packs, but leaf packs are hard to find, and there are many more bugs on the bottoms of the rocks.  Some rock bottoms must have had 20-30 Strophopteryx stoneflies.  Oh, found one black fly: genus Prosimulium. Also found one Clioperla Perlodidae.  It was decent size.  So does that mean this genus of Perlodidae shows up early and hatches early, much earlier than the Isoperlas we see in the spring?

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