Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The campaign to save Cape Roger Curtis is gathering steam. The most recent event is a fundraising concert scheduled for June 21 at Sundog Farm at which I and a number of other Bowen musicians will be playing.

We were down on the Cape last weekend, walking and resting and eating lunch on the beach by the lighthouse. Finn busied himself turning over stones and finding purple shore crabs, identifying their sex by whether they had a "lighthouse" or a "beehive" on their undersides. That's what two year old kids do here when the weather gets nice.

There were millions of western tent caterpillars hatching last weekend too. They nest high in the canopy of alder forests where they emerge in May from silken "tents." In the infested trees, it looked as though the entire top quarter had been defoliated. In the alder stand at Cape Roger Curtis, something like 20-30% of all the alders had tents in their canopies.

At the Cape, the alder forest spreads over a floor of mostly swordfern and salal. The caterpillars were falling from the trees and landing on the ferns which they continued to eat. There were so many caterpillars eating ferns that we could actually hear them.. The forest was full of a quiet munching sound.

Aine and her friend captured a bunch of caterpillars and let some go at the beach. They were attacked by ants and spiders in some pretty dramatic insect assaults.

The ones that survive (and there are millions of them) will build little cocoons in June and then emerge later as little brown moths, flinging themselves into porch lights and campfires all over the island this summer.

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