Monday, October 10, 2011

Black Tiger-cart

Black Tiger-cart - digesting another
species of cart ... and possibly
a car transmission.

It's been a long time since I've been able to get out cart hunting (with my camera) but with the winter weather setting in on Vancouver Island, British Columbia I think that I might have a little more time to search out new species.

Last week I spotted this aggressive Black Tiger-cart near the popular Courtenay Airpark Lagoon walkway. Although normally rather timid around humans, these carts are active predators and often hunt in packs, separating the old and infirm carts from larger herds.

This Tiger-cart was alone and preoccupied with digesting its meal - in the basket you can see what remains of an unidentifiable cart and what looks to be an automobile transmission.

Field marks to look for - the sleek all black frame and medium sized basket (that is expandable to eat larger prey).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Field of Fear

A Common Blue Roller hunting
in an abandoned lot in
downtown Courtenay.

I spotted this Common Blue Roller in almost the same location where I saw one back in the fall of 2009, suggesting that for this species there may be some strong site fidelity.

Aggressive and unpredictable, these large predatory carts should be approached with caution. Given that there are plenty of outside cats in the neighbourhood it was likely stalking cats in this field.

One more reason to keep your pets inside.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Barred Camel-cart

I noticed this gorgeous Camel-cart crouched at the side of the road near the site of the future Ferguson Fields Farm Market in Courtenay, British Columbia.

A creature that prefers the quiet solitude of open fields, it seemed confused by the constant rushing traffic nearby on the Dyke Road. Another good argument for wildlife fencing along this stretch of the bypass.

Black Barred Camel-cart
near the Courtenay Estuary, BC.
This Black Barred Camel-cart must have been a recently arrived female as it was in fresh breeding colours. In the distance I could hear a male camel-cart thrashing through the new grass in an effort to entice it closer. I can only hope that it made its way from the danger of the nearby road to the safety of the fields.

Look for this delightful cart in any urban area bordered by farmland. Creatures of open spaces, their habitat is slowly being encroached upon by urban sprawl.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Greater Gray Roller

I took a drive up to Campbell River, British Columbia this week and I thought I'd spend some time scouting for wild carts on the back streets of Campbelton on the northern edge of town. It's an area with some light industry, a few big box stores nearby, and plenty of empty lots and back alleys. In other words, prime cart hunting habitat.

Carts tend to be solitary macro-invertebrates so it took me a while before I spotted this Greater Gray Roller.

A Greater Gray Roller attempting to
blend in with its surroundings.
This wild cart is in the same genus as the Common Blue Roller but it's a larger, more imposing looking cart. Like the Common Blue, it is a predator but rather than waiting and ambushing prey it actively stalks it. And like the Common Blue, it is also an introduced species on Vancouver Island.

Some caution is required when viewing this large cart but during the day it is fairly easy to intimidate. Once confronted it will often wheel away into a side street or tuck behind a dumpster until the threat has moved on.

The large Greater Gray Roller - note the distinct
blue markings including a bright throat patch and blue tassels.
It is at night when Greater Gray Roller is more active that you are the most vulnerable - listen carefully for the tell-tale squeak of its front wheels if you happen to be roaming narrow side streets which are its preferred habitat.

Large and powerful, the striking blue throat patch, blue bar and tassels contrast with the dull gray of the body. This cart is easily separated from other less aggressive carts by its size and behaviour.

A gorgeous find and well worth the drive north to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Green-throated Gray Wobbler

Green-throated Gray Wobbler
A gorgeous Green-throated Gray Wobbler in prime breeding colours seen in Courtenay, British Columbia, this week. More active after a sudden rainfall, this delightful cart is sure to bring a fresh smile to your face.

Listen for the melodious warble as this wild cart wanders its solitary way along the quiet roads of the suburbs and attempts to attract a mate. A sure sign that spring has finally arrived on the west coast!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blue-banded Silver Spinner

The Blue-banded Silver Spinner - only the second
individual that I've seen in Courtenay, BC.
Blue-banded Silver Spinner - approach with caution. Back away slowly if charged. This cart is highly unpredictable, especially if backed into a corner. Read more about this intriguing predator.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Western Camel-cart

A shy and bashful looking Western Camel-cart.
Keep well clear of those front wheels!
I stumbled upon this beauty just a couple of blocks from my house on a quiet back alley in Courtenay, British Columbia - what a spectacular find!

Don't let the docile appearance and the demure tilt of the pale blue wheels of this wild cart fool you. Camel-carts are well know for their unpredictable and often aggressive behaviour. I gave this Western Camel-cart a wide berth, getting only close enough to take a few photographs before it got too surly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Common Blue Rollers

A herd of Common Blue Rollers.
I first encountered this aggressive, introduced cart back in the fall of 2009. Know as an ambush predator, this herd (also know as a rollback) of Common Blue Rollers was remarkably calm - perhaps it was the poor weather that had driven them to seek shelter together.

You'll find Common Blue Rollers throughout North America - look for them lurking behind dumpsters and in ditches waiting for unsuspecting prey. Caution is advised when viewing them and approaching too closely is not recommended.

Detailed natural history accounts for species of other Vancouver Island carts can be found on my personal blog Island Nature.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shy Blue Tipper

The Shy Blue Tipper
(defensive posture)
A new lifer for me today - the Shy Blue Tipper. When threatened, it positions itself basket down with wheels raised. The Tipper remains in this indelicate way until the predator, bored with the display, moves on.

Read more about the Shy Blue Tipper.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcome to Wild Shopping Carts

A pair of Crimson Wanders - one of the
first wild carts that I was able to
conclusively identify.
One of the most neglected and overlooked macro-invertebrate of urban and suburban landscapes is the wild shopping cart. Separate from the domesticated herds that cluster in the parking lots of our cities and towns, these fascinating wild carts live a remarkable and yet unrecognized existence. They lurk in the back alleys and ditches, seldom noticed by humans unless they are approached too closely and disturbed. Some are harmless omnivores, eating what they can find. Others are nocturnal detrivores that scavenge the streets at night. Still others are aggressive predators and must be approached with caution.

If you're looking to learn more about these wonderful wobblers you've come to the right place! I'll be posting photos of the species that I discover while traveling around Vancouver Island, British Columbia and I hope that this blog becomes a gathering place where others can post images of wild carts that they've found in their own back yard. More on that later.

This blog was inspired by the creative work of Julian Montague at The Stray Shopping Cart Project who developed a method of classifying stray carts that might be of interest to those wanting to learn more about species of carts in their own area. Detailed natural history accounts for species of Vancouver Island carts can be found on my personal blog Island Nature. Researchers should also consult Rock, Paper, Lizard for descriptions of species of Lower Mainland/Vancouver carts.