This morning, Dec. 26 is Boxing Day (in Canada). The presents are opened, the turkey consumed, and I was having an early morning coffee by the fire with my mom. Suddenly, she screamed. There was a spider crawling on her neck! She flicked it off, and I captured it, seeing that it was an immature giant house spider, Eratigena atrica. It was a Christmas miracle!
Christmas spider in a field of moles.
Anyway, after some boring shots on my skin, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful Christmas tree lights for a nice background. These LED Christmas tree lights are not what they used to be! I had to drag the shutter at 1/30th to get even a modicum of background illumination.
Anyway, that is my Christmas spider story from this morning. Now I am heading out to see if I can get some more otter or bird shots at sunrise. Happy Holidays!
Christmas spider posing in front of the tree.
This Christmas spider is pretty dusty, so I will not show a real close-up.
‘”Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we will grieve not; rather find strength in what remains behind.” -Wordsworth
It seems to me that I have not posted in some time. For various reasons, I have not had much time or energy for photography or blogging recently. I do manage short bursts of inspiration, and I have plans for a few more in-depth posts, but for now I can only offer this gorgeous Tibellus oblongus that I shot the other day while digging for ants.
These slender spiders are members of the Philodromidae, or running crab spiders, and are most at home lying on grasses and slender twigs as ambush predators.
Here is one I photographed this summer showing her hunting prowess.
Their longitudinal stripes help them blend in with the substrate, and they are quite tricky to spot until they move.
I found this individual, as well as one more buried in the soil beneath a clump of tall grass.
I find the lines of these spiders very elegant, and they are definitely pleasing to photograph.
Next time you are out in a grassy meadow, keep an eye out for these cryptic hunters!
Wow! I can’t believe Weekend Expedition is turning 50! Seems like just yesterday we were at Richmond Nature Park, bringing bugs to kids and speculating how cool it would be to walk around and see the place. Catherine and I saddled up after a long week to see what we could see in this Richmond gem, a bog forest habitat just off Westminster Highway. The day was bright and sunny, but it was cool on the trails.
A male linyphiid (sheetweb weaver) hangs out on Oregon Grape.
These staphylinids seem to be having a sex party on a flowering Labrador Tea.
Catherine and I got our animal feeding jollies at home before setting out: we now have some really fat spiders!
Some prime spotting by Catherine: a female Snakefly!
This (lauxaniid?) is feeding on the corpse of a barklouse.
I really like how this chironomid blends into the lit-up leaf.
This one, in contrast, stands out.
This place is full of blueberries, all along the trails. None ripe yet though!
Here is a male Philodromus dispar in silhouette.
We found a whole bunch of rhaphidophorids (camel crickets) under some bark.
Back out toward the entrance was a newly-fledged Rufous Hummingbird.
Mama would come periodically with food.
The fledgling was already feeding itself as well!
This throat-stabby feeding looks painful, but seems to work well enough.
The whole scene was quite wonderful to see. In only a month and a half, they will be shipping out for a long migration south.
This Weekend Expedition was a bit rushed, as things were both busy and tiring for me, with the Spooktacular on Saturday, followed by a 5 h bout of Barn Owl tracking all night on Saturday-Sunday. As I slept in til nearly noon, and had a vehicle, I took Catherine out to Lynn Canyon, in her fabled homeland of North Vancouver. The place was absolutely crawling with people, as are most natural areas on the North Shore are on nice weekend days. A major infestation! For this reason, Catherine and I stuck to the woods high above the river.
Although it was a nice dry, sunny day, the understory was still quite wet and teeming with fungal life,
Fungi, such as this Ramaria added colour to the forest floor.
Even the crevices we examined for spiders seemed to be full of fungus.
Most of the spiders we found were small Linyphiids or Araneids, but we did encounters some larger Amaurobiids, such as this pretty one. I really love the silky look of their abdomens.
We even found a Jumping Bristletail on an old cedar trunk.
We say several large slugs, but not much else in the way of arthropods except for some stray, sunning Leptoglossus and fungus gnats.
Despite the crowds, getting out to the woods was good for us, as recently life has felt rather hectic.
Last night, a chance photograph of a large Cellar Spider led to a wonderful discovery. Our Pholcus phalangiodes is gravid!
These Longbodied Cellar Spiders are temperate representatives of a largely tropical group of spiders, and are common members of the household fauna. This gravid cellar spider has a large distended abdomen and through the cuticle you can see her ovaries with their developing eggs.
The newly yolk-filled eggs are white, and as they mature, they become dark towards the end of the abdomen. I am expecting that soon we will see this female brooding her package of newly-laid eggs soon, as this one did in the same spot last year.
Within a month or so, these will hatch into gorgeous little translucent Cellar Spiderlings which will remain close to the female until after their first molt.
Despite her advanced gravid state, our Cellar Spider has not lost her long-limbed lean look, which is probably easy if you are a Cellar Spider! For more information about the reproduction of this impressively leggy species, see here.
isn’t she beautiful?