Archive for June, 2012

Mommy long-legs 3

June 17, 2012

Sunday

I checked on things before going to bed last night. Everything seemed quiet. I just hope the eggs don’t all hatch overnight, so I won’t have a chance to see the excitement.

The first thing when I got up this morning was to go check again. Yep, we now have a ball of hatchlings, not a ball of eggs.

Notice that there are still several unhatched eggs in these pictures.

As to the babies, notice that the abdomens are pigmented, while the heads and legs are transparent. We also see tiny eye dots.

Actually, this is true to a certain extent of the adult spider as well. Jacky remarks that we can see mommy’s brain, and it may well be true.

I ate breakfast and checked in again half an hour later. I don’t see any unhatched eggs in the foto below.

Daddy has disappeared, intimidated by mommy’s ferocity. We know about ferocious females!

<Time passes>

I went out for a hike, got back early in the afternoon.

In prior years, mommy held onto a fluff ball for two or three days, comprising the husks of dead babies, presumably eaten by their siblings. Today, I don’t see a fluff ball, and mommy is free and clear.

The youngsters are strewn around. The smart ones stay clear of their siblings.

Every year, I make an effort to watch this drama, and most years I succeed. It is a terrific show!

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Mommy long-legs 2

June 16, 2012

High drama!

I went into the garage to check on progress, and discovered mommy and daddy locked together, and not in an act of love! Daddy had clearly tried to raid the pantry, and mommy was going to have none of it!

The advantage of being an orb weaver is that the egg sac can be left behind, suspended from the ceiling, while mommy attacks daddy.

We can’t really see what daddy has in his pedipalps, but it’s clearly something.

We suspect he got at least an egg, if not an early hatchling.

Burp!

And mommy goes back to the egg cluster. When I checked half an hour later, daddy had retreated to 10 cm or so, but was clearly hoping for a chance at dessert.

Mommy long-legs 1

June 16, 2012

I didn’t notice her until yesterday, a mommy long-legs with an egg ball, hanging from the garage ceiling.

I believe the swirls on the eggs are the legs of the developing spiderlings, showing through the semi-transparent membrane. They look to be just about ready to hatch.

In fact, the little dark spots on one or two of the eggs might even be the eyes of the spiderlings.

Just for grins, notice that she has at least eight eyes, and possibly more.

Not far away, another spider. Probably male, possibly the biological father of the egg mass. Paternity is not his focus; he’s interested in lunch.

I nudged him a little further away, but I’m not in the bodyguard business. Will he succeed in getting some of the little ones?

Watch this space!

Moth season

June 16, 2012

The temperature is supposed to get to +40 today, in some of the inland areas. So I went out reasonably early and not toward the inland valleys. Windy Hill today, 7 miles. Tomorrow should be cooler, and I may do something more ambitious then.

Not much to see on the climb to Skyline: open, sunny, and I always like to push it on the uphills to maximize the exercise. Once I’m on the downhill in the forest, I can relax and dawdle and look for interesting things to photograph. This alligator lizard, for example.

Notice the blue blobs behind the ears — ticks engorged with the lizard’s blood. Impossible not to have them here. I’m told that when the tick eventually drops off, it is no longer carrying Lyme’s disease.

There were moths everywhere. It is clearly the season for them.

I don’t know whether these caterpillars are the same species as the moths, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Also quite prolific were these pupae (is that the right term for this life stage?) — and it also wouldn’t surprise me if they were also this same moth species. There was quite a variety of colour schemes.

This is the empty husk of a cicada.

And then we get back to the moths, which were busy mating for all they were worth.

The female here was not eager to perform on camera, so she started walking away. The male walked backward at the same pace. No way was he going to disengage!

This looks like necrophilia, but I think the female just has the really good camouflage wing arrangement. She is certainly alive, and as far as I know, healthy.

And then we get into what I’m sure the moths consider to be delightful perversions.

Today’s wildlife was more than just moths, of course. Saw a ringneck snake, a bunny, a deer, and there were several other arthropodae.

Stopped at Sausal pond near the parking lot to see what there might be to see. Two girls speaking French (well, and English, too) thought the frogs must be enormous to make so much noise. I shot this picture from a distance to show them something of the real size of the beasts.

Huddart – Purisima

June 9, 2012

I left the car on Canada road (that’s canYAda) just off interstate 280. In the meadow near the road, two deer. One of them was taking a dump. Had you asked, I would have extrapolated from physical similarity to horses and cows, and said they just dumped as they walked along. Not so: they squat like dogs.

Today’s utterly useless fact!

I walked into Huddart park on Crystal Springs trail. I have done this before, but not for quite a while. Not sure exactly how far it was, so I headed straight up the hill on the Richards Road trail.

Crossed Skyline and went into Purisima Creek Redwoods open space preserve. I was walking down the fire road trail when I heard a hiker ahead of me: “Wow!” What? A big snake? I hurried up.

Not a big snake, but pretty impressive evidence of the geological instability of the Bay area. The trail was closed to horses, probably for fear that the whole hillside could slide down under not very much additional impetus.

I turned off on Craig Britton trail and went across to the Harkins Ridge trail, then down. Stopped along the creek at the bottom to see if I could find crayfish. No, not today. I did find a couple of millipedes, however.

And I discovered that if I used the flash to freeze the motion, I could get some pretty interesting pictures of the standing waves in the creek. Cool! if I do say so myself!

I hiked on further up the Purisima creek trail, discovering a couple of interesting insects along the way.

I am not clear whether this is a carnivorous beetle or not. If so, that aphid is in big trouble.

The west side of the ridge is a distinctly different micro-climate. Duff dampish — you don’t crackle when you walk on it. Ferns thick between the redwoods, and grass and bush elsewhere. When I crossed back over the ridge, I was forcibly reminded of the characteristic micro-climate of the east slope: dry duff and leaves on the ground, ferns quite rare, and no further interesting small animals.

21.7 miles, 4600 vertical feet. I guess that qualifies it as a killer hike.

United, again

June 8, 2012

June 7, and I got two emails from United that my refund had been approved. Until proven otherwise, I am prepared to believe that they can and will follow through on the details of the transaction with the credit card, so I hereby thank them and upgrade my assessment of their customer service from F- to… well, D-.

Throwing rocks at United Airlines

June 6, 2012

And richly deserved: http://88dave.wordpress.com/

Perfect camouflage

June 3, 2012

For me, dressing up is wearing socks with my Birkenstocks. But today, I didn’t. Wandered over to the Elizabeth Gamble garden and spent an hour carefully inspecting the vegetation.

Lots of really pretty flowers, but I’ll spare you from the photo tour. The most interesting thing was this moth, its wings cleverly folded in random curls to look exactly like a dead leaf. From a foot away, you would have had not the slightest idea that it was anything more.

I continue to look for a harvestman. I saw one a couple weeks ago, but it scurried away before I could photograph it. Well, the season is yet young.

The grand vistas of Grant Ranch

June 2, 2012

Another weekend, another killer hike. The circumambulation of Grant ranch, in this case: 21.2 miles, 4400 vertical feet. Hot in the sun, cool in the wind. Today’s biggest problem was the tall grass.

Image

I heartily approve of females getting up very, very, very close to me, but not this kind of female!

Tall grass can also harbor surprise snakes, but if there were any snakes out there, they didn’t surprise me. I’m half glad, half disappointed. Worse was the grass seed that filled my socks and jabbed into my feet. It is well and truly time to give up on the grasslands for the season, until such time as the park people run a mower over the trails.