Sunday, February 26, 2012

The return of the big, bad spider.....

This past week has seen an upturn in temperature and general weather conditions locally that has resulted in first sightings of spiders in my garden.

There are those amongst you that have an innate hatred for these little creatures, I know that. Conversely, I have had requests to include more spider related posts.
I'd like to think that by bringing you these photographs and the accompanying information that you'll warm to them eventually. In reality though, I guess when you take a look at the following images, it's not going to serve as much of an incentive to befriend and arachnid?
Pardosa Amentata a Wolf Spider

A 'Wolf Spider' even the name sounds scary right? But look at her, doesn't she look mournful? She wouldn't hurt a fly....O.K. a fly possibly, probably even, a human though? Not a chance! She's only 8mm after all.

These spiders don't even produce a web. They catch their prey instead by hunting them down. That means they are fast runners-look at those two large eyes too, they have the good eyesight needed to hunt.

Pisaura mirabilis a Nursery-web Spider

The nursery-web spider is similar to the wolf spider in that it also hunts down prey rather than building a web to catch it.
It has much smaller eyes though and seems to rely more on speed and strength, to overpower it's quarry.

When young spiders are born the mother builds a silk tent (a nursery web) and releases the spiderlings into it. This offers some protection until their first moult, following which they leave the tent.

These can be almost double the size of the 'wolfs' at around 15mm.

Pisaura mirabilis

I have also spotted a number of crab spiders and a large orb-weaver this week. However, I feel I'd be pushing my luck by adding photos of those in the same blog entry and so I may hang on to them for now and sneak them into a future posting.

A reasonable weather week is forecast for our area and so I'm hoping the increase in bug activity continues and I'll be able to update this blog again very soon.

Until the next time...

Monday, February 13, 2012

"I've got a pocketful of bees".....

Having spent sometime now suffering the indignity not to say inconvenience of the dreaded 'man-flu' that culminated in being woken one night by the sound of my own voice calling out "I've got a pocketful of bees"  (yes, I was asleep but had dreamt I had a pocket full of live bees!),I was so pleased when today at last I felt the urge to pick up the camera again.

My enforced sabbatical, probably not the best choice of descriptive word actually, as I believe a true sabbatical lasted in excess of 2 months and even I couldn't claim my suffering was of those dimensions but it did keep me away from the real world for a while and long enough for Lennon's terrific 'Watching The Wheels' to keep running around my head-alongside that is, the little guy with the lump-hammer trying to blast his was out of my skull.

Yesterday when I rose from yet another fitful night's sleep (you don't think I'm laying this flu thing on a little too thick do you?........ Oh good)- my other half said to me " You're still coughing quite badly" "I know" I said, "I've been practising all night too".

I'm rambling already-perhaps I'm still delirious? Nurse! Nurse!....

Ah! I remember now, photography.....

What I was thinking of impressing on you was that in terms of insects and bugs to photograph, I didn't really miss out. The weather has been so poor of late in this part of the world that subjects would have been next to impossible to find anyway.
And so, (finally, he's arrived at the point of the blog entry?),to ease myself back in with nothing more stressful than a stationary target, I decided on taking a few photos of the ice that had formed in our back garden.

(These do seem to show more detail against the black background)

These shots were all taken of the ice that formed on our bird-bath. I used a diffused flash as the light is still quite poor at this time of year. It's amazing just what patterns and formations there are. I could look at these for ages and pick out different things each time.

The ice pictured above is just something that formed on the very edge of a plant pot.

This last image is a closer view of an ice block

After an hour or so in the garden taking these photographs, I began to realise that it wasn't quite as mild as I had assumed from my chair in our cosy living room and probably the best course of action would be to 'leg-it' back to that very same chair!
By then my camera hand was f-f-f-f-freezin' cold,so much so that I made myself a hot coffee and then spilled it in my lap- but actually enjoyed the sensation. Yes, it has been a cold February in Kent, so much so that when our electricity bill arrived this morning it had a letter of condolence attached to it.

Freezing temperatures, a dose of the flu (did I mention that already?),a dearth of inverts to photograph, that has to be winter's last efforts to depress me right? From now on things are set to change-I can feel it in my water, although, thinking about it further, it may not be change I can feel in my water? It could be 'Lem-sip'?

No, that's winter's last hoorah! I'm sure of it.

Until the next time then...

Postscript: The news of my work in print that I spoke of a couple of entries ago has now become a reality and I shall be contributing an article with photos to a local free paper 4 weekly from now on.
I'll try and post a copy of each one as it appears on the 'Published Articles' page of this blog. I have already added the one for Feb.