Webnesday (47)

I’ve been back in Minnesota for a month now and finally have a small window of free time from all the (several dozens of) projects that seem to keep clamoring for my immediate attention. Yesterday, as I walked through our little meadow of anemone flowers, daisies, and birdsfoot trefoil, I spied, in one of the anemonies, a large hoverfly that seemed to be in an odd position. I’ve seen this before, when an insect has been captured by a spider in ambush, so I was not surprised—but quite delighted—when I came in for a closer look. By the time I’d gone in for my tripod and returned, the tiny crab spider had maneuvered it into a more “normal” stance, but this gave me a better angle to see just what drama was unfolding. And how fortunate the timing: It was just in time for Webnesday, too!

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Marvelous Muriwai

Batty had a college roommate, a very good friend, visiting from the US for a few weeks, and one of the places she wanted to share with her was my favorite beach in the area, near the community of Muriwai (MOOR-ee-WYE), an hour’s drive northwest of Auckland city. It has a magnificent stretch of black volcanic sand and a nearby gannet colony that can be observed beautifully from simple platforms accessible from a set of steps ascending from the south end of the beach. There was light rain, but not too much wind, so the light was very good, even though rain gear was necessary. We went on fairly short notice and I was not able to get my best camera gear, but I had my little Olympus Tough G4—which, fortunately, is waterproof. I have been to Muriwai several times in the past and have been very fortunate in my photography of the gannets in flight—here is an example—but I was more limited in my capabilities during this visit, just the day before yesterday. I love this place and will return as often as I can!

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Menagerie Monday (9)

There is a fig tree in our garden, and the figs are ripening. They are not among our personal favorite fruits, but we have tried a few, and they are better than I remember from times past (especially in the form of Fig Newtons). But there are others who obviously hold them in high esteem, especially the resident Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). They appear soon after sunrise and have their way with the ripening figs until nearly dusk. They are about 2/3 the size of the average house sparrow (also plentiful here) and a real delight to observe.

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Silly Saturday: Shortcut

There’s a shortcut, they said. Just take our word for it, they said. You’ll be fine, they said.

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Amazing Auckland Anniversary

January 27—the day before yesterday—was Auckland Anniversary day, and part of the city’s celebration was a fantastic light show with accompanying music produced by solar lights on the huge Harbour Bridge, powered by some 400 “fridge-sized” Tesla batteries and designed & choreographed by a New Zealand company called Vector Limited. Squiddy invited us to go along to try to find a vantage point and, though the traffic full of people with similar intentions was formidable and hardly moving, her knowledge of the area helped us to find a reasonable spot with little competition. Of course, I brought my camera along and set it up, but I had last used it for the recent two-spined spider, and I forgot to replace the 85 mm macro lens with my 18-140 mm workhorse lens, so I was handicapped by having nothing but a mildly-telephoto capability. Still, though I was unable to get both the bridge and the Sky Tower in the same frame, I did what I could and am reasonably pleased with my results. There are a number of videos of the display online, and rather than include a direct link to any of them, if you do a simple search for Auckland Anniversary or Vector Lights, you will easily be able to find a good selection.

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Webnesday (46)

Does it have to be a Wednesday to present a new post with a Webnesday theme? Of course not! But, for the record, my encounter with the subject of this one did happen yesterday—which was a Thursday, but early enough in the day that it was still Wednesday for most of the folks who follow my blog. I hope that takes care of any dichotomy that may have been incubating in anyone’s mind. This is a two-spined spider, Poecilopachys australasia, and she’s the second of her species that I have encountered in New Zealand. The first was resting in the leaves of a feijoa tree in Wanganui, a drive of several hours south of here, in April 2014; you may remember the post (here) that I published for that occasion. This new one, I’m happy to say, was much more active, and provided me with a much better opportunity to observe and study her in motion. I found her in Squiddy’s garage as I went in to borrow her lawnmower. She was resting on its handle and dropped slowly down on a silk thread when I moved it. I carefully eased her onto a handy fallen leaf so that I could transport her to safety. We had a bouquet of gerbera daisies handy, and I placed her leaf on one of them; she soon stepped over and began to explore the flower, which kept her occupied for the better part of an hour. Then I gave her the chance to move to one of the mint plants in our garden, and she quite willingly switched over to the new perch. She seemed to be quite content there, because I found her still there in the late afternoon. I know that she’s a female because the male is smaller and lacks the characteristic spines. These beautiful spiders migrated to New Zealand from Australia, the first reports of their appearance here having been noted around 1970. They have fared well here, and can now are occasionally found throughout the northern part of the North Island. Isn’t she lovely?!

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Webnesday (45)

It’s been a very good early-summer season for new jumping spiders. I’ve been keeping a watch on the local wee folk as time has allowed, along with continuing household projects and preparations for a summer Christmas. One of them attracted my attention a couple of days ago, and I enjoyed a brief photo session before he/she chose to retreat out of camera range, back into the garden. I can’t yet make a definitive ID, but when I have the time to try, I’ll update the post. Meanwhile, please share my delight in this new close encounter!

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