Webnesday (69)

Just a few days ago I was cleaning out weeds from the back-yard garden, and as I was putting the culled Kikuyu grass into the green bin, this little Bronze Aussie Jumper (Helpis minitabunda) appeared and offered an opportunity for me to transfer her back to the garden, via a handy flower.

Posted in Webnesday | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Sweet Spring

This day marks the beginning of spring here in the southern hemisphere, and I greet it with mixed feelings. We have spent another entire winter here in New Zealand, again having been unable to return to our traditional northern Minnesota summer cabin. But, on the other hand, we have been able to share the time with our family here, to our great delight. In the meantime, the Delta variant of C-19 has found its way here, and we went into alert-level 4 lockdown a week and a half ago, and are to continue at this level for at least another week and a half. Rest assured, however, that we are well-supplied and watching over each other in our respective family bubbles, reading stories and singing to the grandkids on our computers, and turning our attention to long-postponed domestic projects. We’re also able to keep a good watch on what’s happening in our garden, and yesterday this crimson rosella brightened our day by spending a few brief moments outside our back window. Trying times indeed, but wishing you a sweet new season.

Posted in Fleeting Beauty | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Webnesday (68): More Foggy, Foggy Dew

And now for something completely different. It has been my custom to present images in my Webnesday posts of the spiders whose acquaintance I happen to make, but this time I’m featuring the results of the work of many. We had spent the night in a much-too-expensive “boutique hotel” in the town of Bluff, at the extreme southern tip of the South Island, a little more than two weeks ago, and awoke to barely-above-freezing temperatures and some lovely fog. After an extremely mediocre breakfast, we drove north to Invercargill and settled in for a stroll into Queens Park (yes, Mrs. Thistlebottom, I spelled it correctly: There is no apostrophe; this is a recurring minor annoyance here, but that’s another story). This was, if memory serves, my fourth or fifth visit to Queens Park, and each one has been memorable in its own way. This time there was a special mystery (or should I say mistery) about it that we found especially endearing. And more to come, so stay tuned.

Posted in Webnesday | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Serenity Sunday: Wakatipu in Winter

We’ve just returned from a 10-day family excursion to the South Island. This has become a tradition for us, and the main goal—for the younger members of our family—is snow sports. But the weather gods did not grant us their favors until the last two days. We were staying near Queenstown, and while the rest went up to play in the snow, CD and I decided to take a drive on Highway 6 toward the town of Glenorchy, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu (the accent is on the third syllable). Here are two of the images I made, but stay tuned, I plan to follow with more shortly, hopefully within the next few days.

Posted in Serenity Sunday | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Places Remembered: Desert Drama

Amid many pressing distractions, I’ve managed a quick look at my archives for this date in history and found this image that I made 15 years ago from my window seat during a flight from Mexico City to Phoenix, Arizona. I think I had crossed the border when this scene presented itself, but I can’t be certain. It doesn’t have the resolution I’ve come to expect in more recent times, but I rather like its resulting larger grain, and I’m very fond of its abstract patterns and shadings and the way the plants bracket the various waterways.

Posted in Abstract, Archives, Places Remembered | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Serenity Sunday: The Foggy, Foggy Dew

On the morning of the third day of my fishing adventure a week ago, I was blessed with this view of the inlet that feeds Lake Otamangakau, as we approached it. I really do love a nice foggy morning, and they are very rare in Auckland. I would have liked to have been able to spend much more time with the dewy webs on the precipitously-steep stream bank, but they were beyond the reach of my physical and photographic capabilities at the time. Maybe next time I’ll be able to bring my serious tripod—and perhaps also a pair of stilts.

Posted in Serenity Sunday | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Thoughtful Thursday: A Recent Reflection

I’ve just recently returned from a glorious three-day fishing excursion at Lake Otamangakau (sort of rhymes with “go to a rock now”) with three other members of our North Shore Fly Fishers. It rained the first day, but then we had two days of weather that one dreams about, with clear skies and only very slight winds. The little lake is about 13 km northwest of the town of Turangi and one can clearly see the three volcanic mountains that are the central feature of the National Park. The main one, to the left of center, is Tongariro; the dramatic cone just to the right of it is Ngauruhoe, and the snow-capped beauty at the right is Ruapehu. I am seldom a fan of having the horizon in the middle of an image but, hey, sometimes it works. And what a wonderful way to ease into autumn.

Posted in Thoughtful Thursday | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Webnesday (67) Trapeze Artist?

Late yesterday (Webnesday) CD found this little spider in our kitchen and called it to my attention. I carefully eased it into a small container with a flower to keep it for the night. Today I released it onto a different flower (a type of dandelion) from our garden before releasing it. My research indicates that it’s a trapezoid crab spider (Sidymella trapezia); I think it was a female but I’m not sure (the females reach a length of 6 mm and the males 4 mm). I measured the diameter of the flower at 4 cm, so I’m pretty confident of my guess. They are also found in Australia and South America. (Click on a photo for a larger view.)

Posted in Webnesday | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Webnesday (66): Long-Jaw Silver

The day before yesterday Squiddy came and tapped on our window. She had discovered a spider that we had both been hoping to find some day, but which had so far eluded us. It was a female Leucauge dromedaria, commonly known as a humped silver orb spider. It belongs to the long-jawed orb weavers and is native to New Zealand, Australia, and also some South Pacific Islands. She was quite happy to explore a branch of swan plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), a southeast African variety of milkweed which is, by far the universally-preferred food plant here for our many Monarch butterfly caterpillars. As usual, if you’d like a more detailed view, just click on one of the photos.

Posted in Webnesday | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Menagerie Monday: Figuratively Speaking

One of the trees that we acquired when we bought our place here in Auckland three years ago was a fig. Frankly, I have had many chances to sample (candied) figs in my younger days, and I must admit that I cannot remember ever having been impressed. However, I try to be always open to (most) new opportunities, and I had never sampled a fresh fig right off the tree until we moved here. I can’t say that it matches other fruits in our little orchard, but it’s a little better than I expected. On the other hand, there are birds that are very fond of them, among which are the wonderful silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). They are very small, with a maximum length of about 12 cm (4.7 inches), and very active and difficult to catch with a camera. As our figs mature, however, they are increasingly attracted to them, and they provided me with a few minutes of opportunity yesterday. Aren’t they lovely? (See also my last post from two years ago featuring them, here.)

Posted in Menagerie Monday | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments