Sunday 18 December 2011: Orb spider
Seems that the toad was very popular, even beating the red dragon, which I did not think would happen. Still the green crested lizard is a clear number one. The big surprise with the toad was that I very nearly didn't blip it, but like I have said before, picking the blips is not my strong suit.
I have been very surprised by the lack of amphibians. In years gone by, frogs and toads were more like a plague and I had to watch where I put my feet for fear of squishing one or three. Since I started blipping, apart from the two toad blips, I have only photographed one frog and that was beaten to blip by the hairy bee. I did not even give the frog a mention, as I thought that there were going to be plenty of frog opportunities, I even had a tree frog residing in my downstairs bathroom a year ago, man, that thing could jump.
Suitably enthused from a spotlight success, I decided to hit the common early today, to see if I could get to the dragons before they warmed up too much, so I started my patrol at 07:00, to try and find a quality follow up to the successful toad and maybe a few additions to my growing insect photo collection which has now passed 600 images and occupies a healthy 3Gb on my hard drive.
What a session! I haven't uploaded yet, but I am so covered in scratches that I just know the blip monster is going to reward me for my pain. Often these early morning sessions produce nothing but wet feet and I did anticipate a second visit, but I am pretty sure that will not be necessary today with 120 images to choose from.
The processing done, now the difficult work starts, trying to pick one of the fourteen contenders, I was not disappointed, one of my best blipping days yet. I picked up shots of a quality male pansy butterfly, which I have been after for a while now and have mentioned it before, but alas, it is not going to make blip today. His wife played dead for me too, allowing me 20+ shots. A small blue butterfly succumbed to the lens, this has been another difficult subject. A yellow striped butterfly that actually made me wow out loud when it came on the screen, but previously blipped 6th November. A great image of a seven spot brown, very similar to the three spot 30th October. A very crisp side view of a common tiger, but she's had more than her fair share of exposure.
A few bug shots and a big brown hairy caterpillar were captured. I took a few shots of the St Andrews cross spider, seeing as there was no breeze today and then I found another St Andrews on the other side of the same mimosa bush. As I stood up from the close examination, I spotted today's offering, another type of orb spider.
At first I thought it was a juvenile golden orb weaver, also known as a wood spider which can reach eight inches across when fully extended, also famous for building the largest and strongest web, reportedly two meters across but I have actually seen much larger, so strong that I could actually shake the bush on the far side of the stream that the web spanned.
This spider is a relation of the golden orb weaver but quite different in coloration and abdomen shape. I will have to do some research to identify this little gem. She is only about half an inch long in the body and as an arachnid nut, I am excited to have the opportunity to follow her progress, may even dig the video camera out. I know most of you would have chosen a butterfly, but I do like spiders. I promise not to swamp you with spider shots though, a reasonable compromise I think.
Update - identification is proving difficult. The best I can do is family nephila.