Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wood Ducks

We met up with one of our neighbors on Saturday to take a long walk around her place and enjoy some new sights. She took us to a gravesite on her property- she's tried to take rubbings from the headstones but evidently has only gotten letters, not entire names yet. It was all very interesting to hear more history of this area.

We had a nice picnic lunch by the river where there was a deep-ish pool and then Dino and I headed for a particular spot in the river where we know the ducks hang out. I was also hoping to see the turtle I scared off the week before while trying to get close enough for a picture. No turtles, but we spent a good half hour watching a large group of wood ducks swimming about. This was the closest we'd been to these ducks, which are very wary critters, but for some reason they decided not to fly off immediately as they usually do. We counted 27 of them. The males have really beautiful plumage and make the oddest sounds,not at all like what you would think of as a duck's typical quack quack. (Wood duck photo US Fish and Wildlife)

And finally, the following is so ridiculously off-topic, that I can't even dredge up any embarrassment about it. We just both were fascinated by Dolphin Rings:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Into the Vortex

Just as fair warning again to the arachnophobes, there are spiders in this journal post. It's just that this web was so amazing and the photo of the spider herself came out well and so I'm afraid I just have to share.

Our long bird walk was, as usual, a great one. We saw 18 different species of birds, and we're starting to notice that some of our old standbys for summer don't seem to be around any more. Season's starting to change I guess, and that means we get to look forward to some of our winter favorites showing up in the next several weeks. Yay!

We took the road to the red gate to check the mailbox, which had nothing for us. When we got to the river, we stood on the bridge looking down into the pools underneath and watched the fish swimming around. There's not much water left in the river this time of year so all the fish are concentrated in these pools. We haven't been able to identify the exact species of these, but they are some kind of large minnow - the bigger ones can get up to about 18 inches or so.

We crossed the river and continued on the road, following the path of the river headed upstream, stopping to watch for ducks and hoping to catch a glimpse of the great blue heron that we see from time to time. No luck on the heron, but we did scare up 24 mallards and a lone wood duck. (We think, we do need to hone our skills at identifying ducks in flight.) We also saw two separate coyotes; the second one shot us a dirty look as she took off running. I guess we woke her up from her midday snooze. We finally re-crossed the river and found our summer picnic rock which is shaded and had our lunch, for which we were by then famished.

And so, for spider talk. We see a lot of these spider webs - these particular spiders (family agelenidae, although we've given up on identifying species) build funnel shaped webs which are quite interesting, but yesterday we saw the mother of all funnel webs. The web was at least three feet across at its largest - a very impressive web. The Dinosaur took this shot of the web, which was the best of the shots we both attempted. The second shot is the spider herself, waiting in her lair. Reminds me of Shelob from Lord of the Rings, except this little old gal is only about an inch and a half across.

Here she is:

Site Meter