Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jumping Spiders and River Otters at Mill Creek

Normally I tote the heavy long lens on Mill Creek outings with Nora the Schnauzer.
It’s good for long shots of wild critters.
River otters, for example.
Over three days last week I spent many hours watching two river otters watch me and Nora.
Mostly, while eying us,  they swam back and forth between weirs. They often dived and surfaced to crunch crawdads.
The otters have pointed white teeth.
And they frequently drew close for askance glances at me and hard stares at Nora.
Meanwhile, I waited and watched stubbornly for an otter to pose on a weir or a rock.
Stubborn eventually paid off with full-monty shots.  Well, not naked. They wore two-toned brown double-thick insulated hair coats.
Once they rested, preened and rolled dry for 15 minutes on the riprap across the creek.
After 1,000-plus river otter photos I grinned. Lugging the big-lens paid off again.
Nevertheless, a person should be flexible, which reminds me of jumping spiders below the dam at Rooks Park.
A day before seeing the otters, I parked at the gate to the park and shouldered the big lens. Nora and I moseyed toward the creek.
Despite a late October chill, a lively jumping spider scooted along the smooth wooden rail as we crossed the bridge.
A big one, half-an-inch long.
Then, as we strolled toward the dam, three more jumping spiders cast hard glares at me from atop the 400-foot fence below the dam.
“Drat,” I mumbled to Nora. “Wrong lens. C’mon.”
We hustled to the truck. I drove 12 hectic minutes and dashed into the house.
I fetched the macro lens and a tele-converter for close-up work. We sped back to Rooks Park and crossed the bridge.
For an hour I puttered along the fence going eyeball to eyeball with muscular, half-inch spiders that stood their ground or false-charged with vivid green fangs flashing.
They had shiny, dark, unblinking eyes (four in front and four on top), flat faces, hairy legs and perky, broad-shouldered body shapes similar to classic Porsche automobiles (1959, 356 convertibles).
A Google source says jumping spiders exhibit complicated guile and personality; that they have among the sharpest vision of all invertebrates and use it in courtship, hunting and
Some species, for example, plan and execute long routes from one bush down to the ground and up another bush to capture prey on a particular leaf.
They’re keen hunters.
Nevertheless, Nora at last donned a hang-dog demeanor that said, “Borrring!”
I understood. She couldn’t see the spiders. Not like the otters.
So, we headed home as an osprey hovered above the bridge.
“Drat,” I mumbled. “Wrong lens.”

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