Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This beautiful yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) has built herself a spectacular web outside one of my kitchen windows. She's a big girl, at least 3 inches from leg tip to leg tip. You're looking at her belly. I'd have to climb up on a ladder to get a picture of her other side, and I'm way too lazy for that. You can see what she'd look like from another angle on her Wikipedia page here. The web stabilimentum they describe is clearly visible in this pic.
One of the pleasures of fall is that I nearly always have a gorgeous spider take up residence somewhere around the south side of my house. Often I get one on the southeast corner, which means there are at least a few opportunities for me to watch the moon rise through her web.
Another regular fall resident is the straggling hummingbird. This year I seem to have two. All the others departed around October 1, right on schedule, but this pair--both females--have decided to hang out for a while. I've never had any stay past mid-November, but I keep hoping one will eventually overwinter with me. Maybe one of these will do me the honor.
The weather was unsettled this morning--rain clouds moved in from the west opposite a pink sunrise, and there was a steady wind that kept the trees rustling all through my walk. It was a little warmer than it has been lately, and the breeze kept the lake free of mist. I had trudged up an old logging road, away from the water, when I heard a flock of Canada geese arriving. You can always tell whether the geese are just passing through or planning to land by the amount of racket they make. Migrating flocks do a sedate honk-and-answer routine, but if a rest stop is on the agenda, everybody talks at once. They sound like a busload of kids on a school trip.
By the time I got back down to the lake they were all on the water, swimming sedately and just giving out the occasional squawk. There were 9 or 10 of them, and they had perfect ownership of the lake. I know these birds can be a huge nuisance in suburban spaces, but that's our fault, not theirs. In their natural habitat they are exquisite creatures.
Canada goose from John James Audubon's The Birds of America (1840)