Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Today was a beautiful summer day. It was hot, sunny, there were very few clouds in the sky and no rain in the forecast. That is why I was so surprised that the park was very quiet today. I wonder if people are getting ready for back to school time. There were just a couple of small dive groups this morning and a few families were in and out. On Sundays, we are usually slammed with divers in the morning and then the swimming crowds show up around noon. At 1:00 today, there were five cars in the parking lot. It was just weird. The people who did come to the park were thrilled to have such a quiet day.
I started out the day by blowing off the walkway. It was finally mostly dry (its been about 2 whole days since it rained last!!!) and I was able to get a lot of the sand up. There were also a lot of tree droppings (pine needles, leaves, etc.) to clean up. There was only one toad that was seemingly very clever at avoiding my blower path. After the walkway was clear, I headed to the office for paperwork. It went pretty fast and I was able to get out for my morning stroll around the park right away. I had enough time today to really have conversations with most of the people in the park. I also had some time to walk along the far bank of the spring and out to the river. I was happy to only find one piece of garbage over there. I also took some time to enjoy the awesome view from the high bank on that side of the spring. There were already divers in the water, so you can see their bubble clouds. I also saw quite a few turtles cautiously observing the divers from the surface. I chose this photo to post because you can really see the contours of the spring underwater. The dock is just out of view to the right and you can see the large, dark area is the deepest part of the spring (72 feet right now). Where you can see rocks underwater, I am able to stand with my head and shoulders out of the water. The shallow areas are deep enough to be swim-able, but shallow enough to stop and take a break when you want to.
I needed a project to keep me busy. I decided to trim back the briers on the walkway again. They were even longer than they were the last time I trimmed them; they grow quickly! I found a few pieces of garbage sneakily crammed in with the plants while I trimmed, I also found A LOT of bugs. It was a very spidery day and I spotted so many tiny little spiders. Many of them I didn't even get pictures of because it took too much time to put down the clippers, take off my gloves, get out my camera, set all of the settings, and then try to get a tiny speck of a spider in focus. I didn't think to bring home my spider book from the office either. I will have to look them up and post names in the comments later.
Another very fun bug that I saw several of today is a Spittle Bug. If you have ever sat down in a patch of grass or walked around near grass and saw a tiny speck of a bug fling through the air, it was probably an adult Spittle Bug, also called a Froghopper. They are hard to find as adults because of their tiny size, but the young are easy to spot. When they are young, or nymphs, they can mix air with liquid bodily secretions to make a protective slime around themselves. The photo that literally looks like a blob of spit on a plant is one of these Spittle Bug nymphs. Now that you know what they are, I bet you will see them often if you walk by tall grass or weedy brush. The next photo is a little nymph that I temporarily borrowed from his spittle cloud to photograph. The nymph is the little yellow dot at the bottom right of the photo.
Bugs aren't the only things that live in the plants over the railing on the walkway to the spring. I also spotted a little lizard, a Green Anole trying its best to make me think that it was just a stick. The lizards are always so much fun to watch.

1 comment:

Ranger Amy said...

Spider Update: I brought home my spider book and set to work identifying. Unfortunately, I didn't get much further than what I already knew. The spiders, listed from top to bottom are a Spiny Orb Weaver, a Jumping Spider, and another, very tiny Orb Weaver. Many spiders are grouped by the type of web that they make or don't make in the case of the Jumping Spiders. Most of the time its easy to put a spider into the right family but its harder to find the resources to identify them further. The book I have is very informative and full of great information on the families of spiders, but I need to find something better for the specifics.