Saturday, September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Part I

So far, the weekend has been pretty quiet. We had fairly steady visitation all day, but it was really no more than 15 people at a time. We did have quite a few boaters who pulled up by the buoy line, but they were all well behaved and for the most part, stayed on their boats. We were periodically entertained by a boat zooming by with water skiers or wake boarders or tubers in tow. We had a few dive groups, but none larger than 3 people and they were well staggered throughout the morning. The park was quietly occupied with really friendly people all day. I had several nice conversations and had a lot of people who were interested in hearing about the park. I love talking about the wildlife and the history of the park, which is good because that is a big part of my job.
The first photo I took today was taken at the gate, right above the Morning Glories. I thought it was cool to see the Banana Spider (AKA, Golden Orb Weaver) feasting on a Sphinx Moth. What I didn't realize until I got home and looked at the photos was that there was another spider in this photo as well. When I zoomed in on the little grey dot on the moth, I saw that it was an Argyrodes nephilae. It doesn't have a common name that I could find but it is a kleptoparasitic Cobweb Weaver, meaning it is a spider who lives off of stealing from others! The do commonly live on Banana Spider webs, but only on the outside stabilizers of the web so that they can stay hidden. Whenever they get the chance, they will sneak around and feed on whatever they can from the web, avoiding the view of the Banana Spider. This one was apparently taking advantage of such a large catch.
When I walked down to the river for the first time this morning, I saw that the river is still coming up. Compared to this shot from Monday, it is a noticeable difference. The tannic water is fully inside the buoy lines again, but not by much. Fortunately, the majority of the spring is still very clear. I hope the river starts receding again... any day now.
On the way back up the path from the river, I saw a millipede walking along on the sand. I see these guys often on the walkway down to the spring, but now in the sand, I noticed something neat. Their footprints! They look just like the stitching on a pair of jeans. I guess even the familiar is worth taking another look at.
On a trip out to check the honor box, I encountered some deer on the service road. When we saw each other, I slowed way down and they walked just off the road into the woods. I was able to stop right next to them and take some photos. They were pretty relaxed around me, so these are probably regulars. They are so neat to watch.
On another trip down to the river, I stopped to enjoy the quick little yellow butterflies. I think that this one feeding on the Ironweed is a Southern Dogface, but my photo is a little overexposed and it was moving too quickly to be sure. I would like to get a better photo of one because their is a silhouette of a dog's head profile in black on the wing. It is really cool.
Near the end of my day, I had spoken to everyone in the park and I had been to the dock, to the river, and through the picnic area several times. I took a few minutes to sit quietly on the cabin porch, where I could be alone with my thoughts and still keep an eye on everyone. I watched a little boy desperately try to get his parents into the cold water and out to where he was swimming to show them where the rocks stopped and started. He was so anxious to show them everything he had discovered. Its fun to watch moments like that. While I sat there, I realized that I was not alone. A little dragonfly was sitting practically face to face with me a few feet away on a branch. It was on a very good perch that it was not willing to leave and I was able to photograph every angle of this little dragonfly. Not long after that, I was back on the dock and my evening relief came in. We'll see what tomorrow will bring.

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