Sunday, August 23, 2009

Operation "Crab Spider"

Sylvia Marek recalled last summer I was searching for crab spiders to photograph, so she gave me a call when discovering several of them on some goldenrod at the UW Arboretum this weekend. While all arachnids fascinate me, jumping spiders and crab spiders are my favorite.

Many spiders, especially orb weavers, really don't seem to do much until something becomes entangled in their web. But crab spiders hunt and ambush their prey, rendering a certain style to their movement that makes me feel like they know something as I observe them. Also, crab spiders seem to behave more deliberately with age. The young ones are often so fast and flighty that photographing them is next to impossible. But adults only move when necessary and can be very cooperative subjects. Even when they encounter danger, instead of retreating they seem predisposed to holding their ground and rewarding observers with a menacing threat display by holding their front legs outstretched.

What's not to love about them?

On my way home from the arboretum, I found a family of Sandhill Cranes foraging in the field across the street from my apartment. They were lovely digiscoping subjects and my final outdoor activity for what was a truly beautiful weekend. I watched the cranes until they decided to move to some habitat near Esser Pond.

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell

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