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Spider rappelling! A great way to get around.

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When a spider wants to make a long distance traverse between two objects, or just wants a quick way to ascend an obstacle, what can he do? Lets find out by watching a male crab spider.

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Well, as in ballooning, the spider can jet out a thread of silk, letting it be carried by the wind.

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The spider then turns and checks the tension on the web to see if it has snagged a target. In this case, there is no tension, so the spider reels in the thread. I am not sure if crab spiders consume the spent silk.

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Another try, in another direction.

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This time the tension is right, and the spider quickly disappears from the frame.

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And arrives safely at another, more lively flower.

Further shots from Naramata

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The Rubber Boa I wrote about yesterday was just the icing on the cake of my recent trip to Naramata.

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Here is a large mayfly by the shores of Lake Okanagan.

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The owner’s friendly dog at the Village Motel.

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My first sighting of a very elegant myrmicine, Manica invidia

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One of the coolest wineries in BC!

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With the namesake!

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This is probably BC’s smallest ant, Solenopsis molesta.

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This gives an idea how tiny these ants are!

 

Another elegant myrmicine, Aphaenogaster occidentalis.

Framed spider art on a fence in town.

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A large tenebrionid in a defensive posture.

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A Cooper’s Hawk with some prey.

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Rubber Boa!

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This past weekend, Erin Adams and I were up in Naramata to do some ant surveys. This beautiful little town is right near Penticton on Lake Okanagan. This arid, yet fertile land is home to fruit and wine growing, as well as the wonderful faunal diversity of the northern Great Basin Desert.  One of the great species we have is Canada’s only species of boa, the Rubber Boa (Charina bottae). These gorgeous snakes make their living mainly preying on subterranean nesting mammals, and hence they are difficult to find in the open.

Nonetheless, we set out to find some on the KVR trail above the town.  Erin must have the golden touch, because on the very first rock she flipped sat this lovely female rubber boa.

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Erin posing with her catch! They are not big snakes, but they certainly have some impressive constricting muscles.

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Me with one of my childhood heroes! Photo by Erin Adams

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These snakes have a special place in my heart, because when I was a child, visiting Science North in Sudbury Ontario, I got to hold one of them! This was a great thrill for me, and it was so great to get the opportunity to see these wonderful animals again in the wild. I can personally attest to the lasting effect that brief encounter had on my outlook and interests.

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A natural light shot on a warm rock. Apparently, these snakes will roll into a ball with their head tucked in when disturbed, but this individual was not playing that game.

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What a great snake to have in Canada. Although they are not yet considered threatened, I certainly hope that enough of their habitat can be conserved so that they may persist.

 

Island View Beach predators!

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Island View Beach was not all bees and high fashion, I also got some cool shots of some awesome predators. First up is this cool robber fly! I think it is in the subfamily Stenopogoninae, but I am by no means an expert.

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Here is how I found it, shot with the 300.

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Dewy on the perch, the sunlight catches its hairs and bristles nicely.

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With some coaxing, I got it to perch on top of the flower.

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Robbers are some of my favourite flies, possibly because of how raptorial they are.

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It takes them some time to warm up for flight, so they are great subjects for a photographer.

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I also saw a couple of juvenile Cooper’s hawks haunting the seaside vegetation. They hunt from perches like robbers, but have a more protracted chase when they spot prey.

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As endotherms, these hawks are more difficult to approach!

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The tidal shallows at dawn is a great place to find Great Blue Herons, looking marvelous as silhouettes.

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Here is what happens when an Ammophila chooses the wrong perch to sleep.

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And this is what can happen if a lacewing hits a black widow web!

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Weekend Expedition 55: Fashion shooting at Island View Beach

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This weekend I went to Victoria, and spent both Saturday and Sunday morning at dawn at Island View Beach. The usual cast of characters was about, so I took the opportunity to do some experimentation with background, lighting, composition and cropping. I am sure you are all getting a bit tired of Coelioxys now, but they make such great models! They are awesome for practicing macro photography with.

If there are any suggestions from other photographers regarding what else I could be doing with these photo ops, please let me know in the comments!

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Here is a wider shot showing the beach behind and the rising sun. I like shooting these kinds of shots, but it is difficult to get great results with the setup I have now.

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These two are shot against the beach grass, with its characteristic pale green.

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The same two shot against the blue sky. and cropped to portrait. 

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Here is a natural-light shot of a Coelioxys. The light has a different quality to it, and it is difficult to get a sharp shot.

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Megachile perihirta against the rising sun.

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Dragging the shutter to make beautiful rim light on the hair.