Leading you up the garden path. In your face!

Since I set out to photo record as much of the fauna as possible that visits our spot I have probably been amazed at least once a day. Either by finding something new or finding out something new.

Nature never ceases to blow me away. And this is just from my little patch of earth in Jo’burg.

I have literally hundreds of photo records of hundreds of subjects. I have become fairly familiar with favorite hang outs and favorite foods and when the fauna are most likely to come out to work or  ”play”.

I am learning all the different names as well. It’s great to know the names of the different butterflies or what a particular bird is simply by its call.

When I go for a wander I am cautious where I tread – especially if I have forgotten to do dog-poo-patrol.

I look at everything, as you never know what might be lurking or sitting right in front of your nose.

Many insects and spiders learn to sit quite still and if you blink you might miss something.

From a photographic point of view I am slowly getting the hang of the digital camera and this is paying dividends too.

I have been wanting to take a decent photograph of a particular Drone Fly called Eristalis.

It come around at more or less the same time as the bees and feeds on a particular yellow succulent that is outside the bedroom windows. Oddly enough, the same plant is also at the front of  the property but I have never seen this fly visit there.

It is a solitary visitor and buzzes among the honeybees quite unperturbed, drinking its fill of nectar then eventually flying off.

I sat on the lawn and waited. Nothing appeared. The bees eventually came but no Drone Fly.

I had things to do and couldn’t sit in the sunshine all morning. Much as I’d like to!

I was about to call it quits when this fluttered into view. An Acraea butterfly. It seems late in the season but I wasn’t complaining. It is a beauty. Because I was sitting down my field of view was  different than normal and thus I was able to take a shot like this …

aracea 65

I have taken a number of shots of this species but never seen the yellow  feelers. What a treat! One for my favorites folder for sure.

After five minutes I was climbing to my feet when Eristalis arrived. Quietly sitting back down again I waited. Eventually the fly landed on the flower right in front of me and ‘click’, I had the shot I have been trying to get for months.

Time for work!

Eristalis

drone fly (erostalis)

The height of cool.

The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

Bye Spidey …

Our Yellow Crab spider – ne White, finally abandoned the Yellow Gazania this afternoon. I popped out to check on her and she had gone. But a slight flash of movement made me move the gazania flower to one side and there she was, gradually making her way to ground level. Likely she had  got fed up with nothing venturing to her temp residence since the 22nd and was a tad hungry.

But I managed to coax her onto my hand for a farewell photograph before returning her to  the undergrowth to go in search of ”greener pastures”.

T’ra!

The way she was.

white crab and fly 2

white crab spider on hand 2

 

Maybe she will revert to her original white?

Crab Spider Update.

For those of you who haven’t followed along with our little Incy Wincy tale, here’s a brief recap.

Certain Crab Spiders change colour chameleonesque. The Banded White Crab Spider has the ability to go from White to Yellow by mobilizing sequestered pigments or synthesizing new pigments. It takes about 3 days to change colour and is an excellent means of camouflage especially when lying in wait.

This crab spider – a female – took up residence in a Yellow Gazania on the 22nd July. When it  arrived it was white as driven snow ( poetic!) but over the past week its pigment has  gradually changed. Today, the sixth day, it has finally achieved the yellow pigment  that more or less matches its current abode.

Female crab spiders are sedentary hunters. They make no webs preferring to ”stake out” a territory and then wait for a hapless butterfly, fly or bee to come along. Ironically, in its White State and sticking out like a sore thumb ,  it took two flies on its first day within an hour of each one. Since then, it has caught nothing.

If it hangs around and catches something else I will surely post photographs. Meanwhile … All Change.

22nd July

white crab and fly Wedensday 22nd July 2015

24th July

white crab spider 1100hrs friday 24 july 2015

25th July

White crab spider Saturday 25th July 2105

26th July

White crab spider1 Sunday26th July 2015

27th July

white crab spider 27 july 2015

 

”They call me Mellow Yellow ….quite right.”

Leading you up the garden Path. New Species!

Well, new to The Ark’s spot at any rate. Wandered out to the Aloes outside my office this morning and something caught my eye. At first, because of the play of light, I thought is was part of the plant – and almost ignored it. But I have taught myself not to ignore anything I see in the garden these days and bent down for a closer look. And I am glad I did!

ps. I’ll do an update on the colour changing Crab Spider soon.

cricket4

cricket6

cricket 8

Leading you up the Garden Path. It’s Sunday

In fact, for the lizards at our spot every day is sun day. Being cold blooded ( the lizards, not moi ) – It more or less has to be sun day every day as they need it to charge their batteries, so to speak. Therefore, when the sun is up the lizards will come and warm themselves. They have several regular spots where they do their sun bathing but the tree stump by the rockery seems to be one of their favorites, where they sidle up alongside the small stone tortoise, say a few words in greeting, then get down to the serious business of  hotting up.

lizard 5

And they seem quite unperturbed by passers by, providing one does  not make any rash or sudden movement.

Though they do seem to react if a shadow passes over them. No doubt an evolutionary survival trait. An overhead shadow could be an eagle or similar avian predator.

So with due caution I proceed along the garden path, being careful not to cast a shadow, and the lizards remain unfazed. So much so that on occasion I am able to sit on the path only a foot or two from the stump.

As I did this morning.

lizard 70 2 26th ju;ly 2015

There was no doubt ‘he’ was aware of my presence as he twitched his head from side to side as I raised the camera.

lizard 70 3 26th july 2015

But he continued to soak up the sun, confident he had enough energy on tap that he could dart for cover if the need arose.

lizard 70 4 26th july 2015

It seemed he was about ready to go and do his thing, but first he rubbed his face on the stump as would a dog if it wanted to rub an itch or clear away something on its face. Something I had never witnessed before. It was quite cute.

And talking of dogs. At that moment I became aware of movement off to my left and I could hear one of the dogs  coming in the opposite direction.

So too the lizard, who turned sharply, raised himself up on one leg in preparation for flight and just as the dog arrived I managed one final shot  before he turned and darted for the undergrowth of the rockery  and I was left fending off Bobbi who was intent on slobbering my left ear.

lizard 70 26th july 2015

When I’m cleaning windows ….

Well, cleaning blinds.

Look who was making herself at home.

This is called a Theridion delicatum. Or, False House Button Spider.

These little ones are harmless to us humans but after my encounter with the Sac Spider last month the Missus is a bit wary.

Oh, and it is wrong to say spiders are poisonous. Unless you know of someone who has died from digesting a spider?

The correct term is venomous and as for as I am aware pretty much all spiders are venomous but only very few are potentially dangerous to humans.

This is most definitely NOT one of them and in fact they are a boon, keeping check of numerous potentially harmful bugs in and around the house.

spider 12

After our photo shoot I gently ushered her outside.

spider 8

All change!

I have known for a while that some Crab Spiders are able to change colour in order to blend in with their surroundings, but this is all I knew and until now had not taken it upon myself to find out why.

The event that caused me to hit the Google button was this …

You may recall that I posted photos of a White Crab Spider I discovered in a Yellow Gazania having just caught a fly?

Well, it has been there two or three days and look at her now.

Yes, she is definitely a ‘her’. Female Crab Spiders are sedentary hunters; sitting on flowers to lie in wait for a hapless wanderer to stop off for a ”pit stop”.

This is how she looked on the 22nd July.

white crab and fly 4

 

white crab and fly 2

And this is how she looks today.

white crab spider 75 friday 24 july 2015

crab spider 1715hrs 24 july 2015 4

Her pigmentation is slowly changing to blend in with the Yellow Gazania. And we have a photographic record. How cool is that?

I wonder if she is planning on a longish stay? I am hoping her colour deepens. Fingers crossed. We shall see.

You can be sure I will be keeping a close eye on proceedings, and will keep you posted..

Are you the serious sort or more of a …

Fun gi?

fungi 40

 

This appeared on the lawn sometime last year. Was the first time any of us had seen something like this and because of the dogs we decided to remove it straight after a few photos – just in case.

Senor McMillan is also a Fun gi and has posted an interesting shot this morning. Check it out.

Digital or Film?

I began following https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/  this afternoon. Some interesting stuff.

One of the posts had a comment bemoaning the demise of ‘’real’’ photographers: those that used film rather than digital.

While I understand the purist perspective, especially if you had to go through the School Of Hard Knocks , or whatever the photographic equivalent is, I believe digital photography has created a whole new art form and allowed rank amateurs such as me to explore  photography to their (relative) heart’s content; something that became pretty much a financial impossibility as the years passed. So much so that my OM10 and swish telephoto lens were, sadly, ‘’retired’’ several years ago.

But the arrival of a second hand Canon EOS400D rekindled the ‘’David Bailey’’ in me and I haven’t had as much fun with a camera in years.

Anyway, aside from the purely fun angle, I discovered that there is big bucks to be made with digital photography. Such photographers are also called ”Visual Artists”, which seems appropriate, and they are very adept at photo shop and all the other wonderful things technology has to offer these days.I am completely in the dark room when it comes to I.T. stuff, just managing to find my way around ”Paint”.

My son seems a whizz at Photoshop if some of the cake photographs he alters are anything to go by.

Back to Iconic photographs …

One thing led to another and I found this article on Wiki.

Check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs

While many of the photographs listed were taken using film the most expensive was digitally altered and fetched over 4 million dollars!

While I doubt any of my snaps will ever see the inside of Christie’s or Sotheby’s digital has allowed me to be adventurous and cost-carefree.

Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to venture out into the ‘’real world’’ and have a stab at Street Photography?

Meantime, here are a few of my favorite photographs from the past year or so. This isn’t necessarily very good photography, but each photograph is special for one reason or another, if for no other reason than the surprise factor that the shot came out all right.

cropped-lizard-and-tortoise.jpg

woodhoopoes 2

Crab Spider on Rose 3

butterfly 65

cropped-bibron-gecko-60.jpg

JUmping spider 2

robber fly thumb

lb3a

caterpillar 6

Jumping Spider 2 on Wild Iris

african grass 50

Cópia de mating flys

bee in aloe

Lady nurmbergring

 

hoverfly weird 2

 

owl 9 120

gecko 2

wilfred 1a

 

Leading you up the garden path.

Following on from Kenneth McMIllan’s Hornet post, Blogpal Tish took me up on the photo challenge, which was not specifically bug-orientated, but she offered up a nice shot of a Dandelion Clock with what looks like a couple of beetles.

What might be fun is if you want to join in, simply pick an aspect of the photo and, excuse the pun, develop it.

So, Tish,  I ”see” your Dandelion Clock. ( sans bugs)

dandelion 12

 

and raise you a Full Dandelion with four bugs. :)

dandelion 1

Leading you up the garden path.

I like a challenge now and then, especially if it’s a fun one. And if it involves some form of creativity then even better.

Kenneth McMIllan and I seemed to have begun a bit of informal sparring that arose from a couple of  photographs of fennel, everybody’s favorite photographic subject, right? At least it sits still, which suits me fine!

Anyhow, he couldn’t come up with a Paper Wasp, which I had included in my Fennel example but he did manage to find a black and white, Bald Headed Hornet.

I don’t think we have these down here in South Africa, but I did manage to find a black and white thyreus histrionicus, which is an old world bee, apparently, parking off on some lavender.

So there you go, Kenneth. As they say in the classics, ”Eat dirt, Kincaid.”  ;)

If any of you other visiting heathens want to join in and throw down the gauntlet, feel free.

Thyreus histrionicus

 

thyreus histrionicus,