Thursday, August 4, 2011

July at the Lodge 2

I didn't end up taking a lot of time to go hunting for wildlife or photos - being there with the family was full of activities with the kids and adults: boating, lots of swimming considering the temperatures were in the high 30's all week, a zip-line type airplane game for the kids my Dad made, etc.  But sharing the grounds of the lodge, there are enough unique creatures to enjoy right nearby.

The following picture is my consolation on what I was hoping would be a great shot of a fish bursting through the water's surface to gobble up this unfortunate moth.  It had ended up in the water somehow, and through the clear water, a few moments earlier I had seen about four nice sized bass cruising the area.  I was assuming this is the sort of thing any fish would notice quickly and come straight for.  Nothing - they must have been full.

A moth beating a standing wave pattern on the water's surface.

Dock spiders (or also known as fishing spider, raft spider) are about the biggest spider in Southern Ontario.  These ones are about 75mm across, but get bigger.  These spiders hunt by water, waiting along a rock or similar location, to snatch a passing insect out of the air, off the water's surface, and sometimes from below.  While watching them on another occasion, I saw one of the spiders snatch a damsel fly whose path came too close, no camera on me of course!  

Female (left) and male (right) dock spider.  Males are typically smaller in spiders.

Their eyesight isn't terribly keen though, and they usually rely more on their sensitive legs which have many tiny hairs to sense vibrations in the water.  These hairs also provide the surface tension which allows them to run across the water to pursue creatures which come within range such as water beetles, water striders, or even young fish that tend to stay to the shallows.  Amazingly, they can differenThey can tell though, which vibrations are what - differentiating between an insect struggling on the surface of the water, and a leaf falling into the water.

Hunting on the water's edge.

Once caught the prey is quickly injected with the poison and digestive juices through their hollow jaws, just barely visible behind its "hairy mostache".

Dock Spider.

Dragonflies are amazingly design creatures.  Of insects, they have some of the fastest accelerations and speeds.  Some can travel up to 45 km/hr, with full mobility of movement: up, down, sideways, backwards.  They have very good eyesight, their compound eyes giving them pretty much a 360 degree view, and very sensitive to movement.  They catch, and usually eat their prey of insects on the wing, keeping the balance of one of their main diets, mosquitos, partially in check.

I have not found a great online source for determining dragonfly and damselfly species yet.  If anyone knows one, I'd be grateful for the nudge in the right direction.

Dragonfly - Calico Pennant

Dragonfly - Blue Skimmer

And here's a familiar sight - a grasshopper.  Their design is incredible, allowing them to catapult themselves proportionately huge distances with strong, leveraged hind legs.  Did you know they had "ears"?  Like crickets, they also call to each other with chirping sounds.  On this grasshopper, the drums are located just above where the hind leg joins to the body - there is a partially covered, round depression partially hidden by it's wing.  Other grasshoppers have them on their front legs.

Two-striped Grasshopper.

Well, we're off to the Lodge with Holly's family for part of the week.  I have to come back early, and won't be able to enjoy the full week with them.  Should be a great time though.  When I get back I'll post the remainder of the pictures from my last trip - I've saved my favourite ones for last - Merlin and Osprey.  

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