Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Web

If I don't post this within the next twenty minutes or so, there will be no yard report for August.  I resolved on January 1 to keep track of what's in the yard by keeping up with this blog, but here in the midst of summer  I am way behind.

Luckily (or not) there hasn't been much that's new going on in the yard this month.  That is, until about a week ago.  A cool front changed the wind from south to north and dropped high temperatures from 100 to 95 (that is a cool front in Texas in August), bringing migrant birds to feeders and drippers and sending me outside with my camera.  Tomorrow I'll describe the bird life and post some photos.  (Or maybe I shouldn't be too quick to say I'll do it tomorrow! A month ago I would not have said I'd be lazy all month. Or that my computer would crash again.)

For tonight, I'll post just one of the photographs I've snapped this week.  It's not even of a bird, but it may be one of my all-time favorites.

Just outside my bedroom window lives this magnificent spider.  What catches my attention first is not only the size (at least two inches) and coloring and pattern of this spider, but  the really cool web.  See those zigzags radiating from the exact spot where she places each leg?  I think the spider must think positioning herself right in the center of this pattern of four zigzags makes her look even bigger! The white zigzags are called stabilimentum, I've found out, and there are several theories as to their function.  Catching my attention (if I were a bird that might fly right through) and looking scary are two of them.

Not knowing much about spiders, I looked this one up on the web.  I googled "zigzag web spider" and immediately learned it was in the genus argiope.  Some call it the St. Andrew's Cross Spider because of the zigzags forming a St. Andrews Cross (an X like on the flag of Scotland)  in the center of the web.

I'm not absolutely sure what species this is, but I think it is argiope argentata, the Silver Garden Spider.  Looking at the photos I can find on the web (pun!) I also think it could be argiope blanda, another spider found in deep south Texas.  I have only one photo of his flip side, taken with my iphone and not real clear but it doesn't really look like the pictures I found of the Silver spider.  I'm still investigating.  If anyone out there knows, please let me know!

(That little guy just above her in the photo is the male--she doesn't have to do much to scare him, I'll bet!  He disappeared yesterday.  I fear for him. Is it true that the female sometimes eats the male after mating?)

Two minutes before September!  I'll post this web to the web and wait until tomorrow for a more comprehensive report.