Friday, July 29, 2011

It's Hot in the Swamp!

It's been hot in the swamp this week.  The rain that fell Tuesday at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest did little more than fill some low spots in the swamp, but water has yet to begin flowing downstream toward the Edisto River.  In some areas, only the cracks in the mud collected water.

In lower areas, the water is more than an inch deep, but the cracks can still be seen below the film-covered water.

Though the heat and humidity have been high and the water level low, but the business of producing life has continued.  A Great-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) was spotted sitting on a nest across Goodson Lake from the observation tower.  The nesting bird is half rolled on its side with its mouth agape in an effort to dissipate heat.

On the boardwalk stretch back to the nature center, we were able to capture something we had previously observed regarding Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) behavior.  The male spider is much smaller than the female and she continues to grow throughout the summer.  Males are often observed on the web with the female, but  males maintain above and behind the female.  This positioning appears to be an attempt to remain off the female's dinner menu.  However, the male is there for a reason and how is mating to occur if such a safe distance is maintained?  The male's strategy seems to be one of patiently waiting until the growing female must shed her too-small exoskeleton and, like a soft-shell crab, is too flaccid to fend off or devour an amorous suitor.

The female's shed exoskeleton can be seen above the pair of spiders.

Images by Mark Musselman

1 comment:

Swampy said...

Additional information on Golden Silk Orbweavers:​creatures/misc/golden_silk​_spider.htm