I know so many people who detest dandelions, but I love them. And of course, the bees love them, too. They’re one of the first bursts of color in the spring, and seeing a field of sunny yellow faces can really lift my spirits between the bouts of heavy rain at this time of year. Not only are they such a glorious shade of yellow, but their flowers have those wonderful little curlicues among the larger petals, tho you don’t see that if you don’t take the time for a close up look. I find they are always a very rewarding flower if I spend a little extra time on post-processing.
We are getting such a mild winter! No snow for the skiers nor a snowpack for the summer’s water supply, but I have to say it’s been really wet, dark and grey. Now the plants are beginning to think it’s spring already…
There’s a rhododendron in the garden that is always early to bloom, but this year the first flower opened two weeks ago. Today – which started out quite foggy before the sun broke through for a beautiful, mild sunny day – the whole rhodo bush came to life with blossoms scattered over it. A pot of crocuses that I’ve had on my doorstep for a few weeks now, has one flower in full bloom and one rapidly expanding bud. I watched one honey bee repeatedly crawling all over the crocus flower, flying off a little ways then coming right back and crawling all over it again.
I decided it was too nice a day not to go for a walk beside the beach today, especially with low tide just after sunset. It seems it was an idea shared by everybody else too! Not only were there absolutely no parking spaces available when I arrived, but the traffic was nose to tail the length of the waterfront, crawling along at a snail’s pace when it wasn’t completely at a standstill. I’ve never seen it like that before, even during the summer. I got about 2/3 of the way along the waterfront and decided that was for the birds, turned into one of the parking areas and drove right back out to get turned around. Undecided about what I wanted to do, I pulled into one of the other parking areas on my way back out to give myself a moment to think…and a car backed out right in front of me. Perfect!
It wasn’t until relatively recently that I learned that what I’ve always called daddy longlegs spiders others know as Harvestmen, and in fact they aren’t spiders at all, altho they are related to spiders in the same way as scorpions, ticks and centipedes. Physically while spiders’ bodies have a head part and an abdomen, a harvestman’s head is incorporated into the body and they only have two eyes vs a spider’s eight. They are also harmless, lacking venom glands.
Harvestmen may eat aphids, caterpillars, beetles, flies, small slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, even other Harvestmen. Most of them also eat decaying plant and animal matter, bird droppings and fungi. Sounds like a useful little critter to have around! Apparently if you watch them after a meal, they draw their legs one at a time through their jaws to clean them.
If you try to handle a Harvestman one or more of its eight legs may fall off, a possible adaptation to help it escape from a predator (they will also release a strong odor as a defense against predators, which include birds). However, the legs don’t grow back and loss of legs can slow the Harvestman down. They are also important sensory organs, loaded with nerves and thousands of tiny sense organs inside the microscopic slits in the legs. They also serve as ears, nose, tongue and possibly even as supplementary ‘eyes.’ Every ten days or so a Harvestman will split open and shed its exoskeleton, taking about 20 minutes to drag its long legs from their old casings.
The things you learn as a photographer/blogger!
Text based on info from http://www.backyardnature.net
I’m really having fun with in-camera motion blurs right now, but this is one I captured last year and I just stumbled on it again today. I like the way the wings blurred, it’s what I’ve been trying for with bird wings, unsuccessfully, this week. The poor male butterfly tried to approach the female for a l o n g time before she was finally ready.