Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Sunday Walk

Let's walk together ...

Earlier this summer, Thingfish23 and his lovely wife took a walk around Pure Florida HQ with me. Along the way, we admired this old oak and the large, owl-sized cavity opening in its trunk. A couple of weeks ago, I looked out the kitchen window as I washed some dishes and noticed something odd in the usual backyard vista.
The old oak had snapped off right at the point where the cavity had been. This old tree has been shedding tree-sized megabranches for years now, but this time the primary trunk was down.
I can't help admiring it's tenacity and refusal to go quietly.

If a tree says, "Hell no, I won't go!" in a forest and there's no one around, did it make any noise?
We may never know.

Lets see ... just how tired of walking into spider webs this summer am I?
Let me count the ways...
1) Don't even bother telling me how beautiful or good spiders are ... this is FC you're talking to ... I know all that and they still creep me out.
2) When I take a stick and gently take them off their porch webs and set them out in the woods, I want a little appreciation from them ... not a return to the porch by the very next dawn.
3) Ick!! It's a little embarrassing to squeal and do the slappy hand spider removal dance every time I stroll into these silken spider poo meshes of doom.

Yesterday evening, as the sun just dipped behind the treetops, I spotted the pileated bouncing around in my young magnolia tree.
He's so big and the branches are so limber that he was getting a heck of a trampoline effect and I was getting a card full of fuzzy woodpecker pics.
Finally, I gave up shooting pics and just watched him. He seemed to be after something and I'm pretty sure it was magnolia fruits like the one above. He worked and worked until this one fell and then I think I spooked him. When I walked under the tree, there were lots of these on the ground. In case you are not familiar with the mostly tropical magnolia family, these seed pods should stay on the tree for a while. Most of them just opened up.

So, birders, do pileateds eat fruity seeds along with their bug entrees?

Look at that rascal! Who needs imaginary ivory bills when you've got real pileateds?

The king is dead, long live the king.

Calm down X-File birders ... I'd love to eat my words on this one ... just don't think I'll have to do so.


pablo said...

Could you tell if there was any kind of nest in the old tree cavity?

Floridacracker said...

I climbed up there (surprise) and looked in, but it did not seem to be occupied.

Anonymous said...

I just love visiting's like being a tourist in my own hometown ;)....spiders creep me out too.

ImagineMel said...

I hate those little magnolia seedy things. Love the tree and the flowers but not those. And yes, I know, can't have one w/o the other. Spider webs must be waging a war all over. Every day since I've been back at school I've walked through at least one. YUCK. As long as I don't walk through a "snakeweb" I'm good.

And on a totally unrelated note, Fresh Market is amazingly wonderful. But, my son is horrible with directions. It's actually near Millhopper Square. You must go there when we finally get paid again! :)

Anonymous said...

FC, I too do the spider dance, hate them and my arachnaphobia, just escalates. Nothing like riding a mt. bike with one of these things on your helmets or gloves. I have done endovers trying to get away from them

Deb said...

Those spider webs were probably my least favorite part of visiting my grandpa's place in Florida. Sometimes we'd walk into them at night when we were coming back on the path from the neighbors' place after an evening of shrimping. Ughhh...

robin andrea said...

I checked the Cornell Bird site, and according to them Pileated Woodpeckers eat:
Insects, primarily carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae, fruits, and nuts.
I'm not very fond of walking into spiderwebs, and do the spiderweb dance afterwards. The thought of a spider on me or in my hair creeps me out.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate spiders, but I don't want them walking through my house and I don't want to walk through theirs.

I am little jealous, though - I've seen hardly any all summer. I'm used to them spinning webs near lights (for obvious reasons) but they are scarce this year. Even the one our next door neighbor said had been seen on the side of our house for YEARS hasn't shown up this time.

Is it something I said?

Sharon said...

We've had lots of spiders around here, I have a couple of pics on my blog. But yours wins, on account of ugly-ness! :)


Floridacracker said...

What a nice comment,glad you can find something new here.

A paycheck would really be nice. Really. Really. Nice.
I'll check out the market with the $2.98 I have left after paying piled up bills and college.

I can relate, having swung a running chainsaw without thinking after spider web entanglement.

A web at night is the worst! Hey, I got a shrimp report and they are starting!

THANKS! I had a feeling that's the behavior I was witnessing, but my tiny brain always thought of PW's as bugbiters.
So ... is that where my grape crop went?

I agree with your first statement!
I'll pack you a box of our huge banana spiders. Ya want 50, 100?

Floridacracker said...

I think our spring drought cut down on the molds and bacteria that probably curtail a lot of spider egg sacs.
I've just never seen so many.

vicki said...

Yes indeed- they eat fruits and berries as well as insects. I've heard that the Ivory Bill only eats spiders- where are they when we need them? I'm surprised because I wouldn't have thought you spider squeamish. For me, they are the one thing. I can handle-literally- snakes, bats, rats and most anything except spiders. There's a big lovely garden spider holding the courtyard broom captive with a giant web spread across that corner- I haven't swept in weeks.

Floridacracker said...

They are my Kryptonite.

Hurricane Teen said...

I definitely agree with the spider thing. There is nothing more embarassing than taking a girl for a tour of a swamp, and doing the "slappy hand spider removal dance" every time you walk through a web...Especially when said girl is not afraid of spiders...It's the spiders that keep me out of the woods in the summertime.
And I love the Pileated!

Thunder Dave said...

After tromping around on all those properties, and having a Banana Spider walk across my face, I'm starting to get used to them!

Nice shot of the Orbed Web spider!

kathy a. said...

west coast report: we have a spider-friendly house. not that i like them; we just have to live with them. the house is a 1950's modern thing, nothing between the ceiling and roof; not many screens because we don't get many skeeters or bugs; no AC and closed windows, because it doesn't often get that hot. let my place go for a while, and the cobwebs make it look like a halloween fright-house.

every so often, i vacuum the ceilings, just so the cobwebs [and corpses of dead bugs] don't take over. i could do it every week, but that doesn't seem to cut down appreciably on the spider population. we've worked out a truce of sorts, whereby they reproduce and eat stray bugs and don't land on us in bed, and i vacuum them up when i feel like it.

Cathy S. said...

We all hate spiders here even though we know they are our friend. Just this week, I almost drove off the road when my normally very brave teenage son started squealing like a girl as a spider ran across his knee. My husband tells a great story about the bananna spider that emerged in the middle of his face shield just as he crossed the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on his motorcycle. It was when we were dating, and I lived on Terra Ceia and he lived in St. Petersburg. I swear I could hear him screaming all the way from the bridge. Eck!

Floridacracker said...

Ditto here.

Oh, there's more for you ... they await your return.

Kathy A,
Life without screens?
That is hard to imagine from my view point in bugland.
I do live and let live for the small ones in the house too.

Cathy S,
I think I would have Evel Knieveled right off that bridge.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh puuulleeesee and you made fun of ME?

Doug Taron said...

We're having lots of spiders up here in the Midwest this year, too. The big Argiopes are really being obvious right now. I don't mind spiders, but I'm not wild about walking into webs.

Jacki said...

My parents have a big Magnolia tree in Clermont (west of Orlando), and this time of year it's packed with HUGE pileated woodpeckers. They're quite a sight!

Floridacracker said...

But it's so fun ...

I'm picturing a tree of PW's and feeling mighty envious. I'm also rethinking the importance of magnolias in the Florida ecosystem.