“Deformed” Spider and Yellow House Finch were the Standouts Today

Most of my day was spent in a meeting, but it was over I had some lunch and then headed home, and worked a little bit from there, before going out to the Consumes River Preserve to look around their boardwalk and boat-launch areas… Not long walks, just a little perusing.  Along the way I saw some Buckeye, Cabbage White and usually dark Gray Hairstreak butterflies and a solitary Monarch butterfly; and a Cottontail rabbit and Scrub Jay stopped to pose for me.  I also watched as several Great Egrets were chased away from their fishing ponds by Red-Winged Blackbirds that were defending their nesting territory. Those little guys are tough!

Two stand outs, though, were a large brown spider that was traversing the sidewalk down by the boat launch.  She look “deformed” to me, so I snapped some photos of her and let her continue on her journey.  When I got home I enlarged the images of her and realized that the “deformity” was actually caused by all of the spiderlings riding on her back!  Kewl!

The other standout was a mud nest that was built on top of a light fixture just under the point of the pitch roof of the small restroom structure.  I saw a flash of flight go out from it when I walked by, so I hung around for a little while to see if anything flew back to it.  Because it was primarily a mud nest I was expecting to see Barn Swallows come back to it.  The nest was “odd” though in the fact that it was line with dried grass and vegetation… and the outside rim of it was messy with droppings.  Usually swallows are a little bit cleaner than that, pooping outside of the nest onto the ground, not onto the nest itself…  After waiting a few minutes, I was surprised to see a pair of House Finches  — not swallows — go back to the nest… and the bigger surprise was that the male was a yellow variation of the species, not the traditional red.  I’d never seen a yellow one before.  (Their color variations are caused in part by their diet.)  The male perched on a pipe near the nest, while the female hunkered down inside of it.  A very neat find.

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