Friday, June 09, 2006

"Take me to your coffee!" and Other Tales

Mary found this Martian bust on the street during our walk yesterday.

I knew something was afoot when she had come up behind me and whispered about an "alien invasion." Just as she had once called to me, as we crossed a bridge back in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "Elissa! Can you use a hand?" She then proffered a toy's dismembered arm about two inches long. We gave it a place of honor on the fridge door.

This morning I awoke to find the Martian set atop the cover knob of our 35-cup coffee percolator on the kitchen counter. The percolator had belonged to my parents, who reserved it for family gatherings, but we've used it as a matter of course ever since the 2004 hurricane season. We had brewed a full pot before Frances hit us as a tropical storm and knocked out power for four days.

When Mary saw this macro shot she observed, "He doesn't look too happy. He's frowning."

I replied, "He hasn't had his coffee yet."

A different, welcome invasion had started the day....

Mary had awakened me at around 7:30 yesterday morning to tell me we had white ibises in the back yard. I took both the photos and the videos through our Florida room window screens.

Eudocimus albus, Family Threskiornithidae. The blur at the bottom is the lip of our rainbarrel. This individual -- almost a full adult but still with some juvenile mottling on its feathers -- also stars in "Ibis in the Morning":

Says, "Around their colonies, ibises eat crabs and crayfish, which in turn devour quantities of fish eggs. By keeping down the numbers of crayfish, the birds help increase fish populations. In addition, their droppings fertilize the water, greatly increasing the growth of plankton, the basic food of all marsh life. White Ibises gather at dusk in spectacular roosts, long lines of birds streaming in from all directions."

The juvenile had joined two others, rounding the yard and entering our next-door neighbor's property. None of us has fences up, so the yards of several households combine into one wide-open space. That had particularly impressed me when I came down here in late 2002, during a cold Boston winter. I had opened the drapes on a beautiful, warm day and looked out on unencumbered landscape.

In Ibis Trio, the group hangs out around our neighbor's tree. (The rhythmic sound at the beginning of the video is our cat Red stropping his claws.)

About five hours later I left for a meeting and spotted a flock of at least a dozen ibises in our neighbor's fenced-in yard across the street.

I hadn't realized at the time that I was driving to the art league with a stowaway. When I pulled into the garage two days ago I spotted a jumping spider on the roof of my car. His body measures about 7mm. Turns out he'd stayed there overnight, then hitched a 4.5-mile ride. I haven't seen him since the art league, so I suspect he disembarked there.

Hentzia mitrata, family Salticidae (Jumping Spiders). Near the end of the video you can see him moving his chelicerae (mouth parts with fangs); their large size tells me this is a male.

I don't know about the Martian, but this spider seemed pretty hepped-up on caffeine.

According to the University of Kentucky, "Jumping spiders are among the fastest creatures in the arthropod world. Their speed and keen eyesight allow them to pounce on flies, crickets, and even other spiders with amazing accuracy."

They have eight eyes. "One pair of eyes is always very large and directed forward," says U KY, "almost like human eyes. ... Jumping spiders are believed to have the best eyesight of all spiders, maybe of all arthropods."

Mary and I had taken our walk after my meeting and dined at "2 Bakers". At close to 8PM I found this photo-op in a gibbous moon framed by pine needles.


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

Love that gold Martian! Unfortunately I can't view the videos at the job I'm at, but will when I get home. Ibis' like the visitation of a divinity...

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What fun! I wonder where else that coffee loving martian has been.

10:40 AM  

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