Monday, January 3, 2011

Predator and Prey

This morning I felt like I was on a Safari without even leaving my house.

While grooming myself in the bathroom mirror, I caught some action reflected out on the ice. I watched in the mirror as an eagle swooped down toward the ice. I didn't know why until a little brown critter dove from a small ice float into the water, just escaping death. Whew. If the ice was solid, that puppy would have been a goner.

Then I turned around to gaze out the window itself. The dissatisfied eagle made a couple more passes around its victim's grounds then flew up into the same tree and the same branch that one did this summer. I knew it had to be the same eagle because they both had immature markings. Same branch and everything, though. It was my little friend.

The predator sat quietly and peered at the ice floats in hopes its prey would return. Just after a few minutes we saw the victor swimming and diving on the other side of the tree, closer toward the middle of the Harbor. I thought, Geez, the ol' eagle eye doesn't work if you're looking the opposite way!

It was a little otter. So sweet, just swimming along... out of sight. The eagle took off about fifteen minutes later.

Some time went by, and I went to peer out the bathroom window again, in case my eagle friend came back. Nope. But I heard a buzzing noise coming from Aaron's electric beard trimmer. I knew the thing couldn't just turn itself on, so I listened and looked closer.

You know that sound a dying fly makes? That buzzzzzz and ehhhhhhhhh, I'm dying sound mixed together? That's what it was. I moved the beard trimmer stand and expected to see the usual fly buzzing around in circles on its back. But it ended up to be even cooler than that.

The fly was trapped in the web of a spider. The spider was only one third the fly's size. I love it when spiders catch flies. I don't know why, but I always let them build webs in my house so they can eat the flies.

I must have been feeling particularly morbid, perhaps just curious because I watched these two for quite a while. The fly's back legs were all tangled up in the web. The little spider would climb down to meet the spider face to face and start boxing its victim. The fly would box back and buzz its ebbing buzz. It was pretty amazing to see how fast their little arms could combat.

Then the spider would climb up, turn 180 degrees, revisit the spider and kick with the same speed at the fly's arms, so the spider wouldn't tire out, but the fly eventually would. This pattern continued until the spider was victorious. I would imagine this would have to be the tactic since the fly was so much bigger.

The spider wrapped up the fly a little more in the web, just in case it was just playing dead. I wish I would have had a magnifying glass for the rest of the action. The spider came belly to belly with the fly, and, to me, it looked like it embraced the fly and planted the long kiss goodnight on the fly's lips. There's a romantic moment for you!

I was hoping to see come carcass munching, but the spider wandered off after a while. Back to the web to spin some more.

Boy, if these things come in threes, I wonder what I'll find the next time I'm in the bathroom!

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