Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
It's not what your looking for, but if you have your eyes open it's what you find. Serendipity. Accidental and unplanned discovery of something of value.
I was just walking down the part at the Barataria Preserve of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park, just south of New Orleans. I was looking side to side and it wasn't until the very last second I spotted the spider web. I was able to slow my forward progress just enough to duck under and keep walking. But the image of spider sitting in the middle of his web had slipped into my brain unconsciously. I spun around and there he was. A big Banana Spider (Nephila clavipes), standing as king in his sinewy, barely-visible kingdom.
I shot a few shots. Bad lighting. Clouds and trees over head. But I managed a few acceptable photos.
Suddenly with lighting fast quickness, he pounced down his net and grabbed hold of some unsuspecting insect which had been stopped mid-flight by his web. Since he was up pretty high I had to look through the lens to get a better view. He had his mandibles wrapped around it's head. A butterfly was in his death grasp. The spider king stood motionless for about 10 seconds with his prey in a death trap.
Then he burst into activity. It took me a few seconds to figure out what he was doing -- he was wrapping his prey in a coat of spider web making sure it was completely disabled! He worked his long lanky legs so quickly and with such dexterity that it was hard to capture the action in the muted light.
When he was finished he held his meal with a thing string of web and began pulling up to the center of the web. There he lodged it off to the side and I could see there was a small insect already tied up there. Assured that his butterfly meal was secure, he reached down and grabbed the appetizer -- it appeared to be a fly -- and made quick feast of it.
But he held off on the main meal. Just left that sumptuous feast sitting there, waiting. I guess he needed to let the appetizer settle in his stomach for a while.
I shot a few shots of him sitting in the middle of his disheveled web -- filled with holes and twisted strands from his food fight. I guess he might of be thinking how much trouble it was going to be to rebuild the whole thing from scratch.
-- steve buser