Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Doe and Her Fawn

About 50 yards from my front porch I watched a doe and her fawn slowly creep from the wooded area that borders our camp and feed cautiously in the hayfield. Every so often the fawn would hop as if to play. They walked slowly and ever so often the doe would look my direction, keeping a close eye on me, lifting her flag at times causing the fawn to freeze. Normally the mother feeds alone and leaves her fawn well hidden in thick vegetation. The fawn will lay in the "camoflauge position" with its legs tucked and its body stretched out with its head and neck laid flat on the ground blending in with the leaf litter. The mother will return at intervals to nurse it. I guess as they get older they will accompany their mothers to feed. Fawns are usually weaned at about six weeks, but this one apparently wasn't as it ran up to the mother and began nursing. Click on photo to enlarge.

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Seeing Double

A stiff breeze cuts low across the hayfield as I march towards the pineywoods. There on one thick waving strand of hay I see something. Hanging midways up the strand is what appears to be two pretty good sized wolf spiders, both suspended motionless except for when the breeze touches them. I kneel down for a closer look only to find that it's not two spiders,but one. The other "spider" was nothing more than the molted skin of the exact replica.

Spiders have no inner skeletons, but instead have what is known as an exoskeleton or outer skeleton. They molt or shed (ecdysis) this exoskeleton as they grow doing this up to a dozen times before they reach maturity. The shed exoskeleton is replaced by a fresh one which in the beginning is soft and takes awhile to harden. The spider must remain still during this time which makes it vulnerable to both predators and the elements. To watch a tarantula molt go here.

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