Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Walk on the Wild Side

We traveled more than 40 miles on Sunday (the power of that diesel generator to extend our range!)

Plugging in for a "power stop" at Rome.
From the wall outside Lock 20, east of Utica, we cruised to Rome, where we took a break while Cap changed the oil.

Then on through two more locks and out into Oneida Lake (pretty big water—20 miles end to end.) We had fair seas and a following wind all the way.

We were a mile from the public dock in Brewerton. And it was just turning dark. Of course, just after dark is when spiders emerge to start their evening web spinning.

Spiders of Unusual Size

By this point in the summer, the teeny tiny cute little spiders that ballooned in on silk threads, back at the start of the trip, have now, through dint of excellent bug catching, become Spiders of Unusual Size.

I'm voting for fewer spiders and more of these . . . 
 Fat. Black. Long legged. Well, I'll spare you more details. Or a picture.

As I tried to keep a firm hand on the tiller, they started dropping off the edge of the stern canopy, all around me. 

Like evil Christmas ornaments. Animated ornaments.

Do not look up, I reminded myself. Do not look to right or left. Must. Just. Drive. Boat.

A Butterfly with Good Taste in Men

I repeat: Why can't the boat be infested with
THESE instead of spiders?
On Sunday afternoon I heard the "ding" again. Came on deck to see Cap sporting a tattoo on his leg. On closer examination it was a butterfly!

This was a "comma" butterfly, also known as an angelwing. With its wings folded it looks like a dead leaf. Unfolded it looks like a small monarch.

Maybe it should be named the "calm" butterfly, not the "comma." Bill touched it gently, and it amiably crawled onto his hand.

There it proceeded to sit for a good half hour, probing his fingers with its slender coiled proboscis.

Turns out, this particular butterfly species prefers tree sap and salt to effete meals of sweet flower nectar. No wonder she liked Cap--he's an Old Salt, right?

An Osprey with an Appetite

Didn't get a picture of the osprey, so let me distract you with
this juvenile bald eagle!
Most of our wildlife encounters this week have been more benevolent or amusing. On Saturday, I was inside and heard the stern bell ding. Our prearranged signal means, "It's not an emergency, but come out and see this!"

Bill pointed out an osprey who was acting like a gull, sitting in the water. "She plunged in," he said. "But then she didn't lift off."

She flapped her wings hard, trying to fly. Was she caught on fishing line? Water weeds? Had she accidentally plunged her talons into a decaying log?

She tried again. On the third try, she made a supreme effort, and her legs emerged, with talons firmly hooked into a Carp of Unusual Size. Waaaaay too big for an osprey. She flapped, the fish flapped, showing its white belly . . . and splash, it fell back into the water.

She flew straight up then circled, giving little shivers, like a dog shaking off water after a bath.

Was she a young bird who didn't know the fish was too big? Or a big, experienced huntress who figured she could take it? We'll always wonder.

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