A spider web under construction nature’s most amazing wonders.
On a recent road trip down the NSW coast I camped at beautiful Diamond Head in Crowdy Bay National Park. Arriving midafternoon, having set up my little tent in a peaceful, well-protected area, I went exploring and quickly discovered a secluded spot at the end of a narrow path. It was perched 4m or so above the beach, an opening in the otherwise dense shrub: a perfect observatory.
At dusk I wandered back there to get a final glimpse of the sea and the waves and a sense of the weather. Sitting down, taking in the scenery and serenity, right in front of my eyes a little spider appeared, not much bigger than a fly, seemingly suspended in thin air.
We looked at each other for a few seconds, then it kept going about its business, weaving a web to catch the feast of the night, no doubt. I watched in wonderment as the little spider kept going in wingless flight, first to the shrub on the left, then to the right and back again, a span of 4m or 5m.
Coming back a fourth time, I thought, “oh is one of this no, it’s falling”, as it suddenly dropped to the ground. But no, this was clearly part of the design; a third anchor point established, up and down it went a few times, temporarily stopping to brace itself for gusts of wind.
All three anchor points now secured, Pete, as I decided to call him, started the intricate task of creating the actual web. Mesmerised, I watched as Pete went around, not in circles as you would expect but following an intricate path with no pattern that a mere human could make sense of, no doubt following unwritten instructions passed down through generations.
Back and forth, up and down, retracing his steps, constantly checking joints and testing the strength of his web, all eight legs working in uni- son as he secreted many metres of what must be the most extraordinary rope made.
By the time Pete had finished, dusk was about to turn to night, I wished him bon appetit as I made my way back to the tent. At the other end I suddenly stopped: right in front of me was Pete’s (much) bigger brother, busy creating his own web, blocking my path. I stood there for a little while, but I had to get past and there was no other way, with the shrub impenetrable either side. Finally I got down on all fours and quickly crawled underneath, as low as I could, feeling slightly ridiculous but hoping not to undo any part of the web above.
As I stood up and looked back I was relieved to see that my movement hadn’t done any damage. I got back into my tent, zipped up, and hoped that Pete’s other friends and relatives had not found their way into my sleeping bag.
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