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Society Adventures: Spider Safari

For those of us who are a touch arachnophobic, this Obscura Society outing was more like a double dog dare than a field trip.

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Out on the spider safari (all photographs by the author)

We spent the morning at the Martin Griffith Preserve in West Marin, California, learning all about arachnids, and then intentionally seeking out spiders and their webs in the Audubon Canyon Ranch.

Set on a thousand acres of former dairy ranch land, the Audubon Canyon Ranch is a dedicated wildlife sanctuary rich in birds and native plants, and, as it turns out: giant orb-weaving spiders.

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We started the day with a little learning: Spider anatomy, spider sounds, spider molting, and finally spider sex. We also got to see an amazing video of the tiny jumping spider’s throaty mating song.

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After our lesson we headed into the hills and valleys of the preserve to see what we could find.

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Looking for trap door spiders in the cliff wall.

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Spiders in the grass

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Up close with an orb-weaver

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Once we started seeing orb weaver webs, we saw them everywhere

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Looking closely

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This little guy is the one with the sexy singing voice.

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Learning how to identify some of the spiders found in the Redwoods.

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This triangle spider acts as a part of her web, holding the top bit with her legs, so that she can drop the web like a trap on any tasty morsels that stumble by.

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A final web spotted, high on a redwood, with the sun lighting its silk.

Thank you to the Audubon Canyon Ranch (4900 Shoreline Highway One, between the towns of Stinson Beach and Bolinas, California) for generously hosting us and sharing their spidery expertise. Although our special spider safari was set up just for us, they do run a regular program of public events. Details here.

All photos by the author.


 

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The Obscura Society is the real-world exploration arm of Atlas Obscura We seek out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities for our community to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Join us on our next adventure!

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