Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 31 comments

When I went to Great Hills Park on the morning of March 17th I found many little patches of ground blanketed with drizzle-bejeweled spiderwebs like the ones you saw last time surrounding a straggler daisy. Some of the webs had a noticeably dark funnel, and in one of those I glimpsed a spider waiting deep inside. After I knelt and got close with my camera to take pictures, the vibration from one of my movements prompted the spider to rush out toward what it incorrectly took to be prey, startling me in the process (things are magnified when you look through a macro lens). Fortunately the spider stayed outside the funnel long enough for me to make several portraits of it. I later learned from the BugGuide.net folks that this funnel weaver spider is in the genus Agelenopsis, whose members are called grass spiders.

Two days before my outing in Great Hills Park, Dale and Pat Bulla had alerted me to the National Wildlife Week Photo Contest being held by Austin Parks and Wildlife. I entered this photograph and it ended up winning first place. The picture will appear in the April issue of the Austin Treebune.

Funnel Web Spider in Spiderweb with Drizzle Drops 8222

If you’d like a closer view of this Agelenopsis spider, click the excerpt below.

Funnel Web Spider in Spiderweb with Drizzle Drops 8222 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2016 at 4:54 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Beautiful shot and, congratulations on your success. The dew worked well to reveal the web. An interesting effect.

    Pairodox Farm

    March 31, 2016 at 5:48 AM

    • Thanks, D. I’m tempted to say that in large part the success of this picture is due to the dew, only it was drizzle and not dew to which the success is due.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2016 at 6:06 AM

  2. Congratulations on first place, Steve. It’s certainly well deserved. What a gorgeous shot. The web looks like sparkling jewels or an ice-crusted funnel. I would have been thrilled to have taken this shot.


    March 31, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    • Given the warm climate here, Jane, I went with the notion of sparkling jewels rather than an ice-crusted funnel. I don’t believe I’d ever before gotten a spider picture like this, and I probably won’t ever again, so I’m grateful that the opportunity was vouchsafed me. (Similarly, I’m not sure I’ve ever used the word vouchsafed till now, so I thought I’d better get it in while the getting is good.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2016 at 6:42 AM

  3. This is a worthy winner, indeed. Congratulations! And isn’t it fun to think of this spider’s fancy web-world being shared on the world-wide web? I did laugh at the clever name, “Treebune.” Clearly, their judges know good photography when they see it.

    I just signed up for BugGuide.net, myself. I met the most unusual spider I’ve ever seen on my last outing: an orb weaver I hope they can help me identify. Believe me — the difficulty I had getting that spider in focus makes me appreciate photos like this one even more.


    March 31, 2016 at 7:41 AM

    • Thanks, Linda. My timing was good, both in venturing out on that wet morning and in having been alerted to the current contest.

      I’m always grateful for the help I get from BugGuide, and it usually comes pretty quickly. I hope you get your unusual orb weaver identified soon.

      I wish I could’ve gotten all the droplets in as good a focus as the key parts of the spider, but that was way beyond the limits of my len’s optics at such close range.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2016 at 8:09 AM

  4. Awesome! Congratulations on first place! You’re the best!


    March 31, 2016 at 7:41 AM

  5. Congratulations Steve! Great capture! 🙂


    March 31, 2016 at 9:36 AM

  6. Kudos for your first place prize, Steve! Well-deserved! Beautiful shot!

    David Moll

    March 31, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    • Thanks, David. I’m fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to take this picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2016 at 12:38 PM

  7. Couldn’t help but come by to leave my two cents. Could use some spideys right now for all the black fly midges. I’m MISERABLE outside right now.

    PS – I can’t think of a better subject for first place than one of my 8-legged friends! I personally think all your photos are 1st place material. Congrats, Steve.


    March 31, 2016 at 6:51 PM

    • Thanks, Shannon. I thought of you when I posted this picture, knowing how much you like these eight-legged critters.

      I was miserable outdoors here today, not from black fly midges but from high levels of pollen. Oh, the occupational hazards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 31, 2016 at 10:04 PM

      • Aw, so nice to know the crazy bug lady was on your frontal cortex! And I’m glad that BugGuide is being used…they are amazing for ID. The eight-leggers I hate most are the CHIGGERS, but the black flies are unrelenting here too. There’s nothing that keeps them off me save a net over my head.

        Here’s an allergy post that may give you some relief for pollen. It really does work, particularly for people (like you and me) that spend time a lot of time outdoors. It’s been 8 years since I took an anti-histamine!! (http://wp.me/p28k6D-dz)


        April 1, 2016 at 1:27 PM

        • Thanks for the tip. I went ahead and ordered some.

          As for chiggers, they’re my worst problem too. I’ve been thankful that they haven’t been out in force yet this year, but that’s bound to change very soon, alas, especially as we’ve had rain today.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 1, 2016 at 1:52 PM

  8. Glorious portrait, Steve–how magical. I’ve seldom seen a web so saturated with drizzle–it must have been a very fine mist. Lucky that you happened to tickle its web at just the right time. Sometimes they can be enticed to come out more in the open with a delicate touch on the web’s edge with a slender blade of grass.


    April 2, 2016 at 12:04 AM

    • Ah, it sounds like you’ve had experience with these guys, Gary. You’re correct about the fine drizzle we’d had; it was enough to make the web magical but not enough to turn the surround ground to mud.

      The first word in your comment brought to mind (my mind, at any rate) the beginning of the famous speech from Richard III, which I now see has some unintended similarities to the situation with the spider:

      Now is the winter of our discontent
      Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
      And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
      In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2016 at 7:51 AM

  9. He does look like he is expecting dinner to be waiting! Congratulations on the prize .. Well deserved


    April 2, 2016 at 2:12 PM

  10. Congratulations on your selection for first place. I’ve had a few spiders loom large in the macro lens, but nothing to worry about as long as it’s the whole spider you see and not just one of the eyes.

    Steve Gingold

    April 2, 2016 at 6:11 PM

    • Thanks, Steve. I’ve occasionally been able to get a much closer view of a spider, but in this case the dense drizzle drops on the web were a key part of the picture’s appeal. The enlargement of the center does offer a closer and more-detailed view, though it comes at the expense of the jewelry.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2016 at 10:17 PM

  11. Simply spectacularly splendid spider & spiderweb! What a magical find. Congratulations on the win, too! Well deserved indeed. 😀


    April 4, 2016 at 12:18 PM

  12. […] followed up the recent consecutive posts showing drizzle drops around a straggler daisy and then around a funnel web spider, you might have thought I’d been dropped on my head. Now at a decent distance in time from […]

  13. Well done Steve. I can see why this was a winner and the close up is magnificently magnified! I’d get a scare if I saw that in front of my eyes. Are these spiders deadly like the Australian funnel-web spiders? I see they are a different group (Hexathelidae).


    April 14, 2016 at 6:04 AM

    • Thanks, Jude. I like your alliterative “magnificently magnified”. The closeup makes the spider look larger than it is in life. These funnel web spiders are pretty common here, yet I’ve never seen any source refer to them as venomous, so I assume they’re not. The two local spiders that are often mentioned as being venomous are the black widow and the brown recluse.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2016 at 7:05 AM

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