Creepy Crawlies and Slitherers

Orb Weaver
Hi All,
I thought a post telling of the trials and tribulations of bird and butterfly watching in the jungle might be entertaining for you guys. I will start with an email I got from a fellow sailor/naturalist friend who I go out with quite often.  It's nice not going alone all the time.  She is more interested in butterflies than birds, but I have sort of rubbed off on her and she is now seriously infected with the birding virus.  She just doesn't know she has it yet.  Since the Jedi crew left us their car, Glyn and I have made few trips to the Chargres River and our favorite track.  It's a dirt road that goes from the paved, San Lorenzo road to a fishing dock on the river.  I am calling it 'Slasher Lane' now because of a stabbing that took place there a few months ago.  I met the sailor who was attacked and he showed me his scars. Ouch!
So the other night I get this email from Glyn:
Hi Sue
Thanks for the Id on the birds. Remember those ants, well my foot is attacked by mosquitoes, wasp, ticks and ants and a close encounter with a spider!!!! This is dangerous hard work.
Now, normally, one wouldn't laugh at such a note, but having birded in the tropics for years, I laughed out loud. It's so true!  Before you think I'm a sadist, let me just say that I did warn her when we came upon the army ant swarm. I told her to be careful and watch where she stepped because the birds we were watching were there because the army ants were there.  I have had them crawl up my legs and bite before and it's not fun. Yeah, yeah, yeah. She blew me off as though I were nagging and proceeded to edge closer into the edge of the understory, crouching as she tried to get a close-up of a fasciated antshrike. It wasn't long before the ants found her.  Of course now she says it's MY fault for getting her interested in photographing birds.

When we go on some of the overgrown truck trails, we usually get a stick and wave it around in front of us to knock down any spiderwebs that might be stretched across the path. Usually these webs belong to Golden Orb spiders--aka--giant wood spiders. They are big and creepy and everytime I feel a web, I just know a 6 inch spider is on me. I usually pick up a fairly long dried out twig about the diameter of my baby finger.  Glyn picks up a club!  Once, she was leading the way and as she was waving the branch around it made me think of those religious processions where someone waves a lantern of smoking incense and  I chanted in my best gregorian voice, "My father can beat your father in dom-in-noes".
Spiny Orb Weaver
Golden Orb
Another type of Spiny Orb Weaver 
I don't see snakes too often.  In fact, I don't see them enough. I don't want to step on a Fer-de-Lance or a Bushmaster, but if their not dangerous, I quite like snakes.
I had two people respond to my request to ID this snake. One is a BirdForum member with an obvious knowledge of snakes and the other, John Murphy, is a snake specialist who was in the field when I emailed. He was without his library and needed to make a scale count, but off the cuff he said the same thing the BF member did:
Liophis epinephalus (not venomous)
Here is a  link to John Muphy's excellent 'Serpent Research' blog:

Green Vine Snake

Here's an amusing link Glyn sent that I think describes our backyard pretty well:

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