Spooky

Today is October 31 and it may well be known as Halloween to you. I went to Wikipedia to learn a bit about the history of this day. The word derives from the Scottish All Hallows’ Eve and stands for the evening before All Hallows’ day (also known as All Saints’ day), which is tomorrow on November 1. The term Halloween probably first appeared in 1745 and the traditions around this day are believed to have their origins in the ancient Celtic culture. These days it is famous, I think, for how the people in the USA go about it.

Halloween had no tradition in Switzerland until recently.
What about the place you live, is Halloween celebrated there?
Do you celebrate Halloween?
As with many things that are popular in the US, Halloween eventually landed here. The only thing I know about it, is, that all spooky things are used to decorate homes and make themed costumes with. And that children (and adults?) go around the neighborhood to collect sweets or scare the hell out of people ;-).

So, I thought to check my photo archive to find some spooky images for you, made by nature of course. Are you ready?

Spiders! Do they give you a shiver?
As a zoologist I am not really afraid of any animal and actually love to look at them very closely as I am so intrigued by the beauty one can especially find in the details of these delicate creatures and their body physique.

As a child, however, I once found my autumn collection of chestnuts I kept in a plastic bag in my room infested with thousands of insects (can’t exactly remember what they were). I screamed when I looked into the bag and felt a shiver running all over my body. Understandably, I did not really fancy an aggregation of insects in an enclosed environment after that and never collected natural things in a plastic bag anymore.
By the time I started to study biology, this experience was luckily long gone and insects now spark magic for me.

When living in Sydney Olympic Park some years ago, there was a time of the year when the Golden Orb spider – see the two closeup pics of them top right, one from above and one from underneath – literally built a spider alley. As you see above, they were very many and together their webs could spread for several meters…. also crossing the pathway from your knee upwards. This was especially spooky when one had to ride a bike through it early in the morning on the way to work. Going slow and head down and still not being sure what you ride into or how many spiders you gonna catch. Spine-chilling, indeed.

daniela, muehlheim, danielamühlheim, ladybird, exploring, earth, abundance, spooky, halloween, animal, spider
This image is from a mokoro trip in the Okavango Delta. We were accompanied by a couple in their fifties from New York and it seemed they never saw a spider before (!!), let alone a web like this. Approximately 3 meters wide and 1.5 m high. They were scared to death not by hippos, that can become deadly here, but by harmless spiders and their silk…

A garden spider having a feast on a gnat (Schnake auf Deutsch). That must correspond to an American T-bone steak for us ;0).

Enough of spiders. Let’s move to some other animals that might frighten you. The below animal is a boreal owl. They are active at night and may be scary with their angry bird look and their big yellow ring in the eyes. What’s more, they can turn their heads for almost 180 degrees in both directions and you sometimes loose orientation of what is front and back. Unfortunately, they have become very rare here and you are rather lucky to ever see one. I was truly fortunate when visiting a bird ringing station, where my hubby volunteered.

After the cuteness alert break ;0) here is to one of the favourite animals used for Halloween themes.

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Thousands of fruit bats in a bat cave in Uganda

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How do you like that for Halloween? Spooky enough? :0)

Well, to visit a bat cave is quite memorable. First of all, the stench is hardly bearable. Imagine how much poo lies on the bottom of this cave. We talk of thousands of bats spending the day here. Their excrement is deep and that is all you want to know. I think people had to walk in it in Mexico to produce a BBC documentary on bats. There is hardly anything more nauseating. Also, it is really hazardous for your health as bacteria and viruses find the best of conditions here.
Second, the noise with high-pitched sounds needs getting used to. Talking to each other is impossible. Take it all in and off you go to share what unbelievable spectacle you just witnessed with all your senses.

daniela, muehlheim, danielamühlheim, ladybird, exploring, earth, abundance, spooky, halloween, animal, bat
The sheer amount of bats in this cave in Uganda is mind-boggling and a natural wonder.

You probably already guessed it, I am a fan of bats. I watched them in much smaller gatherings in eucalyptus trees in Australia and was delighted. They are like a big mouse with wings and I am always also joyful when I see one flying in front of our kitchen window here in Switzerland. The species here are way smaller and you see them one by one, so no Halloween effect really. Have you seen bats somewhere? Let me know about it in the comments.

daniela, muehlheim, danielamühlheim, ladybird, exploring, earth, abundance, spooky, halloween, animal, bat
This is the same image but in black and white. Do you find it more spooky?

I hope you are now also a bit fascinated about the animals so many people find scary and spooky.

Trick or treat? Süsses oder Saures?

Happy Halloween!

Daniela

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