Wednesday, 29 August 2012

More spiders!

You don't realise just how many species of spiders are commonly found around you until you start looking and identifying them. My house and garden alone have now tallied over 10 species. Here are a few more...

Young Pisaura mirabilis

Pardosa amentata (one of the 'wolf' spiders)

Amaurobius similis
I'll be in British Columbia, Canada next week, so the blog will be a little quiet, although I'll post if I get the chance.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tranquillity is...

No birds of note other than 2 common sandpipers and a kingfisher this morning but the res looked beautiful...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bit of bird movement at last!

An early visit to Chard res this morning paid off with 2 nice black terns close to the hide before relocating to the east shore. They only stayed for an hour before disappearing but at least the local birders got to see them. Whilst looking for the terns, Andy Grinter had brief views of a pied flycatcher - a Chard res 1st no less! Although it never reappeared, Dave Helliar had a peregrine, sparrowhawk and a hobby hunting martins too, all good records for the res.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Birds at last!

Had a day off today and as soon as I heard that the wryneck at Cogden Beach had been seen again, I decided to try and get it as I missed one a few days ago just along the Fleet at West Bexington. This time I was lucky...


It showed quite well at times and allowed the opportunity of a quick photo.

Then back to Black Hole Marsh, Seaton on the way home to see the juvenile spotted redshank that's been there for the last couple of days, great bird - if only it had been a bit closer. This was by far my best shot.

Juv. spotted redshank

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

What to do on a showery day...

The weather today has been changeable to say the least. One minute the sun's out, the next it's raining so hard you can't see more than 50 metres away! After checking the res this morning and finding it pretty lifeless, I turned my attention to checking for spiders in the garden and hey presto, another new one for me! I love it when you start looking at something new, so many ticks to be had.

This is Steatoda bipunctata, pretty common and fairly unmistakeable. This one was sitting under an upturned flower pot.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Common sandpiper

They may be frequent on passage at Chard res but they are none-the-less lovely little waders. Over the past few weeks we have been lucky to get both green and common sandpipers wandering right up to and under the hide, at times too close to photograph.

Definitely one here to keep an eye out for!

Well, they are easier to photograph than birds and there are lots around at the moment so...

Enoplognatha ovata

Tegenaria species

...and this one, Steatoda nobilis - one of the few spiders in this country that will *bite if provoked. Sometimes called the False Widow. Found this one on the inside of the window frame!

* the following accounts are taken from the Natural History Museum's website:

Bite reports
The bite itself is not usually felt but, within a short space of time, a local burning sensation is followed by radiating pain ('far more severe than a bee or wasp sting', Warrell et al., 1991).
'Sudden onset of intense pain, radiating across thigh. Lasted 20 minutes with some swelling and a developing weal.'
'Bitten on left hand; within 3/4 hour developed swelling of palm including thumb and fingers with tingling in all fingers. Swelling on left side of face with tingling over face. Two small puncture wounds in the region of the swelling, surrounded by local erythema with small bluish tinge a few hours later.'
'Bite on arm (area red) immediate pain. Spread to chest - still stiff 48 hours later.'
'Burning sensation on the right side of ribs. Increased in intensity, like being scalded, stabbing pains spread first to armpit then down right arm. Also flu-like symptoms, aches, sweats, fatigue, perspiring, cold and shaky, sick and giddy (all in first 10 minutes). Face and right arm went purplish and slightly puffy. Bite mark raised with red area c. 5 or 6cm. After 1 hour, responded to Piriton but felt unwell for 3 days.'
'Bitten on the shoulder. Initially the top of my arm ached, then felt itchy. Ten minutes later my armpit became numb. The skin was hot and sticky and looked wrinkled. The tenderness and itchiness lasted for some days' (later said to be infected).
Frequency of bites
Increasing as the species spreads in the south and east of England.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Another monster!!

Ok, well not a monster exactly. In fact it's body length is only 6mm long but it looks pretty nasty! It is in fact a common spider called Zygiella x-notata. What a stunning thing it is too. Click on it and take a closer look.

If the weather improves this weekend as forecast, I might be able to stop taking photos of spiders in my house and get outside instead. Some scarce migrant birds would be nice...

Money spider mystery

Members of the Linyphiidae family of spiders are notoriously difficult to identify without the aid of a microscope and even then they can be tricky! This one was no more than 3mm long (from body tip to tip) but was an amazing little thing to observe. No, I've no idea which one this is...

...answers on a postcard please.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Wader Fest!

Any wader at Chard res is going to be pretty good (for the res) and today there has been a minor 'fall'. I visited early this morning and had very little indeed, just a single green sandpiper and two common sands but by late morning it was a different story... a couple of juvenile black-tailed godwits (only about the eighth record for the res) had appeared rapidly followed by two greenshank! The greenshank remained distant but the godwits came to about 80ft away.

Black-tailed godwits

Black-tailed godwits

One of the two greenshank


Apologies for the quality of the video - particularly the greenshank, as it was quite distant.

What next...curlew sandpiper anyone..?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Little gem

Chard res was pretty quiet this morning. Seven common sandpipers and a pair of kingfishers that came and sat above me on the hide roof before flitting down to the nearby perch.

Kingfisher, male

Looking at his mate who was still on the roof above me.

Monday, 13 August 2012

You wouldn't want to bump into this...

Spent ages watching this Salticus scenicus yesterday afternoon on the wall of my house. You really wouldn't want to meet this fella down a dark alley would you? The eyesight on these spiders is very good (four large, forward facing eyes) and they use it to hunt, jumping on their prey as they get close enough. They will also tilt their head to look at you as you approach - fearsome looking thing if you're a small insect.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Great White Wonders...

After a single (first record) in 2008, Dave Helliar found not one but two Great White Egrets on Chard Res. on Friday night. They were only there for a short time at dusk and not seen again but I managed a record shot..

Late yesterday we recorded at least 9 green sandpipers and 5 common (a record green sandpiper count for the res.) Today, yet another scarce visitor in the shape of a ringed plover on the mud in the southwest corner this morning - very distant again but a record shot all the same:

Let's hope the pattern continues - wood sand or curlew sand would be good next.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sandpipers on the move...

A visit to Chard Res yesterday morning showed that waders are on the move and now that there's mud, they can stop off at the res instead of flying straight down to the coast. There were seven common sandpipers and a green sandpiper in the south-east corner and they eventually made there way towards the bird hide. Thankfully it was early and the legions of mothers, kids and pushchairs hadn't disturbed everything yet...

Juvenile Common sandpiper

Juvenile Common sandpiper

Juvenile Green sandpiper

Juvenile Green sandpiper

Juvenile Green sandpiper

Juvenile Green sandpiper

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Terns start to arrive...

Last night saw our first Common Tern through Chard Res since the Spring. Now that the water level has started to drop it's looking more attractive to waders too:

Common tern

Green sandpipers

Distant green sandpiper

Chard res looked great in the evening sun yesterday too

Zebra Spider

I just had to take another photo of this Salticus scenicus. These little hunting spiders are diurnal with extremely good eyesight. They will jump their victims when they get too close - just as this one has.