Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Smurf Spider

Another fungus foray but I forgot my camera so have a look at Graeme's blog to see what we found. In the evening we went looking for the Plumed Prominent moth on the Sussex Downs. Anything that flies in November is going to be tricky and I've only seen this species once in about ten attempts.

The plus side is that it tends to fly by about 7.30pm so you don't have to stay up all night. The temperature dropped quickly at dusk and we didn't hold out much hope of seeing any Plumed Prominents so as usual we took to looking for other things. There's an old lime kiln at the site and we usually see a bat on the 'ceiling' but we've never managed to identify it. The first time we looked there was a group of hibernating Herald moths so it seemed unlikely that there would be any bats this year.

 However when we looked later there were two bats sat a couple of feet from the moths. This time I managed to get a photo which proved sufficiently good for a bat boffin to identify them as Natterer's.

There aren't any obvious crevices in the lime kiln so it's a mystery where they were hiding earlier. It was great to see a new bat but the species of the evening was the spider Cyclosa conica with it's bizarre abdomen. According to Wikipedia it has no English name - until now; it is undoubtedly the Smurf Spider!

A few days later and I planned on going to another fungus foray but I got delayed in traffic so would have missed the start and so I diverted into Liss to have a look for a new fern for me, the excellently named Rustyback. As it was growing on someone's garden wall I only snapped one quick image and didn't think about getting a picture showing the dense scales on the underside that give it it's name.

I then went down to the coast at Emsworth to look for the Sea Slater; Britain's biggest woodlouse. I'd only ever seen this species dead and despite turning over loads of rocks on the beach, that remains the position. All I could find were Shore Crabs.

The weather that day was sunny and once out of the wind it was warm enough for Red Admiral and Ruddy Darter to be basking - probably my last butterfly and dragonfly of the year.

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