Rare spider with comedy face on abdomen

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 20 April 2017 18:33

Last year I beat two immature Philodromus of the low branches of a pine tree at Graffham Common. I was convinced then that it was the Lichen Running-spider Philodromus margaritatus. However, I couldn't be sure. I started an invertebrate survey there today and found this immature female on the same branch! And nowhere else on the site. Now this is a BAP species (Nb) but with very few records. Check out the BAS page on the species here. It has only two records in Sussex both from Lavington (very close to Graffham) in 1979 and 1984. It's not been seen since in the county and this means it's a new species for any Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve. 

Although it's not adult and I can't be 100% sure it's that species, I really can't see what else it is. I'll go and look for it again next month but who really cares when it has such a cute face on its abdomen?

Goodbye Nikon Coolpix 4500, hello Olympus TG-4

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 7 April 2017 16:39

I've finally got a new camera! And I don't mean a fourth Coolpix. I only heard about the Olympus TG-4 about three weeks ago and have been counting down the days until the next tax year to get one. It's insanely good and easy in macro function, check out the awesome Horsetail Weevil Grypus equiseti which I found in a pile of litter at Waltham Brooks yesterday. This is the first record in Sussex since 1985.

Also yesterday was Philorhizus sigma, this being only the 2nd site for this (outside of Amberley next door) for this Na carabid.

This is the very cool Prasocuris phellandrii, which was all over one compartment yesterday. I've only seen this once before at Pevensey Marshes.

And here is a comparison between the normal macro and the photo stacking functions. Gotta learn my way around it but I'm pretty pleased with half an hour messing around in the garden.

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 3 April 2017 21:41

So Evan Jones has been to the exact spot and found a number of what must be Pardosa paludicola. There must be quite a population established there that are thriving under the pulsed grazing regime. I'm going to keep this brief and just use this post to show off Evan's shots of this impressive spider. What a beast!

When the Mouse ate the Wolf

Posted by Graeme Lyons 09:42

Last week we started a new invertebrate survey of our Butcherlands site, part of the wider Ebernoe reserve. This is an interesting project with a heavy 'rewilding' approach. The grazing is pulsed and has been mostly carried out over the winter months over the last three years with cattle, no other management currently occurs. In some places, the cattle were still on, so there was little to sweep and nothing to beat. Mostly we were looking at blackthorn and sallow blossom.

The site is a complex of fields on Wealden clay with thick hedgerows. Some sixteen years ago it was all arable. Hilland is the field that often throws up the most surprises. It has the nationally scarce specialist heathland spider Evarcha arcuata which I have only ever seen on heathlands before. It has Wild Service Tree naturally regenerating in the open. We had literally turned the clock on when I spotted what looked like a black Trochosa (a large wolf spider) so I took the specimen. It wasn't until I got home that I realised it was a mature female Pardosa paludicola. This RDB3 species is genuinely rare having not been seen in the UK since 2004. I must admit I hadn't even heard of it. I was working late at this point, maybe 9.00 pm and fortunately managed a record shot of the distinctive epigyne above. Exhausted, I went to bed and left the spider under my microscope.

When I went to look at it a few days later and put it in alcohol, I found the specimen had gone. Several legs were still there. In the middle of these legs was a tiny poo. Now I did see a mouse in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago but I wasn't expecting that! The little bugger kept me awake all last night too rooting around in my bin.

Anyway, it would seem that the exact habitat requirements of this species are not clear. It was last seen in Sussex in at Plaistow (date unknown - the record is not with SxBRC but is mentioned on the BAS wesbite), which as the crow flies is only around two miles from where I found it. And this being only one of seven sites it has ever been recorded at. What a great find for what was just arable fields several years ago. Who needs to introduce wolves when we already have them running through our grasslands? I look forward to seeing what else we find this summer...

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