A lifetime's supply of Scotina

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 14 December 2019 18:58

I decided to do something completely different today so went to a site I haven't been to in over ten years; Kingley Vale. My target was Hyptiotes paradoxus. It must be easily identifiable as a spiderling but I couldn't find one. I got bored of looking on the Yew trees and went to the chalk-grassland and then things started to get interesting having only seen common species and Nigma puella up to that point.

I had a go with the suction sampler on this big south facing chalk slope and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw an adult male Scotina. Now on my birthday this year I picked up a female Scotina palliardii from sieving moss at Levin Down. This being a Nationally Rare and Endangered species. Knowing this is the most likely species in mid on chalk (and after a quick Google, December too) I got quite excited. Then I recorded another 15!!! More than ten were adults and this was all with six goes on the sampler and about four sessions of sieving moss. I can't quite believe it but in hindsight this was the commonest larger spider in the samples. It's also more Scotina (off all three species) than I have seen before which is awesome as it is by far the rarest one.

It seems that the place where most of these spiders were present is on these little blow outs, that seem to be caused by livestock/rabbits. There is a overhand of moss (Hypnum lacunosum) and they seem to like that but I also sieved them from Pseudosceleropodium purum further down the slope.

So this is actually not a year tick for me but is possibly one of the finds of the year. It is in the same 10 km square as Levin Down so not a new dot on the map but clearly an extremely healthy population as I only ever found the one at Levin. I did get one new species for me, a lifer in the form of Drassyllus praeficus which has no records on the scheme but there is a record in 1984 from Heyshott Escarpment (nationally scarce also) and readily identifiable as a sub-adult. This puts me one behind Matt on 368 species and is my 250th larger spider of the year.

Also present was an adult female Cercida prominens.

Hypsosinga albovittata

Also present was a new 10 km square for Panamomops sulcifrons. Yet the photo that I was most pleased with was this young male Diaea dorsata.

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