It's only forever, it's not long at all...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 30 December 2019 07:52

Yesterday afternoon I went to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's Pasturefields Saltmarsh (I didn't fancy heading north due to fog forecast for Leek - I will go to Knotbury Common today instead). This place is less than seven miles from where I grew up. The spiders were not great though, I was hoping for Oedothorax agrestis but it didn't pay off. It was getting darkish about 2.30 pm and I thought to myself, "It looks good for Barn Owls". I turned around and there was one! I immediately started playing this in my head which I do every time I see a Barn Owl hunting..

This is such an odd place, the dead stems of Sea Arrow-grass and Sea Plantain can still be seen but Cannock Chase is visible on the horizon!

Here is the blurb on the noticeboard. I can't figure out what Saltmarsh Rue is though? It's not a standard name. I didn't see it whatever it was. 

One of the best things about this trip has been going to places like this that I have known about for years but never been to. Despite birding all the larger water bodies when I was a kid, I had never been to Aqualate Mere. Right on the border with Shropshire this huge natural lake was full of wildlfowl. Masses of Coots, Tufties and Pochard it was quite a sight. I was talking about spiders in the hide when a money spider crawled across the sightings book. I told the chap that many of them are actually doable in the field if you know what to look for and showed him with a hand lens that this one was indeed identifiable. It was a male Savignia frontata with it's 'penis-like' head extension. I think he was quite surprised.

Of course I couldn't resist a wee bit of spider recording in some sedge litter by the car park and found two lifers in the hour I was there! Hilaira excisa (new 10 km square record) and Oryphantes angulatus putting me on 389 species of spider for the year. This latter was something of a surprise as it's a very northern species but is known from the site from 25 years ago at its most southerly UK site. Two days to go and off to Knotbury Common today. I am loving this but equally I will be glad when it is over. I have decided that I will NOT be year listing Heteroptera in 2020, I am having a year off and will do that in 2021.

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