The Lizard King

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 10 December 2019 17:31

I left the gang in Devon and headed to Cornwall for some spidering action with Tylan on his patch. We headed down to Kynance Cove on the Lizard, I have never been there before. I think the first hour that we spent on the cliffs at Kynance Cove was the highlight of the weekend. We were threatened by a horrendous on shore wind but storm cells that just kept missing us, the wind was battering the coast, you could feel the vibrations at the top of the cliffs! So despite hellish weather all around us, we remained dry. And best of all the spiders lined up to throw themselves at us. Five national rarities in an hour and four of them were lifers for me!

First up Gnaphosa occidentalis. I was really gutted I couldn't get down in the summer but this sub adult male was absolutely stunning. Really solid and tarantula-like with such a chocolatey abdomen. This is one handsome spider. Found under scattered stones on the grassy cliffs.

Then Tylan suggested looking at the cliffs themselves for Segestria bavarica. I found a lightning fast immature that disappeared in a crack. Then on the next rock I lifted up this amazing mature female. This all happened in the space of about ten minutes. This was a really big spider, there are no records for adult females on the recording scheme for December.

It took a little longer to find Clubiona genevensis (but not much longer). A fairly small Clubiona under stones, all these species were in a few metres of each other.

Then we got the suction sampler out in the same area and on the third go I got Tylan a rather special lifer. Agroeca cuprea! An adult male and the first record for Cornwall in 51 years! Soon after this we got a young female Euophrys herbigrada that we think is doable even at this stage. I must admit if Tylan had not found them on the site I would not be ticking this species but it certainly looked good to us both. It's much hairier, greyer and with thick white and black hairs that are more in stripes. It's darker with paler stripes rather than paler with a grid of darker markings as in frontalis. We recorded Hypsosinga sanguinea new to Cornwall and picked up another Dipoena inornata.

We carried on looking for linys but nothing exciting came out of the specimens. I found this odd plant in ericaceous tussocks which, with a little help from Mark Gurney, I realised I had stumbled on Hairy Greenweed! A lifer!

And another lifer but one I was expecting, Cornish Heath at long last! I also learnt that although Black Bog-rush forms an impressive tussock, it is very solid and does not accumulate too much plant litter. As such it is an inferior tussock compared to the likes or Purple Moor-grass and Greater Tussock-sedge.

I can't thank Tylan enough for this day, it was a really magic day in the field. Now there is one final write up. Tylan and family were kind enough to let me crash on Sunday night and on Monday we headed to the woods. The whole weekend is looking like a species list of over 80 species! As of today, I am only TWO species behind Matt on 367 species for the year. There are 21 days left in 2019 and it's getting very close...

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