Sunday, 14 August 2011

Along came the spider.

The Ladybird Spider (LS) was for many years thought to be extinct in the UK, but in the 1980's a colony was discovered still clinging on. It is a truly amazing creature not only because of its bright red body and four black spots giving rise to its name of LS, but also because it is a creature which leads a fascinating life, not least because they spend most of the time underground where they create silk canopies decorated with the remains of other spiders, ants, and beetles they have previously eaten.

Today conservationists are giving the LS a helping hand by releasing some into one of the most diverse insect and spider habitats in the country at Arne RSPB Reserve in Dorset. These creatures will be yet another addition to a reserve which already plays host to a number of rare insect and spider species which includes....

Silver-studded Blue. Steven Cheshire

The threatened Silver-studded Blue butterfly, and....

Roesel's Bush cricket
Roesel's Bush Cricket. Nick Gadenne 

The Roesel's Bush Cricket which was only discovered at Arne last year, it is quite rare and formerly found only in coastal areas of the south east.

The most interesting and intriguing aspect of all this is the method being used to transfer the LS's which is in empty plastic mineral water bottles, they are apparently the right shape and size for the spiders to make their nests in, they were captured in the heather and moss filled bottles, and having settled in and made their webs, they will be buried in holes in the ground at their new home at Arne.

Being the heathland specialist it is, the LS - along with birds like the Dartford Warbler and Nightjar - has suffered over the years from the loss of its heathland habitat through destruction. More than 90% of lowland heathland has been lost to such things as commercial forestry, development, and agriculture.

So....lots of fingers crossed at this project and the attempt to save the LS.

Last week will go down in my book as the worst for some time and for one reason or another I've done no birding since the exceptionally good and rewarding day I had last Tuesday in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area in Bowland. I have a feeling if I continue to have these spells of no birding - five days now - and follow the trend of non-bird related posts, there's going to be the need to change the title of Birds2blog to maybe....Wildlife2blog!!

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I'm not one for spiders Pete :-) but i'll make an exception for that one!