Sunday, 10 August 2008

A Weekend of Surprises

It was no surprise that most of the Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns have moved on, although the flock has been swollen by many more Black-Headed Gulls - about 300 yesterday.
And no surprise that disturbance over the weekend has moved them all on.

But the various strolls over the two days did produce some surprises - on the rifle range there were large numbers of newly-emerged Common Blues, looking fresh and bright. I'd estimate that there are at least 100 in the area by the gate, more than I've seen together before.

The next surprise may shock some - it' a scary sight. While photographing a blue, I noticed this large Wasp Spider, on her web in the grass. It's another newcomer that's expanding its range at temperatures rise. If you don't know this spider it's worth reading about it here. As usual the male pays for his pleasure.
The zigzag part of the web is called a stabilimentum apparently.
A couple of feet away I then found another web with a similar but smaller Wasp Spider. I had presumed it was a male, but they are even smaller and without the vivid markings [thanks Greenie!]. This web had no stabilimentum.
Time for another surprise - three Wall butterflies were seen on the shingle of the rifle range, the first for me in Kingsdown.Next surprises:
Autumn Gentian flowering (it's August, for goodness' sake) in the Goat Field, and
Autumn Ladies' Tresses at Lydden.

There were still plenty of Chalkhill Blues there, being buffetted by the wind, and I found the butterfly that I was looking for tucked away in the shelter of a ditch -
here's a Silver-Spotted Skipper for you Mary!


Greenie said...

A real weekend of surprises .
Re. your smaller Wasp Spider , that is also a female , the male has no wasp makings at all and is much smaller . Interestingly , no one knows what the zigzag on the web is for sure .
The Autumn Gentian has been out in full flower at Shoreham , Kent for 2/3 weeks .
Your beautiful Skipper is a Silver-spotted .

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks Greenie, now I'll have to rewrite the text!!
It's good to know there's an expert around (you weren't a schooltecher by any chance?)

Boulmer Birder said...

What a day. I would book a weeks holiday there on the strength of that lot! In fact I just might next year!

Greenie said...

Enthusiast yes , expert no , and no to school teacher either .
2 years ago had 16 Wasp Spiders locally , last year found 4 egg sacks , spent some time researching what they were , even going to Nat.Hist.Museum .
Your Skipper is still showing Silver-studded instead of Silver-spotted .

Kingsdowner said...

Greenie - SSS correction noted & acted upon, thanks.

A correspondent has asked if the Wasp Spiders bite (whic I think they do) and if the bite is painful - can you assist?

BB - we'd be pleased to see you down here, but please bring the Farne Islands with you!

Mary said...

I like the second shot with all the birds in the sky! Lovely blue butterfly. That's a nasty looking spider! When I saw the zigzag, my first thought was a "black and yellow garden spider"....the only one I see here with a zigzag in the web and it looks a lot like that second one. Maybe it's a US cousin. Check it out on google and see if you think they are alike. We always found them on the tomatoes when we were kids and I hated reaching around the web to pick the fruit! Great....Your Skipper is quite a bit different, isn't it? Much lighter in color. Makes you wonder why the same names. I've given up guessing where names come from :-) Thanks for the comparison shot!

Greenie said...

I have not come across anything myself , regarding bites . Although the females abdomen is large , and , if she can , she eats the male after mating , I wouldn't imagine one being able to give a human a bite . If I find anything different , I'll drop you aline .

NW Nature Nut said...

That spider is striking. I'd love to see one. Unless they bite, I love spiders!!