Sunday 16 April 2023

Black-winged Stilt at Black Hole Marsh

News of a Black-winged Stilt at Black Hole Marsh tempted me to make the effort to get out and see a nice bird for a change and also visit Black Hole Marsh for the first time in ages, and when I say ages, I mean AGES! I couldn't remember when I was last there so I looked on my blog and couldn't believe what I saw! It was 31st August 2015! It really doesn't seem that long but I suppose it must be. I'll try and visit a bit more from now on though as it has great access for people with mobility issues, which unfortunately is me these days. 

The bird was showing very well if a little distant, but nowhere near as distant as the only others I'd ever seen which were both scope only jobs. It was great to see a few familiar faces from my twitching days and some local patch birders too. Here's a selection of my photos, mostly the Black-winged Stilt but also a couple of a lovely orangey Black-tailed Godwit who I reckon was feeling a little bit left out.


Tuesday 28 March 2023

Jumping Spiders

I had a pretty successful effort at looking for spiders back in 2019, I'd always photographed any that I happened to spot on my travels that were very obvious but I had never made special effort to find them before. Most of these jumping spiders were found on the soft rock cliffs at Axmouth, Branscombe and Eype, mostly by carefully searching under tussocks of grass, but some can easily be found out in the open too.

They are small and quite difficult to photograph without top of the range photographic equipment, but that didn't stop me trying. One of the larger species is Salticus scenicus, the common and well known Zebra Spider which can reach up to a whopping 7mm! This one kept really still, allowing me to get these nice shots, which is more than can be said for most of the rest!

Common Zebra Spider - Salticus scenicus

Another commonly seen jumping spider is the Sun Jumper, these are predominantly black with yellow/pale legs and can often be seen sitting on flowers in sunny weather. There are several species but they are very difficult to identify without microscopy.

Sun Jumper - Heliophanus sp.

Downy Jumper - Sitticus sp.

Again there are several species of Sitticus which can only be identified with microscopy. Sitticus pubescens (Downy Jumper) is by far the most common.


This next species was a real challenge as the males are only 2-3mm long, but it's really worth persevering to get photos because they are very striking, with colours which aren't visible to the naked eye ( not mine anyway). The female is bigger but also plainer. 

Female Euophrys frontalis  

Male Euophrys frontalis 

The next two species really took some finding.They are both almost exclusively found on sand dunes, but they do also occur in and around tussocks of grass on the soft rock cliffs at the sites I visited. Firstly, the Dune Jumper (Marpissa nivoyi).

Here's a male, again only 5mm long and a very distinctive shape with a long body and thickened front legs, from a distance the outline looks a bit like a pseudoscorpion.

 Male Dune Jumper - Marpissa nivoyi

The following three photos are of the female

 Dune Jumper - Marpissa nivoyi

And secondly, Synagales venator which is one of two species of ant-mimicking jumping spiders found in the UK. I found these (and Marpissa nivoyi) at both Axmouth and Eype but failed to find the second Ant-mimicking species Myrmarachne formicaria at either. Hopefully I'll be able to get out there and find it this year!

Ant mimicking Jumping Spider - Synageles venator

These are only 3.5- 5mm in length and are very easy to overlook when amongst ants, but are different enough to stand out when you are purposely looking for them.

Finally one most people are familiar with, the House Jumping Spider or Fleecy Jumper (Pseudoeuophrys lanigera). These were taken inside my house.


Male Fleecy Jumper - Pseudoeuophrys lanigera



Tuesday 14 March 2023

The Meadow

These photos are from several visits to my favourite local meadow. It's along the clifftops above Weston Mouth. I believe that it is specially managed as a traditional hay meadow. If only there were more like it! I visited a lot in the early summer of 2020 with all the restrictions on travelling that were in place at the time. In late June it was absolutely swarming with Meadow Brown butterflies, definitely the most I'd ever seen in one place. There were thousands! Plenty of other insects too...

In early June the dominant flower is Ox-eye Daisy, later to be replaced by Knapweed...

...very popular with the pollinators.

Eighteen Meadow Browns

An aberrant Meadow Brown with a partially white hindwing.

Standard version

Meadow Brown and Five-spot Burnet Moths

Meadow Brown - Maniola jurtina

Dingy Skipper - Erynnis tages

 Large Skipper - Ochlodes sylvanus

Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae

Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris
Seven-spot Ladybird - Coccinella septempunctata

Musk Mallow - Malva moschata

Female Green-eyed Flower Bee - Anthophora bimaculata

Male Green-eyed Flower Bee -
Anthophora bimaculata

Yellow-legged Mining Bee - Andrena flavipes

Beetles Galore!

Sand-tailed Digger Wasp - Cerceris arenaria
Also known as the Weevil Hunting Wasp. You can see it in action hunting Weevils in one of my old posts here

A very nice example of cumulonimbus.