So, Dove Stone and the RSPB aren't all about birds, right ? Right.
The European Cave Spider ( Meta menardi ). A first for Dove Stone's records. And this spider has only been recorded around 400 times since 1800. The thinking is that it's probably under recorded in general due to its preferred habitat.
This is a spider that lives exclusively in permanently dark, damp habitats: you won't find it occupying dry habitats. So we're talking caves, tunnels, mines, sewers and places like damp cellars, hollow trees and on...
Meta menardi produces a large orb web but usually resides on the wall of its habitat. Prey for this cave spider will include hibernating Lepidoptera, mosquitoes, slugs, isopods, millipedes and beetles. I've been reliably informed ( thanks Ken ! ) that for those amongst us who might not be too keen on spiders that the European cave spider moves fairly slowly !
Even if spiders aren't your thing you have to acknowledge that it is an attractive looking spider with the stripes on its legs. For those of you who want to find out more about spiders check out this website http://srs.britishspiders.org.uk/portal.php/p/Welcome. Many thanks to Ken for the info and for the enthusiasm !
Highlights from elsewhere around Dove Stone with recent sightings of Redpoll, Siskins, Crossbill and Brambling. More soon...
Watching wildlife is always an exciting experience, particularly when you seen something up close: for me this weekend at Dove Stone it was watching Treecreeper. It's a bird I've seen often but I was still blown away at how beautiful this small bird is. The colours of the feathers on its back are really beautiful. But you have to look close. You could just not see how stunning this bird is, as we do so often with things that we don't really look at or truly see.
Talking of wildlife that we see but might not appreciate it was also really good to walk along the top path of the reservoir bank at Dove Stone and be level with Black headed gulls as they cruise up and down the bank wall. Wildlife doesn't have to be unusual or rare to leave you feeling amazed. It can be right on our doorsteps and everyday.
Back to the Treecreepers. You can watch Treecreepers up at Binn Green and also down the lane that runs alongside the stream that pops out at the bottom of the main carpark at Dove Stone. Watching this Treecreeper led me to start reflecting on why watching wildlife is such an exciting experience: maybe it's something to do with the feeling or knowledge that you wouldn't be seeing what you're seeing if you'd acted differently or responded in a different way to being in the surroundings you're in. These are wild birds and it takes patience to see them but that patience is paid off many times over when you do - and especially when you see them demonstrating their natural behaviour. With this Treecreeper it was watching it as it searched for food amongst the moss growing on tree bark.
The other reason I wanted to mention Treecreeper was that this year I've started to keep a list. And Treecreeper was notable by its absence thus far. There's always some banter amongst the RSPB Dove Stone team about lists and a bit of friendly rivalry too ! I was fairly uninterested in keeping a year list but somehow my name worked its way onto the lister's spreadsheet this year. And I actually quite like keeping a record of what I've seen and year on year I think it will be interesting to record what I see. It has to be said that I was getting slightly hung-up on the fact that I hadn't seen a Treecreeper this year and this small bird that I saw at the weekend proved to be a brilliant antidote to that list-orientated focus and brought me right back to what's enjoyable: simply watching wildlife.
Writing and talking about lists can take you off in various directions, say, about red lists and what's happening with the decline of some of the UK's birds. But I'll save that for another post.
Elsewhere around Dove Stone have been recent sightings of Stonechat, Goldcrest, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Siskin, Brambling, Long tailed tit, Coal tit, Crossbill, Raven, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black pheasant, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Also sightings of Mountain hare.
Coming up soon I've got a posting on the locally rare ( possibly due to it being under recorded ) European Cave Spider recently found at Dove Stone. Watch this space...