Nature Notes # 9 (update)

Nature Notes # 9

The Orb,the Damsel, the Wolf, the Gall fly and a Hornets nest.

22.08.12. Tatton Park, Cheshire

Sparky and I had a day out to Tatton Park today which always offers something new to discover on the wildside. Over the years we have found some interesting birds and wildlife at this National Trust park, most notably Osprey and  Black-necked Grebe over and on Melchett Mere. But generally it’s the smaller lifeforms which often drawn our attention and today was no exception.

Walking through some sedge grasses alongside a stream I brushed off a spider onto my trouser leg which reignited a memory of a holiday we had  taken (pictured at bottom of page). The critter was a 4-spot Orb Spider last seen in its red livery in the Italian Alps four years ago. The spider we found today was one of several noted at the site and came in its normal sage green colour. It requires tall strong grass/sedge to support its sturdy web and is obviously capable of catching some large but delicate prey items (see image).

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), Bollin Valley Way, May 2012.

4-spot Orb Spider (Araneus quadratus) at Tatton Park, 22.08.12..

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) caught in the web of a 4-spot Orb Spider (Araneus quadratus) at Tatton Park, 22.08.12.

4-spot Orb Spider (Red morph) at Pavilion du Mont Frety, Italian Alps, 2009.

Just to balance things out this unfortunate Wolf Spider (below) took the wrong direction over an ant hill at Tatton Park and ended up on their menu.

16.07.12. Wolf Spider preyed on by Ants, Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Hornet and nest, ‘Dead Lake’, Delamere Forest, 24.08.12.

Sparky and I took a trip to ‘Dead Lake’, Delamere Forest with the intention of finding and photographing fungi but we were sidetracked by finding an active Hornets nest with in excess of 100 hornets coming and going. Considering our first Cheshire hornet was earlier this summer we’ve done well to stumble across this hive!

The most bizarre thing about this find was discovering an active Wasps nest on the opposite side of the tree in an old woodpeckers hole. Why these two species were tolerating each other opens up more questions? We’ll have to send the notes off to ispot and see what they can come up with?

This fly I found on a Burdock flower in early August and couldn’t find out it’s I.D. So with the help of Paul Crawley who by his very name is good with the ‘Creepy Crawlies’ sent the image off to  Open University iSpot site www.ispot.org.uk who took some time to come back with an i.d and called it a Terellia tussilaginis (Gall Fly)!

All images by WSM.

23.08.12. Birdlog

23.08.12. Birdlog

An evening watch saw waders coming in from the river during high tide and although in low numbers they nevertheless produced 2 (juvenile) Sanderling, a single (juvenile) Little Stint, 300 Dunlin and 100+ Ringed Plover. 2 Common Sandpiper on the eastern edge of the tank whilst 2 Greenshank choose to keep instead to the flooded vegetation areas on the western side.

A Short-eared Owl on No 5 tank was notable. The fragmented flock of Goldfinches saw 300 perched on poplar trees bordering this tank.

A female Sparrowhawk kept below the radar and was noticed by the high numbers of hirundines over the marsh.

Observers: Paul Crawley, Arthur Harrison, the Chester Boys, WSM