Sunday, May 18, 2014

False widow

Found at night crawling across the front drive of my house on 08/04/14. It looks like a Comb-footed spider of the Genus Steatoda. Almost certainly Steatoda grossa and often known as the false widow spider. As this poor spider gets a really bad press in this country and is often beaten to death for no apparent reason, I have copied this extract from

The abdomen of this false widow is a red-brown colour with a crescent shaped stripe at the front and three pale triangular spots along the top. These markings vary from spider to spider.  Sometimes they're cream coloured and sometimes they're purple or very dark brown.

In some cases the female is completely dark brown and frequently gets mistaken for the Black Widow (hence the common name).  The real Black Widow has a distinctive red marking on the base of the abdomen.

The press (and web) is littered with tales of how dangerous False Widos spiders are.  Every time someone gets bitten by one it creates a torrent of fear-inducing headlines.  These stories generally highlight cases where the victim has had an allergic, and sometimes life-threatening reaction - the same as those experienced by people who are allergic to bee stings.  For most people the bite from this spider feels something akin to a wasp sting.  Unpleasant, but not deadly.

This is just one of the species found in the UK with the common name of 'false widow'.  It's also sometimes called the Cupboard Spider. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New species of bird

This new bird species was recently discovered at my garden feeder on 10/05/14.  It is quite cunning as it repels attacks from Sparrowhawks by retracting into a shell that it carries on its back. Unfortunately, this is no defence to the Song Thrush who has learnt to smash it on a stone used like an anvil. It is quite slimy and seems to have an aversion to salt. Its biggest predator threat comes from people from France.
Species name - slimeball

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Baby Starlings

The above picture shows the first baby Starling of the year being fed by its parent in my back garden. This occurred on 04/05/14. As from today (06/05/14) the baby count has risen to 5, and the number of adults seen at any one time is currently 10.
It is dried Mealworms that they particularly go mad for, but they also like suet pellets (if there are any left after the Magpies have been down).
In years gone by, the first recorded date for baby Starlings is as follows:
2003 - 23/05.
2004 - 20/05.
2005 - 05/05.
2006 - 19/05.
2007 - 12/05.
2008 - 18/05.
2009 - 20/05.
2010 - 21/05.
2011 - 12/05.
2012 - 14/05.
2013 - 26/05.
Therefore 2014 now holds the record for the earliest, just pipping 2005 by one day.