Sunday, 14 August 2011

Spreading north

Towards the end of summer last year I found my first wasp spider.  It had strung it's web between some taller vegetation amongst the grass on top of the sea wall as you walk upstream from Felixstowe Ferry.

I was keen to go back again this year to see if I could find another and hopefully get some photos.  We walked along the path on top of the  bank looking for suitable spots.  The vegetation seems to be a lot more lush this year, with masses of bristly ox-tongue near the Ferry, and loads of wild carrot further along.

Saltmarshes Felixstowe Ferry

I had hoped to see a few waders on the mud but apart from a few very distant dunlin and some gulls, the only bird seen was a little egret.
I was starting to think we were going to miss out on interesting finds when I spotted a Roesel's bush-cricket perched on a leaf.  These handsome crickets have expanded their range north in the last few years, as have several other similar species.

Eventually we spotted a large spider in a web, it wasn't a wasp spider but I sat down to try to get some pictures and lo and behold there was a wasp spider close by.

Wasp spider

I like this picture.  It shows the habitat, with the river and the saltmarsh in the background and if you look carefully you can see a well-wrapped ladybird and also the stabilimentum, the vertical zig-zag pattern, in the web.  The purpose of this is not really known but it may help to attract insects.

While sitting watching this spider another Roesel's appeared so I think they must be quite numerous in the area.  The wasp spider is also a fairly recent colonist in Suffolk , previously being confined to the south coast.

Wasp spider

Roesel's bush-cricket

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