There’s not that much space for…

27 January 2008

There’s not that much space for wild plants on my roof-top terrace except for a couple of unused plant pots. This hairy bitter-cress is the first of the very limited flora present to start flowering this year. It would be interesting to test if these wild plants have found their own way up onto my three storey high roof terrace or whether they have been introduced with the soil. I might try an experiment similar to Patrick Roper’s window-box wildlife project and fill a container with sterile soil and record what comes in naturally.

Hairy bitter-cress Cardamine hirsuta

While investigating the plant pots for wild flowers I noticed a couple of amphipods hoping about under one of them. I would imagine they are the introduced Australasian species Arcitalitrus dorrieni. I wasn’t able to get a decent photo unfortunately. They’re not the easiest of invertebrates to photograph!

Use of handmade ring flash diffuser for the hairy bitter-cress photo. Produces a much better result, with softer shadows, than putting the ring flash on the end of the lens.

Also managed to get some shots of this Porcellio scaber, the most common isopod on the roof terrace.


The wind died down enough today…

22 January 2008

The wind died down enough today to get some photos of the Steatoda grossa on my very exposed roof-top terrace. This colourful adult female was guarding a web full of spiderlings and didn’t take kindly to being moved for a better photograph and was determined to keep it’s cephalothorax covered by it’s legs. This was the best of the images and utilising a special home-made flash diffuser/reflector I was able to get some nicely lit shots which showed up the orange tinge to the cephalothorax which is difficult to reproduce in a photograph.

Steatoda grossa, Roof-top Wildlife - 01

This species used to be scarce in Britain but is becoming much more common and is turning up at number of new locations. It is of particular interest in Britian as it is probably the most venomous of native British spiders that is able to envenomate humans, although a bite is no more serious that a few hours of moderate pain in the region bitten.

These were the best of the other pictures taken:
Steatoda grossa, Roof-top Wildlife - 02

This image shows the well patterned abdomen of this individual with the pale stripe to the front of the abdomen and the pale triangles running down the middle of the abdomen. These markings clearly seperate this species from the closely related, introduced (and much more aggressive) Steatoda nobilis.

Steatoda grossa, Roof-top Wildlife - 03

This is the female in it’s web with spiderlings under an upturned bonsai pot. A favourite spot for the species.

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There was a small westerly movement…

14 January 2008

There was a small westerly movement of guillemots this morning past West St Leonards. Not much else on the sea.

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Went to see the shore lark…

12 January 2008

Went to see the shore lark at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve which gave excellent views feeding with skylarks near the red roof hut. While there got a couple of photos of a large white pupa on the nearby concrete pillbox. We only found one, there are usually quite a few in most winters. Also got a couple of photos of Zygiella x-notata on the pillbox.

Large white pupa.

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