Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 24, 2012

Treasures of an old Gravel Pit

I be will holding another book signing this Friday (28th), on this occasion up at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Lackford Lakes visitor centre.

I’ll say one thing for this book signing lark – I do find myself spending time at some most pleasant places and Lackford is no exception.  It occupies a series of old gravel pits, comprising a nature reserve of 101 hectares.  I will never cease to be amazed at nature’s propensity and prolificacy for filling spaces and wasting little time in blurring the stark edges of industry into the smooth shades of wildness.  Much of Lackford, like so many other gravel pit nature reserves around the country, bares nothing of its recent past.  Since its inception back in the 1970s the place has come to be a somewhere of great tranquility and diversity.  I have visited several times in the last few years and am very glad to be visiting again.

It is well known for its birds.  I have had the pleasure of watching its Kingfisher and passage waders, and even (at other times of the year), the sight of hirundine maurauding Hobby and the sweet, sweet sound of singing Nightingale.

Marpissa muscosa – an uncommon spider photographed at Lackford Lakes in 2011. Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner.

Being rather keen as I am on an invertebrate or two, I am pleased to say it has them in abundance.  The butterflies might be thinner on the ground (although there’s always the chance of a Red Admiral or Comma) and the bush-crickets quitening down, but a fair autumn day should still yield the dash of Migrant Hawker and the blur of Common Darter dragonflies around and overhead.  And an early-autumn visitor might still happen upon a fantastic little jumping spider by the name of Marpissa muscosa, maybe on a fence post or the bark of a tree.  Perhaps the most familiar of the jumping spiders is the little Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus);  Marpissa is a bit bigger(about 1cm), but shares a similarly furry appearance.  Great dividers of opinion as they are and indulging myself in a moment of subjectivety, I think these little things a rather cute.

Whether or not there’s some bloke there scribbling in books, some places are worth a visit, whatever the season.

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