Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 30, 2016

Hide and Seek

The bird-hide is a useful thing.  How’s that for a ‘thought for the day’?!  Not exactly ground-breaking, granted.  To expand further on this stating of the blindingly obvious, they are mighty handy at seeing birds at close quarters without them seeing you, something which even the non-birdwatcher will have appreciated at some point whilst out and about.  A recent trip to the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes reserve provided me with as good a case in point as any.  On this occasion, I should say, the bearded tit among the reedy fringes were incredibly obliging, while even the terminally surreptitious Cetti’s warbler managed a couple of brief exposures from its scrubby cover, both seen with scant need for our own secrecy.

But with such instances aside, the bird-hide is a boon to many a nature reserve.  The subject matter for this post however, does not concern the animals without, but rather the animals within.  I am sure there will be some reading this who would not thank me for reminding them that such constructions are also home to many a spider.  In particular there is one Larinioides sclopetarius.  I have heard these referred to by the common name of the bridge spider, such is their liking for wooden structures beside water.  It appears a hide will do just as well as a bridge, given that in my own experience I have encountered these creatures elsewhere in the same circumstances, such as at Wat Tyler Country Park and Hanningfield Reservoir, both, like Rainham, in the southern half of Essex.

They are, I think, a rather attractively marked spider, especially the larger (10mm long) females, but one which is not necessary that common.  While widely scattered across England and into Scotland and Wales, they are somewhat local in their occurrence.  Even so, many a bird-hide near water would I’m sure be worth a look and where they do occur they will often do so in number.

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Bridge Spider (Larinioides sclopetarius). Copyright 2016 Ross Gardner.

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