Spiders at Wimpole

Here a a few photo’s and a video of some spiders seen at Wimpole Estate. One of the problems in taking their photos is if you get too close – off they go at speed to avoid being eaten – best to use a telephoto lens and take the photos from 3-4 feet away, orr you can sometimes get them in the early morning before they’ve warmed up and are reluctant or unable to run.

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider

Nursery Web Spider

Nursery Web Spider

The Wolf spider is so named as it hunts- chases -its prey rather than using a web.

The Nursery Spider (Pisaura Mirabilis) is another hunter, rather than snaring by a web. It sits on low vegetation waiting to catch flies and other insects as they pass by. They come in either a brown or grey form

Pisaura Mirabilis

Pisaura Mirabilis

Pisaura Mirabils 9A grey one )

Pisaura Mirabils

Larioides Cornutus

Larioides Cornut

Tettragnatha Extensa

Tettragnatha Extensa

Tetragnatha Extensa uses a loose web to catch its Food – See the short video at the end. When frightened it pushes both front and back legs in line with its body and tries hard to look like part of the plant stem

Xysticus Metallina Crab Spider

Xysticus Metallina Crab Spider

This Crab spider has a meal of Soldier Beetle it will last some time I would think


Laberynth Spider


Funnel web of the Laberynth Spider

Because of its funnel shaped web some people have confused it with the highly poisonous Australian Funnel Web Spider. Fortunately these are on the other side of the world


Swan, Cygnets, Mayflies and Fungi

I went down to the River Rhee this morning (15th May ) and to my delight the Cygnets had just hatched, witness the still unhatched egg in the photo. This pair of swans have nested here for several years and in spite of their nest being only 12 inches above the river level, they have never been flooded off

Watch the Video


My next trip was to Decoy Lake and whilst fishing I noticed some May Flies that had just hatched and were drying out.


The video of the May Fly hatch is running at around half speed so that you can actually see the shape of the flies as they dance up and down

There are plenty of other insects showing, Volucella Pellucens, Cantharis Pellucida ( common soldier beetle ), Caddis Fly, unknown hoverfly, Syrphus Rubeshi and next a better photo of Syrphus Rubeshi, very common hoverfly




A very small micro moth – The Mint Moth about 3/8 ths inch across. The photo is about lifesize,


A green Veined White butterfly, you can just see the underwing markings of thr green veins



The first for me, a good sized bracket Fungus of this year, Dryads Saddle which grows on Elm and appears around May. Named after the tree nymph or tree spirit.

I believe that it is edible although I’ve never tried it

The Countryside is Green

The rain and warmth of the past few days have brought on a spurt in growth of almost everything.
Whilst some of the early flowers are going to seed, others are coming in to flower to provide protein rich pollen and sweet nectar.


Common Vetch, Black Medick, Wild Garlic, Common Vetch and a better photo of Hounds Tongue



The warmth has also produced more insects and whilst I protect my pony’s head from some of the bothersome flies, they are all essential for the continuing life by pollinating plants, and providing food for birds, animals and of course other insects.


Heliophilus Pendulus ( Hover Fly ) Canthari Rustica ( Soldier Beetle ), Pisaura Mirabilis ( spider ), Scorpion Fly and a very large queen Hornet







The spider is quite common but an interesting point, the male presents the female with a ‘parcelled’ insect as a present and then mates with her whilst she’s distracted.

I found the Hornet in the bedroom and removed it using a glass and piece of paper, released it outside I thought, but in the morning there it was in the kitchen. Another glass and piece of paper required and off it went, this time I saw it on its way. They look quite fearsome but provided you don’t provoke them they are actually quite peaceful creatures. Whilst the Scorpion fly sounds and looks nasty, it doesn’t bite

Up at Decoy Lake where I go fishing, damsel flies are starting to appear. Last year seemed to be a poor year for both damsel flies and dragon flies. One possible local reason at the Lake could be attributed to excessive weed control.

The larvae need to crawl up weed stems to exit their larval stage out of water, it could also be that emerging larvae are removed with the weed. On the other hand it could just have been a poor year generally for these insects.

Blue Tailed Damsel Fly, female Common Damsel Fly






In Olga’s ‘tadpole sinks’ in the garden we seem to have an adult frog who has taken up residence alongside the tadpoles.

The reason for using the sinks away from our main pond is that it has  fish in it and they will eat the spawn and tadpoles






Lastly a Video of Badger Cubs in the Clay Pits Wood,


Decoy Lake and More

Took some time out to go fishing for trout but there was so much muck floating on the lake that I didn’t bother. Its a sort of scum floating up from the bottom of the lake, it’ll soon disperse I always have cameras with me and took the opportunity to see what was around, quite a lot of the usual stuff but I managed to get some more unusual creatures. I was greeted by a heron who posed quite nicely for a few shots,I then moved on to insects.







My first shots were of a female Banded Damsel Fly – just emerged and drying out.

I was then rewarded with the sighting of a fairly scarce bug CORIZUS HYASCAMI. Until fairly recently it was only found on the south coast of Britain with its main habitat being sand dunes. It has however been progressively spreading northwards and is sometimes found nearly reaching the Midlands – Climate change?   Others seen at the Lake were a common hoverfly – Syrphus Rubeshi – a Common Carder Bumble Bee ( Bombus Pascuorum. ) and a Red Cardinal Beetle, quite  common unlike its black headed relative. They feed on other insects and the red colour makes predators on them think that they are toxic.

You now know what colour to wear when you want to be to left alone

          Travelling down to Wimpole I found some new flowers, Red Campion and Greater Celandine and a lovely purple Arum Lilly. and almost a meadow of Cuckoo Flower, Hounds  Tongue, followed by a field of Cowslips leading down to the lakes

Marvellous expanse of Cowslips leading down to Wimpoles Lakes

Tree Flowers

We all notice the colourful flowers on Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Crab Apple, Wild Cherry, Willow etc, but we ( at least I don’t ) never really look at Sycamore, Hornbeam, Ash,  Elm, Oak, Field Maple and Alder  flowers. So here are a few remindeer photos of their flowers but before that a shot of a very large and old Crab Apple in flower which I think is providing a nest site for a pair of Wimpoles Barn Owls






















Hares Photo and Video review

There are plenty of Brown Hares at Wimpole and a day never passes when I haven’t seen one or more. Nationally these animals are reducing in numbers probably due to modern agricultural techniques so locally we are quite lucky in having Wimpoles roughly 2000 acre estate being farmed organically. Several of the fields being left fallow each year which means less disturbance for the breeding hares and no pesticides or insecticides On one occasion three years ago, I counted up to forty hares in one field and then gave up counting  any more. In one of the videos below there are seven hares in shot and this is a relatively small field.

One of the fascinating behaviours of hares, is that you can get very close to them provided you start a good distance away.  Walk in concentric circles, progressively get closer and closer and they usually sit tight. I imagine that the hare can’t judge and compare distance too well. The close up photos have not been cropped, most were taken from 2 yards or so away with an micro four thirds olympus 300 mm lens. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScreen Shot 2014-05-11 at 17.33.35 2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA