What a lot lives on a Heath!

I’ve been looking at spiders and managed to get bitten by some sort of critter.  I’ve managed to fit in a bit of time counting nightjars and have another moth for you to have a look at.

The heathland is starting to come into flower now..

And….  there’s news from the Starling nestbox!

Where to start?  It’s got to be the spiders of course!  Not just any spider.  I was out on the heath looking in all the boggy pools for this one.  I’ve seen them a few times, but not managed to find one of the size that they supposedly grow to..

What was I looking for?  Raft Spiders!  The books say that they can catch not just insects but also tadpoles, newtpoles and even small fish.  The first one I saw would probably have been a tasty morsel for a newt.  The second one was big!  No doubts – this one could easily take a small fish, and quite possibly a large rabbit if one came too close!

Raft spider aka Beast of a spider!

While I was out on the heath I took a few other pictures that might be of interest..

It’s not a safe place for an insect.  Even landing on a plant can get you into a lot of problems – as the sticky drops on the sundew will trap you and you’ll die a slow death being digested by a plant…

Sundew, an amazing plant!

Equally happy to take a fly or two, the Stonechats have managed to raise a few families this year which is great news as they were badly hit by cold winter.

A young Stonechat - on the lookout for a meal!

Saving the best for last…  Even the biggest of the insects have to keep an eye out for predators on the heath.  There are lots of rather large dragonflies around, courtesy of those boggy pools I mentioned – and dragonflies form a large part of the diet of a falcon..  The said falcon has given it’s name to a household game after the initial patent asking for the game to be called ‘Hobby’ was turned down -so the inventor turned to the latin name for the Hobby falco subutteo  and lo and behold the table football game Subutteo was born!

Hobby. Not a great shot but I really didn't want to disturb him..

These are fab little falcons that fly with such speed and agility – I suppose you have to if you want to catch dragonflies!   They also quite like house martins and swallows – nothing like making it hard going to get a meal eh?!

I also managed to get a bit of a poor, ok very poor sound snippet of a churring nightjar..nightjar  This was recorded while I was out on a DWT count – good numbers around I’m pleased to report.  No pictures though, as they only come out to play after dark.

Slightly better was the recording of a Dartford Warbler..dartford warbler

It was later that night that I realised what my fee was for getting so close to the Raft Spider.  While I had been laid down on the edge of the bog, the various midges, mozzies and whatever else was around decided that I was on the menu!  I’ve got a massive red patch on my left arm as a result which itches like anything -but at least the swelling has gone down now.

Oh yes.  Moths.  Another new one to the trap this week.

Lime Hawkmoth

Not as big as the eyed hawkmoth from last week, but a lovely mix of greens and browns – and a first for the garden.

Finally, the news thats had you scrolling down looking for the lateston the saga of the starling box.  Well, the female is back!  Don’t get too excited though – she only pops in for about 2 minutes ecah morning at about 6.30am, has a quick shuffle in the nesting material then heads off again for the rest of the day.  I have no idea when they stop thinking about nesting but it must be getting that way so I’m still thinking that there will be no squawking of little Starlings in the nestbox this year..

Next week is mainly a bat week!

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2 Responses to What a lot lives on a Heath!

  1. Jane says:

    What a great post. Really interesting to see what’s been happening while I’ve been away. Hope the bites have gone down!

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