Dream visit for a self-confessed 'spider nerd'!

, 24 March 2024
Dream visit for a self-confessed 'spider nerd'!
Zora sylvestris © James Chisnall

Guest blogger - James Chisnall

I've always had a passion for spiders, they just fascinate me and always have. It’s a shame they are so misunderstood. They do a lot of good and are a vital part of the ecosystem.

I guess the Garden Spider - Araneus diadematus - started it when I was about five or six years old, feeding them in their webs.

Garden Spider Alan Price
Garden Spider © Alan Price

I work as an engineer but I'm at my happiest when I’m outdoors.

I planned a trip to Iping and Stedham Commons nature reserve with (previous Trust Senior Ecologist) Graeme Lyons, an entomologist and the County Recorder for both East and West Sussex.

Graeme and I discussed the weather and whether it might be too wet for suction sampling, but in the end, Graeme made the call to go ahead with the trip and we met up in the carpark.

Dartford Warbler © Dave Kilbey
Dartford Warbler © Dave Kilbey

Armed with suction samplers, we headed out on to the heath. Graeme pointed out a singing Dartford Warbler, which is always a joy to see.

We got to the scrapes and started our recording.

Despite some of the scrapes being out of action due to water logging, the trip was a success. We managed to find 43 species, 11 of which are classed as rare or scarce.

Euphrys petrensis © James Chisnall
Euophrys petrensis © James Chisnall

All the spiders were identified by Graeme.

My personally favourites were Euophrys petrensis (a small jumping spider), Haplodrassus dalmatensis and Zora silvestris.

Haplodrassus dalmatensis © James Chisnall
Haplodrassus dalmatensis © James Chisnall

This site is the best place in Sussex for spiders, with 245 species recorded to date. 

Which is why for a spider nerd it’s a dream place to visit!

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