Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tigers and Spiders at Rainham Marshes

3rd August 2014

Moving into early autumn now and most of the flowers are past their best, although the Purple Loosestrife was still doing its best to brighten up the place.

Both Common Blue and second brood Holly Blues were flying allowing a good comparison. The Commons were flying low over the grassland occasionally settling to nectar on a flower head and showing their brown under-wings. The Hollies were sticking to the bushes and flashing their pale blue undersides with a scattering of black dots. This particular individual settled with the light shining through its wings.

The place was alive with the sounds of grasshoppers and crickets and so it is not surprising that there is a large colony of Wasp Spiders here, but more of that later.

Dragonflies were still performing with both Blue-tailed Damselflies and Ruddy Darters mating, but the most unusual thing today was a Small Red-eyed Damselfly sitting in the path-side vegetation rather than perching on some floating vegetation out on a pond or lake. I saw this behaviour for the first time with Red-eyed Damselflies at Lakenheath a month or so ago.

Little Grebe chicks were everywhere and are now growing up, but with many still showing their stripey-head appearance.

At this point I moved on to the viewpoint overlooking Wennington Marsh. The vantage point is not only useful for looking over the marsh but is also good for insects and butterflies on the Buddleia bush there. As soon as I arrived and started to look at the Buddleia my attention was drawn to a high-speed butterfly showing a lot of red. When it eventually settled I could see that it was in fact a Jersey Tiger Moth, a first for me. Jersey Tigers used to be confined to the south coast but are now moving inland and are recorded quite frequently at Rainham.

But then came the main purpose of the visit, the quest for the Wasp Spider. I did look for these a couple of weeks ago but then they were very small and quite difficult to see. After a fair bit of searching I didn't manage to find any. However, today they were everywhere and what a magnificent sight they were. Well worth the wait.

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