Friday, February 29, 2008


Two days ago, our overwintering Chiffchaff (the one that's been here all season with his white primary feather) started to sing for the first time in 2008.
It was a sound Anna and I got used to during last spring and summer - but I hadn't heard him utter a peep since last autumn.
Early yes - but cheating a bit, as I know he's not flown south for the winter.

On that sort of subject, I can see that the winter Goldfinch flocks have yet to break up yet, nor have the winter flocks of Long-Tailed Tits. Won't be long now though...

What about our Blue Tits - Brittany and her mate?
Slightly worrying news I'm afraid to report.
I'm well aware that I haven't uploaded any recent nestbox videos in the past fortnight or so.
For two reasons - firstly I've been extremely busy, and secondly, because I've hardly seen them anywhere NEAR the box. In fact, I've hardly seen them at all, and am not convinced they are both still alive - but they might well be.
I'm pretty sure the male is alive - I occasionally hear him calling.
Time will tell of course, though I was rather hoping that in about 2 weeks, (like last year), they'd be stating to put nesting material into the box.
Maybe someone down the road has put up a more desirable nestbox than us?
I do hope they are (BOTH) still alive, and are just taking a break....

Keep your eyes open on the roads at present.
I took a phonecall the other day from a lady in Northern Ireland, reporting hundreds of dead frogs on a road near a lake.
Pretty normal in February and early March I'm afraid.
I saw it myself t'other day, on a road in Berkshire - lots of frogs squashed on a short stretch of road, with the spawn literally forced out of them in some cases - not a particularly aesthetically-pleasing sight.
Lots of amphibians are now involved in migration back to their place of birth (or as near as dammit), to spawn this year.

Now - the "Foliage Spider".
Apologies for the poor quality of the two photographs above.
I took them last night, in the dark, and I should tell you the spider was about 12' up our exterior kitchen wall, and we've got no ladder.
It certainly is some kind of male "Foliage Spider" (a Clubiona sp.) but there are about 19 species of this genus of spider in Britain - and I couldn't possibly narrow it down further than the genus from these poor photographs.
I have a suspicion its Clubiona reclusa but I can't be sure.

Most Foliage Spiders look very similar. Elongated abdomens, fine brown hair (almost like fur) covering their abdomen and cephalothorax, with long spinnerets at the rear.
They normally dwell in foliage (as their name suggests), or under stones on the ground, behind tree bark, or in gaps in fences - weaving a silk retreat purse if you will, in which they lie during the daylight hours.
Come night time though, and they're on the prowl - they are hunting spiders, and don't make webs as such.

I assume this one (a male - see his club-like pedipalps) maybe lives in a gap in our wooden fence, or in a little spot under the gutter for example.
I don't suppose we'll see him on the bare wall that often.

As a rough scale of size, I'd say he was just under one inch long - so hardly a monster, but not really that small.
I'll try and get a better photograph of this genus of spiders as and when, in more ideal photography condusive circumstances, but for now, click either image to enlarge...

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