Natural Notes

A Wasp that Weaves

A 20th century arrival to the UK from unknown origins, the Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi) is quite unmistakeable with its striking black, white and yellow stripes. Now colonising southern England and reaching into Wales, this spider mimics a wasp to ward away potential predators and uses its orb shaped web to capture flies, bees and moths. As with many spiders, the females are much larger, up to 3 times longer than males, reaching up to 1.7 cm.
This female Wasp Spider was photographed by Dave Fairlamb at Brading Marshes RSPB Reserve on the Isle of Wight.

Bramble Badgers

During autumn, badgers (Meles meles) truly live up to their omnivore feeding habits, as they take advantage of the fruiting season. Even if you do not come across a badger out foraging, you can still see evidence of their activity away from their setts as badger latrines will reveal dark deposits with the remains of blackberries and other autumnal delicacies such as windfall fruits of plums, apples and elderberries.
Badger photographed at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB Reserve by Graeme Ruthven.

Return of the Sand Ploughman

Taking its name from the old English for Sand Ploughman, the Sanderling (Calidris alba) is a small arctic breeding wading bird that returns to British and Irish sandy shores in autumn on migration and many stay with us throughout the winter. Like clockwork toys, they scurry back and forth on the edge of the sea picking up prey items in the tumult of the tideline.
On the Isle of Wight, the Ryde to Seaview coastline can hold up to 250 birds, but the top sites in the country, namely the Ribble Estuary and the Uists of the Outer Hebrides can support between 1,500-2,000 Sanderling.
Sanderling photographed on the Ythan by Graeme Ruthven.