24 September 2012

First bat records

A small party of bat enthusiasts led by Dave Barker braved the wind and rain yesterday evening in an effort to see and hear some bats, animals for which there had been no earlier formal records from Brede High Woods.

Despite the cold, wet and lateness of the season, six species were on the wing foraging for insects.  These included soprano pipistrelles, common pipistrelles, brown long-eareds, a noctule, a Myotis species and possibly a whiskered bat.

This is very encouraging news that further emphasises the importance of Brede High Woods for wildlife.  In addition to being of interest in their own right, bats need a healthy supply of insects and places to roost and hibernate.  They also have many insect associates living in their roosts (but not necessarily anywhere else).

With the success of this first bat walk, there are likely to be others, hopefully in better weather, so watch the events lists for the woods if you are interested in leaning more about these fascinating little mammals.

11 September 2012

Yellow jumping spiders

Crystal Ray, who frequently visits Brede High Woods, took these photos of yellow jumping spiders (Evarcha falcata) by the 'Soldier's Seat' on Brede High Heath on 20th August this year.

Although widespread in the southern half of Britain, this species is rare in East Sussex so it is a welcome addition to the Brede High Woods records.

The picture above is of a male and this and the one below of a female:

This species is mainly a woodland spider which occurs in the foliage of trees as well as on lower vegetation such as heather and gorse in woodland clearings.  Brede High Heath would seem to be ideal as it is a place where heath and woodland meet.

An interesting aspect of this spider's behaviour is its sleeping position (yes spiders do sleep).  It hangs on a short thread with all eight legs pressed into its body. This occurs whenever it darkness falls and the spider will adopt this position when in captivity at any time of day if it is put into a dark place.  The reason for this 'suspension' is assumed to be a way of avoiding predators.

The specific name falcata means a sickle-shaped sword and is, presumably, a reference to the spider's jaws.