There had been some interesting sightings at Rainham RSPB of late, plenty of migrant birds passing through the reserve, still plenty of Dragonflies being seen. with some target species in mind, such as the Willow Emerald Damselfly that had just reappeared this year, some interesting Bees had also been recorded lately, the Shrill Carder Bee and the Brown Banded Carder Bee, and I was still yet to see any Wasp Spiders for this year, not to mention a Clouded Yellow butterfly, I was hopeful for an interesting visit. The sun was shining, the traffic through Dartford tunnel was free flowing for a change, the search was on.
Its at this time of the year when the Wasp spider argiope bruennichi or "waspies" as the locals seem to call them are reaching their largest, that is the female of course with its distinctive wasp like abdomen, the male is much smaller, usually seen lurking around the outside of the females orb web waiting for a safe opportunity to mate.
I found at least fifteen females, there was probably a lot more, none being particularly large though.
These Wasp spiders build their Orb web low in long grass, to find them you have to look for the small clearings made by the female in the grass when she then builds her web and waits in the centre for an unfortunate insect to fall into the web, grasshoppers seem to be a favoured and regular prey.
another indicator of the wasp spiders web is a zigzag structure on the web called a 'stabilimentum' it still seems unclear what the purpose of this actually is.
|Wasp Spider showing Stabilimentum|
|Female Wasp Spider|
|Underside of female Wasp Spider|
|Female Waspie with prey|
My search for the Willow Emerald damselfly was unsuccessful after checking around the "troll" bridge where I saw one last year. I did see a few Dragonflies though . Common Darter, Ruddy Darter
Black Tailed Skimmer and a Emperor.
|Female Common Darter|
|Male Ruddy Darter|
|Black Tail Skimmer|
While trying to photograph the skimmers I noticed a small blue Damselfly resting on the weed around the dragonfly pools boardwalk. which I think is the Small Red-eyed Damselfly, there does appear to be a small black marking ( usually described as a 'x' ) on the segment 10 at the end of the abdomen.
|possible Small Red-eyed Damselfly|
Once again I was mesmerized by a Grass Snake which swam across the dyke next to the troll bridge before I tried to photograph it, and once again just managing a fleeting glimpse as it disappeared into the reeds, my second sighting this year.
Bird of the day for me was this migrant Whinchat seen near Shooting Butts hide.
No luck with the Shrill or brown Banded Carder bees although I did manage to photograph two slightly different looking bees.
|Carder Bee ?|
|Leaf- Cutter Bee|
|Leaf- Cutter Bee feeding on nectar|
All in all, an interesting visit with some good sightings, even if I did not see some of my target species, good excuse to return soon.