I was thrilled to have my first (Suffolk) sighting of this extraordinary spider on Saturday.
The Fen Raft Spider was the subject of my winning ZSL poem on the theme of 'conservation', so I had been particularly keen to see one of these arachnids in real life.
I had attended a talk by Fen Raft expert, Dr Helen Smith, at the Norfolk Festival of Nature a couple of years ago, and had marvelled at the Fen Raft artwork of Sheila Tilmouth on that occasion - and now, at last, I have actually seen the spider for myself.
The creature took some spotting, and it was largely thanks to assistance from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers that we were able to locate it. Those white stripes show up well in these photos, but they were surprisingly difficult to spot in a whole area of reed and vegetation.
Many of you, like us, will have watched the feature on SWT Carlton Marshes nature reserve (and its Fen Raft spiders) on last week's edition of BBC Countryfile.
There are currently huge plans afoot to enlarge the nature reserve.
|Carlton Marshes near Lowestoft, Suffolk Wildlife Trust|
|There had been some pond-dipping earlier in the afternoon: this pond spider was pretty small!|
|The cows were beautiful, but there was another surprise in store (next post here)...|