Thursday, 30 October 2008

Close Up

It has always amazed me how wonderful nature can be when seen much closer than normal. Even spiders, which have always scared me silly, are fascinating to look at close up. This Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) for example has the most beautiful markings when seen close to.
It has to be said however, that its table manners leave quite a lot to be desired and looking at it eating the last remnants of a small fly, is not for the squeamish.

Although I have always had a fear of spiders in general, there is one spider which has never worried me at all, the Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus). Refered to as a jumping spider, it can usualy be found jumping along sunny walls and paving stones during the summer and is a frequent visitor in our houses. This one was hunting small snipe-flys on our patio during the summer and to my amazement as I watched it, it leapt on a fly as it flew past and started to consume it.

The fly didn't stand a chance with the lightning reactions of this charming little spider and it must have provided a meal large enough to last a good few days!

Working hard for your living is a common theme for most of our garden wildlife species and none work harder than the ants. This one was searching a sunflower leaf looking for lunch.

It is not only the insects which look different close up. Flowers too can look very different if you get close enough. On a trip around the Great Orme earlier in the year we were lucky enough to spot wild Cotoneaster growing on the rocky slopes and the tiny flowers look beautiful when viewed from just a few inches away.
A more exotic looking flower is to be found on the warmer south coast cliffs - in this case at the Lizard in Cornwall. Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis) is originally from South Africa and is now very common around the Mediterranean but adds a very welcome touch of the exotic to our shores.
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