My favourite bird identification book was published back in 1978, the year I started 'birding'. It says "Many birds suffer from human activity but a few show sufficient adaptability to profit from change and the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) is one of these." Back then we regularly had reed buntings in our garden during the winter months and I would frequently see them on farmland around where we were living. Reed buntings then were common!
How things change; those words from my book I quoted seem far from true now. The reed bunting has declined substantially in recent years and is is now nationally and locally scarce, usually seen only in its established habitat of Phragmytes reed beds. It is now on the 'Red List' for endangered species. The reed bunting was dependent on farmland for food in winter but modern farming methods which turn fields green with winter wheat rather than brown with corn stubble has hit this (any many other species too of course) very badly.
The reed bunting is a distinctive looking bird with that vivid white moustache and the noticeable pale eye stripe. The male
Whilst bladder wrack is the best known of the wrack seaweeds the one most often seen is actually the channelled wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata). Growing freely near the high water line it is adapted to withstand long periods of exposure to the air without drying out. The weed that is out of the water the longest is usually blacker than the paler colour of that which is covered for longer. It does not have bladders for flotation as it rarely needs to float. It may appear to have bladders at the ends of its fronds but the swellings are not full of air, they contain a jelly substance and are the fruiting body of the seaweed. Channelled wrack grows in large masses and can be seen on sea walls, quays and piers as well as the upper reaches of rocky shorelines but each plant only grows to about 18 inches long due to the amount of time it is our of water. It is common around British shores and Dorset is no exception to that. In Scotland it has been used as cattle fodder but I was surprised to r…
The centre of the web is a funnel in which the spider waits. Around the entrance are lots of single strands, a bit like trip wires, that stop insects from an easy escape and gradually bring them nearer to the central funnel from where Agelena can strike!
I have heard people refer to these as Funnel Web Spiders which, of course they are not. Funnel Web Spiders are renowned for being very poisonous where as this spider is quite harmless (to humans).
The are extremely nervous creatures and quickly retreat in to their funnels which makes photographing them very difficult.