A few years ago I was with Nigel in Ashdown Forest when we spotted a large Spider sitting on the acid pool whilst we were looking for emerging Dragonflies. We realised straight away that we had found a Raft Spider. This was the start of us both getting rather fascinated by these large impressive creatures.
We then found out that we were near to both of the species of Raft Spider that can be found in the UK with the Spider we had found in Ashdown being the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) and the largest colony in the UK of the much rarer Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) being found on the Pevensey Levels.
Nigel really went to town with the Fen Raft and Pevensey Levels has since become his main area of wildlife watching.
We have now seen many of the rarer Fen Raft Spider and numerically this species is clearly much more numerous in Sussex than the more common Raft Spider!!
With less opportunities to go out this year I have just managed a couple of visits to both sites this year to see both species and I apologise to anyone that suffers from arachnophobia!!
If it is any consolation these spiders are totally harmless unless you are a small insect or a fish!!
Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus).
Both of my visits to the Fen Raft Spider has been when the females are guarding their spiderlings in the nursery webs and in the photos these webs can be seen with the hundreds of spiderling.
Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) with nursery web.
Fen Raft Spider to the left with nursery web.