A very large spider

We had friends and family around yesterday for lunch. At one point a very large spider was spotted on the gate into our garden – it caused a bit on consternation on account of its size – around 20mm long just for the body. I took a few photos – the spider was clearly shedding its skin – the method that invertebrates such as spiders use to grow larger – their exoskeletons are rigid and need to be discarded so that the animal can then inflate itself, grow bigger and then dry out thus forming a new larger rigid exoskeleton.

Segestria florentina1
You can see the old exoskeleton at the top of the picture – the spider is hardening up its new inflated exoskeleton below. It is living in a hole in the gate just above the old exoskeleton.

I have never seen this species before but it is Segestria florentina. Originally this species lived around the Mediterranean but was inadvertently brought to this country in the 1800s on sailing ships – it is limited to the coastal ports of southern England. It is well known from Exeter where it was recorded in 1890 on Exeter Cathedral. It also lives in the old walls along the Quay in the city. We live close to the Exe in Exton – so this ties in with its known distrbution. It is reputed to have a nasty venomous bite! For more information see here and here.

Lydford Gorge – My favourite walk

Ursula Mann, one of our  Visitor Reception Assistants at Lydford Gorge runs our Facebook site too and has recently been trained to record videos and make short films. Here is one she has made featuring Katie Glew, another of our VRAs at Lydford talking about walking her dog at the Gorge.


The National Trust centrally really liked the video and posted it on our national YouTube Channel- good effort – well done to everyone involved.





Our smart ‘new’ information van

We have just got our Information Van back from its smart new re-branding exercise. Looks really good!

Picture shows people on Hen Tor in the Plym Valley

Van1Walking in the Teign Valley near Castle Drogo and Fingle Bridge

It is actually quite an old van but it has been completely wrapped in its new decor and it looks brand new! It will be at Parke for the moment but keep and eye out for it elsewhere too.

Sunshine and showers again

I was at Finch Foundry yesterday with the National Trust team meeting the contractors who are going to write the Conservation Management Plan. Luckily we were in doors as it poured with rain most of the morning. As the meeting ended the rain stopped (well it turned into a very light drizzle) and the sun came out. I was amazed that out of nowhere dozens and dozens of hoverflies appeared on the various flowering plants. Here are a few pictures I took.

Episyrphus balteatus
This is one of the commonest hoverflies in the UK – the marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Dasysyrphus albostriatusThis is Dasysyrphus albostriatus – the last word meaning white stripes – you can see them just behind the eyes

Leucozona glaucia 1

This is Leucozona glaucia – looks like a hoverfly wearing a pair of cool shades!

Leucozona glaucia 2A side view of the same species

As I write this it is still raining but the weather forecast suggests it will have stopped by 8am – lets hope so…..

After the rain the bees and butterflies return

The weather over the last few days has been truly awful but don’t despair – after the rain comes the sun and with the sun comes bees and butterflies. Here are a few pictures I took in the Walled Garden at Parke yesterday afternoon. Nature is very resilient – we should learn from it!

Honey bee
A honey bee

Buff tailed bumblebeeA buff-tailed bumblebee

Common blue 2The underwings of a common blue

Common blue 1The same animal from above