Spotting spiders when they are in your bath is one thing, but finding one that hasn’t been seen for over a century is another. The species Hysposinga heri was just about to be wiped off the list of British spiders when it was spotted by volunteers in Weymouth. It took months for the identity to be confirmed and it is the same as one last recorded in East Anglia in 1912.
I can tell you it takes a keen eye to see the spiders in their home now. You could easily walk past them in the grass (as we nearly did) without having a clue they are there. They seem to be thriving in the RSPB’s Radipole Lake Nature Reserve which sits in the heart of Weymouth.
My guide is Lindsey Death, the visitor experience officer. Trouble is, she doesn’t know for sure where they are, nor even what they look like.
Armed with a photograph and telephone number for someone who does we set out across the reserve. After about 15 minutes we meet a volunteer and are thankful. He’s been marking their positions and has counted around 15.
To protect the spiders, I won’t reveal what he used as a marker. But it helped tremendously.
Close up the spiders are tiny, about the size of a large match head. Curled up into a ball, behind a blade of grass, you’d mistake them for bit of dead leaf. They are rather beautiful and we saw four.
Nature is full of surprises, not least the fact that these spiders were thought extinct. But it seems they are in rude health.
You can watch Duncan Sleightholme's report here.