British Wildlife 34.7 June 2023

The return of the native: the Great Fox-spider in Britain

In 2020, after two years of intensive searching, the Great Fox-spider was rediscovered by Mike Waite after more than 20 years at its only location in Surrey. This caused quite a stir in the national media at the time, and here Mike tells the story of this spider’s rediscovery and offers an insight into its ecology and the somewhat unusual threats that this species face.

The light is fading fast and a late-summer mist begins to pool at the base of the undulating heathland basin below me. A tardy male Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus takes up a halting churring, but the peace is momentarily shattered by a low-flying Chinook, lights blazing and twin-rotors thumping as it cuts swiftly across this somewhat oddly militarised outpost of the western Weald.

Natural reflections
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