REVEALED: The story behind a rare spider spotting in Ealing's Warren Farm

By Hannah Davenport

25th Nov 2021 | Local News

The photo by Julian Oliver came first-place in the Ealing Wildlife Photography exhibition, on display in Walpole Park. (Image: Hannah Davenport)
The photo by Julian Oliver came first-place in the Ealing Wildlife Photography exhibition, on display in Walpole Park. (Image: Hannah Davenport)

A hairy seven-legged arachnid featured in first-place as the overall winner at this year's Ealing Wildlife Photography competition.

Snapped in Warren Farm by amateur photographer and nature enthusiast, Julian Oliver, the spider, which had lost a leg, turned out to be a pretty special spotting.

It provided the first record ever in Middlesex of a Thanatus striatus.

The spider spotting

Since early last year Julian, 52, from Hanwell had been visiting his local wildlife patch Warren Farm and helping with the Brent River & Canal Society and Warren Farm Nature Reserve group campaign.

With a passion in macro photography, especially invertebrates such as insects and spiders, he began visiting as a species recorder, photographing and attempting to identify his finds.

He shared with us what happened the day he met the rare Thanatus striatus.

"On a hot Spring day I was at Warren Farm with my camera as per normal and I decided to have a look around the derelict buildings there.

"On my way out of the buildings I stopped to put some rubbish in a bin and I noticed the spider running around the top of the bin.

"It was very small and I had no idea it was so special. So, I took a photo and carried on with my day."

He went on: "As I always do at the end of the day I start to try and identify what I have found.

"I'm terrible with identifying spiders so I added it to the British Spider Identification group on Facebook.

"Not only was it identified as Thanatus striatus, I was also informed that it had not been recorded in Middlesex before.

"Finding something like this that has never been recorded at this site before really does show us how important it is to save Warren Farm and have it designated as a nature reserve.

"Who knows what else is living there undetected?"

Katie Boyles, Trustee, Brent River & Canal Society and campaign organiser at Warren Farm Nature Reserve hoped Julian's find will encourage others to take an interest in insects.

"Julian's passion for arachnids and insects is catching," Katie told Nub News. "It just goes to show that by looking closer at our local green spaces and parks in Ealing, the more we discover, the more we understand and the clearer the importance of these places becomes.

"Spiders in particular are often given an unfairly bad reputation as a creature to be afraid of, when in reality they make great house guests eating insects like mosquitoes and playing a vital role in supporting healthy ecosystems."

She added: "We have an abundance of common and rare species in need of protection on Warren Farm.

"Some are facing extinction in the UK. They are dependent on our urban wildflower meadow for their survival."

Warren Farm Nature Reserve recently delivered a petition to the Mayor of London which reached over 10,800 signatures.

They are asking Ealing Council to give Local Nature Reserve (LNR) designation to Warren Farm and the surrounding Brent River Park meadows to ensure they are protected from development.

Over 1,160 different plant species, including rare UK red-listed clovers and over 80 different species of bird have been discovered at Warren Nature Reserve.


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