Thursday, 26 May 2016


 Chris Durdin, volunteer guide at Thorpe Marshes

Large jawed orb web spider
Tetragnatha montana (Derek Longe)
A damselfly is caught in a spider’s web. The spider is lurking, but taking time to move in for the kill. It’s a red-eyed damselfly, an immature, very recently emerged, an interesting species, but not especially rare.

What would you do? Rescue the damselfly from the web or let nature take its course?

This is happening with a group of a dozen on the Thorpe Marshes monthly wildlife walk who can all see it and are wondering what I’ll do. One of the group is the NWT’s reserves officer. No pressure, then.

A snap decision was needed. I released the damselfly and the photo shows it at rest on my telescope’s cover before it flew away.

Red-eyed Damselfly (Chris Durdin)

The feeling of guilt about the spider’s loss of a meal – a large jawed orb web spider, no less – didn’t last. Seconds later, there was a common blue damselfly in the same web. This time the spider was on it immediately: there was no time to ponder the same question.

Well, what would you have done?


The bridge is open: the pedestrian entrance into the reserve over the railway bridge in Whitlingham Lane is open again after major repairs. The marshes are looking good after their winter cut by the NWT’s reserve team, who have also rebuilt the main path, installed signs and are adding a pond-dipping for educational use. In short, it’s a great time to visit. 

Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of these and recent sightings on the reserve are on

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