Garden Orb Spider and Prey, Cowgate Cemetery Nature Reserve, Dover, Kent, UK

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Comments (3)

John Latter on September 29, 2009

I was wandering around Cowgate Cemetery Nature Reserve (between the the Dead Tree and the central traverse pathway) when I spotted this spider clinging immobile to the centre of its web (click on the photo for higher resolution).

Usually I don't bother with macro shots (I'm hopeless at them and have always preferred big things like castles an' stuff), but as I idly toyed with the thought of trying one more time at photographing something small, a flying insect hit the web.

Quick as a flash, this Garden Orb spider (1) scurried over to the hapless victim and in no time at all had it cocooned as shown above. The speed with which the spider whirled the insect around with its legs as it enveloped it in silk was truly amazing!

I took 6 photos of the event and was subsequently equally amazed, but in a different way, to find that one of them was actually more-or-less in focus. When I used the zoom in my image viewer to look more closely at the detail, however, I was really grateful I hadn't taken a shot of the spider's head :)

If through some genetic aberration, you actually like spiders, then I have one other photo of two cave spiders (taken in the tunnels of the North Centre Bastion, part of Dover's Napoleonic defenses embedded into the Western Heights).

(1) From Garden Orb spider (Araneus diadematus):

This brightly coloured beauty comes in a variety of shades of orange and brown, and is characterised by the pattern of white dots on its back which resemble a cross. The minutely spiny legs are banded light and dark.

Five images of the Victorian Cowgate Cemetery were uploaded in 2007. This latest batch were all taken on Friday, 18th of September, Monday, 21st of September, or Sunday, 27th of September, 2009 (see 'Extra Information' under Photo Details in the right-hand column for camera details).

Click on the Cowgate tag to see more photos (and/or watch the YouTube video linked to below).

Standard Info

The Victorian Cowgate Cemetery is an approximate rectangle whose maximum dimensions are 150 x 70 yards. It slopes uphill from east to west with the western boundary wall (the longest) set into the lower slopes of the Western Heights.

There are three long pathways running north to south: western, middle, and eastern. To reflect the fact the cemetery is on a slope, these will be correspondingly referred to as the upper, the middle, and lower.

From east to west there are the five shorter pathways: northern boundary, northern traverse, central traverse, southern traverse, and an irregular southern boundary pathway. For simplicity (although it might not seem so!), most positional references references will be given in terms of the three traversing pathways.

In other words, the burial areas of the cemetery are set out in a 4 v 2 grid pattern with a row of family vaults running along the upper boundary wall.

Abridged extracts from the plaque just inside the main (north) entrance:

Dover's Cowgate Cemetery is named after the medieval gate which allowed townspeople to graze their animals on the lower slopes of the Western Heights.

The land, over two acres in extent, was donated by William Mowll and consecrated in 1835 by the Archbishop of Canterbury (William Howley) as an extension to the Parish churchyard (St Mary`s).

The layout of the cemetery is attributed to Stephen Geary, the architect who designed London's Highgate Cemetery.

In 1990 the Wildlife Conservation Community Program (WCCP) discovered a small population of the Garden Dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) living in the cemetery. The Garden Dormouse is not 'officially' recorded as living in Britain.

Click to see a YouTube Video of Dover`s Victorian Cowgate Cemetery (part of which shows the exterior of the 'empty coffin' vault).

For more information see The Dover Society - Cowgate Cemetery Project and Cowgate Cemetery Volunteers.

John Latter / Jorolat

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Marina Sp. on October 1, 2009

Exceptional capture of the spider and victim. Like you I am almost hopeless with insects' macro photography (I probably do something very wrong), but I love it when others make it. I like your narration too. It's a wonderful capture..B.O. Greetings from Greece

John Latter on October 1, 2009

DailyMadness said:

Exceptional capture of the spider and victim. Like you I am almost hopeless with insects' macro photography (I probably do something very wrong), but I love it when others make it. I like your narration too. It's a wonderful capture..B.O. Greetings from Greece

I won't let this single success go to my head, though - next time the spider (or whatever) might be looking towards me!

Greetings from Dover, England :)

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 29, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/09/27 12:13:52
    • Exposure: 0.013s (1/80)
    • Focal Length: 55.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/14.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired

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