Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Today is my fourth day of collecting. The last three days have been eventful but I have still managed to end up with no spiders. I think the weather hasn't helped, as a lot of clay banks have been eroded by the recent storms.

On Sunday, I planned to go to Kennedy's Bush and Governor's Bay. Kennedy's Bush, however, was not where Google Maps said it would be (on Kennedy's Bush Road). I drove around Kennedy's Bush Road for a while, got lost, then found a clay bank that made me immediately certain that there would be Cantuaria there. I'm not sure exactly why this clay bank was such a dead cert to me, but I got out and searched and found burrows. Awesome. Unfortunately the rain was somewhat torrential and the wee buggers wouldn't come out, and digging them out just ended up with a bunch of mud being washed down the stream that I was standing in, and I got covered in it. So I marked the burrows with sticks and on the GPS, and went to Governor's Bay.

At Governor's Bay I was feeling pretty sick so I went into a cafe/information centre and sat down for a bit. I started talking to the staff about trapdoor spiders, and one guy pointed me in the direction of Ōhinetahi Valley, where he'd dug one up once. I headed in that direction and searched the clay banks around the area, but couldn't find anything. There was a wee track through the bush (which was mostly underwater), so I swam down that for a bit and climbed (and slid down) some more clay banks, mud banks, mossy banks. No burrows. I set some pitfall traps and asked the SatNav to send me home.

The SatNav had other ideas, and we went up through Gebbie's Pass (which was covered in fog so thick that I couldn't see the headlights of a car 15 metres in front of me), down a different road where I saw a sign to Kennedy's Bush, and then back to Governor's Bay. On the second try, I tried to find the place near Kennedy's Bush Road that I had found the burrows, but couldn't relocate it.

On Monday I went with a friend to Kaituna Valley and Prices Bush, where we found loads of open burrows (Cantuaria borealis?). I also caught a couple of big, mean carabid beetles to flush the spiders out. When we returned to the area after dark, I shoved a harnessed carabid down a burrow and a big female came out with all her little baby spiderlings (which was really nice to see). However, the female's spinnerets (little finger-like projections sticking out from the rear) were far too long to be Cantuaria. I figured she was probably Stanwellia instead, and let her go (even if she had been Cantuaria I would have let her go so she could look after her spiderlings). We found three more Stanwellia but no Cantuaria. I also hit a hedgehog (pest in NZ) and took it home for tea. There are some benefits to driving around a lot at night.

Yesterday I was meant to search "Port Hills", but the Port Hills cover a huge area. I ended up driving around as much of the Port Hills as I could, looking for clay banks, and then searching Victoria Park. I didn't find any Cantuaria, although tiger beetle burrows were everywhere.

Today I am going to search Springfield (and hopefully catch some spiders from the mystery location, which Google Maps tells me is on Cashmere Road). Wish me luck!

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