|Freshly opened flowers of Dryas octopetala on a cliff top|
There are outcrops of limestone in the Durness area of north-west Scotland and the resulting soil offers suitable growing habitat for base-loving plants such as the Mountain Aven Dryas octopetala. These Arctic-alpine plants seem to almost grow on the bare rock in places, the soil is so thin, and they can also grow on the sea-cliff tops where there is more than a little shell sand blown in by the Atlantic winds. In places, there are large creeping carpets of the plant's glossy green leaves, and now the flowers are opening, showing their distinctive eight petals from which they are named. Although not all the flowers have eight petals.
|As their name suggests, eight petals are the norm|
I was creeping about on a rock face, balancing the camera as I tried to photograph the flowers and the plants in their habitat, when I noticed a crab spider lying in wait on one of the flowers. Patiently waiting for an insect to land on the flower for a sip of nectar, when it would pounce and grab it.
|A crab spider waits in ambush, forelegs held aloft ready to strike|
These spiders don't spin webs, they rely on ambush to catch their meal. The front two pairs of legs of a crab spider are adapted to catch their prey, and they are held up high and open while the spider waits. While it waits, the spider lies facing the centre of the flower, ever ready to jump at an insect as it lands on the nectar-baring flower parts.
|The two pairs of fore legs are for catching, the hind two pairs for standing, then jumping|
|But - what is the species?|