Based at the stunning location of Dale Fort, a large proportion of the UK spider fauna will lie within our reach in woodland, grassland and coastal habitats. We will focus on field identification of live spiders under the expert tuition of one of the authors of the WILDGuide ‘British Spiders’. First published in 2017 to great critical acclaim, this innovative book pushes the boundaries of what can be identified and recorded in the field and what better way of exploring these boundaries than under the expert guidance of one of the authors! Identification of live spiders often relies on a crucial piece of kit called a spi-pot to allow detailed examination in the field and participants will learn how to make and use them. There will be follow up sessions in the lab to illustrate how to deal with spiders that can’t be identified in the field. Note that although the emphasis is on field identification, some spiders might be taken and preserved for identification under the microscope. This course is suitable for beginners as well as improvers.

Tutor: Lawrence Bee

Working in the natural environment, Lawrence Bee has developed a varied experience as an all-round field naturalist through extensive practical, hands-on work in the field of ecology and nature conservation. His particular interests include spiders, ancient trees and oak woodland, moths and plant galls. He is the co-author of the FSC foldout chart ‘Spiders of the house and garden’ and of the recently published WILDGuide ‘Britain’s Spiders’.
  • Neoscona adianta
  • Larinioides sclopetarius
  • Araniella sp and egg sac
  • Agelena labyrinthica egg-sac chamber

Example Timetable

The course itinerary will depend very much on the weather conditions over the duration of the course and therefore the timings and arrangement of the following programme are very much provisional. Excursion venues to different habitats to be decided. There will be opportunities in the evenings for more detailed examination of spiders collected during the day.


After the evening meal, there will be a brief introduction to course.


  • Introduction to British spiders and demonstration of collecting techniques
  • Making spi-pots
  • Field survey and identification in habitats around the buildings and immediate environs of the field centre


  • Field survey and identification in range of habitats around Dale Fort
  • Night survey around the field centre


  • Field survey and identification in range of habitats around Dale Fort
  • Night survey around the field centre


  • Course ends after breakfast

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

Start and Finish Times

Resident visitors are requested to register at the main office between 4.00 – 5.30pm. Dinner will be at 6.00pm. An introductory talk will follow. Breakfast will be at 8.00am. Departure will be after breakfast on the last day. Non-resident guests are asked to arrive in time for the welcome talk at approximately 5.30pm.

What to Bring

  • Wellington boots or tough outdoor footwear
  • Waterproof clothing and warm clothes
  • Lunchbox and drinks bottle / flask
  • Small haversack
  • Hand lens (x10 if possible)
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Compact camera
  • A small torch or headtorch
  • If you are prone to insect bites please bring some repellent
  • If you wish to bring your own microscope please do. If not, microscopes are available at the centre for use on the course

Recommended Reading

  • Britain’s Spiders – a field guide by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford & Helen Smith (Copies will be available for sale). Recommended
  • Key to the Families of British Spiders by L.M. Jones-Walters, Field Studies Council (hopefully copies will be available for sale). Recommended
  • Collins Field Guide to Spiders of Britain & Northern Europe by M.J. Roberts. Recommended
  • The Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland by M.J. Roberts, Harley Books. Recommended but expensive. Will be essential if you continue with the study of spiders
  • The World of Spiders by W. S. Bristowe, Collins New Naturalist Series. Now out of print but a fascinating and very readable introduction to the British spider fauna and well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.