I'm currently trying to improve my spider identification skills. I can't say it's easy, although many of the species I have been working with are Linyphiids (money spiders) that six months ago I wouldn't have even bothered with (but I'm still not quite brave enough to tackle all the little black ones yet). At the recent Recorders Conference there were two good talks about spiders. One was from our County Recorder Paul Palmer. It's reassuring to find that it's not just me who finds spiders difficult. The ever-reliable Brian Eversham also had some useful advice for identifying spiders. "To learn to identify spiders" he said, "you need to correctly identify 10,000 spiders. Then you can identify spiders." I'm not quite sure where I am on the Eversham Scale, but I am sure his advice is correct.
Diaea dorsata has been turning up quite a bit recently. I beat the above specimen from Ivy at the weekend but I was slightly surprised to see the specimen below wandering across the ceiling of my study yesterday morning. Fortunately, Diaea dorsata is one of the spiders that I can identify :-)