I was surprised to read in my field guide that this spider, Meta segmantata, is probably (along with its cousin Meta mengei which prefers damper habitats) the most common web weaving spider in northern Europe. Why? Well I seem to see masses of common cross spiders every autumn but I think this photograph is one of the only records I have for Meta segmentata.
I think there are probably two reasons why I seem to see less of this particular species. Firstly, the common cross spider is very variable in colouration and I may dismiss many web spinning spiders as that species without really taking a closer look. Secondly, but possibly just as likely, is that unlike the common cross spider, Meta segmentata does not sit in the centre of its web to wait for prey. It hides, supremely camouflaged, on a nearby leaf with those long legs on its web waiting to detect vibrations of a struggling catch.
I confess that at times I have played games with these spiders! If I find a web with no spider in the middle I like to get a piece of grass and tickle the web and watch the spider run out to see what is for lunch. Next time I must take a closer look for it is probably Meta segmentata and not the common cross spider.
This also shows the value of writing these nature notes in my ongoing education about nature; I have, yet again, learned something new by writing this.