Sunday, 3 March 2019

February 2019. Interesting sightings around The Abingtons

Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Frog - first reports of activity in a garden pond in South Road on 22 Feb, with first spawn of the year appearing in a pond on Chalky Road on 26 Feb.  This is the earliest record of frog spawn in the Abingtons since reporting began in 2011, no doubt encouraged by the five days of warm weather at the end of the month. 

Many species continue to be reported in small flocks, prior to dispersing to breed. In particular, 10 Meadow Pipit and up to 60 Pied Wagtail were reported on the cricket green, a flock of 20 Yellowhammer were regularly seen on the arable fields on the Land Settlements, and 10-30 Linnet along the Old Railway Cutting and on Granta Park. Up to 44 Reed Bunting were seen roosting in the reeds around Granta Park lake.
Winter visitors such as Fieldfare (up to 50) and Redwing (up to 100) were reported throughout the month, particularly on the fields between the churches, and near Hildersham Wood. 
Golden Plover – a flock of ~30 were reported flying over fields near Abington Park Farm.
Siskin were reported for the first time this winter (14 Feb) on feeders at two locations – far fewer than last year. There have been no reports of Redpoll yet this winter.
Nuthatch (1-2) and Great Spotted Woodpecker were also seen on several garden feeders, visiting almost daily at some locations. 
Goldfinch and Chaffinch in flocks of 10-12 were regulars in several gardens, occasionally joined by only 1 or 2 Greenfinch, numbers of which seem to be sharply down this year.
Bullfinch (2-6) were twice reported feeding on tree flower buds, along the Old Railway Cutting (10 Feb) and in a garden on the Settlements (24 Feb).
Goldcrest – a pair was spotted in conifers along Cambridge Road (10 Feb), and occasionally a single bird was seen amongst mixed tit flocks on Granta Park.
Jay - reported at two locations, as a regular visitor to one, and was seen recovering stashed acorns from a garden lawn.
Little Egret - spotted several times along the river (18 and 26 Feb), as was a Grey Wagtail, seen feeding on the floating mats of fallen leaves near the sluice (20 Feb). Grey Heron were also regularly seen along the river.
Red Kite were reported on three occasions, flying over Granta Park, Four Went Ways and North Road.  Up to six Buzzard were also seen soaring high on the thermals over Hildersham Wood, above North Road, and around the meadows alongside the river. A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk were also occasionally seen over Granta Park.
Skylark was reported singing on 10 Feb, along the Old Railway Cutting - first time this year.
Corn Bunting was heard singing from a small clump of dried grasses near Abington Park Farm, also the first report this year, on 19 Feb. 
Several other species were also heard singing this month, including Blackbird, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Wren and Robin.  A large number of Song Thrush have been heard around the village, as well as a Mistle Thrush high up in trees by old A11, and a Coal Tit singing in oak trees in Gt Abington (24 Feb), and on Granta Park in following days.
Red-legged Partridge – a small covey was seen in the fields alongside Cambridge Road (25 Feb).  

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
Brimstone butterflies first seen on 15 Feb.  Then 28 reports of Brimstone between 22 and 27 Feb, mainly in gardens across the village and a few along the Roman Road. (In the five years 2014 to 2018 a total of only 21 were recorded.) Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, first seen on 22 Feb with four more reported 23 to 27 Feb.
Comma butterfly first seen on 22 Feb in the warm sunshine, with three more reports over the following days.
Red Admiral butterfly first seen on 25 Feb in Church Lane.
Peacock butterfly first seen on 27 Feb in West Field
Buff-tailed Bumblebee first reported on 16 Feb and then 11 further reports between 21 and 27 Feb.
Early Bumblebee seen on 25 Feb along High Street.
Red-tailed Bumblebee seen on 26 Feb in garden on Cambridge Road.  
7-spot Ladybird first reported on 12 Feb and then large numbers seen on 27 Feb in a garden on South Road.
No Harlequin ladybirds reported.
Note that between 22 and 27 Feb the weather was exceptionally mild, accounting for larger numbers of early insects.

Snowdrop and Aconite flowers in Granta Park woods were at their best in the sum mid-month.
Coltsfoot reported in flower near Hildersham Wood on 23 Feb, much earlier than last year.
Sweet Violet and Celandine were seen in flower on rough ground along the High Street towards the end of the month.

Montjac Deer – several sightings throughout the month, including two deer in Sluice Wood, two near the Old Railway Cutting, and a one in a garden on Lt Abington High Street.
Hare – two seen south of the Old Railway Cutting (10 Feb).  Two reports of a group of three seen on the fields near Abington Park Farm, and 1-2 regularly at dusk on rough ground on Granta Park towards the end of the month.
Roe Deer – a group of 14 in the field near Hildersham Wood in 25 Feb.
Badger – report of one in Abington Woods near the river on 28 Feb.

Many thanks to all those who have contributed reports of their sightings for February 2019: 
Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Ros Hedges, Jennifer Hirsh, Susan Hodges, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Ross Nobes, Freda Orgee, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, George Woodley.

Please email your sightings, from within the Abington parishes, to the relevant ANW Recorder:
Amphibians:      Anne Dunbar Nobes
Birds:                 Derek Turnidge   
Butterflies etc    Jennifer Hirsh      
Flowers:            Sally Turnidge     
Mammals:         Gill Smith             

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The Aims of Abington Naturewatch

At their meeting on 9 April 2005 the members approved this revised version of the aims of Abington Naturewatch:

  • To monitor and record the wildlife (fauna & flora) within the borders of the Abingtons;
  • To encourage protection of our wildlife, maintain its quality and foster its diversity;
  • To promote awareness of the richness, potential and problems of the natural environment of the Abingtons;
  • To cooperate in improving access to the local natural environment for the benefit of all Abington villagers.

Pat Daunt, Founder

The organisation is informal and communication is by email if possible; members are notified of events from time to time. Contact details are maintained by a small "project team". There is currently no membership fee as costs are covered by voluntary contributions at events.

Members are encouraged to report notable sightings of flora and fauna within the Abingtons to the appropriate sector coordinator and an illustrated record is published annually.

A map of the area covered, with some features noted, is available here:>

For more information or to join, please contact David Farrant on (01223) 892871 or Peter Brunning via e-mail

Contributions to our records should be sent to sector contacts or either of the above. Photographs may also be submitted to Andy Merryweather (