Saturday, 4 May 2019

April 2019. Interesting Sightings around The Abingtons.

APRIL 2019
Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Toad – one reported ‘lurking’ in a bag of compost (11 Apr).
Smooth Newt – reports of 1-2 in a pond on Cambridge Road (09 Apr), first time sighting in a new pond on Bourn Bridge Road, and plenty of newt activity in several other garden ponds.
Grass Snake – a thin but ~60cm long individual also reported in a pond on Cambridge Road, first sighting of the year (20 Apr).

Birds
Fieldfare – two reported on 03 Apr - last sighting of the year
Hirudines – Sand Martin - five flying low over GP lake (02 Apr). First Swallow seen passing overhead on 06 Apr (same date as 2018), and regularly across the village since, with pairs reported returning to nests on LSA (21 Apr).  House Martin first seen in village centre on 19 Apr (22 Apr in 2018), and returning to nest sites on the school, shop and in Mortlock Gardens.
Warblers – many Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing around the village throughout the month. Willow Warbler heard in copse on east edge of GP (23-26 Apr).
Many species regularly reported singing throughout the month including: Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Great Tit, Skylark, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush.
Blue Tit – several pairs seen entering nestboxes in gardens and on GP, with laid eggs reported in a nestbox on LSA (06 Apr).
Several reports of young fledging birds this month: young Blackbird on LSA (06 Apr) and Gt Abington (27 Apr); Robin family with 3 fledglings in Gt Abington (15 Apr); young Song Thrush on LSA (15 Apr); several groups of Mallard ducklings, 10 in Sluice Wood, 5 near Millennium Bridge, 14 near road bridge (all after 22 Apr); Dunnock fledgling being fed by parent in GP (24 Apr).
Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard (up to 5) all reported.  Hobby – two flying over (18 Apr), and a Red Kite reported several times.
Barn Owl – one heard at night in Gt Abington (21 Apr), and Little Owl have again been seen on GP (01-10 Apr), near the site where they bred last year.
Greylag and Canada Goose (up to 5) on GP lake, as was an occasional Cormorant.
Grey Heron – regularly along the river, with up to 5 seen on Bancroft Farm Meadow. One also reported being mobbed by corvids in a tree on Church Lane
Grey Wagtail – a single female seen three times early in the month, feeding along the river in Sluice Wood.  A few reports of Pied Wagtail, especially on the cricket pitches, and in LSA paddocks.
Finches – Chaffinch regularly around feeders, along with good numbers of Goldfinch. Small numbers of Greenfinch (mostly 2-3) also reported on several feeders. Two pairs of Bullfinch along the Old Railway Cutting (06 and 13 Apr), and 50-90 Linnet feeding on rough ground on GP throughout the month
Buntings Reed Bunting reported twice in the reeds on GP, and along the Old Railway Cutting.  Several Yellowhammer heard singing near the Old Railway Cutting (06 Apr).
Stock Dove – 2-4 regularly around Hall Farm Meadow, and several reports in gardens recently.
Goldcrest – two reports, on GP and Cambridge Road.
Treecreeper – one seen on LSA (16 Apr), and heard on Dawn Chorus walk on GP (25 Apr)
Raven – single bird over Old Railway Cutting, ‘korrping’ loudly (06 Apr) – first report in The Abingtons.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
A good number of reports in April (181 in total) but the weather was very variable with some very warm days and also some frosty nights. In the four days of the Easter weekend (late this year), with beautiful and exceptionally warm weather, 40% of all April sightings were reported.
Orange Tip – large number of sightings (40) throughout the month showing a welcome increase in numbers after a few poor years.
Brimstone – 35 sightings with fewer later in the month and numbers lower than last year.
Small White - 22 reports, Green-veined White, 4 reports, and  Large White 3 reports.
Holly Blue – sightings (20) mostly towards the end of the month.
Speckled Wood – 12 sightings, more than usual for April.
Peacock – 11 sightings during the month, possibly over-wintered butterflies.
Comma – 6 sightings during the month, numbers seem to be increasing.
Small Tortoiseshell – 2 sightings, but there should be more later in the summer.
Small Copper and Red Admiral reported in Lagden’s Grove (18 Apr) by GP staff.

Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebees – fewer sightings (10) than usual.
Honey Bees – few sightings only.
Tree Bumblebee – sighted on 29 Apr, and a couple of other more unusual bees. 
Hairy-footed Flower Bee – single male and female reported.
Beeflies – reported 6 times, perhaps being recognised more widely now.
7-spot Ladybirds – seen a few times.
Large Red Damselfly – reported in Lagden’s Grove (18 Apr) by member of GP staff.

Moths - one sighting of an Angle Shades moth, and Brown-tail Moth caterpillars reported in their webs on Hawthorn near Hildersham Wood.

Flowers
April started with the last of the Celandines which had been very pretty. Bluebells started in the middle of the month as well as Dandelions and Daisies which have been very prolific. This year Buttercups have also been good, since they were generally poor last year.
By the end of the month the Umbellifers began to flower on many roadside verges and Cowslips were lovely on the old railway cutting, and also on the ‘entrance meadow’ on Granta Park.
Common Storksbill and Early Forget-me-Not also flowered throughout the month on Granta Park, and Yellow Archangel flowered in Sluice Wood earlier in the month.
Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana) was in full bloom at the end of the month joined by Hawthorn and Elm. On 29th I saw the first Ragwort.

Mammals
Muntjac Deer – three reports this month, one each in Lagden’s Grove, in Sluice Wood, and along the Old Railway Cutting.
Hare – nine sightings in total, mostly around Granta Park.  Up to 5 Hare seen together in the field between High Street and Granta Park, and one in Lagden’s Grove, as well as one in fields south of the Old Railway Cutting, and two chasing each other around near Abington Park Farm.
Fox – single report of one animal walking along the Old Railway Cutting early morning (13 Apr)
Badger – one seen early morning in a garden on South Road, noisily crunching snails (21 Apr)
Hedgehog – one reported on South Road on 12 Apr.

RiverCare
The river fauna was sampled at the ford on 29th April.  The river level was noted as low, in part due to the low rainfall (10mm) during April.
Larval forms identified included species of Caseless Caddisfly, Up-wing flies such as Mayfly and Olives, Freshwater Shrimp, Hairworms and a number of bivalves and small fish.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for April 2019:
Darren Bast, Peter Brunning, Vicki Brunning, Lois Bull, Daunt family, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Ros Hedge, Jennifer Hirsh, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Ross Nobes, Brian Parris, Pamela Parris, Gareth Rees, Marion Rusted, Gill Smith, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge.

Please email your sightings, from within the Abington parishes, to the relevant ANW Recorder:
Amphibians and reptiles: Anne Dunbar Nobes        ac.dunbar.nobes@gmail.com
Birds:                               Derek Turnidge               derek@turnidges.com
Butterflies, Bees etc:       Jennifer Hirsh                  jennifer@hirsh.com
Flowers:                          Sally Turnidge                 sally@turnidges.com
Mammals:                       Gill Smith                        richardandgill.smith@live.co.uk

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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: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=213774935674882866424.00000111dca2be9f06ab8&z=13>

For more information or to join, please contact David Farrant on (01223) 892871 or Peter Brunning via e-mail peter.brunning@cantab.net.

Contributions to our records should be sent to sector contacts or either of the above. Photographs may also be submitted to Andy Merryweather (amerryweather61@gmail.com)