Saturday, 6 June 2020

May 2020: Interesting sightings from around the Abingtons

May 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Frog – adults and young frogs seen from time to time in ponds throughout the month. Young frogs observed leaping across mown lawn to reach a garden pond on South Road, presumably dispersing from neighbouring ponds. Towards the end of the month, a large adult frog was found in damp shade in the vegetable patch of the same garden. This indicates the breeding season is nearly over and most amphibians will start seeking out land-based habitats for the rest of the year. 
Common Toad – two adults seen in pond on South Rd throughout the month but no toad spawn.
Smooth (or Common) Newt – adults sighted in ponds in GA and LA throughout the month.
Grass Snake – one adult seen in pond in West Field during the warm weather at the beginning of the month, and another (c. 45 cm long) sunning itself in a garden on Cambridge Road on 19th.

Birds
Abington Bird Survey – Friday 22nd to Monday 25th May – a splendid total of 63 species seen within the Abington parishes, with 19 reports received (full report here).
Cuckoo – first heard on 9th May along ORC, then regularly seen and heard at several sites across the village until the end of month. Last previous report in the village was in May 2017.
Swift – first seen around Great Abington church on 5th (cf 4th May last year), and 4-9 regularly around the village since. Swallow – generally 1-2 (occasionally up to 6) feeding over LSA paddocks, and alongside Cambridge Road. House Martin – up to 8 seen around their nests on the school, and in Mortlock Gardens.
Reed Warbler – one heard singing from a thicket behind Lewis Crescent. Willow Warbler – singing bird near South Grove on 3 occasions. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat - all regularly heard throughout the month, especially on the ORC, LSA, Sluice Wood and the Roman Road.
Common Sandpiper – two flying low over GP lake, and alighting briefly before moving on (10th).
Blue Tit – several reports of garden nest boxes being used. One nest (with a camera) had eight eggs on 5th, which hatched and the young grew up and fledged by 22nd.  Long-tailed Tit - larger family groups reported, and Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit young all seen being fed.
Robin – several nests known in gardens, many of which fledged first broods later in the month.
Goldcrest – one seen in garden on LSA, and heard in trees along Chalky Road.
Bullfinch – one male in South Road garden, and a pair along ORC and Roman Road. Goldfinch – good numbers (6-8) regularly on feeders, latterly with young. Greenfinch, Chaffinch – generally lower numbers (2-3), and reported less often.
Pied Wagtail – family groups feeding in paddocks on LSA, and on GP cricket green.
Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Linnet – reports of singing birds from ORC, LSA and Roman Road.  Reed Bunting – two males singing in reedbed on GP (23rd). Skylark – up to 8 singing above fields across the village.
Song Thrush – beneath garden feeders, and regularly singing along ORC. Mistle Thrush – adult carrying food on rec. ground (2nd), and unusually large flock (10) feeding in field on LSA (24th).
Great Spotted Woodpecker – adult and two juveniles on garden feeder, and young seen in a nest in Sluice Wood.  Green Woodpecker – 1-2 adults, and likely juvenile in garden on Cambridge Road, and on LSA.  Nuthatch – regularly on feeders in High St garden, and one heard near Hildersham Wood.
Collared Dove, Stock Dove – several pairs reported in gardens. Jay – single bird at several sites.
Barn Owl – single bird flying over Lewis Crescent late evening (5th). Tawny Owl – heard Cambridge Road (8th) and Lewis Crescent (10th), and regularly near South Road. Little Owl – pair observed regularly flying to and from nest site, presumably feeding young (24th).
Red Kite – several reports of single bird over GP, the ORC and South Road, as well as near Abington Park Farm. Buzzard, Kestrel – 1-2 regularly over ORC, LSA and Roman Road. Sparrowhawk – several reports, one of a hunting attempt around garden feeders.
Grey Heron – one reported being mobbed by corvids, also one in trees along Cambridge Road.
Tufted Duck one male reported, as well as Moorhen, and Mallard with 2-3 duckling on GP lake.
Greylag (2-8), Barnacle Goose (2) and Canada Goose (up to 10, including a pair with three gosling), and a Cormorant on GP lake.
Red-legged Partridge – pairs in Cambridge Road garden, and in fields on LSA.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
May has been also good month for invertebrates this year with 377 reports; this is more than twice as many as May 2019 with 163 reports.  The reasons for this increase maybe again the long spells of sunny and very warm weather; but the almost complete lack of rain during May will have affected the number of reports later in the month. The lockdown due to the pandemic of Coronavirus COVID 19 forced many villagers to stay at home as requested by the government and some even completely isolated at home.  Fortunately, the majority of our villagers have gardens, so watching butterflies and other wildlife was again a  welcome respite from all the worries and stress caused by the virus.
All these reports are from within the boundaries of Great and Little Abington, with a few from Granta Park. Note that the numbers given are not the numbers of butterflies and other insects but the number of times a species was reported by someone.

Butterflies (15 species, 293 reports)
Small White – 57 reports                Brimstone – 55 reports            Holly Blue – 52 reports
Orange Tip – 42 reports                 Red Admiral – 27 reports         Large White – 13 reports
Green-veined White – 12 reports  Speckled Wood – 10 report     Small Tortoiseshell – 7 reports
Small Heath – 4 reports                 Common Blue – 4 reports        Peacock – 4 reports
Brown Argus – 2 reports               Comma – 1 report                     Meadow Brown – 1 report

Bees (48 reports)
Buff-tailed Bumblebee                 Red-tailed Bumblebee             White-tailed Bumblebee
Honey Bee                                     Carder bee

Large Red Damselfly                    Azure Damselfly                      Blue Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly             Four-spotted Chaser               Broad-bodied Chaser

7 Spot Ladybird                            Harlequin Ladybird
Cock Chafer (Maybug)

Mammals
Hare – one large brown hare was seen near Abington Park Farm on 1st, three more were seen on Strawberry Farm on 18th, and another three in Abington Park Farm on 27th.
Stoat – one was spotted in an LSA garden on 1st.
Field Vole – a regular visitor seen in Cambridge Road under a bird feeder throughout the month.
Bat – a large bat regularly flew around a Bourn Bridge Rd garden during the month.
Hedgehog – droppings reported in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden in the last two weeks of the month.
Fox – one spotted in rough ground to the rear of Strawberry Farm on 18th, and a second near the Perse Sports fields (30th)
Muntjac – two were seen on Strawberry Farm on 18th.
Rat – one large brown rat was seen on Abington Park Farm on 27th.

Flora
Wild-flower species reported in bloom from around the village: Bourn Bridge Road, the ORC, Sluice Wood, the Roman Road, near Abington Park Farm, and near Hildersham Wood:
Hawthorn, Cow Parsley, Cowslip, Speedwell, Red Dead-nettle, White Dead-nettle, Buttercup, Forget-me-Not, Garlic Mustard, Field Poppy, White Campion, Red Campion, Ox-eye Daisy (everywhere!), Hoary Cress, Dog Rose, Cornflower, Elderflower, Wild Strawberry, Bugle, Germander Speedwell, Rough Hawkbit, Daisy, Common Yellow Rocket, Marsh Marigold, Yellow Flag, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Alkanet, Comfrey, Common Storksbill, Field Pansy, Ground Ivy, Hawksbeard, Lesser Bugloss, Prickly Sow-Thistle, Ragged Robin, Soft Cranesbill, Spear Thistle, Phacelia, Lady’s Smock, Crimson Clover, Tufted (?) Vetch, Cut-leaved Cranesbill.

Rivercare
In May, the water quality testing gave the usual results: clear, colourless, high nitrate, negligible phosphate. River level is pretty low at present, but with reasonable flow. Also received reports of small fish seen around the gravel shoals, (unidentifiable species but likely to be Minnow).

Weather
An extremely dry month with zero rainfall recorded – Gaynor indicating that she has never recorded that before!  Predominately sunny and dry, with a wide range of temperatures; the maximum day time temperature was 30.5 degrees (21st), with a minimum of minus 2.5 degrees (12th).

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for May 2020:
Barry Brooks, Peter Brunning, Audrey Bugg, Mike Bull, Lois Bull, Peter Dawson, Tony Dron, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, Ross Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Sheena Fraser, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, Emma Jones, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Ben Olley, Catherine Orgee, Freda Orgee, Peter Page, Brian Parris, Pamela Parris, Marion Rusted, Annette Shortell, Gill Smith, John Turner, Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, John Webb, Mervyn Wingfield.

Please email your sightings, 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
Mammals:                       Gill Smith                         richardandgill.smith@live.co.uk
Flora:   Currently vacant - if interested, please contact David Farrant for more details.

Abbreviations: GA – Great Abington, LA – Little Abington, LSA – Land Settlement Association, GP – Granta Park, ORC – Old Railway Cutting.

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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)