Sunday, 5 July 2020

June 2020. Interesting sightings from around the Abingtons.

June 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Frog – adults continued to be seen in ponds and on dry land in gardens. Small numbers of young frogs observed making their way across lawn and rough ground in garden in South Road to find damp places to spend the rest of the summer.
Common Toad - one, occasionally two, adults observed in pond on South Road throughout the month, often stationary for hours with head above water. On 16th, a mass exodus of tiny toadlets was observed around Granta Park lake. The ground was a moving carpet of toadlets all heading away from their birth-place to find land-based homes till they return to breed next year. This phenomenon has not been reported before in the Abingtons and so is a notable first.
Smooth (or Common) Newt – Single adults reported through the month in garden ponds, and the first, almost transparent, newt ‘tadpole’ was caught in a pond on South Road on 15th.
Grass Snake – No reported sightings despite some hot days during the month when Grass Snakes would be expected to visit ponds.

Birds
European Bee-eater – one seen briefly in a Cambridge Road garden (1st). A very colourful and exotic-looking bird, relatively unusual in Cambridgeshire.
Common Tern – one flying over Lewis Crescent (13th).
Tufted Duck – pair on GP lake (5th), and more unusually, one flying over near Abington Park Farm.
Hobby – one adult flying along ORC early morning on 13th. Sparrowhawk – two reports of birds hunting around feeders on from Lewis Crescent. Kestrel – at several sites around the village.
Red Kite – several reports of single birds from around the edges of the villages, and unusually 3 reported together on South Road (17th). Buzzard – 1-2 regularly seen south of LSA, and at several other sites.  Tawny Owl – 1-2 reports of birds calling from LSA, and Cambridge Road.
Warblers – many reports of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, including young, singing Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat (particularly along the Roman Road and ORC).  Reed Warbler - occasionally heard singing on ORC, and unusually at the end of Chalky Road. Willow Warbler – also heard twice on the LSA, around mid-month.
Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit - regular reports of family groups in gardens, and along ORC. Coal Tit, Goldcrest – fewer reports, generally 1-2 around conifer trees on LSA, and occasionally from gardens.
Bullfinch – a pair reported on LSA, ORC and occasionally a garden. Goldfinch – small family groups regularly on garden feeders. Greenfinch, Chaffinch – small groups more commonly seen on LSA and ORC, away from gardens.
Robin – adults with juveniles reported from several gardens. Song Thrush – singing males still regularly heard, especially along ORC and on LSA, also a few reports of 1-2 returning to gardens. Mistle Thrush – one report from Cricket Field (13th).
Swift – 2-5 often reported, generally over GA this year, but up to 12 seen feeding over Perse sports fields (3rd). Swallow – fewer reports and generally only 1-2 birds, but a flock of c12 adults and young was seen feeding above the crops south of the LSA (12th). House Martin – 2-6 frequently seen around nests near the school and in Mortlock Gardens, and c12 over GP lake (13th).
Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker – reports of adults and 1-2 young coming to feeders in several gardens.  Nuthatch – adults, and a family of 5, regularly seen on feeders on High Street LA, and unusually, one seen in a garden on the LSA.  Treecreeper – one heard in South Grove on LSA.
Collared Dove, Stock Dove – 1-2 reported returning to gardens this month. 
Skylark, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Linnet – all regularly seen and heard in good numbers from fields and hedgerows along ORC, and south of LSA. Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant also seen regularly there.
Jay – six reports of 1-3 birds, including 2 adults and a juvenile on Cambridge Road.  Rook, Jackdaw – large mixed flocks, with many juveniles, in fields and roosting (noisily!) in trees around Lewis Crescent. Raven – one reported several times flying around large trees, near Hildersham Wood
On Granta Park: Barnacle Goose – 6 adults seen, along with several communal families of up to 18 Canada Goose.  A pair of Great Crested Grebe were briefly seen on the lake (5th), as well as a Cormorant, alongside the more regular Grey Heron (1-2), Mallard (up to 25) and 1-2 Moorhen.  Reed Bunting – singing males also heard in the reedbed. Pied Wagtail – small family groups of 4-5 on GP Cricket Field.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
June has been a good month for invertebrates this year, with 483 reports in total; this is more than twice as many as June 2019 with 223 reports.  The weather in June was very variable with quite a lot of rain and some unusual cold spells. Again, the lockdown due to the pandemic of Coronavirus COVID 19, forced many villagers to stay at home as requested by the government.  Fortunately, most 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. Also, when people were able to get out more for exercise, they were walking in parts of the village where there were more likely to see butterflies and other insects and less likely to come into contact with other people.
All these reports are from within the boundaries of Great and Little Abington parishes, including a few from Granta Park.  Note that the numbers given below are the number of reports of a species (not the number of butterflies).

Butterflies (23 species, 390 reports)
Reports for June were dominated by Meadow Brown, the Whites, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone. More Marbled White were reported than are normally seen in Abington. Only one Painted Lady seen so far this year (18 reports in 2019). Two butterflies rarely seen in Abington were the White-letter Hairstreak and the Dark Green Fritillary.
Butterfly species
Reports
Butterfly species
Reports
Meadow Brown
65
Comma
10
Small Tortoiseshell
61
Peacock
10
Small White
60
Ringlet
5
Large White
30
Essex Skipper
4
Brimstone
36
Common Blue
3
Large Skipper
21
Small Copper
2
Red Admiral
16
White Letter Hairstreak
2
Green-veined White
14
Brown Argus
1
Marbled White
12
Dark Green Fritillary
1
Small Heath
12
Gatekeeper
1
Small Skipper
12
Painted Lady
1
Speckled Wood
11



Bees (6 species, 23 reports)
Bee species
Reports
Bee species
Reports
White-tailed Bumblebee
10
Honey Bee
3
Carder Bee
4
Buff-tailed Bumblebee
2
Red-tailed Bumblebee
3
Tree Bumblebee
1

Moths (6 species, 14 reports)
Moth species
Reports
Moth species
Reports
Cinnabar moth
6
Burnet Moth
1
Box Tree Moth
3
Ermine Moth
1
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
3
Swallowtail Moth
1

Dragonflies (5 species, 11 reports), and Damselflies (7 species, 16 reports)
Dragonfly species
Reports
Damselfly species
Reports
Black-tailed Skimmer
3
Large Red Damselfly
7
Broad-bodied Chaser
3
Red-eyed Damselfly
2
Southern Hawker
2
Common Blue Damselfly
2
Emperor Dragonfly
2
Banded Demoiselle
2
Four-spotted Chaser
1
Blue-tailed Damselfly
1


Blue Damselfly
1

Azure Blue Damselfly
1

Other invertebrates (8 species, 22 reports)
Species
Reports
Species
Reports
Seven-spot Ladybird
11
Grasshopper
1
Hoverfly
6
Cockchafer
1
Shield Bug
2
Lesser Stag Beetle
1
Scorpion Fly
1
Hornet Mimic Hoverfly
1

Mammals
Bat – a large bat was still flying regularly around a Bourn Bridge Road garden during the month, and several in a Cambridge Road garden.
Fallow deer – three were seen near the Hildersham boundary on 11th.
Field vole – a regular visitor seen in Cambridge Road under a bird feeder throughout the month.
Fox – one was spotted several times this month on ORC.
Grey squirrel – seen frequently in several LA gardens throughout the month.
Hare – one seen on ORC several times during June.
Hedgehog – One has appeared almost every evening throughout the month for its evening meal of dog food in Lewis Crescent.
House Mouse – one seen in Lewis Crescent on 9th.
Muntjac – these have been regularly seen in Granta Park, ORC and Cambridge Road, and one in a High Street LA garden on 22nd June.
Stoat – two young stoats were videoed playing at the bottom of the foot bridge over A11 on 7th.

Flora
The Protected Verge on Bourn Bridge Road was examined for broad-leaf and grass plants during June. Twenty-four species of broad-leaf plants were recorded and seven grass species.
Red-, White- and Buff-tailed Bumble bees plus Hoverflies are currently very busy on the Knapweed and Scabious flowers. Now is a very good time to visit with most broad-leaf plants in full flower.
Other species reported in flower this month:
          Poppy, Bramble, Privet, Greater Broomrape (ORC and Roman Road), White Campion, Red Campion, Comfrey, Dog Rose and Oxeye Daisy (early in month), Elderflower, Nettle, Goat’s Beard, Woolly Thistle, Hemlock, Salad Burnet, Wild Parsnip, Mallow, Silverweed, Meadow Vetch, Bush Vetch, Tufted Vetch, Common St John’s Wort, Common Toadflax, Ragwort, Crow Garlic, Scabious, Lady’s Bedstraw and Hedge Bedstraw (particularly ORC), Bindweed, Lesser Bindweed, Hoary Mullein, Wild Strawberry, Rosebay Willow-herb, Pyramidal Orchid (LSA and GP), Viper’s Bugloss and Bee Orchid (GP),

Rivercare
A few minnows reported near the gravel shoal, and occasional trout near the road bridge.  Monthly river water quality analysis, after a longish spell of dry weather, indicated high nitrate (as usual, 7.5 mg/L – local average 3.5), but also high phosphate (1.2 mg/L – local average 0.035).
Peter B also ‘virtually’ attended, an interesting seminar by the U3AC environment group entitled 'Water, water everywhere but maybe not...'. The situation for Cambridgeshire chalk streams is quite worrying as they are not really coping, and the ongoing increase in population could be the end of them! It was agreed that rainfall was not really the problem, but the increasing abstraction, with augmentation - 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' – is not helping at all.

Weather
Total rainfall was 52.3 mm, 32 mm of which fell over just two days. Maximum day time temperature was 34.6 degrees (24th), with a minimum of 1.5 degrees (9th).  Temperatures over the month were around average until the 23rd when there were five days of over 30 degrees C.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for June 2020:
Sophie Brierley, Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, Emma Jones, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Marion Rusted, Sally Simmons, Valerie Silvey, Gill Smith, Richard Smith, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, John Webb, Diana 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)