Tuesday 8 June 2021

May 2021: Interesting Sightings from around the Abingtons

May 2021

Amphibians and Reptiles

Smooth Newt – three sightings in LA ponds this month.

Common Frog – first report of a frog in a GA pond, on 9th, and again later in the month.

Keep a sharp eye out for a Grass Snake if you are near the river, and one was seen swimming in the ford along Rowley Lane, Babraham and the markings are beautiful.



With the warmer weather and southerly airstreams, came some of the last summer visitors – in particular larger numbers of hirundines, and some warblers – with some species arrival being reported two weeks later than usual in some parts of the country. Also few reports of fledged birds locally yet. A total of 602 reports were received, containing the 61 species seen in May.

House Martin – after the first single sighting in April, the bulk of the ‘home’ birds returned to nest sites in the village between 8th and 11th, with up to 8 seen together over GA High Street - in 2020 birds returned to nests around the school on 19th April. Similarly, Swift were first seen on 8th May (5th in 2020, 4th in 2019), returning to village nest sites over the following few days, with 15 seen on 31st over Hood’s Meadow. Swallow – continue to be reported widely throughout the month, notably around the LSA where up to 12 were seen (11th).

Warblers – Blackcap and Chiffchaff regularly heard at several sites, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat were seen occasionally on the LSA and ORC, and the Roman Road. More unusually, a Willow Warbler was reported just once on LSA (30th), and both Sedge Warbler (2nd) and Reed Warbler (30th) were heard singing from the reeds around GP, the Sedge Warbler being a first report for the Abingtons!

Raptors – a Hobby was seen hunting over the Perse sport fields (31st), with three reports of 1-2 Red Kite around BBRd, a Sparrowhawk was occasionally seen over Lewis Crescent, and there were regular sightings of a Kestrel and 1-2 Buzzard.

Kingfisher – one spotted along the river through Sluice Wood (2nd). Also along the river, four reports of a Little Egret, and a Grey Wagtail (30th). Several Grey Heron were seen around BBRd and GP, as well as a Cormorant, a pair of Mute Swan, and a large groups of Greylag and Canada Goose on the lake. Relatively few Mallard or Moorhen, with no ducklings yet reported.

Pied Wagtail – regular reports of larger groups, particularly feeding on the LSA and GP cricket green.

Corn Bunting, Linnet, Yellowhammer – regularly heard singing on the LSA, ORC and Roman Road, and both male and female Reed Bunting in the reeds on GP, and in Lewis Crescent. Skylark – often 5-6 singing together over the fields south of the LSA, and over the Roman Road.

Song Thrush – heard singing regularly at various sites, and a Mistle Thrush was seen gathering food on the village cricket field and taking it to a nearby nest.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – regularly visiting feeders in several gardens, and heard calling near nest sites on GP and near the recreation ground. Green Woodpecker – also several reports of birds calling around the village.

Goldcrest – one report from the LSA. Coal Tit regularly seen in a Cambridge Road garden.


Butterflies, Bees and other insects

May has been a very unusual month following a very dry April; it has also been colder than normal with some frosts in the early part of the month but hot dry weather at the end of the month. There have been 128 reports (in May last year there were 377 reports).

All these reports are from within Great and Little Abington parishes (excluding Granta Park). Note that the numbers below are the number of reports of sightings, not the numbers of butterflies or other insects seen.

Butterflies (111 reports):

Orange Tip, 30;   Brimstone, 23;   Small White, 22;   Holly Blue, 20;   Peacock, 4; 

Small Copper, 3;   Painted Lady, 2;   Red Admiral, 2;   Green-veined White, 1;   Comma, 1;

Small Tortoiseshell, 1;   Speckled Wood, 1;   Fritillary (spp unknown), 1.

Moths (2 reports): Ermine Moth caterpillars
Damselflies (4 reports): Large Red Damselfly, 3;   unknown spp, 1.
Dragonflies (3 reports): Hairy Dragonfly, 2;   Four-spotted Chaser, 1.
Bees (6 reports): Buff-tailed Bumblebee, 1;  White-tailed Bumblebee, 3;   Honey Bee, 2.
Beetle (1 report): Cockchafer.


Badger – grunts and squeals were heard coming from a sett along ORC on 10th.

Bat – seen regularly in a Cambridge Road garden and Bourn Bridge Road throughout May.

Field Vole – one in a Cambridge Road garden on the 7th.

Hare – one on the LSA on the 30th, and three in the fields north of Cambridge Road on the 31st.

Muntjac – one seen at each location - in GP on 2nd and 30th, a Bourn Bridge Rd garden on 8th, a LA garden on 9th, along ORC on 11th, and a female by the A11 bridge on 16th.

Flora & Fungi

Cowslip remained in profusion early in the month, but quickly dying back during the warm weather. Red Campion and White Campion reported at several sites across the villages, as were Buttercup, and Green Alkanet along Linton Road. Common Storksbill and Garlic Mustard appeared on GP, and Wild Mustard provided a splash on colour along ORC. Wild Arum flower spikes appeared as the foliage died back, and White Dead-nettle showed well, as did Wild Vetch, with Goat’s Beard, Ragged Robin and Comfrey starting to appear later in the month.

Hawthorn (May) blossom came and mostly went in the wet and windy weather, and the spiky Goat-Willow flowers were seen along the ORC.

The PRV starting to look good again, after a slow start.



The Rivercare team noted how good the river was looking at the monthly litter pick. The recent rains seem to have scoured out sediment and the water is very clear. The level is good but not too deep and there is a good flow. There is not much debris. 

A Great Spotted Woodpecker is nesting close to the river by the Recreation Ground, and a shoal of small fish, probably Minnow, was spotted by the accessible gravel shoal. 


At last RAIN! A healthy 80.25 mm and what a difference it has made to plant growth, compared with last May we had no rain at all over the month. Overall it was a chilly month with temperatures generally below average. The highest temperature was 25.9 degrees on the 29th May and the lowest was minus 2.5 degrees on the 1st.  Generally benign in terms of wind, but with a very sharp stormy spell at the beginning of the third.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for May 2021:
Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, Susan Hodges, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Joan Nevis, Freda Orgee, Marion Rusted, Kelly Shackleton, Gill Smith, Richard Smith, John Turner, Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge.
Please email your sightings, within the Abington parishes, to the relevant ANW Recorder:
Amphibians & Reptiles    Gaynor Farrant                gaynorfarrant198@btinternet.com
Birds:                                Derek Turnidge               derek@turnidges.com
Butterflies, Bees etc:         Jennifer Hirsh                  jennifer@hirsh.com
Mammals:                         Gill Smith                        richardandgill.smith@live.co.uk
Flora recorder 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. AbPkFm – Abington Park Farm.

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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.

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)