Tuesday 8 December 2009

Blackbird for breakfast?

Jim Cracknell took several pictures of this Sparrowhawk in his garden last week...

Saturday 24 October 2009

Autumnal notes

For the first time for a number of years the Bourn Bridge Road and Linton Road arable fields have been ploughed early. The big field just beyond the railway to the east of Chalky Road was in stubble until recently, but owing to the drought there was only one of our 'target' stubble plants above the ground, nothing to justify an expedition. I had hopes that the recent rain might have had some good results, only to find that the plough has now arrived there too.

Another good year for fruits and berries is some consolation. The Spindle Tree near the river at the border between the cricket and fooball fields is looking better than ever. Derek Turnidge provided these photos.

Next month's village News will have details of our autumn Members Meeting which will be on the morning of Saturday 14th November. Prominent points will be deciding on one or two winter bird outings, and collecting ideas for our Naturewatch Evening early in the New Year.

Pat Daunt
Naturewatch coordinator

Saturday 26 September 2009

River sampling - 26th September 2009

Beetle larvae


We sampled at the ford and near the newly repainted Millennium Bridge in a river that was quite low - with a lot of fools' water-cress in places. The samples were less abundant than usual but we saw one or two interesting creatures in and around the river, including a shoal of around 20 fish and a mallard. We also heard a great spotted woodpecker. The samples were predominantly larvae and shrimp, with a few worms and snails.

Monday 21 September 2009

Recent Bird sightings

We have had a flock (charm?) of up to 18 Goldfinches in the garden over the last few days.
On Monday lunchtime I was lucky enough to see a Kingfisher fly away upriver from the bank near the football pitch.
Please continue to let me have a note of any unusual sightings - there will we hope be winter visitors to report later: Redwings, Fieldfares, Bramblings....

Derek Turnidge
17 September

Swans at Granta Park

Photo by Liz Obstfeld

Thursday 23 July 2009

Roman Road Flora Study - 21st July 2009

When we met on the Hildersham - Balsham road, the weather did not look promising but we managed a couple of hours between showers.

The verges of the track up towards Gunner’s Hall offered an abundance of the taller plants with moderate diversity. Especially good to see were plenty of Restharrow and some Burnet Saxifrage, with the greenish tinge of its flowers quite clear. Other abundant calcicoles were Field Scabious, Greater Knapweed, Common Knapweed (’Hardheads’) still in bud, Wild Parsnip, White Campion, Mignonette, Perforate St John’s Wort and Lady’s Bedstraw. Prickly Oxtongue, Mugwort and Red Clover were also prominent. Of the shrubs in what is left of the high hedge, Spindle showed not many green fruits but Buckthorn plenty.

Many small bumble bees, notably buff- and white-tails, were busy especially on the purple blooms.

When we reached the Roman Road we were greeted by a fine clump of Viper’s Bugloss. Generally, here too only larger plants could flourish following the E.A’s radical clearance a few years back. There were some fine Mignonettes, while Parsnip and the Knapweeds (some Hardheads here in bloom) were seen in big numbers, Parsnip sometimes massed as was Spear Thistle; some of both Campions and occasional strands of White Bryony were there too. The pink buds were easy to spot on some good patches of Hedge Parsley (Torilis) and Wild Basil was widespread, scrambling its way upwards into the light. We were surprised not to see Wild Carrot, having one of its good years.

A few Gatekeepers, Ringlets and Meadow Browns were seen and several Painted Ladies, as well as one or two Cinnabar caterpillars on Ragwort and one happy Five-spot Burnet. The Nature Notes in my newspaper today reports: ‘The day-flying black and scarlet spotted burnet moths cling to the purple flower heads of the thistles, like drunks to an all-night bar’.

Viper's Bugloss

St John's Wort

Fly on Ragwort

Hedge Parsley (Torilis) and Wild Parsnip

Mignonette & Wild Basil


Monday 13 July 2009

Moth trapping - June 2009

Among others, David Farrant trapped these 3 moths in June:

Buff Tip

Elephant Hawk Moth

Swallowtailed moth

Saturday 11 July 2009

Fleam Dyke Walk - 11th July 2009

We met at the layby on the A11 and headed north-west along Fleam Dyke, returned for lunch and then headed south-east. A good show of butterflies and chalk-loving plants.

Bats in Little Abington church

Derek took these photos of a dead bat in the church on 9th July... and would like to know if anyone can identify it!

Saturday 20 June 2009

River Sampling, Thursday 18th June

With the kind permission of Granta Park, we conducted our first foray from their premises on the Left Bank (south) of the River Granta.

The first sampling, in the Sluice Wood area on good-looking gravel but under shade, having produced almost nothing, we did much better working from the side by culverts in open sites near the new buildings and then in front of the Hall. Populations were generally modest but diversity rather good.

A Three-Spined Stickleback appeared to be a female in spawn. Demoiselle or Damselfly nymphs were plentiful, a few of good-size having over-wintered, many smaller ones recently hatched. We saw no Caddisfly larvae. Of the crustaceans, we found Freshwater Shrimps in good numbers, and one Water Hoglouse; of the molluscs live Pond Snails and one live Ramshorn, but no bivalves; of the worms, a few Leeches and one Sludge Worm (Tubifex).

A general shortage of water plants was compensated by a Water Speedwell and a Water Figwort, both fine specimens, neither species often in our records.

Saturday 6 June 2009

On show in Bourn Bridge Road

Knapweed Broomrape - Photo by Sally Turnidge

Moth Study - 30th May

The traps were set up overnight - there were some spectacular specimens but not in large quantities.

Photos by David Farrant: the large moth is an Eyed Hawkmoth; the others are a White Ermine and (darker) a Setaceous Hebrew Character.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Visit to RSPB Lakenheath - 21 May 2009

We gathered at the visitor centre at 10:00 am for a guided walk.The fenland site has been restored to reed beds, with some poplar plantations remaining. We saw birds like Marsh and Sedge Warblers, Marsh Harriers, Hobbies - too fast to photograph - and a variety of insects. We also heard the Bitterns booming...

Friday 8 May 2009

Grass Snake in Great Abington

3 foot (1 metre) grass snake seen in a garden pond on Saturday 2 May 2009. Pictures taken by Jenny Nobes.

Saturday 25 April 2009

River Sampling - 25th April 2009

The second expedition tool place today, after the monthly litter pick-up. We sampled at the ford and the Millennium Bridge. We saw trout and caught minnows, with usual mayfly nymphs, shrimp and leeches. Near the bridge we saw bees swarming on the hedge by the cricket ground.

Saturday 11 April 2009

River Sampling - 11th April 2009

The first sampling session of the year was in 'Hood's Reach' - between the two Abington churches and Abington Hall - by kind permission of the land-owner. This section of the river is quite deep and somewhat inaccessible when the bullrushes and nettles are fully grown. However, at this time of year, it proved fairly easy to sample from the bank.

We saw shoals of minnows and managed to catch one fish. We also found a variety of mayfly and damsel fly nymphs, with the usual shrimp and hog-louse. There were a lot of caddis fly larvae and a large ramshorn snail.

On a fence post by the river side, we saw a banded snail.

Next session: 25th April (after the regular inspection and litter-pick) - meet at the ford at 10:30.

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)