Thursday 26 September 2019

Autumnal photos

Andy M's walk around Granta Park today had a distinctly autumnal feel about it.

The 'fall' is starting

 Interesting patterns in 'flotsam' on the river

 Autumn pumpkin crop

 Woodpigeon egg - most likely carried away from the nest after hatching.  
Unlike most birds in the UK, Woodpigeon can breed well into the autumn.

Sunday 22 September 2019

United Nations Climate Action Summit


Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society. To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is asking leaders, from government, business and civil society, to come to the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September with plans to address the global climate emergency. The Summit will spark the transformation that is urgently needed and propel action that will benefit everyone.

We can, We must, All Play Our Part ... 
Act Now - do Something Great for our planet today!

Thursday 19 September 2019

Speckled Bush Cricket

Polly M saw this large Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) in the garden today - an impressive specimen, even without a leg!

Red Admiral butterfly

Bill R took this lovely photo of a Red Admiral butterfly on some ripening grapes in Marian's garden - all very autumnal.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Lesson well learned for a young Goldfinch

Since Andy M started feeding the birds again this month, family groups of Goldfinch have found the feeders and visit regularly. On several occasions, he has heard young birds 'bouncing off' an adjacent window, as they discover that glass is solid!  Polly M took a photo of this one, dazed but unharmed, 'recovering' in the plants under the window. It flew off shortly afterwards - a lesson well learned!!

Rivercare and Beachcare flier

A recent flier from the Rivercare and Beachcare group - for your interest.

Wednesday 4 September 2019

August 2019. Interesting sightings around the Abingtons

August 2019
Amphibians and Reptiles
Frog – some reports of frogs in damp, shady spots away from permanent water in gardens.
Toad – several reports near garden ponds.
Smooth Newt - young newts continue to flourish in a garden pond on South Road.

Generally a quiet month for birds, many of which have finished breeding and remain largely inconspicuous whilst completing their moult. Towards the end of the month though, family groups of several species were being seen and, after several weeks of silence, birdsong could again be heard, in particular of Robin, Wren and Song Thrush.
Kingfisher – one along river in Sluice Wood (8th), and again perching on the Millennium Bridge (12th).
Common Tern – several small flocks, totalling around 50, flying over and all heading north (21st).
Yellow Wagtail two reports of single birds flying over Granta Park, presumably on migration.
Barn Owl – one heard screeching loudly during night in Gt Abington.
Swift – 3-4 around Lt Abington Church, one over the Old Railway Cutting 9th.  Last report (23rd) was of a single bird briefly seen drinking from Granta Park lake, before moving on.
Swallow – one flying low over cricket green, four reports of 2-6 over Granta Park, and c20 over Perse sports fields (15th and 23rd).
House Martin – several gatherings around the village, especially later in the month.  Including 100+ over Perse sports fields (23rd), and c40 over the new lakes on Granta Park (30th).
Grey Wagtail – several reports along river near Millennium Bridge, and one in Sluice Wood.  Pied Wagtail also gathering in larger groups (10-12) to feed on open ground.
Blackcap – several reports of single birds in gardens, and within mixed flocks on Granta Park. Chiffchaff, Goldcrest – single birds also seen as part of a mixed flock in Lagden’s Grove.
Long-tailed Tit – on garden feeders in Lt Abington, and flocks of c10 on Granta Park.  Great Tit, Blue Tit – small family groups often mixed appearing in gardens and in Sluice Wood, occasionally also containing the odd Coal Tit.
Goldfinch – several small groups in gardens and Granta Park, of adults and the more subdued-coloured juveniles.  No reports of Greenfinch or Chaffinch.
Linnet – small flocks, including juveniles, feeding on seed heads on rough ground on Granta Park.
Red Kite – several reports over the fields south of LSA.  Buzzard – one over LSA, and several times over Home Farm Meadow.  Kestrel – one along Old Railway Cutting.
Sparrowhawk – one seen catching a pigeon in garden, and one flying along North Road, LSA.
Green Woodpecker – regularly on garden lawn on Cambridge Road, and also on Granta Park.
Nuthatch – single bird in top branches of ancient oak tree near Hildersham Wood.
Canada Goose – large numbers (21-46) on Granta Park lake throughout the month, accompanied by 1-3 Greylag and seven Barnacle Goose.  Up to 35 Mallard, still mostly in eclipse plumage.
Jackdaw – large flock of 100+, with a few Rook, wheeling around over Pampisford Road (28th).
Starling – flock of c50 over Granta Park (14th).

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
This has been a quieter month for butterfly reports, probably due to the generally dry weather and lack of flowering food plants. Only 222 reports during this month.

Butterflies  reports were dominated by the White butterflies (Large, Small and Green-veined).  Next were Red Admiral (a surprisingly large number in the last two weeks of the month), Comma (more than usual) and Painted Lady (lovely to see, looking like small water-colour paintings, but not enough to be a ‘Painted Lady year’).
Some Brimstone and Speckled Wood were reported, but disappointingly few Small Tortoiseshell which seem to be in decline. Other species seen, but in lower than usual numbers, were Gatekeeper, Peacock, Ringlet and Meadow Brown.  Much less common butterflies seen were Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper and Large Skipper.

Dragonflies - several reports of Southern Hawker. Two Emperor at Granta Park, as well as two reports of Common Darter.
Bumblebees scarcity of reports.
Other reports: Hummingbird Hawkmoth and a few Ladybird. Two sightings of Wasp Spider, in meadows near the Granta Park lake, and in a garden in Lt Abington (Blog article).

On Wednesday 7th, Sally Turnidge led an evening walk, principally to look at the flora along the Old Railway Cutting. The following species of flora were recorded: Burdock, Common Cudweed, Cotton Thistle, Great BindweedHemp Nettle, Knapweed, Marjoram, MignonetteOld Man's Beard, Perforated St John's Wort, Ragwort, Red Bartsia, Scabious, Teasel, Toadflax, Weld, White Campion, Wild Parsnip, Yellow Wort. (Blog Article).

Pipistrelle Bat - large numbers at dusk over Cambridge Road garden, towards the end of the month.
Field or Short-tailed Vole – one report from Lt Abington garden.
Fox – one observed scrumping plums in broad daylight in a garden on the LSA.
Stoat – one seen running across ‘hairdresser path’ on Granta Park
Muntjac – two sightings, one in Lagden Grove and one on South Road

Abington RiverCare team were joined by Lynsey Stafford from RiverCare for their routine river sampling on 13th – see Blog Article for results.

August was a dry month, with little rain 33mm, and hot temperatures at times.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for August 2019:
Darren Bast, Peter Brunning, Mike and Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, Frances Daunt, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Jennifer Hirsh, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Ross Nobes, David Pimblett, Eddie Randall, Gareth Rees, Ian Sainsbury, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge.

Please email your sightings, within the Abington parishes, to the relevant ANW Recorder:
Amphibians and reptiles: Anne Dunbar Nobes
Birds:                               Derek Turnidge     
Butterflies, Bees etc:       Jennifer Hirsh        
Flowers:                          Sally Turnidge       
Mammals:                       Gill Smith               

Wych Elm tree 'oozing' liquid

Darren B and Andy M spotted something unusual happening around a Wych Elm tree in Lagden's Grove.  Large numbers of blowflies, wasps, hornets, Red Admiral butterflies and other insects, were gathered all over the bark, spreading right up the trunk of the tree.

In some places, the insects were gathered around dark areas where (presumably) sap was obviously oozing from the bark.  However, in other areas, insects and in particular the butterflies, were also apparently feeding within the cracks and crevices, even though no damage or sap was obvious.

A little internet searching suggested that the tree may have become infected with bacterial wetwood.  The bacteria enter the tree through wounds in the trunk, branches, or roots, and over time  as the infection spreads deep into the wood, high pressure builds inside affected trees from the bacterial fermentation activity.  Eventually, gases and sappy fluids start to ooze out through cracks or wounds on the tree, slowly running down the crevices of the rough bark. Interestingly, bacterial wetwood is more common in years when trees are suffering from drought stress.  

Apparently, affected trees can often recover from this, unless some other infection takes hold.  Either way, this was clearly a welcome bonanza for those insects happy to feed on the sugary liquid.

Wasps taking advantage of liquid oozing from a crack in the Elm bark

One of several Red Admiral butterflies, also apparently feeding on the bark, 
reaching into the crevices with their proboscis

Female Common Darter dragonfly

Andy M spotted these female Common Darter dragonflies patrolling a sunny glade in Lagden's Grove, which were very obligingly landing on prominent sunny perches, allowing some close-up photos.

According to 'British-Dragonflies'
'Common Darter are frequently found away from water, resting on the tops of plants in woodland ridesSimilar in appearance to other Darter species, particularly the Ruddy Darter, the Common Darter can be separated by its pale leg stripes, and black wings spotsboth of which could easily be discerned!

 Female Common Darter, nicely showing black wing spots

Female Common Darter, showing paler leg stripes

Monday 2 September 2019

Southern Hawker dragonfly

Andy M spotted this Southern Hawker dragonfly basking in the sun in Sluice Wood at lunchtime today.  It must have been dozing somewhat, since it let him get really quite close and take a photo before flying off.

Male Southern Hawker dragonfly

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:>

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 (