Thursday 31 October 2019

News. First Fieldfare of the season seen

31st October 2019

A pair of Fieldfare were seen and heard by Andy M this morning flying over his garden.

Derek noted that these were the first reports of Fieldfare this season in the Abingtons, and encourages everyone to email him with their winter visitor reports.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Autumn notes on Granta Park

The low sunlight and wonderful autumn colours painted a number of lovely scenes around Granta Park today - Andy M.

Fairy-rings and fungi!

Andy M spotted quite a number of rather lovely toadstool fairy-rings (Marasmius species)
on the Granta Park cricket pitch today, as well as  number of other ones around the park. 

A Puffball - just starting to come up ...

... and another that is over

Sunday 27 October 2019

More toadstools - Parasols and Inkcaps!

The change in the weather seems to have bought out the mushrooms and toadstools around the village. Jennifer H reported a large number of Parasol Mushrooms in Abington Woods, and Anne D-N found a fine 'colony' of Shaggy Inkcap toadstools (Coprinus comatus) around the edge of a copse near Hildersham Wood.

Parasol Mushrooms - photos Jennifer H

Shaggy Inkcap toadstools - photos Anne D-N

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Parasol Mushroom and other fungi

The recent wet weather seems to have really spurred the fungi on - they seemed to be popping up everywhere on Andy M's walks around Granta Park. 

Most impressive was a long line of large Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera), each one around 15-20cm across. Apparently edible (although not a decision I would make), this species is found solitary or in groups in neglected pastureland, or (as here) in well-drained soils in woodland.

Parasol Mushroom
 Parasol Mushroom
 Parasol Mushroom
Parasol Mushroom - just emerging and fully open

Some Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus), were also coming up under the trees.
Shaggy Inkcap - just coming up

 Shaggy Inkcap - just coming up - underside

Mature Shaggy Inkcap

as well as several other, as yet unidentified, species of toadstools:

 'fairy ring' toadstools

Wednesday 9 October 2019

News! First Redwing of the season

9th October 2019

Autumn is coming - and with it the winter visitors!  The first Redwing of the season were reported in the village today - Andy M spotting a small flock of around ten in the trees between the 'hairdresser's path' and Abington Hall at lunchtime.

Speckled Wood butterfly - probably!

Anne D-N watched a somewhat weather-beaten and bedraggled butterfly land on her patio table on Monday (7th).  It was small, seemed exhausted and stubbornly held its wings firmly closed, making a positive identification somewhat problematic, despite the good photo. After some discussion, consensus seems to be that it is a somewhat pale Speckled Wood butterfly - but happy to hear alternative views.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Box-Tree Moth caterpillars - gardeners be warned!

Polly and Andy M recently noticed some brown patches on their Box bushes in the garden. Closer inspection revealed a number of rather beautiful, but also rather troubling, Box-Tree Moth caterpillars (Cydalima perspectalis), busily munching their way through the inside of the bushes.  Several specimens were removed for closer inspection!

A recent accidental introduction from south-east Asia, the Box-Tree Moth was first seen in the UK in Kent around ten years ago, and is now well-established in south-east and across southern England.  The RHS has established a survey to record its understand its spread.(

Garden Spider - and its prey!

Polly M has been watching a splendid Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), which recently made a large web in amongst the tomato plants in the greenhouse. The large female was often seen in the centre of the web, and on occasion what seemed to be the smaller male (or dinner!) off to one side.  However, one morning last week, Polly noticed a large hole had appeared in the web. Off to one side the reason was apparent, where the spider was busy around a very 'moth-shaped' cocoon which had been spun around a hapless victim.  It's all happening in the greenhouse!

 Topside view of female

Underside of female, and possibly a male to the right

Female dealing with her prey - what seemed to be a moth

September 2019. Interesting Sightings around The Abingtons

September 2019
Amphibians and Reptiles
Activity in ponds is ‘shutting down’ and only a few developing Tadpole and Newt will remain in the water over winter. Adults are now on land looking for places to hibernate. No reported sightings apart from tiny Newt tadpoles found in pondweed in one pond on LSA. 

Hobby – brief sighting, flying fast and low over hedge along ‘hairdresser path’ on Granta Park (26th).
Swallow – several reports up until 19th. Three successful broods reported from a site on LSA.
House Martin – single birds / small flocks reported until 29th.  Flock of 100+ over Granta Park on 24th.
Swift – single bird flying over Granta Park on 16th – unusually late in the year.
Blackcap – young or female on garden feeder on Cambridge Road.
Chiffchaff – single birds on 2-3 occasions in mixed tit-flock on Granta Park.
Robin – heard singing more regularly again from sites around the village.
Coal Tit – single bird seen in group of Great Tit and Blue Tit on garden feeder in Gt Abington.
Goldfinch – flocks of c12-15, with a few Chaffinch and Greenfinch, returning to feeders.
Goldcrest – single birds in gardens on Cambridge Road and South Road, and in Sluice Wood.
Linnet – starting to congregate into small flocks (10-20) on Abington Park Farm and Granta Park.
Grey Wagtail – several reports single bird along river near Millennium Bridge and in Sluice Wood.
Pied Wagtail – gathering in flocks of around 12-15 on Granta Park cricket pitch.
Meadow Pipit – four feeding on scrubby garden on Granta Park.
Nuthatch – one reported in several gardens.  Treecreeper – one in Cambridge Road garden.
Jay – seen collecting acorns in Granta Park, and in a Great Abington garden.
Red Kite – several reports of 1-2 soaring over the village centre, and at Abington Park Farm.
Sparrowhawk – several reports in gardens, usually seen chasing small birds.
Buzzard – several reports of single birds flying over the village
Tawny Owl – male calling ‘twoo-hoo’ from trees behind Lewis Crescent (16th).  Barn Owl also heard ‘screeching’ from same trees later in month.
Mallard – eclipse mostly over now for c80 on Granta Park lake.  Also Barnacle Goose (3-7) and Canada Goose (3) on lake, and nine Greylag Goose flying over.
Great Black-backed Gull – in fields adjacent to Cambridge Road, and in Perse sports fields.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
This has been another quiet month for butterfly reports, probably due to the very variable weather, with 144 reports during the month.
Butterflies – reports this month were dominated by the Small White butterfly. Next were Red Admiral and Comma (quite large numbers this late in the year), and Painted Lady (a few reports of single sightings). There were some reports of  Speckled Wood and Large White, but only one report of Small Tortoiseshell and three of Peacock (these seem to be in decline). Much less common butterflies seen were Common Blue, Small Copper and Small Heath.
Bumblebees – again very few reports.
Dragonflies – a few Southern Hawker and one Emperor dragonfly at Granta Park, and three reports of Common Darter by the Millennium footbridge.
Other reports: Hummingbird Hawkmoth.
It is worth noting that sightings from the LSA and Granta Park are notably different from the more usual garden habitats.

Sally Turnidge has recently stepped down as our Flora reporter, for personal reasons. The Project Team, and all Abington NatureWatch members, would like to sincerely thank Sally for all her fine efforts in this area over the past years. 
If anyone would like to know more about taking on the role of the Flora Reporter, please contact David Farrant.

Pipistrelle Bat – reported in gardens on Meadow Walk and Cambridge Road.
Short-tailed/Field Vole – one in Cambridge Road garden.
Wood Mouse – feeding under the bird table in a garden on Cambridge Road.
Fox – two in the field adjacent to the ‘hairdresser path’, east of Granta Park.
Badger – one found dead along Chalky Road.
Hare – one near ‘hairdresser path’ on Granta Park.
Muntjac – two sightings, one in garden on the High Street, and another on Cambridge Road.
Fallow Deer – seven young deer, still with spotted coats, near Abington Park Farm.

Abington RiverCare team undertook their routine river sampling on 30th.  Reports of the usual Caddisfly, Up-wing flies (mostly Olives), Freshwater Shrimp and a few Signal Crayfish (Blog article).
Himalayan Balsam – several plants were reported growing just upstream of the Sluice. These were subsequently removed by the Abington RiverCare team (Blog article).

September was generally a hot month, with light winds. Rainfall 56mm, with 48mm falling between 23rd and 30th. Highest temperature 29.3ºC on 15th, with a lowest temperature of 1.1ºC (on 18th) but was more generally around 11ºC as the low.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for September 2019:
Darren Bast, Peter Brunning, Audrey Bugg, Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, Francis Daunt, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Jennifer Hirsh, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Bill Rusted, Gill Smith, Sam Tennant, 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        
Mammals:                        Gill Smith              
Flora:                               Currently vacant - if interested, please contact David Farrant for more details.

Himalayan Balsam removed from the Sluice

On his lunchtime walk on 26th Sept, Andy M spotted a few unusual tall plants with pink or white flowers, growing along the edge of the slack water just upstream of the Sluice. These were identified as Himalayan Balsam - a non-native invasive species which a number of government agencies, including Natural England and the Environment Agency, indicate must be removed. The plants were reported to Abington RiverCare, who subsequently removed and appropriately destroyed the plants.

RiverCare - September Sampling

Abington Rivercare carried out their routine river sampling at the ford on 30th September. The result summary is below:

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 (