Saturday 26 December 2020

River Granta floods local fields and meadows

Following the heavy rain a day or two before Christmas, falling on already sodden ground, the level of the River Granta was very high on Christmas Eve flooding several adjacent fields over Christmas. 

Christmas Eve, around midday - levels almost topping the Millennium Bridge [photo DLT]

and the river was just about topping its banks by the village bridge [photo PB], 

but had burst its banks further downstream, flooding Cooke's Meadow and Sluice Wood, 
as well as the fields alongside the A1307 [photo PB]

and by late afternoon had flooded the western edge of the recreation ground [photo PB]

Tuesday 22 December 2020

2020 ANW Christmas Photo-Quiz

The Abington NatureWatch Christmas Photo-quiz - it's just what you really wanted for Christmas!!

It's much the same as the quiz at our member's autumn meeting last year, but this time it's all virtual! 

Each 'panel' (labelled A to M) consists of six 'close-ups' of different species - birds, animals, insects, plants, amphibs - they're all there! 

Clue - all the species included have been seen and reported within the Abington parishes during 2020, and all the 'close-ups' are taken from photos posted on the blog this year.  Simply click on the 'panels' below to see a larger view.

And so - here's the fun bit - How many species can you identify?  

Feel free to make a note of your thoughts, and we'll post the answers on the blog early in the New Year!  Have fun!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!
- from the ANW Project Team.

Goldcrest - 'soaking up the rays'

Derek T quite often spots the tiny Goldcrest in the conifer trees in his garden, and recently he saw this one apparently happily soaking up the warm sunshine!

Monday 14 December 2020

Seasonal weather - lots of it!

A few photos taking us through the sequence of weather we have had over the last week or so: snow, icy cold and the rainy thaw [Andy M, Anne D-N and Peter B]

Sunday 6 December 2020

November 2020 - Interesting sightings from around The Abingtons

November 2020

Amphibians and Reptiles

No sightings reported during November.



Fieldfare – 1-2 flying over Cambridge Road, and several reports of small numbers along ORC and Roman Road.  Redwing – five reports of 1-3 birds on LSA and ORC.

Blackcap – male seen feeding on fruit along ORC.

Lapwing – single bird over Roman Road on 6th.

Kingfisher – along the river in Sluice Wood on 10th – the first for some time.

Stonechat – pair seen along Roman Road near Hildersham, perching on high vegetation early one morning (14th)

Cormorant – single bird seen flying over LSA on 2nd.

Garden birds: larger numbers of birds seen on garden feeders this month:

Goldfinch – regular flocks of 4-8 in several gardens, with smaller numbers (2-4) of Greenfinch and Chaffinch also reported regularly. 

Coal Tit – 1-2 regularly in Cambridge Road garden, one on LSA, and unusually one in Lewis Crescent garden. Occasional flocks of Long-tailed Tit, and regular Great Tit and Blue Tit.

Blackbird – starting to be seen regularly again in gardens, feeding on berries and windfall fruit, also in larger numbers in hedgerows along ORC and LSA.  Occasional report of Song Thrush.  Robin and Dunnock also regularly seen in small numbers.

Goldcrest – one reported being a little dazed after hitting a window on GP, recovering quickly, and one on LSA.

Bullfinch – pair along ORC and on Roman Road.

Yellowhammer – flock of 15-20 flitting around hawthorn hedge near AbPkFm.  Linnet - similarly flocks of 10-50 near AbPkFm, and on LSA and Roman Road.  Corn Bunting – several birds on LSA and along Roman Road, one heard briefly singing on sunny day.

Skylark – several reports of c20 chasing each other around and singing over fields near AbPkFm. Meadow Pipit – c10 on LSA on 23rd. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker – regularly recorded in High Street, LA garden and a pair on feeders in Lewis Crescent. Green Woodpecker – recently returned to Cambridge Road garden.

Tawny Owl – several reports of calls during the night, and at dawn – including a very nice recording of one on Bourn Bridge Road.

Buzzard – several reports, mostly from along ORC and on LSA.  Kestrel - occasional reports from Cambridge Road, ORC and Roman Road. Sparrowhawk – female seen hunting in 1-2 gardens, and several other reports of males from Cambridge Road, Lewis Crescent, West Field and ORC.

Jay – regularly 1-2, and occasionally 3 in Lewis Crescent garden, usually recovering acorns but also under bird feeders.  Magpie – 1-2 regularly reported from several gardens.

Mallard – family of grown young and an adult near Millennium Bridge, as well as a single Moorhen.

Little Egret – one reported on river in Sluice Wood on 23rd, and again on recreation ground (29th)

Great Black-backed Gull – large flock of 50-100 feeding in field along Roman Road during potato harvesting.

Black-headed Gull – unusually large flock 70+ on Perse playing fields (18th and 28th). 


Butterflies, Bees and other insects

November was a month with few invertebrates, with only 15 reports in total.

The weather was very variable with a lot of rain and a few sunny, warmer days, very little frost

Red Admiral - 2;  Peacock - 2; Brimstone - 2;

Common Darter – 2

Seen on sunny warmer days:

Buff-tailed bumblebee-  2;  White-tailed bumblebee – 2; Honey bee – 1

Hibernating for the winter:

7-spot Ladybird - 1;  Harlequin Ladybird - 1


Bat – none reported this month.  They have probably finally hibernated.
Fallow deer – one spotted on ORC on 1st, and 10 seen on LSA on 23rd.
Fox – dog fox seen near the Millennium Bridge on 23rd.
Hare – one seen on ORC on 1st and 2 seen on LSA on 23rd.
Hedgehog – no more reports this month, probably hibernating.
Muntjac – one seen on ORC on 1st, a young one seen in a High St garden on 8th and 13th, an again in a garden in Cambridge Rd on 23rd, and one seen near Pampisford Rd on 25th.

Flora & Fungi

A few fungi reported this month, provisionally identified as Peeling Oysterling, Sepia Webcap and Fragile Brittlegill.


A certain amount of debris was brought down by wind and rain early in November, but the heavy river flow has cleaned out our section making the gravel more visible. There were small trees fallen from both sides of the river by Lagden's Grove, with some very large logs also stuck at Bourn Bridge. I advised the EA and the latter have gone. Granta Park promised to remove the fallen tree on their side.



The total rainfall for the month was 29.5 mm and the lowest temperature was minus 2.2 degrees C on the 23rd of the month and the highest 18.3 degrees on the 1st of November. We had a couple of frosty spells but nothing significant and apart from a windy spell early in the month it was remarkably calm.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for November 2020:

Peter Brunning, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, E Jones, D Kumararatne, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, E Miller, Gill Smith, John Turner, Derek 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.

Abbreviations: GA – Great Abington, LA – Little Abington, LSA – Land Settlement Association, GP – Granta Park, ORC – Old Railway Cutting. AbPkFm – Abington Park Farm

Female Blackcap

The recent colder weather has brought more birds into gardens to feed, and this female Blackcap was spotted feeding on euphorbia seeds quite close to the house in Andy M's garden.

Jay in the snow

During the recent snow, a Jay was attracted to the food under the feeders in Andy M's garden.

River level running high

Following the recent rain and melting snow, several people noted that the river level has been running high recently.  It was seen to be only a foot or so below the Millennium Bridge, had flooded into Nev's Meadow and Abington Lodge garden, into the meadows alongside the A1307, and the footpath in Sluice Woods was flooded in a couple of places.  

David F took this photo of the river in Sluice Woods looking good in the snow.

Sunday 29 November 2020

More Garden Birds

From his 'lockdown bedroom office', Andy M has recently been able to watch more of the birds in his garden, in particular the comings and goings of the corvids - Magpie and Jay - and Sparrowhawks, which don't stay long, but are a spectacle to watch - as were the Blackbird feasting on the garden hawthorn berries.

Male Blackbird picking the large ripe red Hawthorn berries

Female Blackbird with a particularly large berry that managed to slip down ... just!

Male Sparrowhawk, lurking, partially concealed in a tree, watching for small birds below. 
Note the pale patches on the shoulder, maybe indicating a young adult bird

Suddenly, something catches his attention ...

... it's a Magpie, less than keen on having a raptor around, swoops in 
and starts aggressively calling.  Its cover blown, the Sparrowhawk rapidly retreats.

A victory drink for the Magpie at the bird-bath

Another day, and a different male Sparrowhawk - 
note the lack of white feathers on the shoulder

Imagine being a small bird, caught in that Sparrowhawk stare!

A Jay searches for food amongst the garden beds ...

... beneath a female Great Spotted Woodpecker - distinguishable from 
the male which has a red patch at the back of the head.

An unusual view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drinking

Monday 23 November 2020


An apparently quite young Muntjac deer made a (slightly unwelcome) visit to Derek T's garden today, and paused long enough in the sun to offer up a photo-opportunity!

Recording of Tawny Owl calling in Lt Abington

There have been a number of recent reports of a Tawny Owl calling from the woods behind Church Lane, but Kumar has gone further, and managed to very quietly get close enough to make this lovely recording.

Click on this link to hear it: Abington resident Tawny Owl

Male and female Tawny Owl both call during the night, particularly in the autumn and early winter, to establish territories, and to make contact and attract a mate. 

The hooting territorial call of the male (as in Kumar's recording) being most familiar, starts with a drawn-out 'hoooouh', pauses for a few seconds, then ends with a resonant ..... hoo-hoo-hooooouh'.

Both sexes also make a more harsh 'kewick' contact call, and during courtship, the male and female may respond to one-another, combining their calls to make the commonly quoted 'too-wit too-woo' which is a combination of the 'kewick' (female) and 'hoo-hoo-hooooouh' (male) calls.

Tawny Owl [photo Russell Savory, BTO]

Dazed Goldcrest

Elly M, from Granta Park, contacted Derek to report that a Goldcrest had recently flown into the window of the security gatehouse.  The Goldcrest was a little dazed by the experience, and the security guard was able to take a couple of photos, before the bird recovered and flew off without further incident.

Apparent scarcity of garden birds

David F has been concerned recently that, despite putting out bird food in his garden, there seemed to be a scarcity of garden birds visiting his garden this autumn.  Having contacted the BTO about this, he received the following reply from the '' team:

'Thank you very much for getting in touch with us. Yes, we have received a lot of similar reports recently. It seems that the lack of garden birds has been caused by the availability of natural food away from gardens, mainly due to the predominantly mild and wet weather. We haven't noticed anything else that has changed significantly so hopefully, now that the temperature is starting to drop, you will start to see more birds in your garden. I hope this helps and if you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.'


Sunday 15 November 2020

Early Morning Walk to Hildersham Wood

The promise of a clear sunny start enticed Andy M out for an early morning walk along Chalky Road to Hildersham Wood this week.  The rising sun highlighted the last of the autumn colours, and really made the brightly-coloured berries in the hedgerows shine out.  

As expected, there were lots of Rosehip and Hawthorn berries, as well as Sloes, but also a good crop of gaudy pink Spindle berries in several places.  Along the Old Railway Cutting, Redwing and Blackbird were busy tucking into a berry breakfast, and a female Sparrowhawk was ever-watchful for a passing birds.

Sunrise from Chalky Road

Early morning views to the north over Abington

First shafts of sun break through the copse near Hildersham Wood

The view north-east to Linton water tower

Along Abington's eastern parish boundary

Bright Rosehips

Seedheads of Old Man's Beard

An brightly-coloured lichen coating the branches of a small Hawthorn

And the iridescent colours of a flyby Magpie reflected in the sun

Ash keys shining in the sunlight

Ivy berries swelling and starting to mature

Seedheads of a 'dandelion' species catch the sun

It's a good year for Hawthorn berries

Old Man's Beard

Spindle tree berries


The delicate bloom on Sloe berries

A shy Redwing lurks in the bushes seeking a breakfast of haws ...

... alongside a young male Blackbird

Whilst a female Sparrowhawk waits patiently for an 
unfortunate small bird to pass by for its breakfast

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 (