Wednesday 26 February 2020

Walk around Granta Park

Andy M took a few pictures of things that caught his eye whilst walking around Granta Park this month.

Earlier in the month it was warmer and more sunny, but seeing Daisy flowers out on the cricket green was still a something of a surprise.

The Snowdrops were still putting on a fine display....

.... and the Aconites seemed better than ever this year, literally carpeting the whole area around the sluice.

The lovely glossy foliage of Wild Arum was now fully unfurled, both plain and spotted forms, and the fresh green leaves and tiny flowers of Dog's Mercury emerged all over Lagden's Grove.

Moss 'fingers' seemed to grasp a fallen log, and the small orange caps of the Velvet Shank fungus (Flammulina velutipes) shone out in the shafts of sunlight.

Tree bark textures (possibly a Sycamore), and by the lake the seedheads of Common Reed (Phragmites) in the sun.

Sunday 23 February 2020

News. First frog spawn this year

23rd February 2020

First report of Frog Spawn this year!

The pond in Gill's garden had a visitation last night - with the visitor leaving behind a good quantity of Frog spawn!

Monday 3 February 2020

Abington Big Garden Bird Watch results

Derek T has collated all our reports from the Abington Big Garden Bird Watch, and the results are in....!

Derek adds 'Thank you to all who were able to send me their results. Here are the totals for the Abingtons. When the wider results are published by the RSPB, I shall send a comparison of our results with those for the county and the national figures'.

News. First butterfly of the year - a Brimstone

3rd February 2020

Anne D-N today reported the first butterfly this year - a Brimstone butterfly on the LSA.  The first report of a Brimstone last year was on 15th February 2019.

Jennifer added, 'please keep a look out for butterflies on sunny days, and email her what you see with the date and location in the village. We may expect to see some butterflies earlier than usual this year, as it has been fairly mild recently'.  Email reports to

Male Brimstone - photo from Butterfly Conservation

Sunday 2 February 2020

Birds around the village

David F took a few photos of the birds he saw on his walk today, along the Old Coach Road and Granta Park. A few other bird photos taken recently around the village are also included.

Rooks in the sports fields alongside the Old Coach Road (DF)

 Mallard by the Granta Park lake (DF)

Starling - noisily chattering, 'decorating' the treetops in Lagden's Grove (AM)

 Long-tailed Tit and Goldfinch on the feeder (BB)

... and something altogether more tropical!
A Scarlet Macaw, a resident of the local Wildlife Sanctuary on South Road

Snowdrops and Aconites

A number of people have commented on the impressive shows of Snowdrops and Aconites - which do really seem to be at their best at the moment - in Sluice Wood, but also in other places around the village.

Photos: David F, Andy M and Peter B

Different races of Pheasant

Derek T has seen a couple of male Pheasant in his garden recently.  Perhaps surprisingly, they seem to tolerate each other rather well, with no fighting or displaying.

Interestingly, one has the more usual white neck ring, whereas the other does not.  The 'white ring' type originates from China (subspecies torquatus), whereas the one without a neck ring, and with a brown rump, originated from SW Asia (subspecies colchicus).  Both these races were introduced to the UK long ago, but they often interbred to create several intermediate forms.

January 2020 - Interesting sightings around the Abingtons

January 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
No sightings reported this month. 

Brambling – a single male seen under garden feeders with a flock of Chaffinch, on Lewis Crescent (14th - 22nd).  First report of this winter visitor this season.
Fieldfare – early in month, flocks of 5-10 around Granta Park and on LSA, with similar numbers of Redwing on GP, and in fields behind Cambridge Road.  A sizeable mixed flock also seen in the fields near the sawmill on A1307 (28th).
Blackcap – single report of an over-wintering male, in a garden on Cambridge Road.
Starling – 1000-2000 continue to murmurate over GP most evenings, prior to roosting in the reed bed. Small flocks of c50-100 feeding at various locations during day, in particular on GP and the Perse sports fields.  Reed Bunting – c10 also regularly roost in the GP lake reedbeds.
Mixed flocks of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit and finches, mostly Goldfinch and Chaffinch, in gardens, along the Old Coach Road and in Lagden’s Grove.  More reports of small numbers (1‑6) of Greenfinch this month.
Great Spotted Woodpecker – one on a garden feeder on High Street, and feeding in old trees behind Lewis Crescent and along Old Coach Road.
Green Woodpecker – occasional sighting on GP, and in a garden along Cambridge Road.
Nuthatch – two on a garden feeder in LA.
Treecreeper one seen in Sluice Wood, and one in a garden on West Field.
Goldcrest – one in conifer tree in a garden on Cambridge Road.
Barn Owl – one heard screeching around GA church (20th).  Tawny Owl – heard hooting on several occasions early in month.
Buzzard – two around Sluice Wood and Perse sports fields, and one over West Field.
Sparrowhawk – one seen in a Cambridge Road garden. A young male was also found dead along Cambridge Road and reported to RSPB.
Red Kite – several reports of 1-2 around LA church, over West Field and Bourn Bridge Road, and over fields near the Roman Road.
Barnacle Goose – 5-7 on GP cricket pitch until 8th.
Cormorant – single bird on GP lake on several occasions.  A few Moorhen, and 10-20 Mallard on the lake and along the river throughout the month.
Little Egret – two reports of a bird along river in Sluice Wood (12th and 27th).
Grey Heron – 7 on Bancroft Farm Meadow (27th), and single bird around GP lake. 
Grey Wagtail – one along the river edge near sluice (2nd).
Mistle Thrush - 2 heard singing from treetops in Sluice Wood (27th). Several reports around the villages of Song Thrush, also singing.
Jay – several reports of single birds on GP and in gardens.
Jackdaw and Rook – large flock of c130 feeding in ploughed field along Pampisford Road.  Also a flock of c30 on Perse Sport Fields.
Herring Gull – 100+ over Sluice Wood and Perse Fields, and a single Great Black-backed Gull.
Pheasant – occasional sightings along Old Coach Road, and in gardens.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
As expected a very quiet month due to the variable weather and lack of sunshine. Only 2 reports in the month:
Bees – two Buff-tailed bumblebees.
Butterflies – one report of a hibernating butterfly in a house, species unknown.
Butterfly hibernation
On BBC’s Winterwatch programme, there was a report from a man has been recording hibernating butterflies which he discovered in an old brick garden shed.  The butterflies are mainly Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, and are found in dark places under shelves or under the roof.  He has been recording when they first arrive and when they leave; he has been surprised to find that they have in the last couple of years been starting to hibernate earlier, even as early as mid-June.  He is reporting his findings to Butterfly Conservation.
It is not known why this is happening, but it could account for the lower numbers of the Small Tortoiseshell butterflies in late June or through July that we have noticed here.
If you see hibernating butterflies (not always easy to identify the species), then please report them to Jennifer for our Abington records. Do not on any account touch or move them, or they will die. 

Fallow Deer – Two presumably separate herds, each of c12; one near Abington Park Farm GA and the second in fields near Grange Farm, LA.
Muntjac Deer – one seen on Granta Park.
Fox – Two in the early morning in a garden on Church Lane, LA.

Snowdrops – first few clumps in flower on 5th, with large areas fully out by the end of the month.
Aconites – first flowers around New Year. Following the mild weather towards the end of the month, large areas were seen in full flower, particularly in Sluice Woods and more unusually, along the Roman Road.
Hazel Catkins – showing well mid-month in Sluice Wood, GP.
Wild Arum – glossy green leaves showing in Lagden’s Grove, some with black spots - in abundance by the end of the month.

Nothing to report this month.

Rainfall for January was 51.5 mm.  Generally mild, with a couple of short colder spells.  Minimum temperature of minus 4.2ºC, with a high of 9.2ºC.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for January 2020:
Barry Brookes, Peter Brunning, Vicki Brunning, Audrey Bugg, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, Andy Merryweather, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, John and Maggie Turner, 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.

Abbreviations: GA – Great Abington, LA – Little Abington, LSA – Land Settlement Association, GP – Granta Park

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 (