Monday 30 March 2020

Pond visitors

Anne D-N has had a number of visitors to her garden pond recently: three Mallard, a female and two hopeful males happy to spend at least an hour in and around the pond most days, and a Moorhen, really getting very bold, visiting every day, and popping up all around the garden.

 'Here comes the gang!' - one female and two male Mallard

Uptails All!  The pond rapidly turning to soup!

Hanging out in the sun - a Moorhen

Sunday 29 March 2020

Old Railway Cutting walk

Andy M took a walk along the Old Railway Cutting this weekend. 

The Blackcap were singing from deep inside the scrub today, due cold to the wind, but the Chiffchaff and Robin were in full view.  Far away a Corn Bunting was also singing, and several Hare were busy chasing each other around the field.  A few flowers were also starting to appear.


 Robin singing

 Chiffchaff singing
A distant Corn Bunting singing from a wire


 Shepherds Purse

 Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

 White Dead-nettle 




News. First Willow Warbler heard

Saturday 28th March 2020

Whilst taking some exercise along the Old Railway Cutting yesterday, David F reported hearing the first Willow Warbler of the season - some four weeks earlier than the first report last year!

Visually similar to the Chiffchaff, the Willow Warbler is readily distinguished by its soft somewhat whistling song ending with a phrase of descending notes.

Click below (then click u) to listen to the song
Willow Warbler

Thursday 26 March 2020

Blue Tit 'spring clean'

A pair of Blue Tit have been busy over the last few days nest-making and clearing out unwanted items from a nest box in Andy M's garden this week.

Meanwhile, in the large tree nearby where the House Sparrows have a colony, one male House Sparrow was basking in the sun

Sticky buds bursting forth

The sticky buds of the Horse Chestnut were starting to burst open in Jennifer H's garden today.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Sunny weather brings out the butterflies

Despite being a little chilly and breezy, the recent sunny weather certainly seems to have brought out the butterflies, with several reports of Brimstone, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White butterflies from around the Abingtons over the past few days.

Please feel free to email your butterfly sightings to Jennifer at

 Comma butterfly  (Lewis Crescent GA, Andy M)

 Peacock butterfly  (Lewis Crescent GA, Andy M)

 Small Tortoiseshell butterfly  (Lewis Crescent GA, Andy M)

News. First Bee-fly spotted

Monday 23rd March 2020

Derek T reported a Beefly in his front garden on Cambridge Road today (23rd).

Jennifer commented this was first sighting of a Beefly this year in the Abingtons, slightly earlier than previous years, the first sightings being on 24th March in 2019 and 2017, and on 5th April in 2018.

Since this first report, Derek has seen two more Beefly is his garden, and Andy M saw one near the Old Railway Cutting and two in his garden - all in sunny spots (24th).

Looking like a bee, Beefly have yellowy-brown hair on the body, long, spindly legs, and a long, straight proboscis that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers, such as primroses and violets. Beeflies are on the wing in the early spring, when they can often be seen in sunny patches. In flight, they are even more like a bee as they produce a high-pitched buzz. There are several species of beefly in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart; the Dark-edged Bee-fly has a dark edge to the wing, while others have plainer, translucent wings.  [source Wildlife Trust website]

Dark-edged Beefly 

Dark-edged Beefly and Seven-spot Ladybird, for scale

photos Andy M 24th March 2020

Monday 23 March 2020

Garden Birds

Jennifer H also had a bird tapping on her window today, although on this occasion it was Blue Tit, and this particular bird kept up the tapping for around twenty minutes!  She also reports having a Robin singing beautifully in her garden this morning.

 Blue Tit - tapping at its reflection in the window glass

Robin singing

Blackbird on the nest

Over the past few weeks, Andy M has been watching a female Blackbird refurbish a nest in his garden (from a suitable distance so as not to disturb her).  In early March, the female was very much coming and going, and was seen carrying nest material at one stage. However, now she is quietly sitting and watching, and not moving off the nest when we walk around.  I strongly suspect this means she is now incubating eggs.

Female Blackbird on the nest 
(photo taken with a long lens from a suitable distance away)

Sunday 22 March 2020

Old Railway Cutting walk

Andy M took a walk along the Old Railway Cutting early this morning, and heard a good number of birds singing: Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Song Thrush, Skylark, Chiffchaff and, for the first time this season, Blackcap

Between the footpath and the Hildersham parish boundary, there appeared to be three singing male Chiffchaff and two male Blackcap, each staking out a territory and hoping to attract a mate. 

Several Skylark were seen and heard singing whilst hovering high above the fields, and down below a Magpie was spotted collecting nesting materials. 

The Blackthorn was starting to flower well, and old Thistle heads seemed to shine in the early morning light.

Chiffchaff singing

Chiffchaff feeding on a fly

A Chiffchaff in the flowering Blackthorn - a very early spring combination!


A Magpie with some twiggy nest materials 
 Male Blackcap

 A Skylark athletically sings continuously whilst hovering above the field



Last year's Thistle heads shining in the sun

News: Blackcap singing - first this year

Sunday 22nd March 2020

Less than a week after the first Chiffchaff were heard singing their characteristic song, Andy M heard the first Blackcap singing this morning, along the Old Railway Cutting.

Last year in the Abingtons, the first singing Blackcap was heard on 19th March, also along the Old Railway Cutting - remarkably consistent timing!

Producing a fine musical song with a wide range of notes, and often including some scratchy sounds in the middle, the Blackcap song typically ends with a fast run of clear warbling flute-like notes.

 Male Blackcap singing
Male Blackcap singing

Birds on the feeders this morning

The early morning sun lit the feeders wonderfully in Andy M's garden this morning, so he took a few photos of the visiting birds, all in splendidly colourful breeding plumage.

 Long-tailed Tit 
Long-tailed Tit  
Long-tailed Tit  

 Male Greenfinch
Male Greenfinch
A pair of Greenfinch - male on the left, female on the right 



Long-tailed Tit tapping on the window

Andy M heard a quiet tapping noise this morning, and tracked it down to a pair of Long-tailed Tit repeatedly flying up to perch on the window frame, then gently pecking at the glass, apparently exploring their own reflection, before flying off again.  This went on for some minutes.

Long-tailed Tit

Flowers around the village

Anne D-N reports, as last year, the small colony of Coltsfoot plants are again in flower, along the path between Abington Park Farm and Hildersham Wood.  David F noted a large number of Celandine were in flower on the bank near the International School, and Andy M noted the fine display of Blackthorn along the Old Railway Cutting this morning.






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 (