Wednesday 4 March 2020

February 2020 - Interesting sightings around The Abingtons

February 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
Frog - first reports of frogs returning to ponds from 10th onwards, and on 23rd the first report of frogspawn in a pond in Little Abington. This is the earliest appearance of frogspawn in the Abingtons since Naturewatch started (previously the earliest date was 26 Feb, set last year).
No other reports of frogspawn received during February, nor any reports of newts or toads.

BGBW – a total of 29 bird species were included in 14 reports from across the two parishes, including of note, a Blackcap, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch and a Sparrowhawk.  
Fieldfare – two reports of 20-50 around LSA towards the end of the month.  No reports of Redwing.
Reed Bunting – up to 46 roosting in the reedbeds on GP, and unusually one report of a male visiting a garden feeder in GA (16th).
Barn Owl – one seen flying along Bourn Bridge Road at dusk (27th).
Blue Tit and Great Tit – regularly seen on garden feeders, and up to 10 in Lagden’s Grove.  Small numbers of Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit also occasionally in gardens and in Sluice Wood.
Goldfinch – flock of 8-10 regularly on feeders in GA, as well as elsewhere, and up to 20 on GP. Greenfinch and Chaffinch usually 3-5, also regularly reported on feeders.  Regular reports of Robin at garden feeders, and singing to establish spring territories.
House Sparrow – active and highly vocal colony of around 12-15 in garden on Lewis Crescent, particularly on sunny days.
Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch – regular, near daily, visitors to a garden feeder on High Street, LA.  Green Woodpecker heard calling once on GP.
Starling – small flocks reported on several occasions, especially around the Perse sports ground, and 1500-2000 continue to murmurate above GP prior to roosting in the reedbeds.
Meadow Pipit – loose flock of 10-30 feeding on rough ground on GP, alongside c35 Linnet also reported feeding in the same area. Skylark singing on four occasions, on LSA and in GA (from 2nd).
Song Thrush – many reports of birds singing from prominent perches throughout the month, across both villages. Mistle Thrush also heard occasionally on GP.
Stock Dove – several reports of (presumably separate) pairs of birds from LSA, GP and a GA garden.
Goldcrest – one in conifers on LSA (5th).  Wren – occasional reports of single birds singing.  Pheasant – 1-2 birds reported several times in gardens.
Jay – two reports of a single bird in a High St garden, and near the Millennium Bridge.
Red Kite - four reports of 1-2 soaring above GA, LA and near the Roman Road.  Buzzard – 2-3 birds seen above LSA, GP and GA, occasionally heard calling.  One report of a Kestrel on GP.
Barnacle Goose and Canada Goose – a pair of each, as well as an occasional Cormorant and Mute Swan on GP lake. Small numbers of Moorhen and 10-15 Mallard pairing up on the river and GP lake. A single report of a Little Egret flying over GP on 12th. No reports of Grey Heron this month.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
As last month, very few sightings of butterflies and bees. Most unusual for February, but probably due to lots of rainfall and strong winds all through the month. Let us hope for better weather in March to bring out Brimstones and Orange tip butterflies
Butterflies – two reports of Brimstones and one report of a Peacock; also two reports of hibernating Peacocks.
Bees – three reports of Buff-tailed bumblebees.
Ladybirds – one report of a seven-spot ladybird.

Muntjac Deer – one seen on Granta Park on two occasions.
Hare – one near Abington Park Farm, and 1-2 regularly on GP on rough ground near the Illumina building.
Fox – a large fox found dead, most likely shot, near the copse south of the end of Chalky Road.

Snowdrops – continue to flower well through the woods on GP, as well as elsewhere.
Aconites – broad carpets of flowers on GP, especially in the area around the Sluice.
Daisies – a few seen in flower on GP cricket ground early in the month.
Sweet Violet – first few flowers, both purple and white forms, appearing at the end of the month.

The regular river water quality test on 1st indicated the usual quality: clear, colourless, high nitrate and negligible phosphate.  Several large branches removed from the river.

Rainfall for February was 72.5mm, an impressive 81% higher than February 2019, and resulting in some equally impressive river levels!  Minimum temperature of minus 3.5ºC, with a high of 15.2ºC (on 23rd).  Very windy with two storms passing through.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for February 2020:
Peter Brunning, Tricia Cullimore, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Jennifer Hirsh, Andy Merryweather, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Derek Turnidge, Diane Wingfield.

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, GP – Granta Park, LA – Little Abington, LSA – Land Settlement Association. 

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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 (