Saturday 4 April 2020

March 2020 - Interesting sightings around The Abingtons

March 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Frog –tadpoles began emerging from frogspawn in a pond in LA (17th).  Two adult frogs seen occasionally in pond on LSA, but no spawn.
Common Toad – no sightings reported.
Smooth (or Common) Newt – first sighting of a single individual in a pond in LA on 8th. Two further newts reported in another pond in LA on 25th.
Grass Snake – no sightings reported.

Winter visitors still around early in the month: Fieldfare – on Cook’s Meadow (2nd), 10-12 in trees on LSA (4th), and c20 south of ORC on 17th. Redwing – small flock in trees behind Cambridge Road, and in Cook’s Meadow (2nd, 5th). Brambling - female visiting feeders on GP (11th).  Probable sighting of a Merlin alongside Perse sports field (22nd).
Starling – still murmurating over GP (6th), where they were presumed to still be roosted.
Bird song more generally noted in the early morning this month, particularly Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Wren and Robin. 
Chiffchaff – first heard singing along ORC (17th), then regularly since. Blackcap – first heard on 22nd, also along ORC, and at a number of sites around the village since.  Willow Warbler – heard along ORC on 28th (unusually early this year).
Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, and an occasional Coal Tit, as well as Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch all reported regularly on garden feeders. Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit observed ‘tapping’ on window glass, apparently at their own reflections. Blue Tit pairs seen investigating nest boxes and carrying nesting material, and Blackbird nest-building and incubating eggs.
Bullfinch – two reports from ORC of 1-2 feeding on tree buds, and a pair on South Road.
Reed Bunting – pair seen in hedge along ORC, and under the feeders in Lewis Crescent garden. Corn Bunting – 2-6 seen singing and flying ‘display flights’ along ORC, from 7th onwards.  Yellowhammer – up to six singing in hedgerows on LSA.  Linnet, Meadow Pipit – 10-20 on rough ground on GP. Skylark – 2-4 birds singing over fields alongside ORC, and behind Lewis Crescent, throughout the month.
Nuthatch - almost daily reports of 1-2 from garden on High Street, LA.  Treecreeper - single report of a bird near Abington Woods.
Great Spotted Woodpecker – regularly reported on several garden feeders, and heard drumming in Lagden’s Grove (11th).  Green Woodpecker – up to three, reported yaffling regularly on GP.
Grey Heron – one flying over GA, and at GP lake. Little Egret – one perched in tree near village cricket pitch (14th), and again near Millennium Bridge (19th).
Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant – reports from gardens on High Street and Cambridge Road, and several in fields south of ORC.
Buzzard – 2-3 soaring over village, and regularly around Sluice Wood, including a very pale bird with an almost completely white underside.  Red Kite – one bird, reported on c10 separate occasions, flying over GP, GA High Street, LSA and ORC.  Sparrowhawk – reports of one in a GA garden, and along South Road, LSA.  Kestrel – several reports of single bird over ORC and GP, and on the Perse sports fields seen feeding on an old rabbit carcass.
Pied Wagtail – on GP, and a flock of c12 flying over ORC late one evening, perhaps to a nearby roost.  Goldcrest – on several occasions in garden on Cambridge Road.  Jay – one seen near Abington Woods, and on several occasions on GP.  Stock Dove – pair regularly under feeders in GA garden, and along ORC.
Little Owl – single bird again seen around breeding site used in previous years (29th).  Tawny Owl – three reports of birds hooting on LSA, and along Bourn Bridge Road. 
Canada Goose, Greylag and Barnacle Goose on GP lake, as well as a Cormorant (29th).  A few Moorhen and Mallard, the latter largely seeming to have paired up and dispersed, and also reported on pond on LSA.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
After very few reports in January and February this year (12 in total), the cold and inclement weather in the first three weeks of March resulted in only 36 reports, and then from 21st to 27th during a week of sunny, warm dry days, 126 reports were received.
Note that the numbers given are the number of reports received for a species, not the numbers of individual butterflies and other insects reported.
Brimstone – 51 reports. Comma- 17 reports. Peacock – 15 reports. Small White – 4 reports. Small Tortoiseshell – 5 reports.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee – 23 reports. Red-tailed Bumblebee – 5 reports. White-tailed Bumblebee – 2 reports. Honey bee – 6 reports
Bee Fly – 12 reports.
7-spot Ladybird – 18 reports. 2-spot Ladybird – 1 report.

Muntjac – three reported this month, one in fields near Abington Park Farm on 21st, one along Railway Cutting on 28th, and one in Sluice woods on 29th.
Badger – young animal seen after dark in a garden on LSA on 24th.
Hares – 5 chasing around a field south of Railway Cutting on 28th.
Homo sapiens – recently, only rarely spotted walking down Bourn Bridge Road, bold as brass!

Wild species reported in flower during the month, along the ORC, on GP, in an LA garden, and elsewhere around the villages:
Dandelion, Daisy, Speedwell, Ground Ivy, White and Red Dead-nettle, Shepherd’s Purse, Coltsfoot, Celandine, Evergreen Alkanet, Violet, Sweet Violet, Cowslip, Dog’s Mercury, Blackthorn, Wild Cherry, Sallow,

ANW has been notified by RiverCare that both sampling and litter-pick activities should be suspended, so nothing recorded since a water quality test on 6th March, when the river was flowing fairly fast and, as a result, the water rather cloudier than usual. 

Rainfall for March was 23.5 mm, so a much drier month. The highest temperature of 19.3 °C on 24th and a lowest of minus 4.2 °C on 26th. The average daytime temperature was 13.7 °C.  March certainly came in like a lion with a couple of stormy spells, and a cold snap with a few frosty nights at the beginning, and again towards the end of the month.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for March 2020:
Barry Brooks, Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Ros Hedge, Jennifer Hirsh, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Marion Rusted, Gill Smith, Richard Smith, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, Diana 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, LA – Little Abington, LSA – Land Settlement Association, GP – Granta Park, ORC – Old Railway Cutting.

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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 (