Wednesday 6 May 2020

April 2020: Interesting sightings from around the Abingtons

April 2020
Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Frog – frog spawn and tadpoles sighted in ponds on South Rd and Bourn Bridge Rd through the month, and an adult frog seen in ponds on Lewis Cres and South Rd.
Common Toad – One sighting of adult in pond on South Rd on the 11th.
Smooth (or Common) Newt – steady number of sightings through the month from ponds on South Rd, Bourn Bridge Rd and Cambridge Rd.
Grass Snake – First sightings of the year reported on the 24th, with one large adult (80cm long) seen in a pond on South Road where it appeared to be feeding on tadpoles, and another seen in a garden on Bourn Bridge Rd.

Summer Visitors: Swallow – first seen on South Road on 5th (cf 6th April last year), and since then on North Road and along the Roman Road. House Martin – first seen on 19th around nest sites on the school, and in Mortlock Gardens.
Warblers: Willow Warbler – single singing males on LSA (12th), as well as along ORC and Roman Road. Common Whitethroat (15-20) and Lesser Whitethroat (4-5) singing along Roman Road (24th) and since along the ORC. Chiffchaff and Blackcap - in full song throughout the month and across the village.
Wheatear – two seen along Roman Road (24th), a passage migrant in this area.
Blackbird, Blue Tit and Goldfinch - all spotted nest building, with a report the first Blue Tit egg laid in a nest box on 8th, and a female Blackbird seen feeding young at the nest as early as 4th.
Kingfisher – one flying downstream near the sluice (13th).
Skylark – c10 singing and chasing low above the fields on LSA, and behind Lewis Crescent.
Great Spotted Woodpecker – heard drumming in Sluice Wood early in month, and on garden feeders on the High Street, LA. Green Woodpecker – calling around LSA, and feeding on a garden lawn on Cambridge Road. Nuthatch – male and female on a garden feeder early in the month, and again on 29th.
Bullfinch – several reports of pairs along Roman Road and the ORC.
Long-tailed Tit – several seen ‘playing knock and run’ on window reflections throughout the month.
Reed Bunting – one under feeders in a GA garden, and a pair along the ORC, as well as on GP.  Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Linnet – all singing along the ORC, on the LSA and the Roman Road throughout the month.
Tawny Owl – heard several times, in particular around Cambridge Road and GA church.  Little Owl – reported only once on GP at the previously used nest site (13th), but access to GP has been more restricted recently.
Grey Heron – one flying over Cambridge Road.  Little Egret – one near Millennium Bridge (5th), and again on GP (8th), likely the same bird.
Greylag, Canada Goose and a Cormorant - on GP lake early in month, alongside surprisingly few Mallard.  Moorhen – one bird briefly feeding on a garden lawn in Lewis Crescent.
Red Kite and Buzzard – both reported on several occasions from along Bourn Bridge Road, around LA church and along the ORC.  Kestrel – several sightings, and Sparrowhawk – one along the Roman Road and Bourn Bridge Road.
Pied Wagtail - on the cricket green and around the LSA. Grey Wagtail – one along the river edge near the sluice (18th).
Collared Dove and Stock Dove pairs in several gardens.
Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant – in gardens and fields on LSA an near Cambridge Road
Jay – occasionally seen in Abington Woods and on ORC.  Raven – one flying over GP mid-month.

Butterflies, Bees and other insects
April has been a remarkable month for invertebrates this year with 423 reports; this is three times as many as April 2019 (140 reports).  There are two main reasons for this increase: firstly the long spells of sunny and very warm weather and, secondly, due the pandemic of Coronavirus COVID 19, many villagers were staying at home as requested by the government and some even completely isolated at home.  Fortunately, the majority of villagers have gardens, so watching butterflies and other wildlife was a welcome respite from all the worries and stress caused by the virus.
All these reports are from within the boundaries of Great and Little Abington.  Note that the numbers given are not the numbers of butterflies and other insects but the number of times a species was reported by someone.
Butterflies (345 reports)
Brimstone – 77 reports, Orange Tip – 69 reports (first sighting 5 April).
Small White – 54 reports, Peacock – 50 reports, Holly Blue – 37 reports.
Comma - 18 reports, Speckled Wood – 15 reports, Green-veined White – 9 reports.
Small Tortoiseshell – 8 reports, Red Admiral – 6 reports, Large White – 2 reports.
Bees (66 reports)
Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Red-tailed Bumblebee, White-tailed Bumblebee, Tree Bumblebee, Tawny Mining Bee, Honey Bee.
Bee Fly (large numbers seen)
7-spot Ladybird
Large Red Damselfly  (first sighting 19 April)
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Field vole – one was seen in Cambridge Road under a bird feeder on the 7th and again on the 24th.
Bats – a large bat was seen on the 9th in a garden in GA, the first to be reported this year. Then a large bat was seen in a garden in Cambridge Road on the 18th, the first one to be reported from that garden.  Two more were seen in the same garden on the 18th, one large and one small.
Muntjac four were spotted this month, two in a garden on Cambridge Road on the 12th, one in South Grove, LSA on the 19th, and one by the entrance to Bancroft Farm on the 22nd.
Otter an otter was spotted swimming through Lagden’s Grove with something (possibly a fish) in its mouth on the 14th.
Hares – one hare was spotted in a field alongside Chalky Road on the 20th, and four more were seen in fields adjacent to the Roman Road near Worsted Lodge on 24th and 26th.
Fallow deer – twelve deer were seen in fields alongside Chalky Road on the 20th.

A good number of wild flower species were reported in bloom from around the village: a garden on the High Street, along Bourn Bridge Road, along the ORC, in Sluice Wood, along the Roman Road, and near Abington Park Farm:
Dandelion, Forget-me-Not, Fritillary, Yellow Archangel, Solomon’s Deal, Bluebell, Red Dead-nettle, Ground Ivy, Cow Parsley, Wild Arum, Cowslip, Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Shepherd’s Purse, Garlic Mustard, Fodder Radish, Phacelia, Green Alkanet, Honesty.

As a result of the lockdown, there has been little River care activity, in terms of sampling or litter-picking.  In terms of pond and river wildlife.
Three-spined Stickleback in full breeding colours were reported in pond on the LSA, and a shoal of small fish were seen in the river in Sluice Wood. These were most likely to be Minnow, although there have been previous reports of trout, although usually only a small number. Minnows have been noted previously at the gravel shoal and at the ford.

Largely an exceptionally dry month, except for the last four days, after which the rainfall total jumped from 4mm to 33mm!  Otherwise, predominately sunny and dry with light winds. The maximum day time temperature was 28.9 degrees (11th), with a minimum of minus 4.7 degrees (1st).

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for April 2020:
Barry Brooks, Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, Mike Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Julia Gunning, Robin Harman, Ros Hedge, Jennifer Hirsh, Iain Keys, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Marion Rusted, Gill Smith, Evelyn Tredget, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, Diana Wingfield, Richard Wrangham.

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 (