Sunday 26 July 2020

'Virtual' Fleam Dyke visit

Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions and social distancing, the ANW Project Team decided to cancel the trip to Fleam Dyke yesterday.  However, that certainly does not mean that the butterflies aren't there!
Andy and Polly M, and David and Gaynor F have both been recently and can thoroughly recommend a visit. You can park along the small lane alongside the A11, then cross the footbridge then walk a short distance along Fleam Dyke (see instructions at the bottom of this post).

However, in the mean time, I thought it would be nice to show a 'virtual trip', and what you might expect to see there in terms of butterflies:

Looking back along Fleam Dyke from 'Bedford Gap' towards the A11 footbridge
 A multitude of flowers along the south-facing bank
Red Admiral 
 Essex Skipper
 Painted Lady
  Painted Lady
 Meadow Brown
Chalkhill Blue 
Chalkhill Blue 
 Chalkhill Blue 
 Dark Green Fritillary
 Dark Green Fritillary 
Small White
 Skipper [DF]
Chalkhill Blue [DF]

Other butterfly species seen (but not photographed) included Green-veined White, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Skipper, White-letter Hairstreak and Marbled White.

 Pyramidal Orchid
Knapweed - an interesting white form
 Cinnabar Moth caterpillar
A pale White-tailed Bumblebee

How to get there - from the A11 heading north - turn off the A11 at the Fulbourn junction, and at the junction turn left then immediately right onto the small road alongside the A11.  There is a small car parking bay just after the footbridge).
(c) Crown Copyright

Saturday 25 July 2020

Grey Heron

Anne D-N had an unusual visitor to her pond this week - a Grey HeronIt spent a long time fishing, and finally caught its breakfast before flying off.

Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly - an unusual species for Abington

Ross and Anne D-N saw their first Silver-washed Fritillary in their garden last week (21st July).  Whilst being a rather ragged specimen, Anne was able to identify it as a female, which visited their buddleia bushes and stayed for most of the afternoon.  
Jennifer H commented that this was likely only the second report of this species in the Abingtons over the last 10 years, the previous one being in July 2018, in Jennifer's garden on the High Street.

Moths galore!

A week or two ago, Andy M had a go at trapping moths in his back garden. Using a mercury light trap (kindly lent to him by David F), Andy set up the trap around 10pm on two warm, calm evenings, (on 6th and 11th July), placing the trap in the middle of a white sheet on the lawn near the woodland edge, and left it to work its magic overnight.  The white sheet allows those moths that are attracted to the light, but do not find their way into the trap, to be more easily seen.  Early the next morning, Andy carefully looked inside the trap, where a good number of moths come to rest in shadowy crannies under old egg cartons, and photographed as many as he could, for identification later.  Andy started by photographing the moths on the egg cartons in situ (just in case they decided to fly away), before moving them gently onto a leaf or piece of bark, where he photographed them again on a more natural background.

Moth trap on a white sheet, showing the egg cartons taken out of the trap the next morning, and a few boxes to temporarily hold the moths before photographing and releasing them.

Most of the rather splendid hawkmoths are relatively easy to identify, as are quite a few of the medium-sized moths.  However, Andy also trapped a good number of very similar-looking smaller moths and micro-moths, that have thus far evaded identification!  Please do let Andy know if you know what any of these 'unknown' moths are.

Andy found the following websites useful in identifying moths - although there are a surprisingly large number of moth species in the UK!

Elephant Hawkmoth
 Elephant Hawkmoth
 Small Elephant Hawkmoth (separate species)
Small Elephant Hawkmoth and Elephant Hawkmoth species

 Dark Arches
Dark Arches

 Pine Hawkmoth
Pine Hawkmoth

Pine Hawkmoth - different day - different moth?
Pine Hawkmoth 

 Peppered Moth - dark variant
 Peppered Moth - mid variant
 Peppered Moth - pale variant
Peppered Moth - variants

 Poplar Hawkmoth
 Poplar Hawkmoth
  Poplar Hawkmoth
  Poplar Hawkmoth - showing red underwing flash

 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 

 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Scalloped Oak

Brown-line Bright-eye
Brown-line Bright-eye
Brown-line Bright-eye - fabulous antennae!
 Brown-line Bright-eye and Box Tree Moth

 Black Arches
  Black Arches
 Black Arches antennae

Swallow-tailed Moth

 Common Footman 
  Common Footman

  A 'Plume' moth Merrifieldia baliodactylus 

 Common Wainscot 
  Common Wainscot 

 Brown-tail - 'playing dead' and showing its brown tail
Short-cloaked Moth

Riband Wave - variant with black band
 Riband Wave - variant with outlines only of banding

Clancy's Rustic
Clancy's Rustic

Common Rustic

 Heart and Dart

 Brimstone Moth - a rather tired specimen

 Garden Carpet - also past its best

 Twin-spotted Carpet

 Even moths get ticks!!

Unidentified Moths- please let Andy M know if you have knowledge of what these might be.

 'the one that got away ... into the lawn. Unidentified - possibly a Wainscot spp?

Unidentified - possibly a carpet species

 Unidentified species - possibly a Wainscot spp


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 (