Saturday 15 August 2020

Chiffchaff and Goldcrest

During the recent hot weather, Anne DN noticed a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest, as well as the more usual visitors like Blue Tit, were using her pond to take a bath and keep cool.  The Chiffchaff stayed for a few days, then vanished, presumably resuming its migration south.

Goldcrest and Blue Tit

Thursday 13 August 2020

Common Darter

Andy M had a Common Darter dragonfly visit his garden this week, during which time it managed to get itself trapped in the house.  This presented Andy with a helpful photo opportunity before liberating it.

In discussion with Darren B, the characteristic features of this species are the red T-shaped pattern on the abdomen, and the pale yellow stripe just discernible on the legs.

Himalayan Balsam

A few Himalayan Balsam plants were recently spotted along the Abington section of the river this week.  This invasive non-native species should be removed when found in rivers, and these plants were reported to the Abington RiverCare team, who have since removed and appropriately disposed of them.

News: Spotted Flycatcher in the village

Thursday, 13th August 2020

Derek T was lucky enough to have a Spotted Flycatcher visit his Cambridge Road garden today and, as is typical for this species, watched it darting out and back from the same perch to catch flies.

Whilst it is possible this is a local bird, there have been no other reports of Spotted Flycatcher in the village this year, so it may well be that this bird has bred elsewhere and is now travelling through on it's way back to southern Africa where they spend the winter.

Some may remember Michael Holdsworth's excellent talk at a recent ANW meeting. His research project into the migration of this species has now completed and further information may be found at:

River sampling results - 11th August

A small number of the Abington Naturewatch RiverCare group meet on 11th August 2020, suitably spaced, to resume regular river sapling at the ford.

The results are indicated below, as well as a few photos:

The weather was very hot and the river level low. There was a notable lack of the usual weed. 
The fauna samples were disappointing, with little of note apart from three small fish. In particular, we found no mayfly larva; I don't remember that happening before.

This dearth of life may be due in part to the drought conditions encountered last year and I think we need to push for less abstraction from the chalk aquifer.  
David Brooks of Cam Valley Forum has today emailed indicating:
Members and supporters may be interested in the very worthy Chalk Aquifer Alliance to which the CVF is affiliated as a group.  If you would like to be alerted to their activities you can subscribe to their mailings at

Signal Crayfish
Signal Crayfish and Stone Loach
Stone Loach
Miller's Thumb
Miller's Thumb
Miller's Thumb
Miller's Thumb
Miller's Thumb
Stone Loach
Stone Loach
Stone Loach

 (photos also on

Monday 10 August 2020

News: Rare bird spotted along the river

Saturday, 8th August 2020

David P was lucky enough to spot a rather rare bird in the river on Saturday morning - a 'first' for The Abingtons!

A large but elusive bird, roughly the size and shape of a heron, with characteristic black, brown and buff streaked plumage, a long 'dagger' bill, and long neck and legs, this Bittern was spotted lurking in the undergrowth along the edge of the river by the cricket ground.  Being a shy bird, it didn't stay long, and after a short period, flew off over the High Street along the river towards Linton.

Until recently, the Bittern was extremely rare in the UK, with a few as eleven birds nationally in the 1970's.  However, thanks to a sustained effort by conservation organisations, the number of breeding sites in the Cambridgeshire fens has now increased to around 20-30.  Unobtrusive, and only rarely seen, Bitterns breed only in large reedbeds and are seldom seen away from this environment in the breeding season.  However, later in the year both adults and young may disperse somewhat, and there generally are a number of records of sightings in South Cambs during the 'winter season', although again these are largely associated with reedbeds or gravel pits.

Never previously reported in the Abingtons, one can only assume that this was one such 'travelling' bird, that saw the Abington river as a convenient stop-off point.

Photo Credit: Jamie Hall, Suffolk Wildlife Trust website

Sunday 9 August 2020

Roman Road survey

Due to COVID-restrictions and social distancing, we unfortunately had to cancel the ANW group visit to the Roman Road. However, in an effort to survey the species along the Roman Road near Worsted Lodge, an assessment by a small number of very well-spaced Project Team members produced the following.

Of particular note was the sighting of a Chalkhill Blue butterfly. Jennifer H commented that this record was the first in the Abington parishes for twenty years.  Up until now, the nearest records were also from the Roman Road, but on the west side of the A11 where the specific food plants (Horseshoe Vetch) were planted to encourage them.

Worsted Lodge Roman Road survey.  8th August 2020. Project Team (limited)

Butterfly species
Meadow Brown
Small White
Red Admiral
Green-veined White
Chalkhill Blue
Small Heath
Large White
Common Blue
Essex Skipper

Flora species
Common Knapweed
Common Restharrow
Spear Thistle
Goat’s Beard
Lady’s Bedstraw
Bladder Campion
Wild Basil
Common Toadflax
Field Scabious
Common Mallow
Small Scabious
Golden Rod
Dark Mullein
Common St John’s Wort
Common Storksbill
Dwarf Thistle

Bird species

Other species
Red-tailed Bumblebee
Honey Bee
Wasp nest (in burrow)
Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Wool Carder Bee
Rose Bedeguar Gall
White-tailed Bumblebee
Cinnamon Bug
Cinnabar Moth caterpillar

 Meadow Brown on Knapweed [AM]
Larger. No buff patch on hindwing. No white dots. 
Usually one pupil in black eye-spot (but as here a second small pupil can occur cf Gatekeeper).
 Meadow Brown on Knapweed [ADN]
   Female Small Heath [AM]
Smaller. Small buff patch, and row of small white 
dots on hindwing. Single pupil in black eye-spot. 
Always rests with wings closed.
  Male Small Heath [ADN]
Slightly smaller and more brightly coloured than female.
    Female Small Heath [DLT]

     Gatekeeper [AM]
Upper wings orange with wide brown margin. 
Two pupils dots in black eye-spot.
  Gatekeeper [DLT]
Underside of hindwing mottled. Uneven row of white dots. 
Two white pupils in black eye-spot.
 Gatekeeper on Scabious [ADN]

Female Essex Skipper on Knapweed [AM]
Orange upper wing, with dark margin bleeding into orange 
along veins. Female lacks the black sex-brand (stripe) of the male.
Underside of antennae tips all black.
  Female Essex Skipper on Knapweed [ADN]

Small Skipper on Knapweed [ADN]
Very similar to Essex Skipper.
Underside of antennae tips orange.

 Female Chalkhill Blue on Small Scabious [AM]
Larger than Common Blue. Wing margins 'chequered' white and brown.
Little/no orange in spot patterns on underside of forewing.
Very similar to female Adonis Blue (but distribution of latter limited to south coast) 
  Female Chalkhill Blue on Knapweed [AM]
 Female Chalkhill Blue on Knapweed [DLT] 
  Female Chalkhill Blue on Knapweed [DLT] 

 Female Common Blue [ADN]
Smaller. Bluish tint near body. White wing margin. 
Orange in spot patterns on underside of forewing.
  Female Common Blue on dry Knapweed [ADN]
Orange in spot patterns on upperside of forewing.
Upperside base colour varies between brown and blue in female; blue in male.
  Female Common Blue [ADN]
Female Common Blue [AM]

 Small White on Small Scabious [AM]
 Small White on Knapweed [AM]

Green-veined White [ADN]
Similar to Small White, but with dark wing veins

 Very tatty Red Admiral on Yarrow [AM]

 Cinnamon Bug on dry Wild Basil [AM]

  Cinnabar Moth caterpillar on Ragwort [AM]

  Common Wasp nest in old rabbit burrow [AM]

 Common Restharrow  [AM]

 Ragwort [AM]

 Spear Thistle [AM]
 Dwarf Thistle [ADN]
 Small Scabious [AM]

Robin's Pincushion (or Rose Bedeguar Gall) on Rose [ADN]

Photo credits [ADN] Anne D-N; [AM] Andy M; [DLT] Derek T

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 (