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

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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 (