Friday 30 October 2020

Male Sparrowhawk

Derek T reported seeing a male Sparrowhawk in his garden this week. Rather than the usual rapid dash through the garden, on this occasion the bird stayed around for five minutes, apparently searching for prey on the ground in a flower border, although after the bird flew Derek could see no sign of any prey items there.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Pied Wagtail flock

A large flock of more than 30 Pied Wagtail was spotted by John T on the Perse playing fields earlier this week - and one conveniently posed briefly for a photo on a bench.  David F also spotted the flock, and commented that he had never seen so many together.

Thursday 15 October 2020

Inquisitive day-time visitor

There was an unusually bold and inquisitive visitor to Andy M's garden yesterday afternoon - a Muntjac deer.  It came into the garden around four o'clock, and spent some time exploring the nooks and crannies around the edge of the garden, before coming up to the house - as bold as brass!  Eventually it got spooked by something, and retreated to the trees at the end of the garden. Andy knows he gets an occasional visit from Muntjac at night, due to the nibbled 'evidence' the following morning, but had never seen one visit in daylight before.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Collecting winter stores

Andy M had a Jay in his garden today - a regular visitor recently - busily collecting acorns from under the oak trees and flying off to stash them in preparation for the winter ahead.

Monday 12 October 2020

News. Winter visitor birds starting to arrive

Monday, 12th October 2020

Winter visitor birds are starting to arrive in the Abingtons.  Migrating to the UK from their breeding areas in northern Europe, the recent northerly winds have resulted in large numbers of 'winter visitor' birds arriving in the UK over the last few days. 

Both species of 'winter thrush' - Redwing and Fieldfare - were spotted flying over the Old Railway Cutting and Lewis Crescent today, by Andy M.   Photos of both species below, were taken from the very useful 'How to Identify' article on the Woodland Trust website (link here).

Last year, the first Redwing were seen on 9th, and the first Fieldfare on 31st October.

If you spot any winter-visitor birds, or indeed any other interesting birds in the parishes, please let Derek T know in the usual way.

Slightly larger than a Blackbird.
Characteristic grey head and tail, chestnut back, and speckled breast, tinged with orange.
Feeds in open fields.  Bold and noisy, making a characteristic 'clacking' call, often from tree tops.

Slightly smaller than a Blackbird.
Distinctive white eye stripe, and red underwing patch, with dull brown back and speckled breast.  
More quiet and shy. Often seen feeding in berry bushes. Makes quiet 'seeep' call.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Unintended beneficiary

Andy M grew some sunflowers in his garden this year, leaving the largest of them in the ground intending that the Goldfinch might benefit from the seed during the autumn - or so he thought!  The Goldfinch, it turns out, prefer the 'ready to eat' takeaway seed from the bird feeders!  

However, a Grey Squirrel spotted the opportunity and moved in.  

It seems the technique was to hang upside down to chew off chunks of sunflower head, then revert to upright to eat! - and repeat!  The sunflower head seemingly put up something of a fight at one stage, and things got quite violent - but by the end the squirrel was full, and the sunflower was a tattered mess!

Sunday 4 October 2020

Female Sparrowhawk

A few days ago, John T saw this magnificent female Sparrowhawk on a tree close to his house, giving him the opportunity to take this fabulous photo.  

John noted that Sparrowhawk regularly visit his garden, often hoping to take a small bird or two from the garden feeders - all part of the rich ecosystem that can develop in and around our gardens.

September 2020. Interesting sightings from around the Abingtons

September 2020

Amphibians and Reptiles

Occasional sightings early in the month, of both Common Frog and Common Toad amongst damp leaves in two gardens. An adult Smooth Newt was seen in a pond early in the month, and on the 16th a Grass Snake was observed swimming across the river after a period of very warm weather.  With autumn now upon us, further sightings of amphibians and reptiles are unlikely until next spring.

Abington NatureWatch would like to thank Anne for all her support and enthusiasm, interesting sightings, and for collating and reporting ‘Amphibs’ for NatureWatch.  We wish Anne, Ross and family all the best for the future as they prepare to move to Scotland.



Harrier – female, either Hen Harrier or Montagu’s Harrier, seen hunting over stubble field near Abington Park Farm largely ginger-brown with clearly visible pale ‘rump’, long tail and long narrow pointed wings. Uncertain of exact species, but either would be very unusual for Abington.

Common Sandpiper – single migrant bird continued to be seen early in the month, feeding around GP lake.


Summer visitors - Swallow - seen gathering on LSA, with last report on 3rd of six birds perched on wires on LSA.  House Martin were also seen gathering on LSA early in the month, as well as a flock of 24 on Granta Park (1st and 15th), and two birds seen above Lewis Crescent on 27th.

Warblers - Reed Warbler – single bird seen in undergrowth along river (1st). Common Whitethroat – one feeding in hedgerow along ORC (10th). Chiffchaff – heard singing in the sun near Church Lane (9th), and two reports from along ORC (10th).


Kingfisher – single bird flying downstream along river by Millennium Bridge (10th).

Little Egret – two reports, both along river near Millennium Bridge. Grey Heron – second winter juvenile bird near pond in Cambridge Road garden, and a single bird ‘resting’ in field on LSA.

Grey Wagtail – four reports, two from along the river by the recreation ground, one seen on the LSA, and one around a garden pond on Bourn Bridge Road. Pied Wagtail – three birds feeding on cricket field, in amongst a Jackdaw flock.

Bullfinch – two birds feeding in hedgerow and calling quietly along ORC (10th).  Goldfinch – 10-14 reported regularly on garden feeders in both LA and GA. Greenfinch – very few reports, occasional bird on feeders in Bourn Bridge Road and GA. Similarly, Chaffinch – just one report of a single bird under a feeder in GA.

Great Tit, Blue Tit - family flocks regularly around garden feeders, as well as along ORC. Small groups of Long-tailed Tit also along ORC. 

Linnet – small flock (15-20) on rough ground on GP. Skylark – a few birds seen feeding in fields near Abington Park Farm. Goldcrest – heard feeding on conifers along Chalky Road. 

House Sparrow – colony of around 20 birds on Lewis Crescent more active this month, collecting grit and visiting feeders. Robin – regularly heard singing.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – single bird heard alarm-calling from trees behind Lewis Crescent on several occasions. Green Woodpecker – several reports from LSA.

Jay – single bird regularly in last week, collecting acorns from under trees behind Lewis Crescent.  Rook and Magpie also seen collecting acorns, but ‘picking’ them straight from the trees.

Red Kite – one seen soaring above LA, and two reports from LSA. Buzzard – one hunting low over field behind Cambridge Road, three soaring above Bourn Bridge Road, likely one adult and two young, and several reports of single birds above LSA.

Kestrel – hunting from ‘lookout’ tree perches on Cambridge Road, and two other reports from GA and LSA. Sparrowhawk – female hunting over rough meadow on GP, also a female hunting around feeders on Cambridge Road, as well as two other reports.

Tawny Owl – several reports of hooting birds in LA, from oak trees behind Lewis Crescent, and from sites on the LSA throughout the month.


Butterflies, Bees and other insects

September was also a disappointing month for invertebrates, especially butterflies, with only 67 reports in total.  The weather was again very variable with few warm days, a few very cold days and nights and a great deal of rain and strong winds

The reports are from within the boundaries of Great and Little Abington parishes, including a few from Granta Park.  Note that the numbers given below are the number of reports of a species (not the number of butterflies).

Butterflies (12 species, 51 reports).  Butterfly reports for July were dominated by Small White and Red Admiral, also Speckled Wood but mainly from one site.  Two sightings of the rare Clouded Yellow on Granta Park, and one sighting of Painted Lady.


Butterfly species


Butterfly species


Small White




Red Admiral


Green-veined White


Speckled Wood






Small Heath


Small Copper


Painted Lady


Large White


Clouded Yellow



Small Whites have been reported in very large numbers in Cambridgeshire as a whole this year, likely to have been due to the exceptionally warm spring weather.

Butterfly Conservation Cambridgeshire have reported a butterfly new to the county – the Small Blue – with colonies on Magog Down and Trumpington MeadowsThis is good news, so if you are walking to either of those sites next year, look out for them.


Bees (7 reports); Moths (4 reports – all Hummingbird Hawkmoth); Ladybirds (1 report),

Dragonflies (4 reports, including the unusual Willow Emerald damselfly on Granta Park).



Bat – several bats were still flying regularly around a Bourn Bridge Road garden during the month and also in Cambridge Road.

Field vole - a continued presence in a Cambridge Road garden.

Grey Squirrel – a continued presence in a Cambridge Road garden and also in Bourn Bridge Road.

Hare – two hares were seen on 5th in LSA.

Hedgehog – Droppings only were spotted on a lawn in Meadow Walk

Muntjac - one seen regularly in Cambridge Road.

Flora & Fungi

Flora - no sightings reported this month.  Prolific berries on many hedgerow species.

Fungi - Giant Puffball, Field Mushroom, Shaggy Parasol, Bracket Oyster, Earthball



River level remains low, even after the September rain.  After the disappointing river sampling results in August, a further sampling will be organised in October to check the fauna before winter.



The rainfall for September was only 39.5 mm, with most of this falling in the last week of the month. The highest temperature was 34.8 C on the 15th, the lowest temp being 3.9 C on the 12th, with overall temperatures being about average for the time of year.


Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for September 2020:
Mark Austin, Darren Bast, Peter Brunning, Lois Bull, Anne Dunbar-Nobes, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Jennifer Hirsh, Carole McCrae, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Richard Smith, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge. Richard Wells.

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.

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 (