Sunday 29 November 2020

More Garden Birds

From his 'lockdown bedroom office', Andy M has recently been able to watch more of the birds in his garden, in particular the comings and goings of the corvids - Magpie and Jay - and Sparrowhawks, which don't stay long, but are a spectacle to watch - as were the Blackbird feasting on the garden hawthorn berries.

Male Blackbird picking the large ripe red Hawthorn berries

Female Blackbird with a particularly large berry that managed to slip down ... just!

Male Sparrowhawk, lurking, partially concealed in a tree, watching for small birds below. 
Note the pale patches on the shoulder, maybe indicating a young adult bird

Suddenly, something catches his attention ...

... it's a Magpie, less than keen on having a raptor around, swoops in 
and starts aggressively calling.  Its cover blown, the Sparrowhawk rapidly retreats.

A victory drink for the Magpie at the bird-bath

Another day, and a different male Sparrowhawk - 
note the lack of white feathers on the shoulder

Imagine being a small bird, caught in that Sparrowhawk stare!

A Jay searches for food amongst the garden beds ...

... beneath a female Great Spotted Woodpecker - distinguishable from 
the male which has a red patch at the back of the head.

An unusual view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drinking

Monday 23 November 2020


An apparently quite young Muntjac deer made a (slightly unwelcome) visit to Derek T's garden today, and paused long enough in the sun to offer up a photo-opportunity!

Recording of Tawny Owl calling in Lt Abington

There have been a number of recent reports of a Tawny Owl calling from the woods behind Church Lane, but Kumar has gone further, and managed to very quietly get close enough to make this lovely recording.

Click on this link to hear it: Abington resident Tawny Owl

Male and female Tawny Owl both call during the night, particularly in the autumn and early winter, to establish territories, and to make contact and attract a mate. 

The hooting territorial call of the male (as in Kumar's recording) being most familiar, starts with a drawn-out 'hoooouh', pauses for a few seconds, then ends with a resonant ..... hoo-hoo-hooooouh'.

Both sexes also make a more harsh 'kewick' contact call, and during courtship, the male and female may respond to one-another, combining their calls to make the commonly quoted 'too-wit too-woo' which is a combination of the 'kewick' (female) and 'hoo-hoo-hooooouh' (male) calls.

Tawny Owl [photo Russell Savory, BTO]

Dazed Goldcrest

Elly M, from Granta Park, contacted Derek to report that a Goldcrest had recently flown into the window of the security gatehouse.  The Goldcrest was a little dazed by the experience, and the security guard was able to take a couple of photos, before the bird recovered and flew off without further incident.

Apparent scarcity of garden birds

David F has been concerned recently that, despite putting out bird food in his garden, there seemed to be a scarcity of garden birds visiting his garden this autumn.  Having contacted the BTO about this, he received the following reply from the '' team:

'Thank you very much for getting in touch with us. Yes, we have received a lot of similar reports recently. It seems that the lack of garden birds has been caused by the availability of natural food away from gardens, mainly due to the predominantly mild and wet weather. We haven't noticed anything else that has changed significantly so hopefully, now that the temperature is starting to drop, you will start to see more birds in your garden. I hope this helps and if you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.'


Sunday 15 November 2020

Early Morning Walk to Hildersham Wood

The promise of a clear sunny start enticed Andy M out for an early morning walk along Chalky Road to Hildersham Wood this week.  The rising sun highlighted the last of the autumn colours, and really made the brightly-coloured berries in the hedgerows shine out.  

As expected, there were lots of Rosehip and Hawthorn berries, as well as Sloes, but also a good crop of gaudy pink Spindle berries in several places.  Along the Old Railway Cutting, Redwing and Blackbird were busy tucking into a berry breakfast, and a female Sparrowhawk was ever-watchful for a passing birds.

Sunrise from Chalky Road

Early morning views to the north over Abington

First shafts of sun break through the copse near Hildersham Wood

The view north-east to Linton water tower

Along Abington's eastern parish boundary

Bright Rosehips

Seedheads of Old Man's Beard

An brightly-coloured lichen coating the branches of a small Hawthorn

And the iridescent colours of a flyby Magpie reflected in the sun

Ash keys shining in the sunlight

Ivy berries swelling and starting to mature

Seedheads of a 'dandelion' species catch the sun

It's a good year for Hawthorn berries

Old Man's Beard

Spindle tree berries


The delicate bloom on Sloe berries

A shy Redwing lurks in the bushes seeking a breakfast of haws ...

... alongside a young male Blackbird

Whilst a female Sparrowhawk waits patiently for an 
unfortunate small bird to pass by for its breakfast

Saturday 14 November 2020

Early morning along the Roman Road

Early one morning this week, Andy M walked along the eastern end of the Roman Road in Abington, near the Hildersham boundary, just as the sun was rising.  The low sunlight was beautiful, illuminating the animals and birds as they started their day.  Besides the more usual creatures - Hare, Linnet, PartridgeCorn Bunting, Skylark, Yellowhammer - Andy also saw a pair of Stonechat.  Breeding further north on moorland during the summer, Stonechat migrate south to spend the winter in the southern areas of Britain.

Abington parish and Hildersham Wood just before dawn

Just before sunrise!

Mist amongst the trees of the valley fields

First light - on the ears of a Hare!

Hare - exit left!

The Roman Road looking west, with a covey of Red-legged Partridge in the field

More Hare - basking in the sun

Corn Bunting

A flock of Great Black-backed Gull, rising up from the potato field 
to let the harvesting machine pass by, before settling back down there again.

Female Stonechat
Male Stonechat

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit

A backlit male Yellowhammer

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 (