Sunday 27 February 2022

Frogspawn update

22nd February 2022 - Gaynor F reported that a further 'deposit' of Frogspawn was made in her pond, alongside the first contribution.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Frogspawn recently appeared

20th February 2022 - A week or so ago, following a spring clean and clearing of debris from her garden pond, Gaynor F discovered at least two newts (believed to be Smooth Newt) in her pond.  Today, she noted a large mass of Frogspawn had recently appeared in the same pond. 

So do keep an eye open for anything happening in your pond, and let Gaynor know (Amphibian and Reptile recorder

Wild Arum in leaf

22 February 2022 - David F noted the Wild Arum bursting into leaf in Sluice Wood.

Storm Eunice

19 February 2022 - like much of the southern UK, Abington has felt the force of Storm Eunice in recent days, with strong gusty winds causing damage to some trees in the village. David F noted these two large trees down along the old Carriage Track adjacent to the Perse sports fields. 

David Pimblett also confirmed some damage around the recreation ground, but was .. "nothing bad, two dead Elms down, one just being one or two stems".

Interestingly, Tim B took a long-exposure photo of the large Redwood tree in Great Abington churchyard during the strong winds, noting that the trunk hardly moved whilst the upper branches flailed around wildly. Clearly the trunk is well adapted to survive such onslaughts, allowing them to live long lives.  Notice the blur of the clouds rushing passed too.

Tree snapped off part way up its trunk. [photo David F]

A large bough broken snapped off like matchwood. [photo David F]

Ivy-covered tree down along the edge of the Perse sports fields. [photo David F]

Recent rain after Storm Eunice pushed up the river level in Sluice Wood. [photo David F]

Long-exposure photo of a Redwood in strong winds.
Note the blur of the branches moving, but the rigidity of the trunk right up to the top. [photo Tim B]

Long-exposure photo of a Redwood in strong winds.  [photo Tim B]

Red Kite 'fly-past' and other garden birds

7th February 2022 - there have been a number of sightings of a Red Kite flying over the villages recently, and Andy M was lucky enough to see two birds over the end of his garden. Both birds were circling low down at treetop height for several minutes, occasionally swooping down as if they were eyeing up some carrion along the field edge, but neither felt the urge to land.

Red Kite

Red Kite

Other birds in the garden recently were: 
A Robin displaying by extending its head upwards whilst singing

A 'charm' of Goldfinch have been regular visitors to the feeders

A Great Spotted Woodpecker probing for tasty morsels on a dead truck

Friday 18 February 2022

Aconites in Sluice Wood

11th February 2022 - Tim B and David F noted the fine display of Aconite flowers in Sluice Wood at the moment, brightening up the otherwise subdued scene.   David also noted the Snowdrop flowers that are still showing well along the old carriage track nearby.

Aconites in Sluice Wood [photo Tim B]

Aconites in Sluice Wood [photo Tim B]

Aconites in Sluice Wood [photo David F]

Snowdrops along the Old Carriage Track [photo David F]

River in Sluice Wood [photo Tim B]

River in Sluice Wood [photo Tim B]

Wasp Nest

David and Gaynor F found this wasp nest under their hay store.  Clearly the source of the wasps that had been stinging them over last summer!

Summary of Sightings from around the Abingtons - January 2022

January 2022

Amphibians and Reptiles

No sightings reported this month.



A total of 573 reports were received this month, containing 46 different species. This included 17 reports received during the Abington Bird Garden Birdwatch, which took place over the last weekend of the month, and recorded 29 different species (see separate report on the blog).

Two Siskin were seen feeding high in the trees at the end of the ORC on 25th. This finch is a winter visitor to the UK, and is most likely to be seen around villages and in gardens during in the early months of the year.

Both winter thrush species continued to be reported, with flocks of 40-50 Fieldfare and 20-30 Redwing on the LSA and in fields along Church Lane, as well as smaller numbers on GP and along the ORC.

Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush were both heard singing, particularly towards the end of the month, the latter being seen regularly along the ORC and in a Lewis Crescent garden.

Small flocks of Blue Tit,  Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit were frequently reported, as well as smaller numbers of Coal Tit, and a Blue Tit pair was seen displaying and investigating nest boxes.

Chaffinch were reported more frequently (27 reports) with up to five seen together. Good numbers of Goldfinch with a flock of 30 on the LSA, and up to six Greenfinch regularly seen on feeders.  

Reports of Starling (up to 6) and House Sparrow (up to 13) were both up this month. Wren, Robin, Dunnock and Blackbird were all regularly reported, and up to four Collared Dove also regularly seen in a Lewis Crescent garden. A Goldcrest was spotted on two occasions.

A male Blackcap was spotted several times throughout the month, visiting the feeders in a Lewis Crescent garden, with two also reported during the BGBW.

One or two Great Spotted Woodpecker were frequently visitors to several garden feeders, with 1-2 Green Woodpecker seen more occasionally at several sites.  A Jay and 1-2 Magpie were also regularly seen in some gardens.

A single Grey Wagtail, a Pied Wagtail and two Meadow Pipit were all spotted on GP on 1st, as well as five Barnacle Goose, around 50 Mallard, a Moorhen and a Reed Bunting around the lake.  Also on 1st, the unusually high number of eleven Grey Heron was seen on Hood’s Meadow.

One or two Buzzard were spotted at several locations around the villages, and a single Red Kite was reported seven times, on one occasion flying low over a Cambridge Rd garden. A Sparrowhawk was observed hunting pigeons over a Bourn Bridge Rd garden, and a Kestrel was also occasionally seen around GP and the Perse sports fields.

A flock of over 100 Black-headed Gull was seen in the Grange Farm fields, with lower numbers also reported on GP where the flock also included six Great Black-backed Gull, and a flock of six Lapwing was seen unusually flying over Lewis Crescent on 6th.


Butterflies, Bees and other insects

Note that Jennifer Hirst has decided to step down as Insect Recorder. Abington NatureWatch would like to thank Jennifer for her eleven years of support and for acting as our insect recorder. We now have an excellent record of insects over the last few years thanks to her efforts. 

Polly Merryweather has kindly offered to take over as Insect Recorder from January 2022, so please continue to send your sightings, to Polly at

The first butterfly report of the year was of two Peacock butterflies on 13th January along the edge of the recreation ground.

A White-tailed Bumblebee was reported on 1st January in a West Field garden, and two reports of Buff-tailed Bumblebee, out on the warmer days, one on North Road on 14th and one in Lewis Crescent on 27th.



Field Mouse – one seen in Lewis Crescent on 29th, under bird feeders.
Fox – one dead by the side of Cambridge Road on 20th, and one walking across a garden in Cambridge Road on 22nd.
Hare – one seen on LSA on 1st.
Mole – much evidence of molehills on the Recreation ground throughout the month.
Muntjac – one seen on GP on 1st, and one on ORC on 17th.


Flora & Fungi

Snowdrop and Aconite in flower at several sites around the villages, including Sluice Wood and Lagden’s Grove on GP.  Hazel catkins also reported.


No reports this month.



January was much drier than average with only 20.5 mm of rain which all fell in the first two weeks. There was a prolonged spell of frosty weather during the second two weeks, which was good to see as a cold snap in the winter is always beneficial. The highest temperature recorded was 16.3 degrees on the 29th, but 16.2 degrees was also recorded on the 1st with the New Year being the warmest on record. The lowest temperature was minus 6.5 on the 6th. Overall, it was a very quiet month with little or no wind.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for January 2022:

Roger Atkin, Barry Brooks, Lois Bull, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Carolyn and Gordon Hannah, Jennifer Hirst, Emma Jones, Karen Langford, Carole McCrae, Len and Rosemary Mead, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Freda Orgee, Brian Parris, Gill Smith, Jade Taylor-Salazar, John and Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, Sally Turnidge, Justine Upham, John Webb.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Abington Big Garden Bird Watch results

The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch took place over the last weekend of January (Friday 28th to Sunday 30th) and as always invited people to watch the birds in their gardens for an hour, and to record the maximum number of each species seen.  ANW members were also invited to send their results to Derek T, who has collated the results below. 

This year, a total of 17 reports were received, including 29 different bird species. This was similar to the Abington BGBW last year, when 20 reports received contained 30 species.

The most commonly reported species this year were Blue Tit (1st), Robin (2nd), Blackbird (3rd) and Great Tit and Woodpigeon (4th equal). Interestingly, these five species were also the top five species reported in last year's Abington BGBW, with Blue Tit topping the chart both years.

The table below shows the results for the 2022 Abington BGBW, indicating for each Species, the number of reports that included that species (Reports), the overall highest number of birds seen at any one time (Maximum Count), and the ranking based on the number of reports (Ranking).

Comparison of the results of the Abington BGBW from 2020, 2021 and 2022 perhaps indicate some interesting trends over this period.

In order to compare the results, for each species the number of reports including that species has been expressed as a percentage of the total number of reports received that year. For instance, in 2020 the Woodpigeon was included in 14 of the 15 reports received, which represents 93% of the total reports received. These 'normalised percentage' values allow the results for each year to be compared, and to show any trends. 

In the table below, the 'normalised percentage' of reports of each species each year are compared to the 2020 values. Percentages within 10% of the 2020 value are shown as green, those more than 10% higher or more than 20% higher than 2020 values are shown in light blue and dark blue, respectively, and values more than 10% lower or more than 20% lower than the 2020 values are shown in orange and red respectively. 

Interestingly, Blue Tit has been reported at much higher levels in recent years, whereas Collared Dove was reported much less frequently in 2021 and 2022 relative to 2020.  Other species, like Jackdaw and Great Tit, showed 'dips' in 2021 only to apparently recover again in 2022.

More subtly perhaps, WoodpigeonHouse Sparrow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, WrenSong Thrush and Sparrowhawk all seem to be trending downwards over this period, whereas Robin, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Magpie and Jay may be trending upwards. 

Admittedly, the reporting period included here maybe somewhat short in order to draw any firm conclusions, and a more detailed analysis over a longer period would be needed to confirm these possible trends.
Andy  M   

Wednesday 9 February 2022

First Brambling report of the year

02 February 2022 - Amongst a small group of Chaffinch feeding on the ground under the bird feeders, Andy M spotted a Brambling.  This finch species is a winter visitor to this area, travelling across from northern Europe, particularly when weather or food becomes difficult there.

Andy managed to take a few (somewhat fuzzy) photos of this female Brambling - which has lacks the dark head of the male, but is otherwise similar.

Female Brambling

Female Brambling

Male Chaffinch (left) and female Brambling, showing the
distinctive differences in plumage.

Blackbird, Brambling and Chaffinch

Brambling and Blackbird

Field Mouse

29th January 2022 - Under the feeders in his garden recently, Andy M spotted a small Field Mouse, sometimes called a Wood Mouse, dashing out from under the fence to take a few dropped morsels. It's sandy-brown colour and pale belly distinguish this from a House Mouse.

Winter flora around Granta Park

26th January 2022 - Lots of Snowdrop and Aconites in flower, and Hazel catkins showing well, in the woods in Granta Park. Andy M.



Hazel catkins

Wild Arum

A clump of tiny orange fungus

A few pictures from around Abington

19th January 2022 - a few photos from a sunny walk around Great Abington late afternoon.
Andy M.

The river from the Millennium Bridge

Silver Birch along the footpath near Newhouse Farm

The newly installed fence alongside the footpath

Long shadows along the 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 (