Wednesday 18 May 2022

ANW trip to Beechwoods

17th May 2022 - our first trip of the year, to Beechwoods -  the Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve just south of Cambridge.  Six of us joined the walk through the woods in the warm sunny evening, the light on the fresh green leaves of the Beech trees contrasting with the dark branches.

The main reason for the visit was to see the White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonoium), a member of the orchid family, which prefers these shady conditions on chalky soils, often under Beech. At first only a few smaller specimens were seen, with some evidence that the flower heads may have been browsed by deer.  Indeed an old meaning of the name Helleborine may refer to 'deer food'.  Further into the woods though, and particularly in the more recently-planted more scrubby areas, the flower spikes were taller with more flowers on show.

Also seen were a good number of Hawkweed, most likely Spotted Hawkweed (Hieracium maculatum), also known as Common Hawkweed - although these can be difficult to identify at the species level.

Small plant of White Helleborine - mostly seen in the more mature wood

White Helleborine

White Helleborine

White Helleborine flowers which don't fully open

White Helleborine flowers

Spotted Hawkweed

Spotted Hawkweed

Spotted Hawkweed basal leaf floret

[photos Andy M]

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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 (