Sunday 21 August 2022

ANW trip - walk around Granta Park

18th August 2022 - the very encouraging number of 17 ANW members joined the trip walking around Granta Park on Thursday evening. Whilst there was not much to see in terms of flowers due to the dry weather, there was enough to be of interest, including a number of birds around the lake - Grey Heron, Mallard, Canada Goose and Barnacle Goose - and a pleasant evening walk was had by all. David F.

Impressive Moth Caterpillars

17th August 2022 - Emma J discovered a couple of different moth caterpillars in her garden recently.  The impressively large Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar was making short work of some fuchsia plants, whilst an equally striking Knot-grass moth caterpillar preferred to feed on her oregano plants.

Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar - with impressive head markings

Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar, still hanging around!

Knot-grass moth caterpillar on oregano

Juvenile Robin

4th August 2022 - a juvenile Robin took the opportunity of an open door to take a look around the inside of Polly M's house recently.  It hadn't quite sussed out what window glass was all about yet though, and had to be gently 'assisted' back towards the open door.

Common Toad - braving the heat!

16th August 2022 - Emma J was a little surprised to find a small Common Toad in her very hot and bone-dry glasshouse recently, but it seemed happy enough living amongst the damp soil of the watered plants.

Emperor Dragonfly - close-up!

10th August 2022 - during the recent hot weather there have been a number of dragonflies buzzing rapidly around Andy M's garden. Whilst one can sometimes get a good enough view to identify the species, it can be very hard to really see the detail when they are moving so fast. 

However, whilst rather sad for the individual, when we discovered a male Emperor Dragonfly that had become trapped and 'baked' in our greenhouse, it did present an opportunity to take some closeup photos of this amazing creature.  In particular, the details of the eyes, mouthparts and wings are fascinating.

Thousands of tiny hexagonal individual lenses make up the huge compound eye.

The complex attachment mechanisms of each wing to the thorax give the dragonfly 
amazing control over its direction and speed of flight.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Common Darter dragonfly

8th August 2022 - this Common Darter dragonfly put in an appearance in Polly and Andy's garden this week, and conveniently took a short break from rushing about to allow its photo to be taken.

Butterflies amongst the flowers

7th August 2022 - a walk along the Old Railway Cutting was a rather dry, dusty experience this week, but there were patches of bright colour, with the Wild Marjoram, Wild Basil and Common Knapweed coming nicely into flower.  These were proving to be something of an oasis for a number of butterflies, including many Gatekeeper, Common Blue, and the second brood of Holly Blue and Small Heath. Unusually, Small Copper and Brown Argus also put in an appearance - Andy M.

Much of the area was looking very dry, including these grasses

Wild Marjoram putting on a good show ...

... as were these Common Knapweed ...

... and Ragwort

Common Knapweed (aka Lesser Knapweed)

Old Man's Beard flowers

Wild Marjoram

Wild Basil

Lucerne (also called Alfalfa)

Male Common Blue

Male Common Blue

Male Common Blue - note the unbroken white border

Male Common Blue - paler than the female

A Holly Blue hiding in the shadows - note the pale blue, largely plain underside,
except for a few scattered black dots

Gatekeeper, with the its characteristic double white spot in the black 'eye' 
and the uneven row of white dots on the lower under wing

Small White

Small Copper - with its bright orange and black spot combo.

Brown Argus - could easily be mistaken for a female Common Blue,
but the clearly defined rows of bright orange spots along the 
whole edges of both upper and lower wings are characteristic.

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Second brood Small Heath

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly on a Scabious flower

Young House Mouse

4th August 2022 - Derek T saw this rather quiet young House Mouse in his garden - no doubt it was feeling slightly the worst for wear during this the hot weather.

What splendid antennae you have!

4th August 2022 - Joan N spotted this rather beautiful large moth resting on her window, and took this photo to shown off its rather splendid antennae. The exact species is not certain, but it may be a type of hawkmoth.

Say 'Ribbit!'

1st August 2022 - Andy M spotted up to five Common Frog in his small garden pond - no doubt a tiny oasis for them during this hot, dry weather - and some of them even hung around long enough to have their photo taken!

July 2022 - Interesting Sightings from around the Abingtons

July 2022

Amphibians and Reptiles

Common Toad - spotted in and around two ponds in LA and one in GA, and a Grass Snake was seen in a LA garden. Please keep an eye out and send in any sightings as there may be more of these species seeking any water available in this dry weather.



A total of 48 species were seen or heard this month in a total of 261 records, as we entered a generally quieter period for garden birds, especially with many birds sheltering quietly during the heat of the day. However, good numbers of young birds continued to be seen, including Blue Tit and Great Tit, Swallow, Jay, Buzzard, and both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker.

A Kingfisher was again seen occasionally, feeding along the river through Sluice Wood, and the female Mandarin Duck, with three grown ducklings, also still around along the river in GP.

A male Tufted Duck was spotted on the GP lake on 8th, as was a Cormorant (31st), as well as 3-5 Barnacle Goose, good numbers of Mallard and a Moorhen with one chick.

A pair of Bullfinch was spotted feeding alongside the river on GP and, unusually for GP, a Nuthatch was heard and seen in the woods along the south side of GP.  Also unusually, a Treecreeper was spotted in a Cambridge Rd garden on 31st.

The good numbers of Swallow (around 50) reported on LSA were mostly juveniles indicating a good first brood this year (10th, blog link). Some pairs will now mate again and continue with a second brood. Swift were regularly reported especially early on, and up to 20 were seen wheeling above LA church on 21st, possibly a final gathering before heading south. The last sighting this month was of only 2 birds on 25th. Small numbers of House Martin (2-3) were spotted around the shop, in Mortlock Gardens and around Bourn Bridge Rd.

Small groups of Blue Tit and Great Tit were regularly reported visiting feeders, with a group of around 20 seen on 27th. Good numbers of young Blue Tit (blog link) seen in Sluice Wood too. A single Coal Tit was regularly seen in a Cambridge Rd garden, as well as two Long-tailed Tit reports.

A few young Goldfinch and Greenfinch were also regularly reported on feeders, as well as along the ORC, with 1-2 Chaffinch also seen in Cambridge Rd. A few Robin, Wren and Dunnock were also regularly seen, with young spotted after 17th. Pied Wagtail were also reported, including an adult with young on the LSA (22nd), and around 12 on GP (31st).  Up to 4 Blackbird, and a single Song Thrush were also seen.

Both Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were reported along the ORC on 3rd, the former also heard singing. A Chiffchaff was reported once (3rd), and 1-2 Blackcap were seen at several locations, including a pair spotted for the first time in a garden on North Rd, LSA.

A single Buzzard was reported above several sites, including a likely juvenile perching along Church Lane, and heard mewing above GP. A Red Kite was spotted six times around the village, and a Sparrowhawk was seen taking a pigeon on Meadow Walk. A Kestrel was spotted at a number of locations, including the woods along Pampisford Rd, and one was seen apparently feeding on flying ants (8th).

Green Woodpecker were seen at several locations, with three around the Perse sports fields (blog link) and GP, a female and a juvenile in a Cambridge Rd garden, and one regularly visit a garden in Meadow Walk. One or two Great Spotted Woodpecker, including a juvenile continued to be seen in a Cambridge Rd garden, and an adult was seen feeding on ants in Lewis Cres.

Collared Dove and Stock Dove regularly seen around Lewis Cres, as were a few House Sparrow, including young birds. An adult and two young Jay were seen feeding on apples (21st), a small flock of Starling were spotted on the LSA, and a Skylark was occasionally heard singing early in the month.


Butterflies and other insects

This month, several butterfly and dragonfly species were reported for first time this year, as the total number of reports increased yet again to the highest this year! Amazingly, a total of nineteen butterfly species were reported this month. Overall, during July, a total of 187 records were received: butterflies 169, odonata 4, bees 5, others 9.

Butterflies: Three butterfly species were first reported this year during July: Gatekeeper (regularly throughout the month from 3rd, 16 reports, blog link), Silver-washed Fritillary (13th, 1 report, blog link) and Purple Hairstreak (18th, 1 report, blog link), the latter two being unusual for the Abingtons.

          Numbers of reports of Brimstone, Small White, Large White and Gatekeeper were particularly high, as were Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown. Interestingly, second brood Peacock numbers were up again in July, following no reports in June. Gatekeeper and Ringlet were seen in particularly good numbers along the ORC, as were Meadow Brown, Peacock and Small Skipper.

Reports of Brimstone, Peacock, the ‘Whites’ and Common Blue (blog link) were all up relative to June, but the relative numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady and Marbled White all dropped this month. Other species continued to be reported in similar numbers to June.

Numbers of Butterfly reports: Brimstone 21, Small White 17, Gatekeeper 16, Large White 15, Meadow Brown 14, Comma 14, Small Tortoiseshell 12, Peacock 10, Ringlet 10, Red Admiral 9, Green-veined White 8, Common Blue 5, Marbled White 5. Others: Holly Blue, Small Skipper, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Silver-washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak all 1-3 reports.

Odonata: Emperor Dragonfly continued to be reported (17th, 1 report, blog link), with Southern Hawker (from 4th, 2 reports) and Common Darter (8th, 1 report, blog link) being seen for the first time during July.

Other: Hummingbird Hawkmoth (4 reports, blog link), Red-tailed, White-tailed and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (5 reports in total), as well as reports of a Red-legged Shieldbug, Burnet Moth, Small Emerald Moth (blog link), Hornet and a dor beetle species.



Bat – probably Pipistrelle, seen regularly around gardens along Cambridge Rd and Lewis Cres

Common Shrew – dead one found in a Cambridge Rd garden on 10th.

Hedgehog – one in a Lewis Cres garden on 6th and again on 18th and 24th. Two also seen in another Lewis Cres garden on 18th, a mother and two hoglets seen on 24th, and two more adults later on the same night.

Muntjac – one in a Lewis Cres garden on 6th, one in the field behind Cambridge Rd on 17th, and one dead on the Carriage Track also on 17th.



The continuing dry weather and high temperatures have meant many annual and perennial flowers have finished early. Very few reports of wildflower species in bloom this month: Welted Thistle, Chicory.


A second river sampling session was held on 26th July, which went ahead in spite of very little rain and low flows. It was noticeable that there was no weed at the site and our results were also very sparse, with very low numbers of Mayfly, which is the main interest for the Riverfly recording process we follow. Very few Shrimp, which are often found in very large numbers. We did catch a fish (Bullhead or Miller’s Thumb) and the usual Signal Crayfish, as well as a number of surface insects (Pond Skater and Water Boatman) when sweeping the marginal vegetation. No species was numerous this time.


Dry! Dry! Dry! With a total of 9.25 mm rain for the month. The highest temperature was on 19th when it hit 42.3 degrees C and the lowest was 7.3 degrees C on 5th July. The beginning and end of the month were relatively still, with a breezy spell in the middle but it was a hot wind.


NatureWatch Trips

There were three interesting ANW trips this month; to Lackford Lakes (blog link), Wicken Fen (blog link) and Fleam Dyke (blog link). See the blog links for full reports.


Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for July 2022:
Darren Bast, Peter Brunning, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Carole McCrae, Andy Merryweather,
Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Brian Parris, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Derek Turnidge, Diana

Sunday 7 August 2022

Visit to Fleam Dyke - Chalk Hill Blue butterflies everywhere!

30th July 2022 - four ANW members had a great trip along Fleam Dyke, witnessing literally thousands of Chalk Hill Blue butterflies. At virtually every step there was a Chalk Hill Blue on the path, and looking either side one could easily see ten or twelve within a few feet. Along the kilometre or so of the dyke we walked, there really must have been thousands. Male Chalk Hill Blue butterflies are pale blue on the upper with a contrasting black and white border, whereas the females are mostly brown with orange spots on the lower wing, also with a white border.  Undersides are very similar to the Common Blue, but lack the bright orange spots on the upper wing, with males tending to be paler than females.

There were also one or two of several other butterfly species, and also a few interesting chalkland plants such as Horseshoe Vetch and Clustered Bellflower.

Male Chalk Hill Blue
Female Chalk Hill Blue
Male Chalk Hill Blue
Female Chalk Hill Blue
Mating pair Chalk Hill Blue
Male Chalk Hill Blue on Fireweed
Male Chalk Hill Blue
Female Chalk Hill Blue
Male Chalk Hill Blues on Common Knapweed
Male Chalk Hill Blues
Male Chalk Hill Blue and Small Skipper on Greater Knapweed
Male Chalk Hill Blue on Fireweed
Female Chalk Hill Blue
Comma [photo David F]
Nursery Web Spider
Nursery Web Spider
Nursery Web Spider
Greater Knapweed
Ground Thistle
Squinancy Wort
Common Rock-rose
Abington NatureWatchers in action [photo David F]

[photos by Andy M, unless otherwise indicated]

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 (