Tuesday 27 September 2022

Redwing are back - unusually early!

26th September 2022 - Derek T was quick to spot a Redwing on his lawn today.  

Each year, this 'winter thrush' species migrates from more northern climes to visit southern Europe and the UK over the winter, but this one seems particularly early! Abington Naturewatch records from the past ten years or so show that Redwing would normally first be seen here during the middle two weeks of October, the 7th October 2015 being the earliest previously. 

There have been other reports of Redwing in north Cambridgeshire this week too, and it's possible the recent strong northerly winds have hastened their journey south this year.


26th September 2022 - Gills S spotted this 'inch long' beauty in her greenhouse, which from its size alone is most likely to be a Hornet.

House Martin flock getting ready to depart

13th September 2022 - Gaynor F noticed a good number of House Martin on the LSA recently, flocking together and behaving as if they were getting ready to leave, repeatedly circling around and flying up to their nest sites, presumably helping them to remember where to return next summer.

Click on central arrow twice to play video

Autumnal cobwebs

15th September 2022 - as we enter September, and the morning start to feel a little more autumnal, Carole McC noticed the cool morning dew beading on some cobwebs, highlighting them beautifully.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Verbena

15th September 2022 - Carole McM has had a fine display of Verbena bonariensis flowers popping up on her patio which have proved very popular with the bees, butterflies and Hummingbird Hawkmoths throughout August and into September.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth on Verbena bonariensis flowers 

Verbena bonariensis flowers 

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Young Goldfinch

1st September 2022 - The finch flocks are returning to Andy M's garden now, their numbers swelled by this year's youngsters. One such young Goldfinch posed nicely for its photo. 

Note the typical yellow and black wing plumage, but young birds initially lack the striking red, yellow and black facial pattern seen on the adults.

Common Blue butterfly

4th September 2022 - Andy M spotted this Common Blue butterfly whilst walking along the Roman Road. Note the 'cell spot' on the underside of the upper wing, which is distinctive in this species.

Distinctive 'Cell Spot' highlighted on underside of upper wing.

Clouded Yellow butterfly along the Roman Road

4th September 2022 - Whilst out walking along the Roman Road, Polly and Andy M were lucky enough to spot the very colourful and quite unusual Clouded Yellow butterfly. 

More commonly known from the near continent, this butterfly occurs in the UK in small numbers most years. Whilst they do regularly breed here, they rarely survive our cold damp winters, so in most years the few individuals seen in the UK are those that found their way across the channel in the spring and bred here during the summer. Occasionally however, this species is famous for its infrequent and unpredictable 'mass migrations' across the channel, as happened last in 2000, when good numbers can be seen.

In the Abingtons, there have been around ten reports of the Clouded Yellow over the past twelve years, mostly from along the Roman Road in Aug/Sept 2013, with a few sightings on Granta Park in 2014 and 2020.

Sadly, for once Andy M did not have his camera to hand (typical!), but the distinctive combination of the greenish-yellow lower underwing and orangey upper underwing left no room for doubt. The photo below is taken from the Butterfly Conservation website. https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/clouded-yellow

Clouded Yellow butterfly showing both open and closed wing colouration 
[photo Mark Jay, Butterfly Conservation]

An abundance of berries

31st August 2022 - despite everything the weather has thrown at them this year, the hedgerows seem as full as colourful berries as ever. The Blackberries and Elderberries seemed to be particularly abundant. Andy M.


Blackberry and Old Man's Beard seed heads





Old Man's Beard seed heads

Old Man's Beard seeds starting to form

Sloes on Blackthorn


Still a few flowers out!

31st August 2022 - late summer is perhaps never the best for wild flowers, especially given the dryness of the summer but, following the recent rain, a few flowers were adding a splash of colour along the Old Railway Cutting.  Andy M.

Old Man's Beard was both in flower and coming into seed

Red Bartsia - a new one for me, forming clumps along the path

Red Bartsia flowers at the top of drooping stems

Red Bartsia - small white flowers on mauve stems

Rosebay Willowherb


Spear Thistle


Red Kite

31st August 2022 - along the Old Railway Cutting recently this Red Kite was circling quite low over the recently harvested fields. Andy M

Canada and Barnacle Geese

28th August 2022 - David F spotted quite a few geese during his walk around Granta Park, seeing about 30 Canada Goose on the lake and a further 20 Canada Goose and 6 Barnacle Goose on the cricket field.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose and Barnacle Goose (right foreground)

August 2022 - Interesting sightings from around the Abingtons

August 2022

Amphibians and Reptiles

Not surprisingly, very few sightings this month due to the very dry spell.

Common Toad seems to have managed the best with two reports from both GA and LA gardens, with one being spotted twice in the toe of a walking boot, as well as walking across the lawn.

Grass Snake – one about 3ft. long was seen on the LSA.


A total of 47 species were seen or heard this month in a total of 283 records, which is quite impressive given that August is generally perceived as a ‘quieter month’ for birds. As summer draws towards a close, the Swift are now largely gone, and unusually large gatherings of both Swallow and House Martin have been reported, suggesting a good breeding year for these species.

A Kingfisher was reported fishing along the river near the recreation ground (16th), and unusually a Tawny Owl was spotted during th day along the ORC (9th).

Little Grebe have successfully bred in the reeds around the GP lake, with both an adult and a well-grown juvenile seen on several occasions (9th-25th). Two Common Sandpiper were spotted feeding around the lake edge as they passed through on passage south (10th), and groups of Barnacle Goose and Canada Goose, as well as a Grey Heron, were seen there on 18th. Moorhen and Mallard were also reported on GP lake.

The last of four Swift nests at one location was still occupied on 3rd, with the birds departing shortly afterwards. House Martin were also still nesting around Mortlock Gardens, with 2-4 adults regularly seen there until 20th, and from mid-month larger gatherings of 10-50 House Martin were reported at several locations. Loose flocks of 10-15 Swallow also continued to be reported on the LSA and GP.

Good numbers of Pied Wagtail continued to be seen in paddocks on the LSA, and 30-50 were seen feeding on the Perse sport fields and GP cricket green. More unusually, two Grey Wagtail were spotted in a Cambridge Rd garden (7th), and a juvenile Yellow Wagtail was reported on GP (9th).

Mixed flocks of Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit were seen later in the month, the numbers now swollen by youngsters, and were occasionally reported to contain 1-2 Coal Tit and a Chiffchaff.  Coal Tit also continued to be seen regularly in a Cambridge Rd garden, as were 1-2 Jay.

Up to four Buzzard were often seen this month (16 reports) circling above several sites and often heard mewing. A Red Kite was spotted four times, a Sparrowhawk seen four times, and a Kestrel spotted once.

A Blackcap was spotted along the ORC (7th), and a Reed Warbler heard in the reeds on GP (9th).  There were also single reports of a Yellowhammer and a Skylark singing along the ORC.

Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch continued to be seen in similar numbers to previous months around feeders, and Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Wren were all reported. A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen on feeders on Lewis Cres, and a Green Woodpecker was often seen in a Cambridge Rd garden.

Butterflies and other insects

This month overall, the number of butterflies seen has dropped off somewhat. However, the Brown Argus butterfly and the Emerald Damselfly were both reported for the first time this year, and a total of 26 different species were reported within the 104 records received: butterflies 74, odonata 5, bees 5, others 20.

Butterflies: The Brown Argus was reported for the first time this year (7th and 27th, 2 reports, blog link). Whilst similar in appearance to a female Common Blue, the Brown Argus can be distinguished by having more and better defined orange spots on the topside of the upper wing.

          The number of reports of Small White and Meadow Brown were particularly high this month, with good numbers of Comma, Large White, Holly Blue and Red Admiral also being seen.

Conversely, the frequency of Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Ringlet and Marbled White sightings were all obviously down compared to July. This is a little unexpected for Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell, perhaps suggesting a slow start to their second broods this year. However, for Gatekeeper, Ringlet and Marbled White these declines very much align with the normal timings of their broods, which all peak in late July then drop off sharply during August. The relative frequency of sightings of other species was similar to July.

Numbers of Butterfly reports: Small White 19, Meadow Brown 10, Comma 7, Brimstone 6, Holly Blue 5, Large White 5, Red Admiral 5, Green-veined White 3, Peacock 3, Gatekeeper 3, Brown Argus 2. Others all 1 report each: Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Small Copper, Silver-washed Fritillary.

Odonata: Emerald Damselfly was seen for the first time this year (18th, 1 report), with Southern Hawker and Common Darter continuing to be seen (both 8th-9th, 2 reports each).

Other: Hummingbird Hawkmoth particularly abundant this month (16 reports, throughout the month). Red-tailed and White-tailed Bumblebee (5 reports in total), as well as reports of a Jersey Moth, and caterpillars of Elephant Hawkmoth and Knot Grass moth.


Badger - one seen in a garden in Lewis Cres, reportedly chasing a Hedgehog.

Bat – seen regularly in gardens on Cambridge Road and Bourn Bridge Road, probably Pipistrelle and Serotin.

House Mouse – a young one was spotted in a Cambridge Rd garden on 2nd.

Hedgehog – one seen in a Lewis Cres garden being chased by a Badger, and droppings seen regularly in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden throughout the month.

Muntjac – one in a Cambridge Rd garden on 1st, two were spotted in a paddock on the LSA on the 29th, and a dead one was seen on the A1307 on 11th.


A few wildflower species were reported in bloom this month, mostly from along the ORC:

Wild Marjoram, Wild Basil, Lesser Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Hawkweed, Ragwort, Hoary Groundsel, Old Man’s Beard, Lucerne, Scabious, Red Bartsia, Common Mugwort.


The total rainfall for August was 26.5 mm, which sounds encouraging but 23.5 mm fell on one day, on 25th August. Otherwise dry. The hottest day was 38.5 degrees C on the 13th August, but the highest temperature could have been higher as no recordings were taken for the week before. The lowest temperature was 5.9 degrees C on the 6th August, but this was unusual as the average was in double figures. South-westerly winds at the start of the month, swinging to a long spell of north-easterlies.

NatureWatch Trips

One ANW trip this month; an evening walk around Granta Park. This was well attended, but the flora was unfortunately largely over due to the dry weather. See blog link for a full report.

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

Mark Austin, Peter Brunning, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Gordon Hannah, Emma Jones, Esme Langford, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Pamela Parris, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, Diana Wingfield.

Monday 5 September 2022

Muntjac family

31st August 2022 - Sophie B was recently walking alongside the river in Sluice Wood, and came across this charming Muntjac family group. Unusually, she saw a young fawn along with two adults, which was being encouraging out of the admittedly rather dry riverbed. Sophie assures me that all ended well for the adventurous fawn! 

Click central arrow twice to play video.

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: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=213774935674882866424.00000111dca2be9f06ab8&z=13>

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 (amerryweather61@gmail.com)