Sunday 24 December 2023

End of Year Bird Quiz

You may be interesting in trying you skills against this bird identification quiz. Each image shows a characteristic part of a particular bird species - all of which were reported in Cambridgeshire this year.

With many thanks to Louise Bacon of Cambridge Bird Club, for permission to share this.

Answers below

















1.      Bittern
2.      Common Gull
3.      Shoveler
4.      Green-winged Teal (an American vagrant)
5.      Coot (juvenile)
6.      Ferruginous Duck
7.      Goldcrest
8.      House Martin
9.      Goldeneye
10.   Red Kite
11.   Raven
12.   Swallow
13.   Common Sandpiper
14.   (Red) Knot
15.   Purple Sandpiper
16.   Ringed Plover
17.   Woodcock
18.   Snipe

November 2023 - Summary of Sightings around the Abingtons

November 2023

Amphibians and Reptiles

No sightings this month.



This month a total of 53 species were reported in 346 records. Surprisingly, a single Swallow was seen along the Roman Rd – a very late report for this species! A Woodcock was spotted on GP, as were Ruddy Shelduck and Mandarin Duck. Both winter thrush species were spotted throughout the month, and the Tawny Owls were again hooting around the village. Nuthatch reappeared on garden feeders, although some commented there seemed to be fewer birds in general in their gardens, perhaps reflecting the generally milder weather this month.

A Swallow was spotted flying south over the Roman Rd on 6th, some six weeks after the last local report, and the latest Swallow reported in Cambs this year. Several small flocks of Fieldfare were seen, along the Roman Rd (see blog), on GP and along Church Lane, and there were two reports of Redwing, along the ORC and on GP.

A Woodcock was spotted roosting on GP on 29th, at the same location in amongst trees. Also on GP, a Little Grebe and a pair of Ruddy Shelduck were seen on the lake, alongside Moorhen and Mallard, and four Grey Heron and seven Mandarin Duck were seen along the river (see blog). Several Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit were also spotted on rough ground, and around 30 Chaffinch were spotted feeding on beech mast near the gym.

A Nuthatch made a welcome return to a garden on Cambridge Rd, and another was seen on North Rd. Up to 20 Goldfinch, 2-3 Greenfinch and Chaffinch were regular visitors to several gardens, as well as small flocks of Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit, with a few Coal Tit sightings (see blog). Goldcrest were also spotted along the Roman Rd, on GP and in a few gardens (see blog). Blackbird were reported more often in some gardens, as were Robin, Dunnock and Wren, however, in other gardens there seemed to be fewer birds seen than normal.

Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker were both seen occasionally in Cambridge Rd, around Hall Farm and on GP, as well as on the Perse sports fields. Jay were also spotted at several locations, and a Song Thrush was seen along North Rd.

One of two Buzzard were spotted at various locations, as was a Red Kite. A Kestrel was reported three times, and a Sparrowhawk was seen around Hall Farm (see blog) and over the allotments. A Tawny Owl was heard calling twice, around Church Lane and Hall Farm.

Small flocks of Linnet, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and a few Yellowhammer were seen along the Roman Rd (see blog), on GP and along the ORC. Pheasant were spotted at several locations, and Red-legged Partridge were seen along the Roman Rd and adjacent to Cambridge Rd.

Larger flocks of Black-headed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were on GP and the Roman Rd, respectively, as were 1-2 Herring Gull. Large mixed flocks of Rook and Jackdaw frequented rough ground on GP, as well as small numbers elsewhere, and a few Carrion Crow and Magpie were widely reported.

Collared Dove and Stock Dove were often seen in gardens on Lewis Cres, Cambridge Rd and Hall Farm, as well as occasionally elsewhere, with a few Woodpigeon being widely reported. Flocks of Starling were reported as gathering to roost on GP, and House Sparrow were regularly seen around Lewis Cres.



As expected in November, reports of insects were few and far between. In a Church Lane garden, a Red Admiral was seen on 18th, and again feeding on a dahlia flower on 23rd. A Common Carder Bee was seen on 12th in a Cambridge Rd garden. Otherwise, very quiet.



Fox – one seen on the GP side of the river in Sluice Wood on 30th.

Hare – up to seven were spotted in fields to the south side of the Roman Road on 6th (see blog)

Muntjac – one seen in Lewis Cres garden on 13th, another in a Cambridge Rd garden on 19th, and one more was seen in Lagdon’s Grove on GP also on 19th.



Just a few Parasol and Shaggy Inkcap fungi seen on GP (see blog)



Rainfall this month was 68mm, a little over the average for this area which is around 58 mm. Overall maximum daytime temperatures remained in double figures for most of the month, with the warmest day being 13th with a temperature of 15.5 degrees C - relatively tropical! The coldest was on 30th, at minus 6.7 degrees C, with frosty nights recorded for the last eight days. The first half of the month was quite breezy with winds generally in a west to south-west direction, changing to lighter more northerly winds for the second half.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for November 2023:
David & Gaynor Farrant, Len Mead, Andy & Polly Merryweather, Nancy Ockendon, Freda Orgee, Barbara Phippen, Gareth Rees, Gill Smith, Maggie & John Turner, Derek Turnidge.

Monday 11 December 2023

A Sparrowhawk drops by

27th November 2023 - John T was watching the birds in his garden, camera in hand trying for a photo or two, when suddenly a male Sparrowhawk flew in, landing close to the bird feeders. Obviously, all the small birds had by now beaten a hasty retreat, but the Sparrowhawk stayed long enough for John to get this lovely photo.

Granta Park birds and fungi

19th November 2023 - a short walk around Granta Park revealed that the pair of Ruddy Shelduck, first seen a month or so ago, were back - in amongst the Mallard, now in fine breeding plumage, and in the background a Little Grebe could be spotted fishing. Along the river, hiding in amongst the willows, a flock of Mandarin Duck were seen, at least two males and around five females. And in the meadow, amongst the Teasel heads, a flock of Goldfinch provided a splash of colour. Down below, the grass had sprouted several fungi, a few Shaggy Inkcap and several large Parasol toadstools.  Andy M.

Ruddy Shelduck pair

Ruddy Shelduck male

Mallard pair

Ruddy Shelduck pair, and Little Grebe behind

Flock of Mandarin Duck on the river

Goldfinch feeding on teasel heads

Shaggy Inkcap

Parasol toadstool

Parasol toadstool

Garden birds - now you see them, now you don't!

12th November 2023 - the small birds in the garden seemed to have gathered into reasonable-sized mixed flocks now, travelling around in search of food.  One minute there seem to be birds everywhere, busily flitting around, feeding as they go - Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Wren - then next minute, equally suddenly they've all moved on, leaving the garden silent - for the time being, 

Goldcrest, hunting for insects in amongst the pine needles

Long-tailed Tit, always on the move

Blue Tit - busily feeding on a sunflower kernel

Winter walk along the Roman Road

6th November 2023 - Andy M took an early morning walk along the Roman Road recently - the low, slightly watery, sun barely warmed the air, but seemed to promote a good deal of activity in the wildlife. 

Good sized flocks of Skylark were starting to display, rising up from the stubble whilst continuous singing, then suddenly dropping back down to earth with wingtips and tail held up. Males chased each other low down around the field too. Along the margins, a flock of Meadow Pipit and Goldfinch were feeding on scattered seed, and Corn Bunting sang from prominent perches above. A few Fieldfare were also around, dashing nervously between berry-laden trees, whilst high above a Red Kite circled effortlessly, scanning below for anything below that might present itself as breakfast. Below several Hare were starting to dash about the patterned fields, not quite boxing yet, but definitely in training!

Skylark, displaying already

Meadow Pipit, and other species, feeding on seeds along the margins

Corn Bunting singing from a prominent perch


Fieldfare, dashing between berry bushes

Red Kite, circling high above

Hare, chasing if not yet boxing

Crisp clean lines of winter wheat

Patterns in the stubble - a key food source for many species

Monday 6 November 2023

Coal Tit

4th November 2023 - Andy M has been lucky to have a 'mixed tit flock' pass through his garden several times recently, feeding as they go. These flocks mostly comprise Blue Tit and Great Tit, which travel around together at this time of year, but have also included a few Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit and Chiffchaff.  

This Coal Tit was investigating the small pine tree (in the rain) outside his kitchen window this week, giving good views of the characteristic 'badger stripe' down the back of its head.

River levels up!

3rd November 2023 - with all the rain recently, the river levels have been high, with water flooding over onto an area of the recreation ground near the Millennium Bridge. The footpath to Hildersham has also required wellies and some 'paddling' recently.

(with thanks to Janet, Derek T's daughter, for the photo)

October 2023 - Summary of Sightings around the Abingtons

October 2023

Amphibians and Reptiles

Common Frog – an adult and several smaller froglets were seen whilst gardening (3rd-8th), and an adult was spotted out in the rain one evening (11th), all in a Lewis Cres garden.



A total of 55 species were reported this month in 387 records. The last House Martin report came quite early in the month, with the first winter thrush spotted just a few days later. Also, the Tawny Owls started hooting around the village again – autumn must be here!

A Raven was spotted flying over Lewis Cres, the third report this year of a species that has become more widespread across Cambridgeshire in recent years. A Kingfisher was also seen along the river in Sluice Wood on 16th – only the third report this year, all since August.

A small group of House Martin were spotted flying over Lewis Cres on 7th, the last report of the year. A Hobby, another summer visitor, was also spotted along the ORC on 5th, these two species migrating south together at this time of year, the latter preying on the former en route.

Both Tawny Owl and Barn Owl were heard calling at night at several locations, as they start to attract mates and establish their territories. 1-2 Buzzard were spotted throughout the month, mainly in the LSA and GP, with a Red Kite being reported from Bourn Bridge Rd as well. A Kestrel was reported twice, and a Sparrowhawk was seen in several gardens (see blog).

The first winter thrush were also seen; the first Redwing was heard over Westfield on 9th, with further reports since (see blog), and a large flock of 150 Fieldfare was seen on 23rd near Hildersham Wood, although just outside the parish boundary.  A small group of Siskin were heard along the ORC on 5th, these birds moving south in the UK as the weather gets cooler.

On GP lake, the usual Mallard were accompanied by a Cormorant, two Little Grebe and five Mandarin Duck, as well as seven Barnacle Goose, two Moorhen and a Grey Heron round the edge. A few Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail were also seen on rough ground on GP.

Both Red-legged Partridge and, more unusually, three Grey Partridge were seen south of the LSA, and Pheasant were seen in a Cambridge Rd garden and around Hall Farm. A completely albino Pheasant was also spotted just south of Chalky Rd.

Goldfinch, often 10-18, were regularly reported on feeders, as well as occasionally a few Greenfinch and a Chaffinch. Mixed flocks of Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit were also garden regulars, sometimes including a Coal Tit or Chiffchaff. A Goldcrest was also occasionally spotted in one of two gardens, with Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Wren being widely seen.

House Sparrow were regulars in Lewis Cres, and a flock of 50 Starling was seen on the LSA, as well as 12 on GP.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen only three times (see blog), with a Green Woodpecker being seen and heard more often, particularly around Cambridge Rd and Hall Farm. Magpie were widely reported in gardens, as was a Jay especially later in the month, and a Mistle Thrush was seen once in Lewis Cres.

Both Skylark and Linnet were seen around the LSA, the ORC and on GP. A few Collared Dove were seen in several gardens, with a large flock of 12 seen on the LSA, and a few Stock Dove were spotted around Lewis Cres, Hall Farm and GP. Woodpigeon, Rook, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw were all reported, as were a few Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull overhead.



With all the cold, wet weather, there have been fewer insects around, with 15 species recorded this month in just 45 reports. Of these, 29 were butterflies, 6 bees, 4 odonata and 6 other species.

Butterflies – Red Admiral were the most regularly reported, with over half the reports being this species. Small White and Brimstone were also seen fairly often, with Large White and Comma being seen just once each.

Number of butterfly reports: Red Admiral 14, Small White 8, Brimstone 5, Comma 1, Large White 1.

A few Odonata species were reported; an Emperor Dragonfly in Westfield on 4th and in Lewis Cres on 7th, a Common Darter on Church Lane on 9th (see blog) and a further unidentified dragonfly on 15th.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee were reported four times, with both Common Carder Bee and Ivy Mining Bee being spotted in Church Lane on 15th. Hummingbird Hawkmoth were seen four times, the last being on 22nd (see blog), and a Cricket and Hornet were also reported.

A pair of Common Wasp were spotted mating, which is not often witnessed (see blog), and a Bloody-nosed Beetle was seen along the ORC (see blog).



Badger – one dead in field south of ORC on 23rd.

Bat – several bats seen on 1st above a Cambridge Rd garden.

Fallow Deer – one female near Hildersham Wood on 8th, and 8 young deer seen in the field just south of the ORC on 23rd (see blog).

Hedgehog – one seen in Bourn Bridge Rd garden on 27th.

Muntjac – one along ORC on 7th, one in Sluice Wood on 15th (see blog), one in a Cambridge Rd garden on 15th, and one seen dead by the side of High St near Lewis Cres, also on 15th.



The weather this month has been favourable for fungi, with a good number of species being identified on the GP lunchtime walk on 17th, including Giant Puffball, Common Puffball, Milk-cap, Jelly-ear, Turkey-tail, Parasol, Grisette, Clustered Bonnet, Sulphur Tuft and Hairy Curtain Crust, as well as several others not fully identified (see blog). Shaggy Inkcap and a type of Boletus were also spotted separately on GP (see blog), and several others such as Clustered Bonnet, Common Earthball, Common Bonnet, ‘Fairy Ring’ and Grisette were seen in gardens (see blog, and here).


A record wet month with 131 mm of rain! The highest temperature was 28.2 degrees C on the 9th and the lowest was minus 1.2 degrees C on the 16th. The overall picture though was of a very mild and wet month with predominantly light south westerly winds.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for October 2023:

Barry Brooks, David & Gaynor Farrant, Robin Harman, Len Mead, Andy & Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Nancy Ockendon, Barbara Phippen, Gill Smith, Maggie & John Turner, Derek Turnidge. 

Flowers and Fungi

31st October 2023 - Barbara P spotted a few flowers and fungi on her travels around the village this month, including a Knapweed in bloom, the rather delicate seedheads of Fleabane, and a couple of fungi, possibly being Fairy Ring toadstool and Grisette.


Fleabane seed heads

'Fairy Ring' toadstool

Unknown fungi - possibly a Grisette

Thursday 2 November 2023

Male Sparrowhawk

31st October 2023 - earlier this month, Maggie was lucky enough to spot a male Sparrowhawk in her garden, and even better, she had her camera to hand to take this lovely photo. Just look into that beady-eyed stare!


25th October 2023 - there have been a few sightings of small numbers of Redwing in the village this month, with the earliest being on 9th above Westfield. These 'winter thrush' arrive here from northern Europe and Scandinavia, as the weather gets colder there, to spend the winter here. 

John and Maggie T saw this one in their garden on 25th, and spotted that it had a number of ticks around its face. These apparently are not detrimental to the bird, although they must be a bit of a nuisance one would think!

[photo John Turner]     

Common Darter

9th October 2023 - during the warmer weather earlier in the month (remember that!), Len M spotted this Common Darter dragonfly soaking up the sun, in his garden.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Fallow Deer

31st October 2023 - a small herd of young Fallow Deer in the field just south of the Old Railway Cutting. They were close to the hedge, and may have been heading into the undergrowth in the cutting, but had second thoughts when they spotted Andy M, and scampered off!

Bloody-nosed Beetle

31st October 2023 - Andy M spotted this lovely Bloody-nosed Beetle, with its bluish iridescent sheen, happily walking along a log along the Old Railway Cutting. This flightless beetle gets its unusual name from the bright-red, foul-tasting fluid that it exudes from its mouth when threatened.

More fungi!

29th October 2023 - a few more fungi! A charming little group of Clustered Bonnet were popping out of the 'beechers' in Andy M's garden, and there were several Common Earthball in the flower beds. Also a group of Common Bonnet had appeared in the grass along the Old Railway Cutting.

Clustered Bonnet

Common Earthball

Common Bonnet

Common Bonnet

Autumn Colours

29th October 2023 - it seems that over the last few days (and cooler nights!) the trees have finally decided that Autumn is upon us!  The colours of some along the Settlements roads were lovely against the clear blue sky.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Common Wasps, mating

19th October 2023 - Polly M spotted these two Common Wasp, mating on the top of the dustbin!  Not something you see every day! The much larger, darker one in the foreground is the female 'queen', the smaller one being a male. 

Fungi Galore!

17th October 2023 - Andy and Polly M joined a lunchtime 'Autumn Walk' around Granta Park, led by Iain Webb from the Wildlife Trust.  It has seemingly been a good year for fungi, since there was something new to see at virtually every step!  A great walk!

From the Giant Puffball, bigger than a football, right down to tiny white Mycena toadstools bearly a centimetre across. Whilst it was not possible to identify everything we saw on the walk, I have tried to add names where I could from the photographs.

Giant Puffballs - each larger than a football

Giant Puffball - and older one showing the spore mass inside

Milk-cap fungus - a funnel-shaped cap with orange gills

Jelly-ear fungus

A type of Coral fungus, a Clavaria spp.

Grisette fungus, Amanita vaginata
with a delicate fluting around the cap

Unknown, possibly a Waxcap species

A tiny one, barely a centimetre across. 
Possibly a type of 'Porcelain' fungus.

A type of Crust fungus - looking like a large scab on the log

Another tiny one, only 1-2cm high, probably a Mycena species

A neat row of Common Puffball

Turkey Tail fungus

A Parasol Mushroom, showing signs of wear and tear.

Clustered Bonnet fungus

Sulphur Tuft, a Hypholoma spp

Hairy Curtain Crust fungus, growing on oak

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 (