Tuesday 31 January 2023

Walk around Granta Park

29th January 2023 - David F took a walk around Granta Park on Sunday morning, and reported that the lake was still (then) frozen over, maybe forcing a Grey Heron and five Mallard onto the river nearby.  The early Snowdrops were out, and few Aconites were starting to appear. 

Away from the river, there was a small flock of Starling and five Barnacle Goose on the Cricket Green, as well as two Jay in Sluice Woods.

Barnacle Goose on the Cricket Green

Snowdrops in flower

A Robin with a story

 26th January 2023 - A Robin has been visiting Emma J's garden and house! for some time now, and she has rather a nice story to tell about it, albeit with a slightly sad ending:

Some other (sad) news - my Robin has gone. We were getting along swimmingly and I fed it several times a day - I hope I didn't give it too much pastry, but the weather was cold and I thought they needed the carbs. Anyway, I heard a scuffle outside my window at dusk last Friday, and couldn't see anything, but thought it might be the Robin asking for some supper. So I finished what I was doing, and went out, but the Robin didn't come. I thought it may be a bit miffed that I hadn't responded immediately, so I put the food out and went back in. But sadly, there has been no sign of it since.

I've never had such a close relationship with a bird - it had attitude and it came into the house when I had the doors open and wasn't looking. It just calmly hopped into the kitchen and then turned into the sitting room, as if it knew where it was going! It then perched on a chair arm, had a look around, before flying to another vantage point, and had another look around. I pleaded with it to come out again and it did - calmly hopped back the way it had entered the house.

I read they have their own territory when not mating, but don't know if it thought it was spring and went off to find its mate. I am pretty sure it turned up here every day from October 2021 until last week. I have seen another Robin around in the last couple of days but it definitely is not my tame friend.

This is the last photo - two days before it disappeared - looking perky as ever!

Little Egret on the river

26th January 2023 - Jade T-S spotted this lovely Little Egret along the River Granta in the village.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Blackcap and Lesser Redpoll visit the feeders

25th January 2023 - whilst watching the usual Goldfinch and Greenfinch on the feeders today, Andy was thrilled to also spot both a male Blackcap and a Lesser Redpoll paying the feeders a visit. 

Blackcap are one of the few resident warblers to the UK, with good populations breeding here in the summer. During the winter, some UK breeding birds remain here, with others migrating south to overwinter in southern Europe. Similarly, some Blackcap that breed further east in Europe escape the cold winter there by migrating west to stay here during the winter, and it is often the colder weather that drives them into gardens to find food. 

A slim, grey brown bird with a thin bill, with the male having a characteristic black crown (or cap), which is rufous-brown in the female.

Male Blackcap

A (slightly damp) Goldfinch and male Blackcap (right)

Male Blackcap, fluffed up to keep warm.

The Lesser Redpoll, a small finch species, is also resident in the UK, breeding in birch and pine forest, often in the more mountainous areas to the north and west of the UK. Similarly to the Blackcap, during the winter the resident UK population of Lesser Redpoll is swollen by birds arriving from the north and east of Europe, particularly when their principle winter food, Alder seed, is in short supply there. 

Characteristically streaky in appearance, with a black face, red forehead (or poll) and small yellowish bill, with the male also having red on the upper breast.

Male Lesser Redpoll

Male Lesser Redpoll

Male Lesser Redpoll

Goldfinch with Lesser Redpoll partially visible behind

Wren hopping around in the undergrowth

24th January 2023 - Andy M spotted the tiny and highly active Wren hopping around outside the kitchen window, and busily investigating the undergrowth, no doubt in search of some tasty morsels hiding there.

Misty, frosty walk around the village

24th January 2023 - the mist was down early in the morning, and Jack Frost had been busy - and the sun shining weakly through made everything seem all the more mysterious. Andy M.

Shafts of sun through the mist along the path to the river

Misty over the Recreation Ground

and frosty and misty across the fields near Church Lane

A strange spiky frost had appeared following the mist overnight

Frost in the sun by Great Abington church

The river was running clear, and back down to low levels again

Ice patterns on the windscreen

23rd January 2023 - after several cold days, the car windscreens were very much frosted over, and a little sun shining on them revealed their beautiful feathery patterns. Andy M.

Lovely sunset on a cold day!

22nd January 2023 - a walk late one clear cold afternoon along Chalky Road, was rewarded with a lovely colourful sunset. Andy M.

Early January walk around Granta Park

8th January 2023 - Earlier in the month, Andy M took a morning walk around Granta Park. The sun was highlighting the Willow beautifully along the river, and in the woods the Hazel catkins were glowing lemony-yellow in the sun as they wafted in the breeze . The first Snowdrop were showing through the leaf-litter, as were a few fungi. It seemed that earlier high winds and heavy rain had not only brought down an old tree trunk across the river by the sluice, but also flooded the meadows nearby too.

New Willow shoots glowing yellow in the sun

Hazel catkins wafting in the breeze

Hazel catkins 

Hazel catkins 

Hazel catkins 

Some of the first Snowdrops coming into flower


Turkey-tail type fungus in the woods

A large old tree trunk down across the river by the sluice

Flooding on the meadow across from Granta Park

Saturday 7 January 2023

A Jay - an occasional and lovely visitor

4th January 2023 - A Jay is an occasional visitor to John T's garden, but are usually somewhat skittish and are gone at the slightest glimpse of people. However, this week one was digging for insects or worms on the lawn, and didn't seem to be aware of John taking this lovely photo of a lovely bird. 

December 2022 - Interesting Sightings from the Abingtons

December 2022


A total of 37 species were reported in 328 records this month. A Woodcock was spotted again, this time flying over GA village, and good numbers of garden birds were seen around feeders, particularly during the cold, snowy weather, but there remain very few reports of winter thrush.

A Woodcock was seen late afternoon flying over Lewis Cres, heading across the High Street (15th), presumably the same bird seen last month on Granta Park. Cold weather can force these normally quite secretive birds more out into the open in search of food. 

One report each of a single Fieldfare and a single Redwing, around Pampisford Rd and the ORC, and a pair of Blackcap was seen regularly in a village centre garden, with an occasional single bird being spotted elsewhere.

Both Tit and Finch species were generally seen in higher numbers than usual around garden feeders, including up to four Long-tailed Tit, and four Coal Tit in a Pampisford Rd garden. Similarly, up to 12 Chaffinch, 16-18 Goldfinch and 4-5 Greenfinch were seen in gardens during the cold snap, with numbers dropping somewhat once the snow thawed. Two pairs of Bullfinch were also seen feeding along the ORC during the frosty weather.

Similarly, 10-11 Blackbird were seen feeding together in a Lewis Cres garden when the weather was cold, and a Song Thrush was spotted in several gardens. Four Robin were seen ‘tolerating each other nicely’ around feeders on Cambridge Rd, and up to four Dunnock were seen together in a Pampisford Rd garden. A single Wren was also spotted along the ORC.

A dozen Starling were seen one evening congregating in trees behind Lewis Cres, and 10-12 House Sparrow were regularly spotted flying around their colony, also in Lewis Cres.

Both Collared Dove and Stock Dove, generally 2-3 but up to 8 of each, were regularly reported in a number of GA gardens, but interestingly seem not to be seen as commonly in gardens in LA.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in several gardens, and a Green Woodpecker visited a village centre garden on a couple of occasions. A Jay and 1-2 Magpie were both spotted in several gardens this month, and Pied Wagtail was seen on the Recreation Ground (10th).

A Buzzard was occasionally seen over the ORC and Sluice Wood, and 1-2 Red Kite were reported at several sites, often flying low down. A Kestrel was spotted on six occasions, a Sparrowhawk twice, and a Tawny Owl was heard regularly calling at night around the centre of GA.

A number of Black-headed Gull were seen feeding with corvids in one garden, and a Pheasant was seen on the ORC.



Three Hare seen in the field east of Chalk Rd, two boxing and another watching on.



Surprisingly, December was a somewhat dry month with only 34.25 mm of rain recorded. However, there was a week of proper snow on the ground, so not unexpectedly the lowest monthly temperature was minus 13.8 degrees C, recorded on 15th, and there were 15 days when the minimum temperature was below freezing. The highest temperature was 13.9 degrees C, on the the 19th, the day the snow thawed. The predominant wind direction was from the north and was generally light.


NatureWatch Winter Meeting

A reminder that on Friday January 20th, 7.30pm at the Institute we will have our NatureWatch Winter Meeting, with Iain Webb from the local Wildlife Trust, who will talk about the Wildlife he has seen during his 27 years of volunteering and working for the Wildlife Trust.

No reports or sightings this month for Amphibians/Reptiles, Butterflies/Insects, Flora or RiverCare.

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

Peter Brunning, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Andy Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Nancy Ockendon, Gill Smith, John and Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, John Webb.

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)