Friday 24 March 2023

Amphibs in a bucket!

20th March 2023 - whilst Andy M was clearing the winter debris and leaves out of his small pond, he discovered not only five large Common Frog, but also a Smooth Newt - all very pleasing - and needless to say all safely returned to the pond.

A 'Frog in a bucket'!

Quickly followed by four more Common Frogs!

Smooth Newt

Smooth Newt

Common Frog, safely back in the pond

Thursday 23 March 2023

Bee's nest in old tree trunk

22nd March 2023 - a number of unsafe trees have been removed along the edge of the Perse sports fields on Bourn Bridge Rd, and Gill S and Derek T both spotted an old but rather extensive Bee's Nest inside one of the rotted-out trunks.

Entrance hole to the nest [photo Gill S]

Several combs inside the hollow tree trunk [photo Gill S]

Several combs inside the hollow tree trunk [photo Derek T]

Felled trees adjacent to Perse sports fields [photo David F]

Felled trees adjacent to Perse sports fields [photo David F]

Old tree down over the river at the sluice [photo Derek T]


19th March 2023 - there were four Greylag around the lake on Granta Park, and David F took this photo of two of them

Saturday 18 March 2023


15th March 2023 - Andy M spotted a male Siskin on the feeders today, it's lovely plumage standing out even on such a dull-weather day.

Note the yellow rump, clearly visible when seen in flight

Smooth Newt - just starting to stir

15th March 2023 - as Carole McC was clearing her pond of the winter debris, she came across five Smooth Newt - still rather sleepy but starting to come round - so after a quick couple of photos, they were quickly returned to the pond.

Lovely colouration and spots on the underside

Blackthorn and Wild Cherry blossom

15th March 2023 - along the Old Railway Cutting, the Blackthorn buds were starting to show white, with a few flowers out on some bushes, whilst the Wild Cherry was in full blossom. The lovely shiny green leaves of the Wild Arum were also much in evidence.

Blackthorn buds just about to burst

A few Blackthorn bushes were already starting to flower

A lovely splash from the Wild Cherry, now in full blossom

Wild Arum

Wild Arum

Snow - again!

10th March 2023 - More snow!  And this time with some cold winds!  But unlike December, it barely settled this time around.

[photo Andy M]

Sunday 12 March 2023

River up and over its banks

11th February 2023 - unsurprisingly, the melting of the recent snow and heavy rain have pushed the up the river level over the past day or two, and areas between the Recreation Ground and Sluice Wood were inundated for a while. The river was reportedly still running high and fast on Sunday 12th, with the floods receding somewhat.

Recreation Ground 11th Feb [photo Derek T]

Recreation Ground 11th Feb [photo Derek T]

Hood's Meadow 11th Feb [photo Derek T]

Path through Sluice Wood 11th Feb [photo David F]

The Sluice in Sluice Wood 11th Feb [photo David F]

February 2023 - Summary of Sightings around the Abingtons

February 2023

Amphibians and Reptiles

Frogspawn - The first sighting in a LA pond on the 20th February (see blog). Exactly the same date as last year’s first sighting!  Clearly time to start checking in your ponds and other likely places such as ditches.



A total of 44 species were reported in 275 records this month. Tawny Owl were regularly heard all around the village and a Barn Owl was spotted one evening. Winter thrush continue to be seen, with both Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush heard singing early in the month. ‘Bruno’ the Macaw was reported taking a short trip around Granta Park, giving a few of the staff there quite a surprise! The collated results of the Abington BGBW are also in (see blog).

Redwing were spotted on four occasions, including a flock of about 30 in a field near Church Lane, and  smaller flock of Fieldfare was seen along the Old Coach Rd. A Mistle Thrush was heard singing regularly on Church Lane, as was a Song Thrush at several locations. Good numbers (up to 6) Blackbird are also being seen in gardens, the males being in fine plumage now.

A Blackcap was spotted three times in gardens on Meadow Walk and Lewis Cres, these likely to be over-wintering birds.

A Treecreeper was spotted in a garden near Hall Farm, Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen regularly in gardens, and a Green Woodpecker was heard calling near the Millennium Bridge.

A Barn Owl was seen flying over the fallow fields alongside Bourn Bridge Rd (17th), and Tawny Owl have regularly been heard calling from several locations through out the month. A Sparrowhawk was seen flying through a Lewis Cres garden, both Kestrel and Red Kite were reported twice, and 1-2 Buzzard were seen soaring over several locations.

 Along the river, a Little Egret was spotted near the Millennium Bridge (10th), and a Grey Heron was seen on several occasions. Three Mute Swan, an adult and two juveniles, and two Canada Goose were seen on GP lake, and a Greylag Goose was seen flying over Lewis Cres.  A Grey Wagtail was spotted feeding along the river edge in Sluice Wood (5th), and several Pied Wagtail are again being seen in the paddocks on the LSA. A flock of 30 Meadow Pipit was also reported on GP (21st).

Good numbers of finch continue to be reported, with up to 15 Goldfinch in gardens and around 30 feeding on seedheads along Bourn Bridge Rd. Both Greenfinch (3-5) and Chaffinch (2-8) were also regularly seen in gardens.  Similarly, both up to 4 Blue Tit are regularly spotted, as well as 2-3 Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit, and more occasionally a single Coal Tit.

A few Robin, Dunnock and Wren were all regularly reported, and House Sparrow were also seen more frequently. Small numbers of Starling were also reported occasionally.

Up to 8 Stock Dove were regular visitors under the feeders on Lewis Cres, alongside 1-2 Collared Dove and a few Woodpigeon. A Pheasant was occasionally seen in a couple of gardens, and a Jay was seen around Cambridge Rd and Church Lane, with 1-2 Magpie and several Jackdaw being reported more widely.



A Brimstone butterfly was spotted in gardens along both Bourn Bridge Road and Church Lane, during the same warmer spell around 15th. These are the first reports of non-hibernating butterflies this year. A number of Buff-Tailed Bumblebee and Honeybee were also reported.

A Common Bloody-nosed Beetle was spotted along the ORC – quite an unusual sighting (see blog)!



Badger – evidence of setts along the footpath towards Grange Farm on 8th, and also along the ORC on the 9th. A dead badger was found eviscerated on Newmarket Rd on 10th, and another was found dead in Cutting Rd on the 12th.

Fox – one spotted in a paddock on LSA on 11th.

Hare – two seen along the footpath towards Grange Farm on 8th.

Muntjac – one along the ORC on 11th and 12th, and one seen in a field off Cutting Rd on 12th.


Flora and Fungi

Both Snowdrop and Aconite continue to give a good display, in Sluice Wood, on GP and elsewhere, and the fresh green leaves of Wild Arum are very much in evidence. A good patch of Bee Orchid plants was spotted in leaf around one of the buildings on Granta Park, which should hopefully give a good show of blooms later in the year (see blog). 

A Giant Puffball was spotted along the Old Coach Rd (see blog).



An exceptionally dry February with only 9mm of rainfall, the average being around 38mm. The highest temperature recorded was 18.4 C on the 27th and the lowest minus 5.5 C on the 10th. Winds were predominantly westerly for the first three weeks, swinging to the north for the remainder of the month.


NatureWatch Trip

A group of twelve had a very enjoyable trip to WWT Welney on 25th, seeing good variety of ducks, waders and other birds from the very comfortable and warm observatory there!  Highlights were several Whooper Swan, and a several more unusual duck species including Goosander, Goldeneye, Pintail and Shelduck. A group of Spoonbill were spotted on Lady Fen, and a good flock of Black-tailed Godwit were joined by a few Oystercatcher, Redshank, Snipe and Dunlin. Later on a Cattle Egret and a Golden Plover flock were also spotted (see blog).

No summary this month for RiverCare.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for February 2023:
Darren Bast, Barry Brooks, Alan Cooke, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy Merryweather, Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevis, Gareth Rees, Marion Rusted, Jade Taylor-Salazar, Sally Simmons, Gill Smith, Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge (and Janet).

Thursday 9 March 2023

Good patch of Bee-Orchid plants

15th February 2023 - a good area of Bee Orchid plants was spotted on Granta Park, in a grassy area around one of the buildings there. Whilst only in leaf at this time of year, this profusion of plants promises a spectacular display of blooms later in the year.  The Estate Office was informed of the site, and have asked the ground staff to leave this area unmown.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Trip to WWT Welney

25th February 2023 - despite the chilly, breezy weather twelve NatureWatch members bravely found their way to the shelter of the heated comfort of the main observatory at WWT Welney reserve on the Ouse Washes. At this time of year the Washes are purposefully flooded with excess water from the River Ouse and Bedford Drains, and the amount of water in the washes depends on recent rainfall.  After a relatively dry February this year, there was less water than other years, meaning there was plenty of water for the many ducks and swans, as well as islands of dry land for waders and other birds - in other words, perfect!

Apart from the many Pochard (mostly males, as the females migrate further south in winter), Mallard, Teal and a few Tufted Duck and Shoveler close by the hide, there were also a few other less common duck species a little further out, including Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Goldeneye and Shelduck, as well as a male Goosander which briefly dropped in. We also had good views of both the resident Mute Swan (with the orange bill), as well as several Whooper Swan (which wedges of yellow on the bill) which winter here before returning to Iceland to breed.

Other highlights were a good sized flock of Black-tailed Godwit, and the odd OystercatcherRedshank, Snipe and Dunlin, which were all occasionally put-up by a low-flying Marsh Harrier. There were also distant but still clearly distinct views of a group of four Spoonbill on Lady Fen, and towards the end of the trip a Cattle Egret was showing well by the visitor's centre, as were the ever-reliable flock of Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow.

Overall 36 species (plus one 'hybrid/escapee' - see end of post) were seen during a most enjoyable trip.

Feeding time at the main observatory
- mostly Mallard and Pochard, and both Mute Swan and Whooper Swan [Andy M]

Feeding time at the main observatory and view across the Washes [Barry B]

Female Mallard [Esme L]

Mostly male Pochard, with one female (far right centre) and a few Mallard [Barry B]

Male Pochard [Barry B]

Male Pochard [Esme L]

Male Pochard close-up [Barry B]

Whooper Swan - with large triangular wedge of yellow on the bill [David F]

Whooper Swan [Esme L]

Whooper Swan - close-up of yellow on the bill [Barry B]

Whooper Swan close-up [Barry B]

Whooper Swan in flight [Barry B]

Male Tufted Duck [Barry B]

Male Tufted Duck [Esme L]

Female Marsh Harrier fly-past [Esme L]

Finally, and somewhat controversially, there was a single duck with unusual plumage - the back-half looking like a male Pintail or Gadwall, and the front half looking somewhat like a Shoveler, but with a large white cheek patch. Some in the hide felt it was possibly an escapee White-cheeked Pintail, whereas others felt it was more like a Shoveler x Gadwall hybrid. You decide! I know which I favour!

'Exotic' duck with unusual plumage at Welney [Andy M]

Shoveler x Gadwall hybrid [internet blog, S Miodinow]

White-cheeked Pintail [internet ebird, C Moning]

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 (