Saturday 22 April 2023

Goldcrest singing

22nd April 2023 - John T notes that the Goldcrest are doing rather well in their garden.  He has heard them singing almost every day recently, and he took this rather lovely photo of one doing just that. For such a tiny bird, their song is remarkably loud too - loud enough to be heard indoors with the windows closed in fact! 

Thursday 20 April 2023

Some unusual fungi

19th April 2023 - Gill S spotted a couple of really quite unusually shaped fungi in her Bourn Bridge Rd garden recently. Whilst hard to be definitive without the advice of an expert, it seems these fungi might be a Morel (Morchella esculenta) with an unusually shaped closed cap, and a species of Saddle fungus, possibly an Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa).


A Saddle fungus species, possibly Elfin Saddle

Raven flying over the village

17th April 2023 - quite unusually for the Abingtons, Andy M spotted this pair of Raven flying quite low over his garden. 

Looking much like any other crow species, Raven can be distinguished by their large size, being similar in size to a Buzzard and much larger than a Rook or Carrion Crow, their long-fingered wings and diamond-shaped tail, and a seemingly overlarge throat and heavy bill. They also have a very deep 'crawing' call.

Mating Beefly

17th April 2023 - there have been good numbers of Dark-edged Beefly around recently, and Andy M spotted this pair, coupled tail to tail, but still able to fly around whilst mating.

Smooth Newt

17th April 2023 - in his garden pond, Derek T spotted this Smooth Newt, which looked odd in that it seemed to have only a very short tail. Apparently, if a Newt loses its tail through accident or attack, they are very adept at re-growing a new one, which appears shorter than usual during this process.

Hybrid Primula??

16th April 2023 - Nancy O spotted an unusual plant flowering along Chalky Road. It seemed to have characteristics of both Oxlip and Primrose, but didn't seem wholly right for either. After some deliberation, it is believed to be a Hybrid Primula, resulting from a cross between a garden primula variety and the wild Primrose.

There is an interesting article describing the features and differences of Oxlip, Cowslip and Primrose, as well as some hybrids, by Susan Rushton - link here.
- Open flowers - Primrose. Narrower bell flowers - Oxlip and Cowslip. 
- Pale yellow flowers - Primrose or Oxlip. Dark yellow flowers - Cowslip
- Single flower per stem - Primrose. Clusters of drooping flowers per stem - Oxlip or Cowslip

Not an Oxlip or Cowslip as the flowers are open, not bell-shaped ...

and not a Primose as the flowers are held in clusters, not singly


17th April 2023 - this lovely group of Cowslip were spotted by Derek T, growing along the path between Cambridge Road and Church Lane.

Saturday 15 April 2023

Holly Blue butterfly

15th April 2023 - Andy M spotted a small pale blue butterfly fluttering outside the kitchen window today and, very obligingly, it decided to settle on the tips of the pine tree there, allowing him to identify it as a Holly Blue, the first report of the year so far.

Tadpole rescue

15th April 2023 - John W rescued a blob of Frogspawn and a good number of Tadpoles from predation by the fish and Newts in his pond this week, and transferred them to a new home in a large plastic container.

Friday 14 April 2023

Ring Ouzel on the Land Settlements

14th April 2023 - a male Ring Ouzel has been seen for the last few days feeding on the lawn of a private garden on the Land Settlements. Many thanks to the owner for kindly inviting Andy M to see the bird for himself and to take these photos.

Ring Ouzel breed in the more remote, mountainous parts of the north and west UK, but get pushed further south in winter by bad weather in their breeding areas. A scarce passage migrant to Cambridgeshire, with around 25 records per year on average, and seen only a handful of times in the Abingtons - the previous sighting being on the recreation ground in April 2021.

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Sheltering Brimstone

11th April 2023 - Polly M noted this Brimstone butterfly seeking shelter from the chilly winds in the late afternoon. It seemed to become quite moribund, not minding at all when the plant was moved into the greenhouse for the night. The following morning, in the sun, it quite happily flew off.

Woodland walk on Granta Park

11th April 2023 - Iain Webb from the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust led a lunchtime walk around Sluice Woods on Granta Park, and Andy M took a few photos of interesting things Iain noted along the way.

Blackthorn in full and glorious bloom

Common Storksbill

White variant of Common Storksbill

The tiny flowers of Early Forget-me-not - barely a millimetre across

Seven-spot Ladybirds basking in the sun

Leaves of Bee-Orchid

Lesser Celandine

Dog's Mercury in flower

Common Cudweed - but actually not so common!  Found only on light, disturbed soils

Dog Lichen

Green Alkanet

Birdeye Speedwell

Black 'blisters' on Wild Arum leaves, 
caused by Melanustilospora ari Smut Fungus

Mistle Thrush

10th April 2023 - Andy M spotted this Mistle Thrush feeding in one of the paddocks near South Grove.

Monday 10 April 2023

Goldfinch on seedheads

9th April 2023 - David F has been seeing good numbers of Goldfinch feeding on the seedheads in a fallow field along Bourn Bridge Road recently, and took this rather lovely picture of one.


Spring flowers

9th April 2023 - David F reported seeing a lovely display of both Cowslip and Common Storksbill on the sandy banks around the entrance meadow on Granta Park.  He also spotted a lone clump of Bluebell as well as a mass of Celandine on the Protected Road Verge along Bourn Bridge Road.


Common Storksbill

Clump of Bluebell

March 2023 - Summary of Sightings from around the Abingtons.

March 2023

Amphibians and Reptiles

Frogspawn was spotted in four ponds in both GA and LA gardens, as well as in a pond on South Road. In addition, up to five Common Frog were spotted in several ponds in GA (see blog).

There were also several sightings of Smooth Newt, with five in a pond on Meadow Walk (see blog), one in a Lewis Cres pond, and a further one in a Bourn bridge Rd pond.

Please continue to keep a look out in your pond or nearby environs for frogs, toads or other amphibs.



A total of 46 species were reported in 384 records this month. Alongside the departure of the last of the winter visitors, came the arrival of the earliest summer visitors like Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Much birdsong could also heard, particularly on sunnier days in the latter part of the month, and several species were spotted nest-building.

Several larger flocks (20-50) of Redwing were spotted, apparently gathering prior to their migration northwards, with the last report being on 23rd. No reports of Fieldfare this month. A male Siskin was seen on feeders on Lewis Cres on 18th (see blog), and a flock of around 50 Black-headed Gull was seen on the Perse sports fields also on 18th.

The Chiffchaff seemingly arrived all at once this year, with reports of singing birds at several locations around the villages on 21st, and three seen together in a garden on Meadow Walk on 22nd. A male Blackcap was reported as ‘being bossy’ around feeders along Linton Rd on 15th, with a number of singing males heard towards the end of the month.

Blackbird, Blue Tit, Magpie and Carrion Crow were all seen gathering nesting materials, particularly in the second half of the month. Several species were regularly be heard singing, including Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Skylark, Blackbird and Song Thrush, the later being seen again in some gardens after a period of absence.

Along the river, a pair of Mandarin Duck was spotted near the Old Coach Rd, apparently searching for suitable nest sites (30th). A Little Egret was reported along the river in Sluice Wood, and both Canada Goose and Mallard were seen making good use of the flooded Hood’s Meadow on 11th. A pair of Mallard were also reported on a Cambridge Rd garden lawn, and four Greylag were spotted on GP lake.

Reed Bunting continued to be seen under feeders in Lewis Cres throughout the month, as well as around the fallow field on Bourn Bridge Rd, where good flocks of Goldfinch were also seen.

Buzzard, up to four, were widely reported circling overhead and ‘mewing’ around the villages, occasionally seen being mobbed by crows. One or two Red Kite were also seen regularly, and both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were reported twice. Tawny Owl continued to be heard calling at night, especially earlier in the month.

The finches remained regulars around many feeders, generally 2-6 being seen, but with up to eight Chaffinch, ten Goldfinch and ten Greenfinch being reported on occasion. Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit were also all widely seen, generally as pairs now, with 1-2 Coal Tit only more occasionally spotted.

Two Goldcrest were seen in conifers around Hall Farm, and Robin, Wren and Dunnock were regularly heard and seen at many locations, with House Sparrow and Starling also reported occasionally in some gardens. A Jay was seen in several gardens, with unusually two or three seen together on occasion, and up to five Pheasant were seen in a garden around Hall Farm.

Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen regularly in a few gardens, and Green Woodpecker were heard calling, or ‘yaffling’, at several locations around the villages.

Along the Roman Road, a few Red-legged Partridge were seen, as well as a Yellowhammer and several Skylark, and along North Rd a few Pied Wagtail were spotted.

Collared Dove (1-3) were regularly seen around Lewis Cres and Meadow Walk, with Stock Dove (up to 12) and 1-6 Woodpigeon seen more widely at several locations. Small mixed flocks of Jackdaw and Rook were also reported regularly raiding feeders.



There was a total of 14 butterfly reports this month. A Peacock was seen on 16th (first of the year), and Brimstone spotted on six occasions after 20th. The first Comma report of the year was on 21st (with several subsequent reports), and a Small Tortoiseshell was seen on 24th. A Small White was spotted on 23rd, and a Green-veined White on 30th, both first reports this year.

A few Buff-tailed Bumblebee were seen after 13th (four reports), a Hairy-footed Flower Bee was seen in Lewis Cres on 24th, and at least two Dark-edged Beefly were also spotted there on 30th. Pond Skater were also reported on a pond on Bourn Bridge Rd.



Hare – one in fields alongside the ORC on 12th, and at least five along the Roman Road on 27th.

Hedgehog – two captured on a trail camera every night between 24th and 31st in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden.

Fallow Deer -  around eight seen adjacent to the ORC on 15th, and a herd of 14 towards Hildersham end of the Roman Road on 27th.

Roe Deer – three seen along the ORC on 15th, and four spotted east of Chalky Rd on 22nd.

Muntjac – one in field by A11 bridge on 6th, one seen in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden on 19th, one along the ORC on 15th, and one in field near Church Lane on 22nd.


Flora and Fungi

Both Blackthorn and Wild Cherry were in blossom, and the clumps of Wild Arum are now well grown. Dog’s Mercury started to appear, as did Sweet Violet and Celandine along Bourn Bridge Rd.



The exceptionally dry February was replaced with a wetter than normal March, with a total of 101.25 mm of rainfall, which is just over double the March average. Unsurprisingly, this led to the river running very high on several occasions (see blog). The highest temperature recorded was 18.1 degrees C on the 11th, and the lowest was minus 5 degrees C on the 25th. There were only few nights below zero, with some snow (see blog), and winds were predominantly westerly.


NatureWatch Dates for Your Diaries

With all the Coronation activities and Bank Holidays over the coming weeks, the NatureWatch Spring Meeting will be in the morning of Saturday May 20th at The Institute. Before that, on Saturday April 22nd we plan a visit to Lackford Lakes, and on the following Monday 24th April in the early evening we plan the first River Sampling of the year. Further details to follow.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for March 2023: 
Barry Brooks, Audrey Bugg, David Farrant, Gaynor Farrant, Carolyn & Gordon Hannah, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy & Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Nancy Ockendon, Freda Orgee, Pam & Brian Parris, Gill Smith, Jade Taylor-Salazar, Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, John Webb, Diana Wingfield.

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 (