Tuesday 9 May 2023

April 2023 - Summary of Sightings from around the Abingtons

April 2023

Amphibians and Reptiles

Smooth Newt – one in a pond in Mortlock Gardens, and four spotted in Lt. Abington - one from Cambridge Rd (see blog), two from Church Lane and one from Bourn Bridge Rd.

Common Frog – one seen in a pond on Lewid Cres on 7th and 9th, and three seen in the asme pond on 17th. Tadpoles were rescued from fish in one pond (see blog) and were spotted in another pond on Lewis Cres also on 17th. There were no sightings of Common Toad which is a bit disappointing.



A good number of species were reported this month, totalling 52 species in 453 records. This included a few species rarely seen in the Abingtons, including Ring Ouzel, Goosander, Peregrine and Raven. The first Swallows arrived, as well as the first of the summer warbler species, and good numbers of other species were reported singing and nesting.  A visit to Lackford Lakes nature reserve on 22nd April was enjoyed by six ANW members, who saw 40 bird species.

A male Ring Ouzel was spotted feeding on a garden on North Rd, and stayed for a week or so. Generally seen in remote mountainous habitats, this species migrates south during winter to avoid the cold, and can occasionally be seen in Cambridgeshire on passage, averaging only 24 records per year for the county. Previously reported only once or twice in the Abingtons (see blog).

A pair of Goosander were seen on the river in Sluice Wood towards the end of the month. These strikingly-plumaged sawbills, a type of duck, breed in northern forested parts of the UK, and again tend to migrate south during the winter, when they are generally seen on larger lakes. Reported only once before in the Abingtons, flying over Granta Park in March 2019.

A Peregrine was spotted and heard calling over Lewis Cres on 2nd. Whilst reported only once before in Abington in July 2013, this species is known to breed at several sites in and around Cambridge. Two Raven were also spotted flying over Lewis Cres on 17th. Generally considered a species of wild uplands and cliffs, it has become more prevalent locally in recent years, breeding at a number of sites in the county now (see blog).

The first Swallow of the year were spotted on wires along Pampisford Rd on 17th, followed by a number returning to regular nest sites on North Rd on 19th, and a few were seen on Grange Farm on 29th. This is quite late, since over the past 12 years the first Swallow in Abington has been reported between 2nd and 17th April, generally arriving between 5th and 9th most years.

Of the warblers, a Common Whitethroat was heard along the Roman Road on 18th, and Chiffchaff and Blackcap were regularly heard singing throughout the month. Other species were also heard singing in gardens, including Dunnock, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Wren and Song Thrush, and a Goldcrest was also regularly heard around Hall Farm (see blog). Both Mistle Thrush (see blog) and Skylark were also reported at several sites.

Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Crow, Magpie and Jackdaw were all spotted nest-building, and a female Blackbird was seen incubating eggs around 8th.

A Grey Heron was seen high in a tree along Meadow Walk, and on the Perse sports fields, and both Canada Goose and Greylag, and Moorhen were seen on GP lake. A pair of Mandarin Duck continued to be seen around Sluice Wood and in GP, Mallard were seen in several gardens this month, and unusually, a Cormorant was spotted flying over Hall Farm on 22nd.

Buzzard were seen regularly, with up to five seen soaring high overhead. A Kestrel and 1-3 Red Kite were also commonly seen, with single reports of a Sparrowhawk (17th) and of a calling Tawny Owl (23rd).

Both Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen or heard frequently, including 3-4 calling together in South Grove (6th). Several pairs of Pied Wagtail were spotted on the LSA, a flock of Linnet was seen on GP, and a male Reed Bunting made several appearances in a Lewis Cres garden.

Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit were also widely reported, with a Coal Tit being seen regularly in 1-2 gardens. Up to 15 Goldfinch were seen feeding on seedheads along Bourn Bridge Rd (see blog), and Greenfinch and Chaffinch were also widely seen.

A pair of Pheasant was seen almost daily in a Cambridge Rd garden, as well as a Red-legged Partridge. Collared Dove and Stock Dove both also re-appeared in several gardens, after a long absence in some cases, and up to five Jay were seen squabbling along Cambridge Rd.


There was a total of 77 insect reports in April, comprising 46 butterfly reports, 16 bee reports and 15 of other species, mostly being of Beefly and Ladybirds.

Nine butterfly species were reported in April. Brimstone (see blog) were seen for most of the month until 20th, with 18 reports, including good numbers along the Roman Road on 16th. Peacock were also well reported with 14 reports over the same period, and also with good numbers on the Roman Road. Small Tortoiseshell and Small White were reported three times each, mostly early in the month, and a Green-veined White was seen along Cambridge Rd on 16th. Species seen for the first time this year were: a Red Admiral on Meadow Walk (9th), two Speckled Wood along the Roman Road (16th), a Holly Blue (see blog) seen three times between 15th and 20th, and an Orange Tip seen on 16th and 30th.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Tawny Mining Bee were both reported six times, with Hairy-footed Flower Bee, Common Carder Bee and Red-tailed Bumblebee each reported once or twice.

Dark-edged Beefly (see blog) were commonly seen early in the month, with Seven-spot Ladybird being reported until 19th April.



Bat – several seen in a Cambridge Rd garden on 28th.

Hedgehog – one caught on a trail camera in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden throughout April.


Flora and Fungi

A lovely display of Cowslip was reported on GP, as well as Common Storksbill, and a clump of Bluebell was spotted in flower along Bourn Bridge Rd (see blog).  An unusual-looking primula was also seen along Chalky Rd, ultimately thought to be a hybrid between a garden primula and the wild Primrose (see blog).

A Morel fungus was seen in a Bourn Bridge Rd garden, as was a likely Saddle fungus (see blog)



The first River sampling of the season took place at Abington Ford, by the road bridge, on 24th April.



Again, a reasonably wet month with 50.75 mm recorded which is a bit above average. However, temperatures have definitely been on the chilly side - the highest being 23 degrees C right on the 29th, and the lowest was minus 3.7 degrees C on the 4th. Winds have been predominantly in a northerly direction.


Spring Meeting

The NatureWatch Spring Meeting will be held in the Institute at 10 am on Saturday May 20th.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for April 2023:
Barry Brooks, Peter Brunning, Trica Cullimore, Caroline Daunt, David and Gaynor Farrant, Sheena Frazer, Carolyn Hannah, Carole McCrae, Len Mead, Andy & Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Nancy Ockendon, Freda Orgee, Pam & Brian Parris, Marion Rusted, Jade Taylor-Salazar, Gill Smith, Sue Stewart, Maggie and John Turner, Derek Turnidge, John Webb.

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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)