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

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 (