Thursday 15 February 2024

Grey Shoulder Knot Moth

15th February 2024 - Derek T spotted this moth on his green bin today, and whilst it can be tricky to identify moth species definitively, it seems to be a good match to a Grey Shoulder Moth (according to Google Lens that is!).

NEWS - First sightings of the Year!

15th February 2024.  NEWS - first sightings of the year!

A Brimstone butterfly was spotted today by Polly in Lewis Crescent.

Polly has also spotted one or two Buff-tailed Bumblebee around the garden over the last couple of weeks, the first being on 29th January, with a noticeable increase in numbers today. 

And Gill reports seeing the first Frogspawn in her garden pond on Bourn Bridge Rd this morning, a week earlier than last year.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

River Granta floods again

11th February 2024 - following the most recent rains, on top of what was already fairly saturated soil, soon had the River Granta rising again, flooding the meadows between the two churches (Hood's Meadow and Bancroft Meadow), parts of Sluice Wood, Cook's Meadow and parts of Lagden's Grove. 

Hood's Meadow from the GP bowling green

Bancroft Meadow from near Abington Hall

Bancroft Meadow and the river, running high, from near Abington Hall

A particularly apt warning - the river in Sluice Wood on GP

Snowdrops, just escaping being inundated

River running high through the Sluice gates

Sluice Wood, in GP, looking more like a mangrove swamp

River just upstream of the footbridge, Sluice Wood

The somewhat soggy path through Sluice Wood on GP, from the footbridge

Cook's Meadow with a high river level, Lagden's Grove

Starry nights

11th February 2024 - a few nights recently have been cold, crisp and clear - ideal for a bit of star-gazing, like this view of Orion from Andy M's back garden.


 11th February 2024 - Andy M spotted a pair of Jay clattering noisily around Sluice Wood. 

Honeybee starting to venture out

11th February 2024 - a little warmth in the sunshine, and beehives on Granta Park were starting to show signs of activity. Andy M.

Honeybees starting to venture out of their hives

Cherry Plum poised!

11th February 2024 - the buds on this Cherry Plum in Sluice Wood on Granta Park, are poised and ready to go. Native to Asia, this species has naturalised in the UK, and is the ancestor of the domestic plum varieties. One of the first of the year to blossom too. Andy M.

Snowdrops and Aconites galore!

11th February 2024 - there were parts of Sluice Wood and Lagden's Grove, on Granta Park, that seemed to be completely coated in either Snowdrop or Aconite flowers - or in some places both! Andy M just couldn't resist snapping a few (too many!) photos of the spectacle. 

Snowdrops in Sluice Wood

Snowdrops in Sluice Wood

Single form of Snowdrop

Double form of Snowdrop - more common in Lagden's Grove

Double Snowdrops in Lagden's Grove

Snowdrops in Sluice Wood

Snowdrops in Sluice Wood

Single form of Snowdrops in Sluice Wood

Snowdrops and Aconites in Sluice Wood

Incredible covering of Aconites in Lagden's Grove



Aconites in Lagden's Grove

Wild Arum

Wednesday 7 February 2024

February Butterflies to look out for

7th February 2024 - Butterfly Conservation have published another useful mini-guide for butterflies and moths to keep a look out for in February.  Do let Polly know if you see any - none have been reported yet this year.

Trip to WWT Welney

3rd February 2024 - Abington Nature Watch Trip to WWT Welney. 

A slightly smaller than expected group of three of us visited the WWT Welney nature reserve on Saturday (other members sadly succumbing to various winter illnesses). It was World Wetlands Day and the Ouse Washes, on which Welney sits, are flooded at this time of year providing the perfect wetland habitat for a good variety of ducks, swans and geese, as well as other water birds such as egrets and waders.

Following heavy rains last month, the water levels had dropped again such that the islands were once again above water, and there was good access to most of the hides.

Of particular interest was a Scaup, a scarce duck that visits the UK in winter, and which is similar in many respects to a Tufted Duck, but has a grey back. Around the main observatory there were good numbers of Pochard, and of Whooper Swan (best identified from other swans by the yellow wedge-shaped markings on the bill), and more distantly, it was lovely to see good numbers of Pintail and a few Goldeneye, both very strikingly elegant ducks, as well as Wigeon, Teal, Shovelor and Shelduck

In terms of waders, there were very large numbers of Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit, alongside an occasional Redshank and Dunlin, often rising en masse when a Marsh Harrier flew over a little too close for comfort. A Great White Egret was also visible on the far side of the wash.

On the Lady Fen side, a flock of 10 (!) Cattle Egret was easily visible from the cafe, as were the usual Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow and a few Reed Bunting on the feeders.

Overall a total of 32 species were enjoyed!

Male Scaup (still with a few brown eclipse feathers)

Male Tufted Duck

Male Pochard - the majority here in the winter being males,
with females generally over-wintering further south

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan, with the distinguishing 'wedge' of yellow on the bill

Tree Sparrow, distinguished from the more common House Sparrow, 
by having a chestnut brown head and nape, and a black cheek patch.
[photos Andy M]   

January 2024 - Summary of Sightings in the Abingtons

January 2024


A total of 52 species were reported this month in an impressive 657 records, swelled in no small part by the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, full results from which are reported separately (see blog).

The Abington BGBW received 18 lists this year, with a total of 28 species and 168 separate reports. These included the first Reed Bunting reported this year, a species that frequents some garden feeders during the winter months.

A flock of five Golden Plover was spotted near AbPkFm on 7th. Flocks of up to 100 Fieldfare were also seen on the LSA around mid-month (see blog), with smaller numbers of Redwing being seen more regularly this month, both on the LSA and around Church Lane.

A Barn Owl had to be ‘encouraged’ to leave the nave of Gt Abington Church, and Tawny Owl have regularly been heard hooting nearby. A Buzzard was regularly reported, a Red Kite was seen more occasionally on the LSA, and a Kestrel was spotted along the ORC.

A Mistle Thrush was heard singing on GP early in the month, followed by singing from Song Thrush and Blackbird, as well as Robin, Dunnock and Great Tit from mid-month onwards.

Aside from the Blue Tit and Great Tit seen regularly in gardens, both Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit were spotted by some, with 35 of the latter seen on North Rd. Similarly, whilst good numbers of Goldfinch were widely reported, a few Chaffinch and Greenfinch were also seen in some gardens, and more unusually a pair of Bullfinch was seen along the ORC on 29th.

A Nuthatch was spotted along Church Lane, as well as being heard near the Millennium Bridge, and Goldcrest were seen in Hall Farm and Cambridge Rd gardens. A Blackcap was also seen once around Hall Farm, and a Wren was seen regularly in a few gardens. Up to three Great Spotted Woodpecker were regular visitors to several garden feeders, with a Green Woodpecker also seen at several locations.

A Grey Wagtail was seen twice on the LSA, with Pied Wagtail (35) being seen on GP cricket, as well as on the flooded Hood’s Meadow (2nd), where 5 Grey Heron, 4 Little Egret and a flock of Black-headed Gull were also seen (see blog).

A pair of Egyptian Goose were quite frequent visitors on Grange Farm, and 10 Canada Goose were seen on GP lake, along with Mallard and Moorhen. Both Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant were spotted on the LSA, as were 20-40 Skylark, and a magnificently coloured male Yellowhammer, and a flock of Linnet were also seen on GP.

Butterflies and other Insects

A Buff-tailed Bumblebee was spotted on 29th, otherwise no records.


Flora and Fungi

Snowdrop and Aconite both showing in Granta Park around the sluice, as well as Hazel catkins (see blog). Small patches of toadstools were also seen alongside the newly cleared path to the Millennium Bridge (see blog).



Badger – evidence of activity along ORC on 14th.

Fox – one in Bourn Bridge Rd garden on 4th, and another in field by the hairdressers’ path on 14th (see blog).

Hare – one in field by the hairdressers’ path, and one in Lagden’s Grove GP, both on 14th.

Hedgehog – one crossing Church Lane on 2nd, and another in Bourn Bridge Rd garden on the 4th.

Muntjac – one in Sluice Wood on 2nd, and again on 14th. One in Lagden’s Grove GP on 14th, another in a Cambridge Rd garden on 18th and 19th, and one walking through a Church Lane garden on 20th.

Roe Deer – two seen south of Chalky Rd, and six seen near Hildersham Woods, both on 16th.



The first week was extremely wet, with the average rainfall for the whole month, falling in the first week – with the total for the month being 52mm, of which 43mm fell between the 1st and 5th, causing significant flooding (see blog). The middle two weeks were frosty, cold and dry, with the highest temperature being 14.1C on the 29th and the lowest being minus 10.4C on the 17th. Winds were predominantly from a northerly direction.


Amphibians and Reptiles - No sightings reported this month.

Many thanks to all those who contributed reports of their sightings for January 2024.
Barry Brooks, Tricia Cullimore, David & Gaynor Farrant, Colette Harkonen, Karen & Esme Langford, Carole McCrae, Len & Rosemary Mead, Andy & Polly Merryweather, Joan Nevin, Linda & Peter Page, Brian Parris, Barbara Phippen, Eddie Randall, Marion Rusted, Gill Smith, Suzan Stewart, Jade Taylor-Salazar, Beatrix Spencer, John & Maggie Turner, Derek Turnidge, John Webb, Di & Mervyn Wingfield.

Abington BGBW results

7th February 2024 - This year the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch took place over the weekend of 26th to 28th January, and as usual participants were invited to watch the birds in their garden over an hour. As well as recording the species, the maximum number of each seen at any one time was also recorded.

As previously, Derek T invited those participants in the Abingtons to also send their reported species to him. This year, he received 18 lists, which between them included a total of 28 different species. Many thanks to all who took part and sent in their sightings.

The Top 5 species most commonly reported were:  Blue Tit (1st), Robin and Woodpigeon (2nd =), Blackbird (4th) and Great Tit and Jackdaw (5th =).  The most numerous, in terms of maximum count being Jackdaw, Woodpigeon and House Sparrow.

A comparison with results from the BGBW last year, when a total of 16 lists included 30 different species is shown below. 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Top 4 most commonly reported species were the same both years, and although the order was slightly different, Blue Tit topped the charts both years. Interestingly, Goldfinch was 5th in 2023, but only 10th this year, and with a lower maximum count. 
Song Thrush appeared in 4 reports this year, but was absent from the 2023 count. Reed Bunting also made an appearance this year, as did Fieldfare, Redwing and Moorhen, whereas Blackcap, Pheasant and Pied Wagtail amongst others, were absent this year.

Monday 5 February 2024

More Snowdrops

22nd January 2024 - the Snowdrops are really getting into their stride now, like these photographed by David F in Sluice Wood.

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 (