Saturday, 17 March 2018

Tapping Long-tailed Tits, and other birds

For the last few weeks, Andy M has had a pair of Long-tailed Tits in his garden, displaying together and looking for likely nest sites.  Most recently, they have taken to flitting onto the window-sill, tapping the window pane twice, then flitting along to the next window and doing the same, then back again.  They can keep this up for 10 minutes or more, and never really seem to tire of it. I wonder if they are investigating their own reflections, but they could just be doing it for fun!

Andy has also had a partially-albino Blackbird in the garden. Often the white feathers are on the wings, but this male is somewhat unusual in having white feathers on the back and around the eye.

Finally, on Granta Park this week, there was a Little Egret paddling around in the flooded field behind Great Abington church, as well as a Treecreeper near the sluice, and a pair of Nuthatch feeding in the larger trees adjacent to Abington Hall.  It was quite quiet and Andy could hear the Nuthatch chipping away at the bark whilst feeding.  A single Great Crested Grebe has been back on the lake for a few weeks now too - first seen on 19th Feb.  No sign of its mate yet though.

 Little Egret in flooded field between Great Abington church and the river

Treecreeper, on the mature trees near the Sluice

Nuthatch feeding in the mature trees near Abington Hall ...

 and on the ground nearby

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Animal Tracks in the Snow

In the fresh snow this morning, in several places along the old railway cutting and on the hill above the Land Settlements, Andy M saw clear Badger tracks - with their characteristic five-toed prints with large claws.

He also saw a Fox and was able to identify the tracks it made as it left the scene.

On the hill above the LSA, up to eight Hares were seen dashing across the fields, stopping occasionally to box .... it is the first weekend of Spring after all, despite the snow!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Visit to RSPB Ouse Washes

Six Abington Nature Watch members enjoyed a sunny but chilly visit to RSPB Ouse Washes on Saturday 24th February.  A good variety of duck and other waterbird species were seen, as well as two large flocks of Whooper Swan, probably totalling more than 800 birds, mostly in fields adjacent to the reserve.  At the Visitor Centre, the feeders attracted large numbers of Chaffinch and Goldfinch, as well as Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, and one or two Lesser Redpoll and Brambling.  A thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding morning! 

The full list of the 47 bird species recorded is:  

Barry B and Andy M took some photos -
of Whooper Swans:

Whooper Swans, with Tufted Duck in foreground

 Tufted Duck

Great Crested Grebe

And some of Tree Sparrows (as well as House Sparrows!)
Tree Sparrow - brown cap, and white cheek with black patch

Tree Sparrows

 House Sparrow (left) and Tree Sparrow (right)

House Sparrow - grey cap and cheeks

House Sparrow

Pied Wagtail

Lesser Redpoll - female

Cormorant 'wing-drying' and Canada Goose

Ely Cathedral across the 'washes'

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Siskin - a finch from the north

Andy M has been lucky enough to have one or two male Siskin visit the feeders over the last week or so, and got chance to take a few photos today.  This slender, streaky, yellow-green finch has broad yellow and black bands on the wings, a yellow rump and yellow patches at the base of the tail. The males also having a characteristic black cap and chin, with a yellow stripe behind the eye.

A winter visitor to south and eastern Britain, travelling from Wales and northern Britain, as well as across from northern Europe, Siskin are usually seen on alder and birch trees, acrobatically feeding on seeds.  However, they will occasionally visit feeders, especially in mixed flocks of finches and redpoll - as was the case in Andy's garden.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Partially melanistic Blue Tit

Andy M has seen this partially melanistic Blue Tit in his garden recently - having a black-coloured lower breast and flanks instead of the more usual yellow.  It seems perfectly happy, feeding and moving around with other Blue Tits.  Since it is so distinctive and easy to spot, it will be interesting to see if it stays around as spring approaches.

Pictures from Granta Park

David F spotted the Barnacle Geese were back on Granta Park cricket green today, and noted that the Snowdrops and Aconites are putting on a fine display in Lagden's Grove.

Earlier in the week, Andy M notes that a number of the Poplar and Willow trees, alongside the river behind Abington Hall, had been blown over by the strong winds last week.  One the badly damaged trees was the willow in which the Grey Heron nested last year, but as fate would have it, the branch with the nest on it remained unscathed.  It'll be interesting to see if the herons use this, now rather more exposed, nest again this year.

A rather sad gap in the line of Poplars behind Abington Hall. Two poplars were 
blown down and the willow tree containing the Grey Heron nest was badly damaged.

The top of the willow was snapped off, leaving a somewhat more 
exposed aspect for the Grey Heron nest!

 Further upstream, two more willows also snapped off by the wind.

Snowdrops 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 or Peter Brunning via e-mail