January 2022 Sightings

Another month of mixed weather: 17degC on 1st ( shirtsleeves in the allotment), but then a return to frosty nights.  Intermittently, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Starling, Wren and Blackbird have all been in spring song. At Logan’s Meadow Nature Reserve, Bob reports 250 trees have been planted by 160 volunteers on two sides of the playing field.

Hobson’s Park has become a very successful reserve. Rhona clocked up 27 different bird species, including Corn Bunting, Stonechat and about 20 Common Snipe and we saw a Common Gull among the many Black Headed Gulls. Ionathan noted a Jack Snipe and a Kingfisher there, as well as the more usual Lapwing, Snipe, Little Egrets and Teal. He was concerned that some dog owners allowed two dogs to run onto the islands, disturbing about 300 birds in the process. They said it was not their fault and that birdwatchers should ‘Put a fence around the lake’. In the breeding season, these dogs would be illegal and if you witness it, you should ring 101 (non-emergency police number). The City Ecologist says that the ditch will be deepened, so that there is always a moat there.

Lots of people mentioned Blackcaps (Jeff, Eve, Dorothea, Pat, Pam, Holly). It seems that many more are over-wintering here. I was delighted to see a flock of about 20 Goldfinches in Newnham, though still neither Chaffinch nor Greenfinch.  Val says there are suddenly plenty of Blackbirds and asks where have they been for months and months? Jesus College sightings included mating Stock Doves, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Treecreeper, Redwing and Jay . Pat reports a pair of Mistle Thrushes in trees by the Cam near the Green Dragon bridge in Chesterton. 

In the outskirts of the city, Jeff noted 20 Lapwing over fields near M11 and 46 Golden Plover near the rugby club. He says Grey Wagtails are regularly seen, but Kingfisher has become much scarcer over the last two years.  The Herons are coming closer! David noted one only 4 feet from many passers-by on Garret Hostel Lane.

Ann’s neighbour in Luard Rd found a Tawny Owl on the doorstep! Clare spotted two Buzzards circling low over the farmers’ fields near Trumpington Rd, while Bob saw one hunting just half a mile from city centre. He also reported displaying Sparrowhawks over Adams Road plus two juvenile birds hunting, and the female Peregrine near city centre nest site, despite nearby building works and crane. Lesley and Jean also reported Sparrowhawks in the garden (Victoria Rd and Grange Rd). Ann spotted 2 Red Kites flying over Fendon Road.  It seems that our raptors are doing well, even if not all the small birds.

Bob’s sighting of 13 Magpies, on early morning roof tops in Longworth Avenue, brought to mind an extended version of a familiar rhyme.

A few insects are turning up. Rhona had a Red Admiral on 14th  and on sunny days the Marmalade Hoverfly. Paul saw his first butterfly of the year – a  Peacock and the first moth of the year, an Oak Beauty.  Mo had Buff-tailed Bumble Bees on Hellebore flowers.  Ionathan, busy as ever, found a Dragonfly larva in his new pond.

Oak Beauty Moth Paul Rule

Foxes! Jenny’s ultra-tame crew have taken to basking on top of the ten foot high garden hedge and when disturbed, strolling along the top to the potting shed. Lesley found them hanging out on the fence in Histon Road Cemetery and Rhona reports a panting male fox running after the  resident female.  Like the Herons mentioned earlier, they seem unconcerned about human presence, one strolling around David’s garden close to the family.

Jonathan report that 92 plant species were seen in flower on New Year’s Day, out of a total of 278 species recorded during the month. 

Ionathan worries about sewage in the Cam, as he has seen several dead fish below the N. Cambridge treatment plant.  Mike Foley and Cam Valley Forum have been doing sterling work, taking samples for faecal bacteria and found there were peaks below all the sewage works, including Cambridge, but with Haslingfield the main offender – see https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=df44efff8d&attid=0.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1723305378478333028&th=17ea691c7bb89c64&view=att&disp=safe

When will we have safe bathing water? Not this year, yet again.

Olwen Williams                      olwenw@gmail.com