Naturalists' News and Sightings


Cowslips and Apple Blossom


The Cowslips on Barton Fields are looking particularly good and well spread out this year, no doubt revitalised by a good dose of rain. The Crab Apple is now in full flower. And Warblers are calling throughout the site - good to have them back.

from Graham Bateman: 30 April 2021

We have a flower


New meadow - 1000 corms planted, 100 plus emerged, 3 in flower today. Possibly did not like the Thames flowing through twice this winter.

from Graham Bateman: 05 April 2021

From swimming pool to ice rink


I have just done 'David's' feeders - lots of tits. The flowing floods have retreated from the new wet meadow which is now covered in ice. Graham

from Graham Bateman:12 February 2021

Adaptable Buntings


For over a week, the ground below the Barton Fields bird feeders had remained under a considerable depth of flowing water - waders needed to reach them. The Reed Buntings, which normally partly feed on the ground picking up spilled seed, were walking out on thin reeds suspended on the water surface and picking up seeds as they floated by.

from Graham Bateman:10 February 2021

Recognition for Judy Webb

Judy Webb a local natural historian and conservationist was included in the New Year's Honours List. She has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) ‘For services to Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats in Oxfordshire’.

Judy's contribution was also recognised on the BBC Woman's Hour Power List 2020 and was interviewed recently on BBC Radio 4.

The Abingdon Naturalists' Society congratulate Judy on this well deserved recognition of her great work.

1 January 2021

Very wet Wet Meadow

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Barton Fields now has the Thames flowing through it with ponds and new wet meadow under a good 18 inches of moving water. Maybe get some fish again in the ponds next year. Unfortunately I put my field camera out by pond 4 on Xmas Eve and at 11.55pm on Christmas Day it disappeared under water. Retrieved Boxing Day afternoon after I got some waders and SD card still worked, but the camera was full of water - fingers crossed it will dry out.  And this morning a pair of Swans were by the bird feeders I set up on Xmas Eve.

Graham Bateman: 26 December 2020

Orchids around the A34 Hinksey Interchange


Abingdon Naturalists' Society member Michael Bloom has produced a report for the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxford on the results of his surveys of Pyramidal Orchids on the roadside verges at Hinksey Hill Interchange in Oxford between 2012 and 2020. Michael presents a thorough and detailed report on the orchid displays around the Hinksey Hill Interchange which have given pleasure to bus passengers travelling to and from Oxford and to passing motorists, as well as being of conservation importance. The Report (© ANHSO) is available on the ANHSO website by following links to-
special-interest-groups > fritillary > fritillary-9

November 2020

Revived Ponds on Barton Fields

GrahamB/2010_Pond_Clear_1.jpg GrahamB/2010_Pond_Clear_4.jpg

On Monday morning, two of the Barton Fields ponds, which had become completely overgrown with mainly vigorous Reed Sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), were rejuvenated. We were 'loaned' a digger and driver by Fergal Construction Co Ltd, of Standlake, who have been working on the resurfacing of the Sustrans path running through Barton Fields. Ashley, the digger driver, was a delight to watch as he skilfully removed the top vegetation for stacking, then the roots and bottom mud that were delicately smoothed around the pond edges to allow any 'creatures' to return to water.

We now have two 'new' ponds that would have been lost as manually they could never have been dug out. Thanks deserved to Fergal and Ashley

from Graham Bateman: 21 October 2020


Few-flowered Garlic


I first saw a patch of these flowers beside the Thames Path east of Abingdon at the weekend. None of my wild flower books were much help in identification but the internet came up with Few-flowerd Garlic (Alium Paradoxum). Alium Paradoxum is native to the Caucasus region and was introduced to gardens in Scotland about 100 years ago, escaping to the wild towards the end of the century.

Naturalists and foodies have very different opinions of Alium Paradoxum. To naturalists it as an undesirable non-native, invasive species which can dominate native flora, and of which planting in the wild is now banned. For foodies it a culinary delight which looks very much like Spring Onions when pulled up and bunched. I wonder whether its appearance on the river bank resulted from a narrow-boat owner overhauling a roof-top ‘garden’.

from Adrian Allsop: 3 May 2021

Dawn Chorus

The first Sunday in May is International Dawn Chorus Day, when people around the world rise early to hear birds welcoming a new day. I opened a window in a spare bedroom at 4:30 and enjoyed 45 minutes of birdsong with only a low background of A34 traffic noise. Here's a 5-min snippet from around 5am. I hoped to include a sunrise view but the day's visual awakening was disappointing.

Listen here...

from Adrian Allsop: 2 May 2021

Ashy Mining Bee


This mining bee (Andrena cineraria) was searching for a nest site on our 'lawn' today. Not the Mourning Bee as I first thought, which would have been more appropriate on the day of HRH's funeral!
This bee has appeared in mid-April in two previous years.

from David Guyoncourt: 17 April 2021

Nasty Newts


This is what was happening in our pond last night! Both frogs and toads have produced spawn, but last night a dozen newts were swarming around the frog spawn.
Are they eating the spawn? Should I remove the frogspawn to an aquarium and allow the tadpoles to grow enough and get sufficiently mobile to avoid the nasty newts?

from David Guyoncourt: 31 March 2021

Busy Robins


A pair of Robins have been busy building a nest in ivy cloaking the wall by our garage back door. A good place to avoid the marauding Grey Squirrels that I believe took out the nest in an open box last year. My coat was used as a perch before flying to the nest.

from Graham Bateman: 30 March 2021

Spring has Sprung!


And Love is in the Air - and in our pond!

from David Guyoncourt: 21 March 2021

Return of Newts


On Tuesday evening, Smooth Newts had returned to my garden pond. It is amazing how quickly they have responded to just two days of mild weather after a week of a frozen pond. Await a big Frog run.

from Graham Bateman: 17 February 2021

Hatched Collard Dove egg


This hatched Collared Dove egg shell appeared by my house this morning.  It must have been incubated all through the freezing weather.

from Gillian Taylor: 15 February 2021

Muntjac and fawn


I had noticed a Muntjac in my garden last week, today she was back with a fawn. Alas they were partially hidden behind an upturned cold frame which I suppose gave a degree of protection. I managed a photo of the rear end with fawn suckling but must have disturbed her as she suddenly departed leaving the fawn which immediately hunkered down in the wilderness that is currently my garden. It didn't move for 30 mins but then put up its head. An hour later there is still no sign of the mother. The mother came back after dark.

from Margaret Abel: 1 February 2021

Two Moths


Two moths of note caught last night.
The December Moth a sure sign of winter and the Scarce Umber isn't really scarce - but our previous record of it was way back in 1992

from Tony Rayner: 19 November 2020

Toadstool and Bracket


There is an area of willow carr beside the Ock which is good for fungi.  I recently found this toadstool growing there in a well rotted willow which Judy Webb has identified as the Poplar Fieldcap (the scientific name has changed several times).  It has an orange centre to the cap.   Nearby, beside Standford Brook, a prostrate dead Alder has tiers of a this rather nice orangey-brown bracket with pinkish pores beneath, which I believe is the Tufted Bracket Phellinus torulosus.

from David Guyoncourt: 7 November 2020