Naturalists' News and Sightings

News

From swimming pool to ice rink

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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

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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

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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

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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

Sightings

Return of Newts

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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

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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

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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

Blackcap in garden

There was a male Blackcap in my garden around mid-day today. The first one I've seen this winter

from David Hastings: 24 January 2021

Greenhouse Millipede in bathroom

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I found this Greenhouse Millipede (Oxidus gracilis) climbing up the window frame in our bathroom last night. We have a couple of orchids on the windowsill, so I suppose it has been hiding in their compost. It is an alien, but I don't think it can survive outdoors in the UK. However some of its segments do have glands which can discharge hydrogen cyanide as a defence, by employing an enzyme! Apparently it grows an extra segment each year.

from David Guyoncourt: 21 January 2021

Pond visitor

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Not much happening in our pond at the moment, apart from this fellow (a young male I think) who had a good bath and then flew up into the viburnum bush to dry-off

from David Guyoncourt: 19 December 2020

Bit late for first day of Winter!

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On this bright Wednesday morning I was amazed to see a House Martin hawking over the Peachcroft Estate in North Abingdon. Never seen one this late - should be in Africa. It must have been finding insects as it spent over two hours flying back and forth against a clear blue sky. Difficult to get a good pic as so active, but managed two blurry shots.

from Graham Bateman: 2 December 2020

Slow-Worms

Cholsey Treehouse School children were helping me today with the planting of two oak trees. To my surprise the first turf included two baby slow-worms.

from Tony Rayner: 27 November 2020

Red Admiral

On the 24th I saw a Red Admiral in our garden on Viburnum Bodnantense. This is my latest ever record for this species. Unfortunately it was too high up to get a decent photo.

from Tony Rayner: 24 November 2020

Two Moths

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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

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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