The Week in Focus: 8th to 14th December 2012

The continuing cold snap this week saw the further arrival of more traditional winter fare as well as the discovery of a Dark-bellied Brent Goose at Clifford Hill GP on 13th. The drake Scaup at Pitsford Res was still present there on 12th and  the number of Smew at

Adult drake Scaup, Pitsford Res,12th December 2012 (RW Bullock)

Ravensthorpe Res peaked at five (one drake) on 8th but appeared to dwindle to just one by 10th. Six, including four drakes, were found at Pitsford Res on 13th and two ‘redheads’ were

Adult drake Smew, Ravensthorpe Res, 8th December (Frank Porch)

present at Sywell CP on the same date, while the number of Goosanders at Abington Park Lake, Northampton, had climbed to twenty-six by 9th with at least twenty-five still

‘redhead’ Smew, Ravensthorpe Res, 8th December 2012 (Jonathan Philpot)

there on 12th. Smaller number were found at Daventry Res (nine), Stortons GP (five) and Pitsford Res (two).

The Summer Leys Bittern showed again on 8th and another was found at Stanwick GP on 13th while the Pitsford Great White Egret was seen again on 9th and 13th and a Black-necked Grebe – perhaps the Pitsford individual – was discovered at Sywell CP on the latter date.

Bittern, Summer Leys LNR, 8th December 2012 (Doug Goddard)

In the absence of any serious contenders, a male Hen Harrier hunting briefly over setaside at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 10th scooped the title ‘Raptor of the Week’ while an adult Mediterranean Gull in the roost at Pitsford Res on the same date was similarly the only scarce gull reported. Also on 10th, two Chiffchaffs were found in the grounds of St Andrews Hospital, Northampton and the male Central European Blackcap was still feeding on crab apples in a Northampton garden until at least 13th. Waxwing numbers continued to build with the Kettering flock at Sainsburys supermarket car-park peaking at fifty on 8th and dropping to just twenty-two on 9th before disappearing completely the

Waxwings, Northamptonshire, 8th December 2012. Left, Kettering (Mark Skinner), right Stortons GP (Gary Burrows). Even dried rowan berries at Sainsburys, Kettering appeared preferable to the plentiful supply of Cotoneaster fruits nearby.

following day. Also on 8th, thirty were seen at the George Inn, Brixworth, (with sixteen remaining on 9th), twenty-two were at Stortons GP and twenty were feeding on apples in Blatherwycke. On 9th, thirty were in East Hunsbury, Northampton briefly before flying

Waxwings, Sainsburys, Kettering, 8th December 2012 (Mike Alibone)

toward Wootton and approximately twenty were by the A45, close to Northampton Garden Centre, on 12th with sixteen at Chelveston on the same date. Seven remained in Chelveston on 13th when approximately 35 were located in Wootton and one flew over Pitsford Res on 14th.

Single-figure counts of Bramblings were made throughout the week at Hanging Houghton, Kelmarsh and Pitsford Res with a maximum of six at Harrington AF on 10th.