A mild week with lower rainfall saw the momentary return of the Dark-bellied Brent Goose to Clifford Hill GP on 30th while two Shelducks were at Blatherwycke Lake on the same date and two paid an unseasonal visit to Pitsford Res on 2nd. Five Mandarin Ducks were found among flooded poplars in the R. Nene valley at Tansor on 29th and eight were counted at the same locality the following day. This species is now scarce in the County following the demise of the hitherto long established population at Blatherwycke Lake. The only Pintail to be found during the week was a drake at Kislingbury GP on 1st, while the tally of wintering Scaup at Ditchford GP reached three (two first-winter drakes and a female) by 30th with at least two of these still present on 3rd; another first-winter drake visited Ravensthorpe Res from 30th to 1st. Goosanders were recorded at Blatherwycke Lake, Clifford Hill GP, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Stortons GP with a maximum of sixteen at the latter site on 1st, where a ‘redhead’ Smew was also present on the same date; another ‘redhead’ was at Pitsford Res on 2nd and one or two at Sywell CP on 4th.
A Bittern was again seen briefly at Summer Leys LNR on 1st and the wintering Great White Egret remained throughout the week at Pitsford Res, commuting between Holcot Bay and the flooded marsh at the junction of Hannington Road and Walgrave Road, just outside Holcot. At the same locality, the Slavonian Grebe remained south of the causeway all week, being joined there briefly by a Black-necked Grebe on 1st; another Slavonian Grebe was reported briefly at Stortons GP on the same date.
Raptors again remained scarce with a male Merlin at Stanwick GP on 1st and single Peregrines at Clifford Hill GP on 1st and at Ditchford GP and Boddington Res on 3rd.
Following the receding floods, approximately two thousand Golden Plovers were back at the traditional roosting site of Clifford Hill GP on 30th with more than one thousand there the next day and approximately nine hundred there on 3rd. The same site hosted approximately five hundred Lapwings on 31st and perhaps the same flock was seen flying over nearby Kislingbury GP on 1st. Other waders of note were a flock of eleven Black-tailed Godwits flying west over Summer Leys LNR on 4th, a Redshank at Clifford Hill GP and a Green Sandpiper at Ditchford GP – both on 3rd.
Two Mediterranean Gulls (an adult and a first-winter) were at Pitsford Res gull roost on 29th and single first-winters were present there on 2nd and at Boddington Res on 3rd, while an adult Yellow-legged Gull visited Stanford Res on 30th and a first-winter was again at Pitsford Res on 2nd.
The Hanging Houghton ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw was seen again on 31st, as was the Stanford Res Cetti’s Warbler on 30th, while the pair of presumed Central European Blackcaps continued to visit a Northampton garden during the week, being joined by an additional male to at least 2nd; further singles visited gardens in Northampton on 1st and Polebrook on 2nd. A Firecrest was found at Bucknell Wood on 1st and Stonechats were at Hollowell Res on 30th and 2nd, Harringworth Airfield on 30th, Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 1st and Ditchford GP on 3rd.
Waxwings were back in force this week following a late record from last week of at least fifty in Duston on 28th, with at least thirty in Barton Seagrave/Burton Latimer the following day. Numbers in this area continued to increase, peaking at 120 on 3rd – the
largest local flock of the winter so far. Elsewhere, singles were at Harringworth Airfield and Ise Valley Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, two in Irthlingborough and four in Hanging Houghton – all on 30th, two were by Northampton Garden Centre, Wootton also on 30th with approximately 12 there on 31st, fifteen on 2nd and 35 on 4th. Five were in East Hunsbury, Northampton on 30th with twenty-five there on 2nd and, on 1st, at least eighteen were in Upton Country Park, Northampton and between fifteen and twenty were at Fineshade Wood.
Up to three Bramblings were seen throughout the week at each of Brampton Valley LP, Hanging Houghton, Kelmarsh, Pitsford Res, Salcey Forest and Harrington Airfield with a maximum of six at the latter locality on 30th and 1st, while ten Crossbills were at Bucknell Wood on 1st, with at least six at Salcey Forest the following day, and a Hawfinch was discovered at Harringworth Airfield on the edge of Wakerley Wood on 30th.