Mild, dry conditions coincided with the discovery of a host of new birds this week. A Shelduck was at Earls Barton GP on 5th and 11th and six Mandarin Ducks were located at Blatherwycke Lake on 9th with a belated report of ten there on 2nd; another Mandarin was at Kettering Leisure Village Lake during the first week of the month. The only Pintail this week was at Foxholes Fisheries, Crick on 6th and up to three Scaup remained at Ditchford GP until at least 7th with a first-winter drake being found at Stanwick GP on 8th. Up to six Smew (two drakes) were at Ravensthorpe Res during the week, a drake and a ‘redhead’ were at Pitsford Res and another ‘redhead’ at Sywell CP at the same time, while small numbers of Goosanders were recorded at Blatherwycke Lake, Edgcote, Hardingstone GP, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res, Stanwick GP and Stortons GP with a maximum of nineteen at the latter locality on 10th.
Pitsford’s Great White Egret looks set to overwinter, still being present on 11th while, at the same locality, the Slavonian Grebe remained south of the causeway until at least 9th. More raptors were seen this week with single Merlins at Harrington AF on 6th and at Pineham (Northampton) on 9th and Peregrines at Earls Barton GP and Riverside Retail Park (Northampton) on 5th, at Ecton SF and Harrington AF on 6th and at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), Harrington AF, Pitsford Res and Stanwick GP on 7th but raptor of the week was an adult male Hen Harrier at Harrington AF on 11th.
Four hundred Golden Plovers were at Earls Barton GP on 5th with just four at Stanford Res the same day, while one hundred and twenty-seven were roosting on ground levelled for construction at Pineham on 9th. Other waders of note were a Dunlin and a Black-tailed Godwit at Stanwick GP on 6th, with a belated report of another of the latter species at Summer Leys LNR on 2nd, a Green Sandpiper at Ecton SF from 6th to 9th and six Redshanks at Stanwick GP on 5th-6th with one at Pitsford Res on 7th.
The first of the winter’s ‘white-winged’ gulls – a juvenile Glaucous Gull – visited the gull roost at Stanwick GP from 5th to 9th where it was joined by an adult on the latter date with the adult again present on 10th. A juvenile Iceland Gull also visited the roost there on 6th while two Yellow-legged Gulls were at Stanford Res on 5th.
Three Bearded Tits were discovered in the Phragmites bed at Ecton SF on 6th and this number had grown to five by 9th with ‘several’ still present on 10th.
The same site also produced at least six wintering Chiffchaffs on 9th and another was at Earls Barton GP on 5th while presumed Central European Blackcaps continued to visit three Northampton gardens and one in Wellingborough during the week.
The week was again dominated by the continuing presence of Waxwings, the popularity of which appears never to wane. After a belated report of one hundred and ten near Blatherwycke on 2nd – with 44 there the next day and 25 there on 6th – the largest number was fifty at Pineham on 9th.
Elsewhere there were still thirteen remaining at Barton Seagrave on 5th, twenty at Northampton Garden Centre, Wootton on the same date with thirteen there next day and three in the vicinity on 11th, four were in an East Hunsbury garden on 5th with up to thirty at the nearby Danes Camp Surgery on the same date with twenty there the next day, singles at Fineshade Wood and Weldon on 6th with twenty-nine there the following day, dwindling to thirteen by 9th. One was in the Brampton Valley on 7th with twenty-five there the next day, four were at Harrington AF on 7th with two at nearby Hanging Houghton the next day, ten were at Harringworth AF on 9th with twenty-eight at nearby Laxton Hall on the same date, fifteen were again at Danes Camp Surgery, East Hunsbury on 10th with up to six in the vicinity on 11th and up to thirty were still near Pineham on the same date.
A male Black Redstart was seen briefly in Wellingborough on 10th and Stonechats were at Ditchford GP on 4th and Blueberry Farm on 7th and 8th, while small numbers of Bramblings were seen at Harrington AF throughout the week, increasing sharply to more than thirty on 11th. One was also at Badby Wood on 5th, two at Kelmarsh on 7th and one or two at Hanging Houghton and in the Brampton Valley on 11th. Up to fifteen Crossbills were at Wakerley Great Wood on between 6th and 9th, with seventeen seen flying over nearby Fineshade Wood on 6th and five at Harlestone Heath on 11th while three Hawfinches were found at Harringworth Airfield, on the edge of Wakerley Great Wood, on 9th.