The first real snow of winter did not appear to give rise to any of the much hoped for significant hard weather movements this week. An adult White-fronted Goose visited Stanwick GP briefly on 12th but it did not linger and up to thirty Mandarin Ducks were counted at Blatherwycke Lake during the weekend of 12th-13th, clearly dispelling an earlier report that the entire population there had been shot! The only Pintail this week were two at Ditchford GP on 13th, when the three wintering Scaup were also still present there. The first-winter drake remained at Stanwick GP until at least 14th and another first-winter drake was found at Hollowell Res on 12th – presumably the individual from nearby Ravensthorpe Res which went missing after being found on 1st. An Aythya hybrid resembling a drake Lesser Scaup was also seen at Hollowell Res on 12th after having been seen first at Ravensthorpe on 5th. Up to seven Smew (two drakes) were also at Ravensthorpe Res on 12th with at least a pair still present there on 16th, up to three were at Pitsford Res on the same date with eight (six drakes) there on 17th and single ‘redheads’ were at Clifford Hill GP on 13th and at Stortons GP on 16th and 17th. Small numbers of Goosanders continued to be seen at Clifford Hill GP, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Stortons GP with a maximum of twenty-five at the first of these localities on 12th.
A Bittern dropped into the reedbed at Stortons GP on 16th, while the Pitsford Great White Egret continued to be reported throughout the week. A Scared Ibis – whatever its origin – was an unexpected visitor to Summer Leys LNR, Stanwick and Ditchford GP on 13th and was seen again at Broadholme SWT at Ditchford the following day. At Pitsford Res, the Slavonian Grebe remained south of the causeway until at least 12th and a Black-necked Grebe was seen by the dam there on 15th. Merlins were at Harrington AF on 14th and at Little Irchester on 16th and Peregrines were in the Brampton Valley and at Raunds – both on 12th and an unseasonal (for Northamptonshire) Marsh Harrier flew east at Stanwick GP on 14th.
More than two hundred Golden Plovers were at Clifford Hill GP on 14th but few were reported elsewhere. The only Jack Snipe this week was at Hollowell Res on 13th and the only Green Sandpiper at Ecton SF on 12th while seven Redshanks were at Stanwick GP on 14th and one was at Clifford Hill GP on 13th and 14th.
What were undoubtedly last week’s adult and juvenile Glaucous Gulls from Stanwick GP were found together at nearby Ditchford GP on 15th and a fourth-winter was at nearby
Sidegate Landfill on 12th. Single adult Caspian Gulls visited Hollowell Res on 13th, Sidegate Landfill and Ditchford GP on the same date and one was again at the latter locality
on 15th, while adult Yellow-legged Gulls visited Stanford Res and Hollowell Res on 12th and another was near Sidegate Landfill on 13th.
A single Short-eared Owl at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 15th and 18th was in keeping with their relative scarcity so far this winter and, in the same area, the ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw was seen again on 14th and a flock of approximately 500 Skylarks at nearby Harrington AF on the same day was the largest recorded in the County for many years. At least two Chiffchaffs remained at Ecton SF on 12th and further singles were at Pitsford Res on 15th and 16th while female Central European Blackcaps were seen in two gardens in Wellingborough on 15th, 16th and 17th, a male was in an Oundle garden on the first of those three dates and male was in a Northampton garden all week, accompanied by a female on 18th.
Waxwings remained strongly in evidence throughout the week, the most reliable – and the most popular – of which were up to forty-five near Danes Camp Surgery on Rowtree Road, East Hunsbury, Northampton between 13th and 16th. Elsewhere, twenty-five were
again at Pineham, Northampton on 12th with flocks of sixty, thirty-five and twelve along a stretch of the A43 between Fineshade and Blatherwycke the same day. On 13th six were
between Yarwell and Wansford and twenty by the canal near Sixfields Lake; on 15th at least twenty-five visited Mawsley and twenty-two were still along the A43 between Fineshade and Blatherwycke while eighteen were in Swan Valley, Northampton the following day and, on 17th, thirty were in Burton Latimer.
The only Stonechat of the week was the long-staying male at Hollowell Res, which was seen on 12th and 13th, and Bramblings kept up their appearance at Harrington AF, with a maximum of eight there on 14th, while numbers between one and five were seen at
Hanging Houghton, Kelmarsh, Pineham and Pitsford Res throughout the week. A dozen Crossbills were still at Wakerley Great Wood on 13th but more unusual was the surprise
discovery of up to five Hawfinches by the church at Blatherwycke Lake on 12th,
drawing a steady trickle of admirers throughout the week.