The Week in Focus: 2nd to 8th February 2013

A relatively mild week with few new birds of note. A Dark-bellied Brent Goose was a one-day visitor to Ravensthorpe Res on 2nd and two Pintail were seen at Stanwick GP the next day. Ravensthorpe again held the highest number of Smew with up to twelve present there on 2nd, while up to three remained at Pitsford Res and two were seen at Thrapston GP on 4th. Twenty-seven Goosanders at Stanford Res on 2nd beat last week’s highest winter total of twenty-five at Thrapston GP, where there were just sixteen on 4th, while Stanwick GP held eighteen on 3rd and one was at Blatherwycke Lake on 7th.

After an apparent absence last week, the Great White Egret reappeared at Pitsford Res on 3rd, as did the Slavonian Grebe, which was seen there again on 2nd. Single female Peregrines seen at Brackmills (Northampton) on 2nd and at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 4th and another at Stortons GP on 8th were the only raptors of note this week.

The first of the spring Oystercatchers returned to Stanwick GP on 7th, where there was approximately thirty Golden Plovers on 4th, sixty in the Brampton Valley on the same date and the same number at Clifford Hill GP on 5th. Five Jack Snipe at Barnes Meadow (Northampton) on 2nd was a high count for this suburban locality, nine Redshanks remained at Stanwick GP all week and a Green Sandpiper was at Ecton SF on 3rd and 4th.

On 3rd, an adult Mediterranean Gull visited Hollowell Res while a first-winter Caspian Gull was at Ditchford GP on 26th January (omitted from last week’s report) and two juvenile Glaucous Gulls visited the gull roost at nearby Stanwick GP on 6th. Two Yellow-legged Gulls were also at Stanwick on 3rd, a second-winter was in the Pitsford Res roost on 4th and two adults were there the following evening and a first-winter Kittiwake was also there on 2nd.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Ditchford GP, 26th January 2013 (John Friendship-Taylor)
First-winter Caspian Gull, Ditchford GP, 26th January 2013 (John Friendship-Taylor)

Just one Short-eared Owl was seen at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 3rd when a minimum of twenty Chiffchaffs – an unprecedented single locality winter count – was recorded at Ecton SF and up to three Siberian Chiffchaffs were still present there throughout the week.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 8th February 2013 (Jim Dunkley)
Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 8th February 2013 (Jim Dunkley)

At least four Bearded Tits were seen again in the Phragmites bed there on 2nd after having maintained a low profile since early January. Single male Central European Blackcaps visited gardens in Northampton at East Hunsbury, Duston and Kingsthorpe and beyond in Barton Seagrave, while a male and two females remained in a Wellingborough garden all week and at least three (2 males) have been present in a Spratton garden throughout the winter. Just one report of Waxwings concerned six in Deanshanger on 8th and the long-staying male Stonechat at Hollowell Res was still present on 2nd.  Single-figure counts of Bramblings were made at East Hunsbury (Northampton), Hanging Houghton, Kelmarsh, and Pitsford Res while up to twenty were at Harrington AF on 3rd and six Crossbills were in the usual location of the car park at Wakerley Great Wood on 2nd.

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