The relatively high temperatures in the early part of the week rapidly gave way to a return to cold, wintry – though dry – weather during the latter half, when eight White-fronted Geese were found at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd. Six Egyptian Geese visited
Ditchford GP on 16th and two were discovered close to the River Nene near Barnwell CP the next day. Up to three Shelduck were seen at Clifford Hill GP, Ditchford GP and
Summer Leys LNR and two Pintail at Stanwick GP on 20th were the only ones to be found during the period, this species having remained quite scarce so far this year. The long-staying Scaup remained at Ditchford GP, where there were two drakes on 19th and seven Smew remained at Ravensthorpe Res on 16th, two were at Earls Barton GP the same day and up to six were at Pitsford Res on 17th and 18th, while Goosanders were present at Summer Leys LNR, Ditchford GP and Clifford Hill GP, with a maximum of fourteen at the latter site on 17th.
Single Bitterns were found at Ditchford GP on 17th and at Earl Barton GP’s Quarry Walk on 20th while the Pitsford Great White Egret was seen on 17th, 18th and 19th. A Slavonian Grebe – perhaps the bird from Pitsford – appeared at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd and a pair of adult Peregrines was discovered at a suitable breeding site on 18th and one was seen over Lings Wood (Northampton) on 21st.
Oystercatchers were more in evidence this week with up to three now back at Clifford Hill GP, Ditchford GP, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys LNR, between seventy and eighty Golden Plovers were at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd and one visited Kingsthorpe LNR (Northampton) on 20th, the same day that there was a Dunlin and 9 Redshanks at Stanwick GP. Another Redshank was at Summer Leys LNR on 17th and a Green Sandpiper was at Ecton SF the same day.
Apart from a third-year Yellow-legged Gull in the roost at Pitsford Res on 20th, rare gulls were confined to the Nene valley with a near-adult Caspian Gull at Ditchford GP on 19th when a juvenile Glaucous Gull was also there, later visiting nearby Stanwick GP on 20th and 22nd with an adult Iceland Gull there on the latter date.
Stoke Bruerne has a track record in producing Ring-necked Parakeets and seven were seen there on 19th with two there next day while four flew over nearby Ashton on 17th. Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were in evidence at Lings Wood (Northampton) on 16th, 17th, 19th and 21st and at Old Sulehay on the first of these dates while at least two male Bearded Tits continued their winter residence in the Phragmites bed at Ecton SF and up to two more were seen at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk between 17th and 20th. At least ten Chiffchaffs remained at Ecton SF with up to two Siberian Chiffchaffs throughout the week and a total of five Central European Blackcaps visited gardens in Northampton, Weedon and Wellingborough, while four Waxwings remained in Corby on 16th and approximately twelve were seen in Great Brington the following day. Small numbers of Bramblings continued to be seen at the regular sites of Hanging Houghton, Harrington AF, and Kelmarsh with one in East Hunsbury (Northampton) on 16th and a
maximum of at least twelve at Harrington AF on 21st, while single Mealy Redpolls visited garden feeders in Byfield on 17th and Polebrook on 18th.