The Week in Focus: 9th to 15th March 2013

A dramatic return to sub-zero overnight temperatures and snow flurries did not appear to stop the first spring migrants pushing through the County, although the few summer visitors recorded this week will have struggled to make significant progress against the biting easterlies which have so far characterised the ‘Siberian Spring.’ The five Egyptian Geese were still in fields by the watersports pit at Ditchford GP until at least 11th, Pintail maintained a low profile with just two at Stanford Res on 9th and the number of Smew remained low, with long staying pairs at Pitsford Res and Ravensthorpe Res on 9th and a ‘redhead’ at the latter locality on 11th, plus a ‘new’ pair at Stanwick GP from 12th to 14th and a ‘redhead’ at Stortons GP from 9th to 13th. Numbers of Goosanders similarly remained lower than in previous weeks with between two and eight at eight localities but eleven were at Clifford Hill GP and twelve at Stanwick GP on 14th. The drake Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid was back again at Daventry CP on 14th and the drake Scaup was still present on the watersports pit at Ditchford GP on 15th.

The Ravensthorpe Bittern remained at the reservoir until at least 13th and the Pitsford Great White Egret continued its protracted stay throughout the week. A ‘new’ Slavonian Grebe appeared at Daventry CP on 10th but it did not linger; conceivably it could have been the same individual which had been at Clifford Hill GP the previous week and perhaps at Pitsford Res prior to that.

An Osprey flying north at Pitsford Res on 13th was no doubt the first of many Northants migrants to come, the vanguard having already arrived in Scotalnd a few days previously. Peregrines were seen at Harrington AF on 9th and in the Brampton Valley on 13th while the immature male Merlin was seen again at Harrington AF on the latter date.

More waders were in evidence than last week and the first migrants beginning to trickle through included a Ringed Plover at Hollowell Res on 9th with three more at Clifford Hill GP on 12th. Golden Plover numbers were up on last week with seventeen flying south over Stortons GP on 9th and fifteen at Harrington AF and approximately eighty at Stanford Res on the same date, two hundred and twenty at Clifford Hill GP on 12th and more than three hundred at Sywell AF the same day. Single Dunlins were found at Ditchford GP and at Hollowell Res on 9th, four Jack Snipe were at the latter locality on the same day and the only Redshank reported was a group of four at Stanwick GP on 10th. Single migrant Curlews flew over Old Pastures Wood on 7th, Great Brington on 9th and Boddington Res on 15th and three were on fields at Ecton SF on 10th, the latter site also continuing to host the regular wintering Green Sandpiper on the same date.

One juvenile Glaucous Gull was again at Finedon Road, Wellingborough on 9th and an adult commuted between there and Ditchford GP’s Viaduct Pit on 15th while single adult Yellow-legged Gulls visited Hollowell Res and Stanford Res on 9th and second-winters visited Ravensthorpe Res on 11th and Pitsford Res on 14th. Kittiwakes are almost guaranteed in March and one visited the gull roost at Boddington Res on 9th and the same site hosted a first winter Mediterranean Gull on 15th.

A Ring-necked Parakeet was seen again at Stoke Bruerne on 13th and two Sand Martins – the first of the ‘summer’ – were at Ditchford GP on 9th, while a Chiffchaff was at Ravensthorpe Res on 11th and seven were still frequenting the outflow stream at Ecton SF on 12th along with one Siberian Chiffchaff.  Numbers of Central European Blackcaps were lower this week with just a female in a Wellingborough garden on 10th, a male in a Kettering garden on 11th, a pair in a Duston (Northampton) garden on 13th and two males in a Northampton garden on 10th and 13th.

During the first four days of the week there was a flush of Rock Pipits involving singles at Hollowell Res on 9th, Boddington Res on 10th and Clifford Hill GP on 12th and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit was at Stanwick GP on 10th. Bramblings continued to be seen at East Hunsbury (Northampton), Pitsford Res and Harrington AF with a maximum of twelve at the latter site on 14th, while approximately twenty Crossbills were still at Wakerley Great Wood on 9th.

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