The Week in Focus: 16th to 22nd March 2013

A high pressure system located to the north-east of the UK ensured a constant, cold easterly airstream, suppressing temperatures and producing snow as it collided with the warmer, moist Atlantic air at both the beginning and the end of the week. The ‘Siberian Spring’ seems set to continue …

Migration continued despite the unseasonal weather conditions and fewer winter ducks were in evidence with two Smew at Pitsford Res on 19th and six there on 22nd with a ‘redhead’ at Thrapston GP on 20th. Goosanders were recorded at Stanford Res, Clifford Hill GP, Stortons GP and Thrapston GP with a maximum of thirteen at the latter site on 17th.

The only Bittern found this week was one at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk on 18th while the wintering Great White Egret was still present at Pitsford Res on 21st and another Osprey was present at the same site on 19th, 20th and 21st. Peregrines were seen at both Thrapston GP and Northampton on 20th while the immature male Merlin was still present at Harrington AF on the same date.

Waders on the move included a high count of approximately sixty-five Common Snipe at Pitsford Res on 19th and two Jack Snipe at Hollowell Res on 16th and 22nd with another trapped and ringed at Stortons GP on 17th. The only Redshanks reported were two at Summer Leys LNR on 17th with a Curlew there and two more at Clifford Hill GP on the same date. ‘New’ Green Sandpipers were two at Earls Barton GP on 17th and three at Pitsford Res on 21st.

A fourth-winter Glaucous Gull at Finedon Road, Wellingborough on 16th had been present there the previous day and was not the same individual, an adult, which was seen at nearby Ditchford GP last week, while a juvenile circled Boddington Res for five minutes on 19th before drifting west.

Fourth-winter Glaucous Gull, Wellingborough, 15th March 2013 (Martin Dove)

Fourth-winter Glaucous Gull, Wellingborough, 15th March 2013 (Martin Dove). The washed-out bill colour with dark subterminal markings are remnants of immaturity.

Other relatively scarce larids included a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull at Pitsford Res on 19th and two adults at Ravensthorpe Res on 22nd, an adult Kittiwake at Boddington Res on the same date with the same site hosting three Mediterranean Gulls (two adults and a first-winter) on 19th and an adult on 21st.

One or two Bearded Tits remained in the reedbed at Ecton SF on 17th and another was still at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk the following day.  Just one Sand Martin was discovered battling against the elements this week at Pitsford Res on 19th, while a Siberian Chiffchaff remained at Ecton SF on 18th along with up to four Chiffchaffs and another Chiffchaff was singing at Thrapston GP on 20th. Central European Blackcaps remained in two gardens in Duston (Northampton), Kettering, Northampton, Rothwell and Wellingborough, with a maximum of three males in one of the Duston gardens on 17th and eleven Waxwings put in a brief appearance in a Woodford Halse garden on 22nd.

The first Northern Wheatear of the spring was below the dam at Pitsford Res on 21st and other spring passerine migrants included a White Wagtail at Hollowell Res on 16th and a Rock Pipit at Pitsford Res on 19th and 20th. Two Bramblings continued to be seen at East Hunsbury (Northampton), one at Pitsford Res and up to twelve at Harrington AF, while seven Crossbills were at Bucknell Wood on 18th.

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