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

The week started cool with overnight frosts on 9th and 12th giving way to milder, though cold, mixed weather throughout, the winds remaining largely westerly. A number of new birds were found during the early part of the period.

An adult Whooper Swan was discovered at Blatherwycke Lake on 13th but could not be found there the following day, while the same site continued to host a Barnacle Goose, an Egyptian Goose and at least seventeen Mandarin Ducks mid-week; a pair of Mandarins was also present at Ravensthorpe Res on 11th. ‘Real’ geese, however, were limited to a skein of approximately one hundred Pink-footed over Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 9th and two Dark-bellied Brents briefly at Boddington Res on 11th. Eight Pintail remained at Pitsford Res on 12th and one was at Blatherwycke Lake the following day and, at the former site, the Red-crested Pochard flock had risen to twenty-one on the same date. Elsewhere, one was at Stanford Res on 11th, another remained at Ravensthorpe Res between 11th and 13th and one was at Boddington Res on 11th with five there the following day. These last two reservoirs also produced ‘redhead’ Red-breasted Mergansers on 11th and 12th respectively, the occurrences considered to relate to different individuals.

A Bittern was found at Stortons GP on 9th and was again seen briefly there on 12th and 15th, while up to two Great White Egrets remained at Pitsford Res throughout the week and the Black-necked Grebe was seen again at Stanford Res on 11th and 12th.

Stanford also produced Northamptonshire’s latest-ever Osprey on 9th – presumably the lingering individual from late October – and both Merlin and Peregrine on 11th, while single Merlins were also at Harrington Airfield on 10th and 15th and at Stanwick GP on 11th and Peregrines were also seen at Harrington AF on 9th and 11th, Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 10th and 15th, at Blatherwycke Lake on 13th and 14th and in Northampton on 15th.

On the wader front, single Dunlins were at Hollowell Res on 11th and Stanwick GP from 11th to 13th, while two visited Pitsford Res on 12th where there was also a Ruff on the same date. A Jack Snipe was found at Hollowell Res on 11th, the same date to which last week’s Black-tailed Godwit remained at Stanwick GP, where there were also three Redshanks on 11th and 13th and the same number at Pitsford Res on 12th.

An adult Mediterranean Gull visited the roost at Pitsford Res again on 10th and 13th, an adult and a second-winter Caspian Gull were at Stanwick GP on 9th along with seven Yellow-legged Gulls while single adults of the latter species were at Boddington, Hollowell and Pitsford Reservoirs on 11th.

A Northamptonshire record count of migrating Wood Pigeons was made at Stanwick GP on 13th, when 15,400 were logged moving south-west in just ninety minutes. In suburban Northampton the two Bearded Tits continued to be a popular draw at Stortons GP throughout the week while at least two more were calling from the reedbed at Stanwick GP

Male Bearded Tit, Stortons GP, 13th November 2013 (Alan Coles)
Male Bearded Tit, Stortons GP, 13th November 2013 (Alan Coles)
Bearded Tits, Stortons GP, 13th November 2013 (Frank Porch & Sharon Johnson)

on 10th. Wintering or late migrant warblers included a Chiffchaff at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk on 10th with two at nearby Mary’s Lake on 12th and two at Stanwick GP on 11th while a Siberian Chiffchaff put in a brief appearance by the screen hide at Quarry Walk on 10th along with a Blackcap in the same area. The two Stonechats remained at Blueberry Farm all week, while three localities held Bramblings with the usual site of Harrington AF producing a maximum of eight on 15th, and two Crossbills  flew over there on the same date with three over nearby Pitsford Res on 10th.

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