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

Westerly winds swung northerly during the week, bringing colder temperatures and a mixture of sunshine and showers.

A herd of twenty-four Bewick’s Swans – an impressive number by today’s standards – arrived at Clifford Hill GP prior to dusk in the afternoon on 21st but they had moved on by first light the following morning.

Bewick’s Swans, part of a herd of twenty-four at Clifford Hill GP, 21st November 2013 (Mike Alibone)

Blatherwycke Lake on continued to host a Barnacle Goose, an Egyptian Goose and four Mandarin Ducks were counted there on 19th while two more Egyptian Geese were at Thrapston GP on 17th and, in Kettering, the drake Mandarin was again present at Wicksteed Park Lake on the same date. The only Pintail reported this week were five at Pitsford Res on 16th and the same site held up to twelve Red-crested Pochards throughout the period. Much rarer, however, was one of the highlights of the year – Northamptonshire’s fourth-ever Ring-necked Duck, a female, at Stanwick GP. Found mid-afternoon on 20th, it remained until dusk and appeared to go to roost on the islands in the A45 Lay-by Pit but it could not be relocated the following day. This is the first in Northants for almost a quarter of a century. How long before the next one? Causing less of a stir were single female Scaup at Ditchford GP and Blatherwycke Lake on 21st and 22nd respectively.

A Bittern was evidently still at Stortons GP and put in a brief appearance there on 22nd while Great White Egrets continued to enjoy a run on records with singles at Thrapston GP on 16th and Blatherwycke Lake on 19th while up to three remained at Pitsford Res throughout the week and there may have been as many as four present there on 18th.

Raptors this week were limited to a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier near Lyveden New Bield on 19th with a Merlin there on the same date plus singles at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 18th and 20th and the only Peregrine was a female near Hanging Houghton on 22nd.

Eight hundred Golden Plovers were roosting at Clifford Hill GP on 21st and there were smaller numbers at three other localities while up to two Dunlins appear to be wintering at both Pitsford Res and Stanwick GP as perhaps are single Black-tailed Godwits at the same two localities. Similarly, up to four Redshanks were at these localities during the week while Pitsford Res produced a Green Sandpiper on 16th and 17th along with a late Common Sandpiper on the latter date.

Scarce gulls were limited to an adult Mediterranean Gull at Daventry CP on 18th, an adult Caspian Gull Stanwick GP on 19th, being joined there by a second-winter on 21st and up to five Yellow-legged Gulls there on the same dates while single adults of this species were at Pitsford Res on 16th-18th and at Boddington Res on 19th.

A Short-eared Owl was discovered close to East Carlton CP on 19th and the two Bearded Tits remained at Stortons GP until at least 17th, when they were trapped and ringed. Wintering warblers included two Chiffchaffs at Thrapston GP on 16th, singles at Pitsford Res on 17th and 18th and two at Daventry CP on the latter date, while a Blackcap was at East Carlton CP on 19th. The same site produced two Stonechats at the same time while the ‘Blueberry two’ remained until at least 20th. East Carlton CP also produced 10+ Bramblings on 19th and single-figure counts came from Blueberry Farm, Cottesbrooke, Fineshade Wood and Harrington AF but the only Crossbills this week were six flying over Harlestone Heath on 21st.

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