The Week in Focus: 30th November to 6th December 2013

A westerly airstream prevailed, turning northerly at the week’s end with severe gales and flooding devastating parts of east coast Britain while Northamptonshire remained relatively unscathed. A few more winter visitors and scarcities were found in the early part of the week.

Two Egyptian Geese were at Thrapston GP on 2nd with the drake Mandarin Duck still at Wicksteed Park Lake on the same date and single Pintails were at both Stanford Res and Pitsford Res on 30th with ten counted at the latter site on 2nd. Both reservoirs also hosted Red-crested Pochards with a pair at Stanford Res on 30th and at least sixteen at Pitsford on the same date with single-figure counts thereafter. A leucistic female was also at Ravensthorpe Res on 6th. This week’s ducks deluxe, however, were three Long-tailed Ducks found on Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP on 30th and remaining until at least 4th, along with last week’s individual at Thrapston GP, which was joined by a second bird on 1st.

Long-tailed Ducks, Earls Barton GP, 3rd December 2013 (Simon Wantling) www.simonwantlingphotography.co.uk

Long-tailed Ducks, Earls Barton GP, 3rd December 2013 (Simon Wantling) http://www.simonwantlingphotography.co.uk

 Long-tailed Ducks, Earls Barton GP, 3rd December 2013 (Simon Wantling) www.simonwantlingphotography.co.uk

Long-tailed Ducks, Earls Barton GP, 3rd December 2013 (Simon Wantling) http://www.simonwantlingphotography.co.uk

Two female or first-winter Common Scoters were a surprise discovery at Ditchford GP on 30th and, on the same date, a ‘redhead’ Smew was again at Clifford Hill GP, while three ‘redheads’ were at Ravensthorpe Res the following day and two at Pitsford Res from 2nd until 4th with four and two drakes there on 6th. Single-figure counts of Goosanders were made at Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Thrapston GP with the maximum number of eleven coming from Abington Park Lake, Northampton on 6th.

Female Goosander, Abington Park Lake, Northampton, 6th December 2013 (Martin Dove). This urban site has consistently provided local birders with close    photographic opportunities in recent winters.

Female Goosander, Abington Park Lake, Northampton, 6th December 2013 (Martin Dove). This urban site has consistently provided local birders with close photographic opportunities in recent winters.

Great White Egrets maintained their high profile with up to three remaining at Pitsford Res all week and further singles at Ditchford GP on 30th-1st and at Summer Leys LNR on

Great White Egret. Ditchford GP, 1st December 2013 (Dave James)

Great White Egret. Ditchford GP, 1st December 2013 (Dave James)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 6th December 2013 (Douglas Goddard)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 6th December 2013 (Douglas Goddard)

6th, while the Stanford Res Black-necked Grebe performed an encore on 30th after many previous erratic stage appearances at the site over the past couple of months. Four records of Peregrines – Ditchford GP on 30th, Blueberry Farm and Hellidon on 1st and Pitsford Res on 4th – comprised the raptor count for the week.

The wader tally was not unexpectedly low. Five Jack Snipe were found at Hollowell Res on 30th, a Dunlin visited Clifford Hill GP on 6th and the lingering Black-tailed Godwit remained at Pitsford Res all week, while up to two Redshanks also remained there throughout the week with four at Stanwick GP and two at Ditchford GP on 2nd, along with a Green Sandpiper there on 1st and two at Pitsford Res on 2nd.

The first ‘white-winged’ gull of the winter proved to be an adult Iceland Gull, which put in a brief appearance at Ditchford GP on 1st, while up to three Caspian Gulls were also there on 1st and 2nd with another at Stanwick GP on the latter date.

Second-winter Caspian Gull, Ditchford GP, 1st December 2013 (John Friendship-Taylor)

Second-winter Caspian Gull, Ditchford GP, 1st December 2013 (John Friendship-Taylor)

Eight Yellow-legged Gulls were also at Ditchford GP on 30th with four there on 2nd and two at Hollowell Res on 6th when an adult Mediterranean Gull also visited Ravensthorpe Res

Although a Firecrest at Ringstead GP was a good find on 1st, the biggest surprise of the week, however, came in the form of a Yellow-browed Warbler, which was heard calling on three separate occasions on private land with no public access on 6th. Other wintering warblers included two Chiffchaffs at Summer Leys on 30th, three at Ecton SF on 1st plus two at Stanwick GP and one at Ditchford GP on 2nd, while single female Blackcaps were in gardens at both Spratton and Sywell on the same date. The two Stonechats remained at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 3rd when two were also discovered at Sywell CP and Bramblings were seen at Cottesbrooke, East Carlton CP, Fawsley Park and Harrington AF with a maximum of twelve at the latter site on 2nd, while fly-over Crossbills this week were two at Hanging Houghton on 3rd and one at Earls Barton GP on 4th.

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