The Week in Focus: 18th to 24th January

The week started mild and ended more or less on the same note, with a series of uneventful depressions bringing showers from the west intermittently throughout the period.

The wandering escaped Ross’s Goose visited Clifford Hill GP on 20th and nearby Hardingstone GP on 22nd, while two Egyptian Geese remained at Ditchford GP on the same date and another was at Barnwell CP on 19th, when the first three Shelducks of ‘spring’ returned to Summer Leys LNR. The only Pintail this week were two at Stanwick GP on 22nd and the same site produced a striking bird considered to be a hybrid drake Baikal Teal x Eurasian Teal  on the same date. Four Red-crested Pochards visited Summer Leys on 20th, the drake Scaup remained at Ditchford GP until at least 22nd as did single Long-tailed Ducks at Thrapston GP until 19th and Earls Barton GP until 24th. The three reports of Smew this week consisted of five at Pitsford Res on 18th, one at Clifford Hill GP on 20th and two at Ditchford GP on 22nd and Goosanders were reported from six localities, with a maximum of seventeen at Hardingstone GP on 22nd.

The wintering juvenile Great Northern Diver was still at Pitsford Res on 22nd but it has now become difficult to assess how many Great White Egrets are now wintering in the county, with just one reported from Pitsford between 18th and 22nd, singles at Summer Leys LNR on 19th, 21st and 24th with two there on 20th and two at nearby Ditchford GP on 18th, 22nd and 24th with one there on 19th. Breaking the Peregrine monopoly, a Merlin was seen at Thrapston GP on 19th but Peregrines continued to outnumber with singles at Brixworth on 18th, Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 20th, 22nd and 24th and at Ditchford GP on 22nd.

The week’s few waders included two Oystercatchers at Stanwick GP on 22nd, Golden Plovers at four sites, with a maximum exceeding five hundred at Summer Leys on 20th, a Green Sandpiper at Ditchford GP on 18th and 22nd and up to eleven Redshanks at Stanwick GP all week. A count of approximately one thousand Lapwings at Ditchford GP on 24th was noteworthy.

Scarce gulls were at a low ebb this week with an adult Mediterranean Gull visiting Daventry CP on 24th, single adult Caspian Gulls at Stanwick GP on 22nd and near Sidegate Landfill on 24th, a juvenile Glaucous Gull visited Broadholme Sewage Works (Ditchford GP) on 24th and adult Yellow-legged Gulls were in the same area on 22nd and 24th. A probable juvenile Kumlien’s Gull at Ditchford GP on 22nd will be only the second county record if it is eventually pinned down and the identification confirmed.

Great Grey Shrike, Lowick, 18th January 2014 (Alex Holt)
Great Grey Shrike, Lowick, 18th January 2014 (Alex Holt)

Last week’s Great Grey Shrike remained near Lowick until at least 23rd and ten Chiffchaffs were counted at Ditchford GP on 22nd, while wintering Central European Blackcaps included two in a Wellingborough garden and singles in Irthlingborough and Northampton all week.  The ‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat, discovered in a Northampton garden last week, continued to visit feeders there intermittently until 22nd. Its subspecific identity has yet to be resolved, with some authorities favouring Central Asian halimodendri while others suggesting blythi as a possible candidate.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Northampton 18th January 2014 (Dave Jackson)
Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Northampton 18th January 2014 (Dave Jackson)

An unconfirmed report of two Waxwings in a car park on Northampton’s Lodge Farm Industrial Estate on 24th remains just that, while the two wintering Stonechats continued their winter residence at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell all week, a Water Pipit was again at Ditchford GP on 24th and six Bramblings were at Harrington AF on 19th with one at Hanging Houghton on 22nd.

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