The Week in Focus: 25th to 31st January

A mild start to the week included an unseasonal thunder & lightning storm on 25th, before turning briefly colder under the influence of an easterly airstream mid-week.

Escapes featured heavily this week with the Ross’s Goose again at Clifford Hill GP on 27th, the long-staying Bar-headed Goose at Pitsford Res still on 31st and the new kid on the block – a female Wood Duck – on the River Nene in Northampton all week.

Adult female Wood Duck, Northampton, 31st January 2014 (Martin Dove)

Adult female Wood Duck, Northampton, 31st January 2014 (Martin Dove)

Otherwise, six Red-crested Pochards were at Stanford Res on 25th, while six remained at Pitsford Res until at least 29th with a Scaup at the same locality on 29th and 31st and the Long-tailed Duck remained at Earls Barton GP on 25th. Smew were reported from three localities, with three at Ravensthorpe Res on 25th, the ‘redhead’ still at Clifford Hill

Smew, Pitsford Res, 27th January 2014 (Douglas Goddard)

Smew, Pitsford Res, 27th January 2014 (Douglas Goddard)

GP on 26th-27th and up to six at Pitsford Res all week, while a ‘redhead’ Red-breasted Merganser at Stanford Res on 25th was noteworthy and Goosanders were reported from five localities, with a maximum of thirty-five at Clifford Hill GP on 26th.

The wintering juvenile Great Northern Diver was still at Pitsford Res on 31st and it appears that there are at least five Great White Egrets wintering in the county: two at Ditchford GP, one or two at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP and two at Pitsford Res with one also seen in flight over Stanwick GP on 30th. Raptors were in short supply with just one Peregrine at Pitsford Res on 25th and a Merlin was at Denton the following day.

The week’s waders included the two Oystercatchers at Stanwick GP all week, approximately one thousand Golden Plovers at Clifford Hill GP on 27th with the same number estimated at Stanwick GP on 30th and smaller numbers at three further sites. A count of approximately seventy-eight Common Snipe at Pitsford Res on 25th was one of the highest totals there in recent times, five Dunlins visited Stanwick GP on 30th, where twelve Redshanks were counted the previous day – with two at Pitsford Res on 25th and three at Clifford Hill GP on 27th – and a Green Sandpiper was at Pitsford Res on 25th.

White-winged gulls were again very much in evidence this week but an albino Black-headed Gull at Ditchford GP on 29th was, well, all white. The flooded field between Wellingborough and Sidegate Landfill produced three Caspian Gulls with a first-winter on 25th, an adult on 26th and a second-winter on 28th, while a second-winter was at Stanwick GP on 29th and three were there the following day. The latter site hosted two Yellow-legged Gulls on 30th, while the Wellingborough flood produced two adults on 26th and a second-winter on 28th, the same site hosting an adult Iceland Gull on 26th and a second-winter Glaucous Gull on 25th and an adult on 28th. A different adult – along with a juvenile – visited the pre-roost at Stanwick GP on 29th and a juvenile was there again the following evening.

A Chiffchaff was at Pitsford Res on 25th and two were found at Stanwick GP on 29th, while at least seven wintering Central European Blackcaps were scattered among gardens in Duston, Spratton, Kettering and Wellingborough and six Bramblings remained at Harrington AF during the week.

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