The Week in Focus: 1st to 7th February

The week remained mild as an incessant onslaught of depressions in off the Atlantic brought more rain and gale force winds. Few new birds were found locally.

Escapes maintained the status quo this week with the Ross’s Goose still at Clifford Hill GP on 2nd, the long-staying Bar-headed Goose at Pitsford Res still on 4th and the female Wood Duck on the River Nene in Northampton on 1st. Dapper dabblers were represented only by a drake Mandarin at Kettering Leisure Village Lake on 4th and eight Pintail at Ringstead GP on 6th with twenty over Earls Barton GP on the same date. The only Red-crested Pochards reported this week were single drakes at Ringstead GP on 4th and Ditchford GP on 7th and the only Scaup a drake at Pitsford Res on 3rd and 4th,

Drake Scaup, Pitsford Res, 3rd February 2014 (Doug Goddard)

Drake Scaup, Pitsford Res, 3rd February 2014 (Doug Goddard)

while the Long-tailed Duck remained in residence on Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP all week, being joined there by a drake Smew for the same duration. The only other Smew were a ‘redhead’ at Clifford Hill GP on 2nd and three (one drake) at Pitsford Res all week, while Goosanders were reported from four localities, with a maximum of sixteen at Boddington Res on 7th. Unfortunately, the cat was out of the bag with regard to the pair of Ruddy Ducks wintering in Pitsford’s Scaldwell Bay, the government’s special boat squadron was duly despatched and it seems likely that these two met their fate on the afternoon of 4th.

Drake Ruddy Duck, Pitsford Res, 2nd February 2014 (Simon Hales). The last of the few.

Drake Ruddy Duck, Pitsford Res, 2nd February 2014 (Simon Hales). The last of the few.

The wintering juvenile Great Northern Diver remained on station at Pitsford Res all week and the same locality continued to host at least one Great White Egret while two remained at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP throughout the period.

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 4th February 2014 (Dave Jackson)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 4th February 2014 (Dave Jackson)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 4th February 2014 (Geof Douglas)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 4th February 2014 (Geof Douglas)

Raptors were again scarce with a male Merlin over fields north of Badby on 7th and single Peregrines at Summer Leys on 2nd, Kingsthorpe LNR on 4th and Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on the same date and again on 7th, while a pair was present at an undisclosed locality throughout the week.

Waders hit an all-time low this week with just three Redshanks at Clifford Hill GP on 2nd and a Green Sandpiper at Pineham, Northampton on the same date, while approximately two thousand Lapwings at Stanwick GP on1st was an encouragingly high count.

Similarly, scarce gulls were poorly represented by just two Mediterranean Gulls – an adult and a first-winter – in the gull roost at Boddington Res on 3rd and 7th, a juvenile Glaucous Gull flying over Wellingborough on 1st and an adult in the usual flooded field in the Ise Valley there on 3rd.

Male Central European Blackcap, Northampton, February 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Male Central European Blackcap, Northampton, February 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

The only Chiffchaff this week was one at Pitsford Res on 3rd, while five wintering Central European Blackcaps were in gardens in Northampton, Kettering and Wellingborough, up to two Mealy Redpolls were in alders at Daventry CP between 3rd

Mealy Redpoll, Daventry CP, 7th February 2014 (Bob Bullock)

Mealy Redpoll, Daventry CP, 7th February 2014 (Bob Bullock). A striking individual at the easy to identify end of the range of variation in this species.

and 7th and single-figure counts of Bramblings were made at Summer Leys, in the Brampton Valley and at Harrington AF which hosted the week’s maximum of eight on 1st.

Brambling, Summer Leys LNR, 2nd February 2014 (Douglas McFarlane)

Brambling, Summer Leys LNR, 2nd February 2014 (Douglas McFarlane)

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2 Responses to The Week in Focus: 1st to 7th February

  1. Barbara Nunn says:

    I also had a male blackcap in my Wellingborough garden on morning of 2nd Feb. It was picking up seed fragments on the ground under a sunflower heart feeder. I wonder who let the cat out of the bag? What a shame!

    • Mike Alibone says:

      Thanks, Barbara. The cat being out of the bag was likely down to one of DEFRA’s checkers who, I understand, are still monitoring old haunts of Ruddy Ducks in the search for birds which managed to elude the main cull.

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