The Weeks in Focus: 1st to 7th March 2014

A quiet and generally mild week with occasional moderate rainfall and a mainly south-westerly airstream heralded conditions conducive to spring migrants, although local birders were left wanting …

Sporadic appearances of two Egyptian Geese at Ditchford GP continued with their presence noted again on 1st, while Pitsford Res continued to host the escapee Bar-headed and Ross’s Geese throughout the week. Falling into the same category, the red colour-ringed Marbled Duck also remained at Stanwick GP all week and at nearby Ditchford GP the drake Scaup was still present on 1st, as were drakes at Pitsford Res on 6th and at Thrapston GP on 1st along with the long-staying Long-tailed Duck still on Town Lake on the same date. Similarly, the Earls Barton GP individual remained on Mary’s Lake throughout the period, both birds appearing to have made it into the record books for their length of stay in the County.

Long-tailed Duck, Earls Barton GP, 3rd March 2014 (Doug Goddard)

Long-tailed Duck, Earls Barton GP, 3rd March 2014 (Doug Goddard)

Numbers of Smew began to fall away this week with two drakes remaining at  Ravensthorpe Res on 1st and a pair there on 5th, a ‘redhead’ at Ditchford GP on 1st, a drake at Stanwick GP on the same date with a pair there on 3rd-7th, two ‘redheads’ at Clifford Hill GP on 5th and four at Pitsford Res on 6th. Playing ‘hard to get’ (it’s not always there), the female Red-breasted Merganser was again at Stanford Res on 7th, while Goosanders were reported from only two localities localities, with a maximum of eight at Clifford Hill GP on 5th.

The wintering juvenile Great Northern Diver remained at Pitsford Res until at least 6th while Great White Egrets were still very much in evidence at Summer Leys LNR throughout the period with a maximum of three there on 2nd and one still at Pitsford Res on 6th. The sole scarce raptor was a Peregrine at Ditchford GP on 1st.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd March 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd March 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

The largest count of Golden Plovers was approximately three hundred at Summer Leys LNR on 2nd, a Jack Snipe was at Hollowell Res on 7th, a significant count of fifteen Redshanks was made at Stanwick GP on 6th and a single Green Sandpiper remained at Harrington AF until 4th.

Spring passage of Mediterranean Gulls continued this week with an adult at Fawsley Park on 2nd and two adults in the roost at Pitsford Res on 5th, the latter site also hosting a juvenile Glaucous Gull on 1st, while a juvenile Glaucous visited Stanwick GP on 7th. An adult Caspian Gull was at Stanford Res on 1st with a third-winter at Stanwick GP on 7th and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Hollowell Res on the same date.

Last week’s two Firecrests were still in the bramble clump at Thrapston GP on 1st with at least one remaining on 3rd but the only Chiffchaff reported was one at Hanging Houghton on 2nd. Male Central European Blackcaps were singing this week in gardens at Brackley and Wellingborough and in two gardens at Barton Seagrave, while others visited gardens in Raunds and Kettering.

Male Central European Blackcap, Barton Seagrave, 4th March (Geof Douglas)

Male Central European Blackcap, Barton Seagrave, 4th March (Geof Douglas)

A Rock Pipit visited Clifford Hill GP briefly on 5th, a Mealy Redpoll was seen at Grange Park on 3rd and Bramblings were continually present at Harrington AF throughout the period, with a maximum of fifteen there on 1st-2nd.

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