The Week in Focus: 29th November to 5th December 2014

The balmy south-easterlies and relatively high temperatures of the last two days of November rapidly gave way to colder winds from the north and temperatures fell with the commencement of the final month of the year. As the curtain began to slowly fall on 2014, the arrival of more seasonal fare marked the advent of winter proper …

Five Whooper Swans at Hollowell Res on 3rd are the first – and probably the last – record of the year, while the two Ruddy Shelducks continued to tough it out at Pitsford Res until the week’s end; will they make it into the New Year?

Adult Whooper Swan, Hollowell Res, 3rd December 2014 (Cathy Ryden)

Adult Whooper Swan, Hollowell Res, 3rd December 2014 (Cathy Ryden)

Two adult and three juvenile Whooper Swans, Hollowell Res, 3rd December 2014 (Cathy Ryden)

Two adult and three juvenile Whooper Swans, Hollowell Res, 3rd December 2014 (Cathy Ryden)

Red-crested Pochard numbers remained low with up to five at Pitsford Res between 29th and 1st and the two Wicksteed Park Lake birds were still there on 2nd, while a female Scaup was found at Stanford Res on 29th and the first-winter drake was still at Hollowell Res on 2nd. Against a flush of Goldeneye, the first Smew of the winter – both of them ‘redheads’ – arrived this week, one at Pitsford Res on 30th-1st and the other at Earls Barton GP on 3rd.

Smew, Pitsford Res, 30th November 2014 (Clive Bowley)

Smew, Pitsford Res, 30th November 2014 (Clive Bowley)

All three Great White Egrets were still being seen intermittently at Pitsford Res, another was again at Summer Leys LNR on 29th and 5th and one – perhaps the same – was reported from Stanwick GP on 4th. The Black-necked Grebe was still on Town Lake at Thrapston GP on 30th and the only raptors this week were single fly-over Peregrines at Stanford Res on 29th and at The Lakes/Clifford Hill GP on 2nd plus a male Hen Harrier at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 4th.

Counts of Golden Plovers comprised approximately three hundred at both Summer Leys LNR on 29th and Stanwick GP on 4th and one hundred were at Harrington AF on 2nd, while a Dunlin and a first-winter Knot – scarce in the county, especially in winter – visited Hollowell Res on the same date. Thirty-seven Common Snipe was a good count at Pitsford Res on 1st and single Redshanks were found at Stanford Res on 29th, Wicksteed Park Lake and Pitsford Res on 3rd and at Stanwick GP the following day.

Rare larids this week were restricted to an adult Mediterranean Gull at Pitsford Res on 1st, two Caspian Gulls (an adult and a second-winter) at Stanwick GP on 4th and a Yellow-legged Gull at Pitsford Res on 1st-2nd with two at Stanwick GP, again on 4th.

Winter wouldn’t be the same without at least one Ring-necked Parakeet appearing in Abington Park, Northampton – and so it was, on 30th while, across town, a male Central European Blackcap visited a Kingsthorpe garden on 29th followed by a female there on 4th and another female was in a Kettering garden on 2nd. Wintering Chiffchaffs numbered two each at Stanford Res on 29th and Stanwick GP on 4th, the latter site continuing to host spectacular nightly Starling murmurations, with one flock size estimated to be in the region of fifteen thousand to twenty thousand birds and frequently attracting the attention of local Sparrowhawks.

Starling Murmuration with Sparrowhawk (top right) Thrapston GP 29th November 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Starling Murmuration with Sparrowhawk (top right) Thrapston GP 29th November 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Starling Murmuration, Thrapston GP 29th November 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Starling Murmuration, Thrapston GP 29th November 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

By contrast the only Stonechats this week were one at Thrapston GP on 29th and the usual two at Hollowell Res on 2nd.

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One Response to The Week in Focus: 29th November to 5th December 2014

  1. Barbara Nunn says:

    I had a pair of stonechats at Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows on 29th, Mike. I used the entrance at St Peter’s Way, and they were on the fence on the left just as you enter the reserve.
    I went there in response to your recent article describing the work on the reserve. I enjoyed it except for the central north-south path (Greenway) being a racing track for cyclists. Very scary – especially at bottom of bridge over A45! Cyclists (juv males, obviously) were bombing down that bridge into a melee of children and dogs. A serious accident waiting to happen – be warned!

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