The Week in Focus: 6th to 12th December 2014

A mixed bag of weather, including overnight frosts and rain, culminated in a rush of strong north-westerlies which made little difference to this week’s birding mosaic. Renewed interest in C-listers at both ends of the systematic list appeared to be the order of the day.

They have been dropped from recent reports – they breed and their numbers are increasing – but it’s still worth mentioning that Egyptian Goose produced an all-time high count of seventeen at Ditchford GP on 12th, while four Pink-footed Geese at Fotheringhay on 9th, three White-fronted Geese at Pitsford Res on 12th and a Dark-bellied Brent Goose at Stanford Res on 6th were a bit more on the money. Again, Red-crested Pochard numbers remained low with a drake at Stortons GP on 7th and 12th – visiting nearby Hardingstone GP on 11th – and two at Stanford Res on 12th, while the first-winter drake Scaup from Hollowell Res moved to nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 6th-7th, returning to Hollowell on 8th, where it remained until the week’s end.  Following the first two of the winter last week, more Smew moved in, with this week’s arrivals – all ‘redheads’ – including singles at Stortons GP from 6th to 12th, at Stanford Res from 7th to 12th and two at Ravensthorpe Res from 8th to 12th.

CaptureTwo or three Great White Egrets were still being seen intermittently at Pitsford Res, another remained at Summer Leys LNR all week and another was at Ditchford GP on 12th, while the Black-necked Grebe remained on Thrapston GP’s Town Lake until at least 7th. This week’s raptors were limited to single Merlins at Harrington AF on 10th and Stanford Res on 7th with a Peregrine at the latter site on the same date.

Counts of Golden Plovers remain in the hundreds, with three hundred and thirty-one at Ditchford on 7th and approximately four hundred and forty there on 12th. Up to three Green Sandpipers at Ravensthorpe Res between 6th and 12th were the only ones this week as were three Common Snipe at Ecton SF on 6th and four at Stanford Res on the same date.

Rare larids this week mirrored last week, with an adult Mediterranean Gull at Stanford Res on 12th, an adult Caspian Gull there on 7th plus a first-winter at Ditchford GP on 12th and two adult Yellow-legged Gulls at Hollowell Res between 8th and 12th, with one at Ditchford GP on the latter date.

A Short-eared Owl was still hunting the fields at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 8th, while Ring-necked Parakeets continued to be seen in Abington Park, Northampton,

Ring-necked Parakeets, Abington Park, Northampton, 8th December 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

Ring-necked Parakeets, Abington Park, Northampton, 8th December 2014 (Stuart Mundy)

with up to two present until at least 9th but the only Central European Blackcap – a male – was in a Northampton garden on 10th and 12th. Other wintering passerines of note were four Chiffchaffs at Ecton SF on 6th with two at Stanford Res on the same date, eight at Ditchford GP on 12th and two Stonechats present at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 8th and at Ditchford GP and Pitsford Res on 12th.

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