The Week in Focus: 20th to 26th December 2014

The past week’s weather was largely uneventful, the winds veering between north-westerly and south-westerly, bringing little rain with varying temperatures hovering around the average. With just about all winter visitors now in, expectations for new arrivals in late December are normally low …

The three European White-fronted Geese, which were originally found at Pitsford Res on 12th, relocated at Sywell CP on 16th – where they stayed until at least 21st – were back with the goose flock at Pitsford on 23rd, while the same flock continued to hold the two

European White-fronted Geese, Sywell CP, 20th December 2014 (Doug Goddard)

European White-fronted Geese, Sywell CP, 20th December 2014 (Doug Goddard)

long-staying Ruddy Shelducks on the same date. Two female Red-crested Pochards were still at Stanford Res on 26th and remain the only ones seen in the county during the period and the first-winter drake Scaup was still being seen at Hollowell Res until 24th. The only truly new bird of the week was a female Ring-necked Duck discovered at Billing GP on 24th and still present on 26th. Its appearance was significantly different to that of last month’s individual at Wicksteed Park Lake and so – moult notwithstanding – this one makes it into the record books as the county’s sixth.

Female Ring-necked Duck, Billing GP, 26th December 2014 (Dave James)

Female Ring-necked Duck, Billing GP, 26th December 2014 (Dave James)

CaptureThis week’s Smew comprised single drakes at Ravensthorpe Res on 20th and Pitsford Res on 26th with three ‘redheads’ at Pitsford Res 20th and one on 26th.

Vying for top site total for Great White Egrets, Ditchford GP produced two on 24th, equalling this week’s ‘count’ at Pitsford Res on 20th but beating just the one at Summer Leys LNR all week. The only raptors of note were a male Merlin at in Brampton Valley on 23rd and single Peregrines at Pitsford Res and Harrington AF – both on 20th.

Golden Plovers have climbed with site maxima reaching approximately seven hundred and fifty at Stanwick GP and approximately two hundred at Harrington AF – both on 20thh, while the only report of Common Snipe was the bare minimum of one at Ravensthorpe Res on the same date and a Jack Snipe was at Ditchford GP on 21st. Other waders were two Redshanks at Stanwick GP – also on 20th – with eight there the following day and one at Clifford Hill GP on 24th and two Green Sandpipers were at Ravensthorpe Res on 20th. The 24th produced the only rare gulls of the period with an adult Mediterranean Gull at Stanford Res and two Caspian Gulls – an adult and a second-winter – at Stanwick GP.

A Ring-necked Parakeet was again in Abington Park, Northampton on 26th and belated news came through of a Firecrest in a Cogenhoe garden on 16th. Three Chiffchaffs – singles at Stanwick GP and Ditchford GP on 21st and at Stanford Res on 24th – surely do not truly reflect the size of the wintering population. Similarly, two male Central European Blackcaps – one a Duston, Northampton garden on 20th and the other in a Kingsthorpe, Northampton the following day are also not representative. Two Stonechats remained at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 20th, two were at Summer Leys LNR the following day and singles were at opposite ends of Ditchford GP on 23rd and 24th.

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