This week presented as a tale of two halves, with a relatively mild and dry beginning giving way in the end to something rather more cold and wet. When the west wind blows, it blows – this one via Greenland, dumping significant snow ‘up north’ while Northamptonshire received only a dusting, nevertheless raising hopes of something new appearing … somewhere.
In the Stanford on Avon area the three Pink-footed Geese border-hopped from Leicestershire to visit Stanford Res on 24th-25th and the Blatherwycke four were still present with the Greylag flock on 25th. Also remaining were the three European White-fronted Geese at Pitsford Res until at least 29th. Back at Stanford Res, the two female Red-crested Pochards were still in residence on 25th and five were still at Ringstead GP on 28th, while the long-staying first-winter drake Scaup yo-yoed between Ravensthorpe Res and Hollowell Res all week.
The four Smew – including two drakes – were still present at Ravensthorpe Res on 26th as were the four at Stanwick GP all week, during which two were also present at Pitsford Res.
Single Great White Egrets were reported from Pitsford Res on 25th and Ditchford GP on 30th, while up to three were seen on and off throughout the week at Summer Leys LNR. This is a poor showing in comparison to recent weeks and will no doubt see the county slip from the national ratings for this species for the period!
Similarly, it was a poor week for both raptors and waders with a Merlin just inside Northants at Turtle Bridge on the River Welland on 27th and another at Blueberry Farm on 30th and single Peregrines were at Ditchford GP on 24th and Higham Ferrers on 29th. A meagre thirty Golden Plovers visited Stanford Res on 24th and fifteen were over Blueberry Farm on 30th, the only Jack Snipe were two at Pitsford Res on 29th and two at Hollowell Res the following day, while this week’s only reported Common Snipe comprised four at Cransley Res on 24th. At least eight Redshanks remained at Stanwick GP, four at Ditchford GP along with two Green Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper was also at Ecton SF on 25th. An adult Mediterranean Gull was at Hollowell Res on 30th, Caspian Gulls were found at three sites with single adults at Stanford Res and Ditchford GP on 24th and at Stanwick GP on 24th and 27th, with a first-winter at the latter site on the first of these two dates. Stanwick also played host to two adult Yellow-legged Gulls on 24th, another adult was at Stanford Res on the same date followed by two adults at Hollowell Res on 27th.
Although at times it proved elusive, the Great Grey Shrike at Burn Coppice, Deenethorpe was still present to at least 25th. Smaller wintering passerines included thirteen Chiffchaffs at Ecton SF on 24th and singles at Thrapston GP on 26th, Northampton on 27th and Stanwick GP on 29th, while single Central European Blackcaps were in two Northampton gardens on 25th and in a Raunds garden on 29th. Stonechats were seen this week at Blueberry Farm, Burn Coppice, Ditchford GP and at Hollowell Res, with a maximum of four at the first of these sites on 30th.
A ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw appeared at Hanging Houghton on 28th, although individuals showing characteristics of this race appear to attract little attention these days after enjoying a number of years in vogue nationally.