A slow moving high pressure system resulted in calm conditions throughout much of the week with an almost stationary blanket of cloud for the latter half. Signs of early spring were evident in the return of Oystercatchers to favoured Nene Valley locations and a number of species in full song.
A solitary Pink-footed Goose visited Ravensthorpe Res on 9th, while the three European White-fronted Geese remained all week at Pitsford Res, where the two Ruddy Shelducks were also present until at least 9th. Two Pintails visited Summer Leys LNR on 7th-8th and the two female Red-crested Pochards were still at Stanford Res at the same time, while single drakes remained at Hardingstone GP to 7th and Wicksteed Park Lake to 10th, with three again at Ringstead GP on 13th. The long-staying first-winter drake Scaup continued to commute between Ravensthorpe Res and Hollowell Res throughout the week but most noteworthy was the surprise reappearance of the female Ring-necked Duck – this time at Clifford Hill GP – on 11th. It is likely, of course, that it had been commuting between here and its much favoured locality of Billing GP during its apparent absence. Meanwhile, three Smew remained at Ravensthorpe Res, three at Stanwick GP and one at Stortons GP, with three or four at Pitsford Res on 13th.
Great White Egrets were again absent from the latter site but singles were seen on and off all week at Summer Leys LNR and Ditchford GP with all reports perhaps just relating to a single mobile individual.
Raptors again maintained a low profile with just one Merlin again at Deenethorpe AF on 8th and twos of Peregrine at Rushden on 9th and Ditchford GP on 12th with one also at Pitsford Res the following day.
Apart from five at Stanford Res on 9th and three over Pitsford Res on 13th, a count of just two hundred at Sywell CP on 9th constituted the only other record and the maximum figure for Golden Plover this week; where are they all this winter? The only Jack Snipe were found at Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res and Barnes Meadow (Northampton), where the highest count was five or six on 7th, while Common Snipe were found at Stanwick GP, Summer Leys LNR, Hollowell Res, Stanford Res and Pitsford Res, with a top total of fifty-nine at the latter locality on 13th. Just one Redshank was at Summer Leys LNR on 7th-8th while nine were counted at Stanwick GP the following day and a Curlew at Ditchford GP on 12th hinted of better things to come.
Scare larids included a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Pitsford Res on 13th, adult Caspian Gulls at Stanford Res on 7th and at Ditchford GP on 12th – the latter accompanied by a first-winter the next day, while the same site held two Yellow-legged Gulls and this species was also seen at Hollowell Res and Stanwick GP. Now present for six weeks, the Great Grey Shrike at Burn Coppice, Deenethorpe continued to be seen
daily, there was just one report of Chiffchaffs near Brixworth on 8th, while three Central European Blackcaps were in a garden in Raunds and one in a Thrapston garden on 9th.
This week’s wintering Stonechats included one at Pitsford Res, two at Hollowell Res and up to four at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell).