The Week in Focus: 14th to 20th February 2015

With no dramatic Atlantic systems on the horizon, calm and uneventful was the order of the week as far as the weather was concerned. In fact it was positively spring-like for a couple of days, all of which did little to usher in any stunningly new arrivals.

At Pitsford Res the three European White-fronted Geese remained all week, as did the two Ruddy Shelducks and a single drake Pintail was also present on 18th.

MA White-front Video Caption The two female Red-crested Pochards were still at Stanford Res on 15th at least with five again at Ringstead GP two days later and the long-staying first-winter drake Scaup seemed settled at Ravensthorpe Res on 14th-15th. The female Ring-necked Duck was back at Billing GP on 14th, although access restrictions and difficult viewing conditions at this site may mean it was present beyond this date. At least one Smew remained at Ravensthorpe Res on 17th, up to four were at Stanwick GP all week and three were at Pitsford Res on 14th.

RND DBJ Video CaptionIn the Nene Valley, Great White Egrets were present all week, being recorded in ones, twos and threes from Thrapston GP, Ditchford GP and Summer Leys LNR respectively but movement of individuals between sites made it almost impossible to assess just how many birds were present – until 20th, that is, when a record five were together at the latter of the three locations. With one still at Pitsford Res on 15th and 17th it is highly likely there were at least six in the county this week.

Great White Egrets, Summer leys LNR, 20th February 2015 (Stuart Mundy). Four of the five present at this site on this date.
Great White Egrets, Summer Leys LNR, 20th February 2015 (Stuart Mundy). Four of the five present at this site on this date.

Another poor week for raptors saw single Merlins at Stanford Res on 15th and again at Deenethorpe AF on the same date, while a Peregrine at Higham Ferrers was the only one reported during the period.

Waders were again in short supply with just six Golden Plovers over Ravensthorpe Res on 14th, fifteen at Harrington AF on the same date with 65 there and 300 at Summer Leys on 20th, while the same date saw one or two Jack Snipe at Barnes Meadow (Northampton) and one at Hollowell Res. Single-figure counts of Common Snipe came from Barnes Meadow, Moulton Quarry and Summer Leys but 15+ were at Stanwick GP on 20th, nine Redshanks were still at Stanwick GP on 15th and one visited Summer Leys LNR on 19th while a Green Sandpiper was also at Stanwick GP on 14th.

An unconfirmed report of an adult Iceland Gull in the roost at Pitsford Res on 19th remained exactly that (it would be the first of this species at this locality for many years), while the only Yellow-legged Gull was an adult at Stanford Res on 14th. A Common Gull showing characteristics of the race heinei was present in the Pitsford roost on 20th.

Up at Deenethorpe the Great Grey Shrike continued to be seen at Burn Coppice until at least 17th, although it appears to have taken up a position further away from the road, becoming more difficult to see well. Rumours of argy-bargy with the landowner have recently emerged so pursuing it across the fields is probably not the best course of action to take in attempting to obtain better views … The outflow stream at Ecton SF continues to hold good numbers of wintering Chiffchaffs with ten counted there on 14th, although the chances of their being joined by a tristis are now looking very slim indeed; elsewhere, single Chiffchaffs were at Stanford Res on 14th and Stanwick GP the following day. Other wintering passerines of note were single female Central European Blackcaps in gardens in East Hunsbury (Northampton) throughout and three Stonechats at Hollowell Res on 14th, two at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on the same date, with four there on 20th, and two at Thrapston GP on 27th.

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