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

A stiff east-northeasterly breeze ensured a cold start to the week, which then remained chilly but largely dry and bright. Early common migrants began to appear in some numbers including more Sand Martins and a noticeable large wave of Chiffchaffs, while some of our less common winter visitors maintained a presence.

Falling into the latter category the three European White-fronted Geese were still at Pitsford Res until at least 18th and the two Ruddy Shelducks – now sporadic in their appearances – were still at the same site on 15th. The drake Pintail also remained at Summer Leys LNR until at least 18th, as did the drake Red-crested Pochard at Stanford Res, while two were found at Sywell CP on 16th. The long-staying female Ring-necked Duck was still at Billing GP until at least 18th as were two Smew at Ravensthorpe Res and a ‘redhead’ at Stanwick GP on 20th.

Drake Pintail, Summer Leys LNR, 17th March 2015 (Simon Hales)
Drake Pintail, Summer Leys LNR, 17th March 2015 (Simon Hales)

The two Great White Egrets remained at Summer Leys until 15th with one there until 20th, while two were found at Ditchford GP on 16th while the best on the raptor front was a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier hunting by the concrete track at Harrington AF on 19th and single Peregrines at Old Sulehay on 15th and Ditchford GP the following day.

Golden Plover records were restricted to the Brampton Valley, Harrington AF and Scaldwell with a maximum of one hundred and twenty-five at the latter locality on 14th – the same date that the first Ringed Plover of the spring was photographed at Earls Barton GP. A Curlew was in the Tove Valley on 18th-19th, Common Snipe were found at Brixworth STW, Stanford Res and Summer Leys, while eleven were counted on 14th at Hollowell Res, which also produced a Jack Snipe on the same date. Other waders included one to three Redshanks at Clifford Hill GP and Summer Leys and a Green Sandpiper at Stanford Res on 18th. This week saw rather more in the way of quality Larids. The gull roost at Boddington Res again produced adult Mediterranean Gulls on 16th and 18th as did Pitsford Res on 14th and 15th and further singles visited Daventry CP on 17th and Summer Leys the following day. The best, however, was an adult Iceland Gull in the Pitsford Res roost on 14th, followed by a second-winter Caspian Gull there on 18th, while the only other gulls of note were two adult Yellow-legged Gulls at Hollowell Res on 14th and a third-winter in the Pitsford Res roost on 17th.

First-winter Waxwing, Corby, 15th March 2015 (Simon Hales)
First-winter Waxwing, Corby, 15th March 2015 (Simon Hales)

Last week’s first-winter Waxwing remained in Corby until 15th and, arguably not in the same league, a Rock Pipit was found at Boddington Res on 16th and a Water Pipit at Summer Leys on 18th. Four Stonechats were still at Blueberry Farm on 14th and the first Northern Wheatears of the year were at Clifford Hill GP and Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 18th followed by singles at Harrington AF and in the nearby Brampton Valley the next day.

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