The Week in Focus: 28th November to 4th December 2015

This week saw the official commencement of winter – at least in meteorological terms – although temperatures here and in northern Europe remained well above the seasonal norm, effectively delaying any new arrivals of wildfowl from the continent.

Ducking and diving, the Pitsford Ruddy Shelduck reappeared in field south of the causeway on 2nd; it has not been easy to keep track of this autumn.

Ruddy Shelduck, Pitsford Res, 2nd December 2015 (John Nicholls)

The only Pintails were three at Earls Barton GP on 28th and the same date saw three Red-crested Pochards at Stanford Res, dropping to one by 3rd and four were at Pitsford Res on 30th with five there on 4th, while last week’s first-winter Scaup remained at Ravensthorpe Res until 28th, before moving to Stanford Res on 4th.

The following day produced a Bittern at Stanford Res and the count of Great White Egrets at Pitsford Res fell to just one between 28th and 30th although two were there on 4th, while singles remained throughout the week at Ravensthorpe Res and Summer Leys LNR.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 28th November 2015 (Mark Hill)

At the latter site the second calendar year male Marsh Harrier made it into December, still being present there on 3rd but the only Peregrine reported was one at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 2nd and a Merlin flew west at Stanwick GP on 4th.

Second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 28th November 2015 (Mark Tyrrell)

Golden Plover numbers were up on last week’s, however, with records from Clifford Hill GP, Daventry CP, Harrington AF, Milton Malsor, Summer Leys LNR and Stanwick GP with the latter site producing the maximum count of six hundred on 30th, 3rd and 4th. The only Redshanks were one at Pitsford Res and three at Stanwick GP on 30th and five at the latter locality on the following day, while four Green Sandpipers were at Broadholme STW (Ditchford GP) on 28th, with singles at Ecton SF and Ravensthorpe Res on the same date and at Pitsford Res on 30th, with two again at Ravensthorpe Res on 1st and 4th, where a Common Snipe was present on the same dates and one was at Hollowell Res on 4th.

Scarce gulls were more in evidence this week with a second-winter Mediterranean Gull at Daventry CP on 30th followed by an adult (complete with green ring on left leg) there on 2nd and an adult Caspian Gull was present it the gull roost at Pitsford Res on 28th-29th, another adult was at Stanford Res on 4th, while a second-winter visited Stanwick GP on 1st-3rd and a first-winter was there on 2nd. Up to two Yellow-legged Gulls were reported from Daventry CP, Hollowell Res, Stanford Res and Stanwick GP with the latter locality producing an adult Glaucous Gull on the Visitor Centre Pit on 3rd, while a fly-over adult ‘white-winged’ gull there the following evening was almost certainly the same individual.

One or two Short-eared Owls were discovered in fields immediately north of the church at Long Buckby on 1st and one remained around the southernmost field of the Blueberry Farm complex until at least 2nd.  Wintering Central European Blackcaps visited gardens in Barton Seagrave on 28th and Scaldwell on 1st and another Siberian Chiffchaff was discovered – this time at Stanwick GP – on 30th, being seen there again on 1st.

Stonechat, Summer Leys LNR, 28th November 2015 (Mark Tyrrell)

Four Stonechats remained at Blueberry Farm until at least 2nd, the same  number was at Hollowell Res on 1st and one remained at Summer Leys all week, while the only Bramblings reported were four at Hanging Houghton on 30th and one over Harrington AF on 2nd.