The Week in Focus 23rd to 29th January 2016

Mild conditions again prevailed under the continuing influence of the Atlantic airstream and a relatively quiet week ensued on the birding front.

The Clifford Hill GP Pink-footed Goose lingered with Greylags there until at least 25th, as did the Barnacle Goose, while the Ruddy Shelduck continued to be seen – if only sporadically – at Pitsford Res. A female or first-winter Scaup was at Earls Barton GP’s

 Mary’s Lake on 23rd but it was not seen subsequently. Paying an equally brief visit to Clifford Hill GP, a drake Red-crested Pochard was a one-day bird on 24th, while Smew continued to remain both scarce and elusive with just single drakes at Pitsford Res on 23rd and Ravensthorpe Res on 26th and a ‘redhead’ at Thrapston GP on 29th.

Smew, Ravensthorpe Res, 26th January 2016 (Bob Bullock)

The latter site continued to host a long-staying Great White Egret throughout the week, as did Summer Leys LNR and Ravensthorpe Res, while one flew west over Ecton SF on 24th and singles were also at Ditchford GP on 25th and Pitsford Res the following day. Pitsford’s Red-necked Grebe became more mobile, venturing north to the opposite shore of the ‘big side’, where it was seen off the gorse bushes on 23rd.

Great White Egret, Ravensthorpe Res, 23rd January 2016 (Stuart Mundy)

Raptors were again poorly represented this week with just two reports of Peregrines comprising one at Thrapston GP on 23rd and two between Badby and Upper Catesby on 25th, while single Merlins were seen at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 26th and between Walgrave and Holcot on 28th.

Meagre pickings for wader buffs included Golden Plovers at Harrington AF, Summer Leys, and Stanwick GP with a maximum of approximately five hundred at the latter site on 24th, while the only Redshanks were two at Pitsford Res on 23rd and up to nine at Stanwick GP between 26th and 28th. Two Green Sandpipers were located at Broadholme STW (Ditchford GP) on 24th and the WeBS count at Pitsford Res yielded forty Common Snipe on 23rd.

The county’s reservoirs produced an adult Mediterranean Gull at Ravensthorpe on 26th and a third-winter Caspian Gull flew south over Pitsford on 23rd, while an adult visited the roost there later the same day.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Ravensthorpe Res, 26th January 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Ravensthorpe Res, 26th January 2016 (Bob Bullock)

In what is proving so far to be a good winter for Firecrests another was found by the main observation hide overlooking the A45 Lay-by Pit at Stanwick GP on 24th, along with a Siberian Chiffchaff near to the visitor centre there on the same date. Just occasionally in winter a Black Redstart will put in an appearance but visits tend to be brief and long stays rare, so conforming to this pattern was one in Kingsthorpe (Northampton) on 23rd, which was not accessible to the public and it had departed by the following day.  Easier to get to grips with, however, were Stonechats which continued to be seen at Blueberry Farm, in the Brampton Valley, Summer Leys and Pitsford Res. The Mealy Redpoll making sporadic visits to a garden feeder at East Hunsbury (Northampton) was seen again on 23rd and 25th, while single Bramblings were at Harrington AF on 25th and in Hanging Houghton on 26th-27th with at least six still showing between 23rd and 28th between Badby and Upper Catesby, where the two Corn Buntings continued to be seen until 28th.