The mild conditions continued throughout the week, dispelling any hope of late winter arrivals resulting from hard weather movements. As January – arguably the only migration-free month of the year – slipped into February, there was evidence of some northerly ‘spring’ movement at Daventry Country Park and Pitsford Reservoir.
In the Nene valley the Barnacle Goose remained at Clifford Hill GP until at least 30th and the Ruddy Shelduck was still at Pitsford Res on 3rd. The bird of the week also turned out to be a duck, a drake Green-winged Teal, discovered at Daventry CP on 3rd and still present at the week’s end. This represents only the fifteenth record of this species for Northants, following the last at Stanwick GP in spring 2013.
On the last day of January a drake Red-crested Pochard was found at Blatherwycke Lake and, like last week’s, proved to be only a one-day bird, while single drake Smew were at Pitsford Res and Stanwick GP on the same date.
Wintering Great White Egrets remained throughout the week at Summer Leys LNR and at Ravensthorpe Res until at least 2nd, while the one at Thrapston GP was still present on 30th and the Ditchford GP bird also remained on 2nd. On the latter date a Bittern was seen flying over Swan Valley, Northampton toward the M1 motorway.
A Merlin was again at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 2nd and this week’s Peregrines were singles at Rushden on 31st, Kettering on 5th and at both Blueberry Farm and Summer Leys on 2nd. Of the few Golden Plovers reported during the period one unfortunate individual ended up in the talons of the Peregrine there, while approximately four hundred and fifty were counted at Stanwick GP on 30th. The only Redshanks were eight at Stanwick GP on 31st and one at Summer Leys on 3rd-5th and the only Green Sandpiper was one at Pitsford Res between 1st and 4th.
Northbound Kittiwakes arrived at both Daventry CP and Pitsford Res on 1st, the Daventry individual departing north-west after little more than an hour. Unfortunately the Pitsford bird, a first-winter, was moribund and died there before midday. Pitsford also saw the usual adult Caspian Gull visiting the roost there on 31st, while two Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hollowell Res on 2nd.
The only Short-eared Owl of the review period was one over rough fields east of Warkton Lane at Barton Seagrave on 2nd. After an apparent absence of nearly four weeks, the Brixworth Firecrest was back in the border hedge at the sewage treatment works on 4th and the Stanwick GP Siberian Chiffchaff was also seen again on the same date, while three Central European Blackcaps included a male and female in a Barton Seagrave garden on 30th and a female in a Duston (Northampton) garden on 5th. Stonechats continued to be seen at Hollowell Res, Summer Leys and Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) with two new birds at Blatherwycke Lake on 1st. The Mealy Redpoll making sporadic visits to a garden feeder at East Hunsbury (Northampton) was seen again on 3rd and 4th while up to two Bramblings were at Hanging Houghton and at least six were still showing between Badby and Upper Catesby on 2nd, where a Corn Bunting was also still present on the same date.