The Week in Focus 20th to 26th February 2016

Strong westerly winds at the beginning of the period eventually gave way to a more northerly airstream by mid-week, bringing with it lower temperatures and overnight frosts. Local winter visitors remained firmly in place and few new birds were found during the week.

The Ruddy Shelduck remained at Pitsford Res until at least 24th and, suggesting an early spring movement, Pintails appeared at three sites, with five at Summer Leys and eight at Daventry CP on 20th plus two more at Ditchford GP on 22nd. Causing some momentary excitement, the smart drake Chiloe Wigeon x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid, first found at Summer leys LNR last November, was back there again on 20th while, unusually scarce this winter, four Red-crested Pochards were found at nearby Sywell CP on 23rd.

Red-crested Pochards, Sywell CP, 23rd February 2016 (Alan Francis)

Back at Summer Leys the female Scaup remained on the main lake all week and a drake – presumably last week’s Hardingstone GP bird – was found on adjacent Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP on 24th. A drake Smew remained at Ravensthorpe Res until 21st and two were still at Stanwick GP throughout the week.

Female Scaup, Summer Leys LNR, 24th February 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Drake Scaup, Earls Barton GP, 24th February 2016 (Bob Bullock)

A Great White Egret remained at Summer Leys throughout – with two there on 20th – one was at Ditchford GP on 20th with two there the next day, two were at Thrapston GP on 21st and one flew east, then back west, at Stanwick GP on 25th, where there was also a Bittern on 24th.

Great white Egret, Thrapston GP, 21st February 2016 (Mark Tyrrell)

Great white Egret, Thrapston GP, 21st February 2016 (Mark Tyrrell)

Peregrines were the only raptors noted during the period, with singles at Summer Leys on 20th and 24th and on the latter date at Boddington Res and at Stanwick GP on 24th and 26th. Waders were thin on the ground this week with Golden Plovers at Harrington AF, Summer Leys and Scaldwell with a maximum count of just fifty at the latter locality on 26th.  A Redshank was still at Pitsford Res on 20th and two were at Summer Leys on 20th-22nd while the only Green Sandpiper was one at Pitsford Res on 23rd and the only Common Snipe were just two at Harrington AF between 20th and 22nd.

The 24th saw an adult and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull in the roost at Boddington Res and one or two first-winters in the Pitsford Res roost, where there was also an adult Caspian Gull on 25th, while a third-winter visited Stanwick GP on 24th and three were there on 26th. Stanwick also produced an adult Glaucous Gull on the afternoons of 22nd-24th and 26th. This individual had a red ring and seems likely to be last year’s Pitsea bird again visiting the site. The only Yellow-legged Gulls were seen on 22nd, when a first-winter visited Boddington Res roost and a third-winter was at Daventry CP, and 26th, when one was at Stanwick GP.

Adult Glaucous Gull, Stanwick GP, 23rd February 2016 (Bob Bullock)

The Brixworth Firecrest was again reported in the border hedge at the sewage treatment works on 20th, although it continued to prove elusive, while a male Central European Blackcap remained throughout in a Barton Seagrave garden, occasionally joined there by a female and a female continued to visit a Duston garden all week. The Black Redstart was again in a Northampton garden on 20th and the Summer Leys Stonechat appears to have been the only one reported, remaining there all week. Aside from this, the Mealy Redpoll continued to pay sporadic visits to an East Hunsbury (Northampton) garden feeder throughout the week, while a Brambling was at Oundle on 21st, two visited a Hanging Houghton garden on 22nd when two were also in the nearby Brampton Valley and up to nine visited feeders in Warmington between 22nd and 25th.