The days in the early part of the week remained cold but were marred by more damp and foggy starts. The murky conditions cleared, however, as the winds swung to the south-east, bringing cold, sharp air and frosts from the continent. Many bodies of water became covered with a thin layer of ice, albeit for the short term. The first white-winged gull of the winter put in an all too brief appearance but the Waxwing influx continued to dominate, with new birds found at a number of localities.
Fourteen Eurasian White-fronted Geese remained in the Nene Valley below Great Doddington, with varying numbers of them paying almost daily visits to the main lake at Summer Leys LNR. The two Red-crested Pochards were still at Pitsford Res on 24th, and two also visited Summer Leys on the same date, while the latter site, along with adjacent Earls Barton GP, continued to host the long-staying drake Scaup, which was joined by another drake on 22nd (when two females were also reported) and a third drake on 24th. The female remained on the main lake at Stanwick GP until at least 23rd. Meanwhile, Stanford Reservoir’s Long-tailed Duck remained all week and the drake Smew at Ditchford GP was joined there briefly by a ‘redhead’ on 21st, on which date both birds flew off in the direction of nearby Stanwick GP.
Three Great White Egrets were at Summer Leys on 21st, this locality competing for highest site total with Ravensthorpe Res, where the three long-stayers were still present on 24th. Apart from almost daily sightings at the first of these two locations, there was one at Thrapston GP on 21st and up to two were still at Pitsford Res throughout the week.
Thought to have departed some time ago, Pitsford’s Slavonian Grebe was seen again in Pintail Bay on 23rd. Where has it been in the intervening period? The week went by with no uncommon raptors reported, while the only scarce waders were single Jack Snipe at Stanford Res on 21st and 27th and at Summer Leys on 26th.
While gulls-a-plenty is not a term applicable to the distribution of this week’s larids, there was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull in the roost at Pitsford Res on 21st and Caspian Gulls continued to be seen in reasonable numbers, with three adults at Rushton Landfill on 21st and 2 there on 27th, single adults at Stanford Res on the same dates, at Chacombe on 22nd and at Boddington Res on 24th and single first-winters at the latter site on 22nd and at Pitsford Res the next day. Only one Yellow-legged Gull was seen – at Pitsford Res on 21st. Highlight of the week, however, was the adult Glaucous Gull which was discovered near Chacombe on 22nd, subsequently appearing in the gull roost at nearby Boddington Res late in the afternoon.
In a winter frequently remarked upon for its higher than usual numbers of white-winged gulls – including inland – it’s surprising that this is the first and only one which has been discovered in the county so far. Even more remarkable is the fact that up to twelve different individual Glaucous Gulls have recently been identified visiting the gull roost just over the border at Draycote Res in Warwickshire …
A new maximum count of six Short-eared Owls was made at Neville’s Lodge, near Finedon, on 22nd with at least three still present the following day. But it was Waxwings which stole the show again this week, with seven visiting Summer Leys briefly on 21st, up to sixteen at Hanging Houghton on 23rd-24th, separate flocks of eight and twenty in
Northampton’s eastern district on 24th, ten at Kettering on 26th, eight in Broughton on 26th-27th and nine at Little Stanion, Corby on 27th. Drabber but, these days, arguably rarer at a local level, a Corn Bunting was seen at Harrington AF on 22nd.