Under the influence of an enduring northerly airstream, including light snow showers early on the first day, the week which dipped its toe into winter delivered no further surprises for local birders. An accessible Great Northern Diver and the continuing presence of Hawfinches were the star attractions.
Still present on 27th, the juvenile Whooper Swan looks settled enough to stay at Ravensthorpe Res for some time, while another long-stayer – Stanwick GP’s juvenile Pink-footed Goose – remained until at least 29th. Last week’s two Red-crested Pochards hung on at Stanford Res until at least 25th, as did single Scaup at Ravensthorpe Res and Sywell CP, until 26th and 1st respectively, while up to two remained at Pitsford Res until at least 27th.
The juvenile Great Northern Diver, discovered on 24th at Stanford Res, was still present there early the next morning, on 25th, after which it promptly vanished and was not seen again, despite intense observer coverage. Later the same day, an unidentified diver sp. was seen in flight over the dam at Ravensthorpe Res prior to the discovery of a Great Northern Diver at nearby Hollowell Res on 27th, where it remained all week. The timing of the observations, coupled with the proximity of the three locations, suggest the same individual accounted for the sightings at all three sites, although this cannot be proven, of course.
This week’s Great White Egrets were scattered in a pattern similar to last week’s, with up to three at Stanwick, three at Ravensthorpe, two at Pitsford and singles at Ditchford GP and Summer Leys LNR. A male Merlin near Brackley on 26th was the only rare raptor representative during the period, while a Black-tailed Godwit at Stanwick on 28th constituted the only scarce wader.
Surprisingly, just one Yellow-legged Gull was reported – at Pitsford on 30th – being outnumbered by Caspian Gulls, which included a first-winter at Stanford on 25th and the wintering adult at Hollowell all week, accompanied there by a third-winter on 27th.
Once again Hawfinches stole the show for many, with Delapre Abbey proving itself the most popular locality with visiting birders. Located less than a mile from the town centre, this site held up to four throughout the week, often providing excellent views and great photo opportunities.
Elsewhere, singles were at Bucknell Wood on 25th while, the next day, three were at East Carlton CP, at least two were in Fawsley Park and singles were seen at East Haddon, Rushton and Thenford.