In off the Atlantic, Storm Brendan struck in the early part of the week, while the winds were consistently from the south-westerly quarter, reaching thirty miles per hour locally on 14th. Considerable rain topped up and extended local floodwater and while temperatures remained relatively high throughout, a lull ensued in the discovery of new birds during the period.
Perhaps ironically, waterfowl numbers were at a low ebb, with the female Ruddy Shelduck remaining at Hollowell Res on 11th and the drake Red-crested Pochard still present at Summer Leys LNR on 12th. Just along the Nene Valley, two Red-crested Pochards were found at Ditchford GP on 17th. A report of four Greater Scaup at Stanwick GP on 13th remained unconfirmed, while a presumed hybrid female – showing some Tufted Duck characteristics – was at Pitsford Res until at least 14th. The first-winter female, meanwhile, remained at Daventry CP throughout the week.
With no more than two at any one site, Great Egrets were all over the shop, appearing again at eight localities, this week including Clifford Hill GP, Daventry CP, Ditchford GP, Ecton SF, Pitsford, Stanford Res, Stanwick and Summer Leys.
The five Cattle Egrets were present at Ditchford throughout the week, roosting on Wilson’s Pits and favouring the small area between the Watersports Pit and the River Nene during the day. Four of them strayed to nearby Stanwick on 15th.
Waders were again in short supply this week with just a Jack Snipe at Ditchford on 12th, while single third-winter Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls at Daventry CP on 10th were the only scarce larids on offer.
Hunting on both sides of the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire county boundary, a Short-eared Owl was found close to Stanford on 12th, another re-emerged at Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) – a proven reliable wintering site for this species in recent years – on 15th and was seen again on 17th, while the Harrington AF bird was seen again on 16th. Others are surely out there, aren’t they! A Merlin was also in the vicinity of Harrington AF on 15th.
Sustained by an apparently inexhaustible supply of small mammals, the DIRFT 3 Great Grey Shrike repeatedly performed well during the period, while the constantly warm area around the processed sewage outflow stream at Ecton SF continued to provide the perfect microclimate for the Siberian Chiffchaff, still present on 14th, along with up to seven wintering Chiffchaffs.
Just east of there, at Summer Leys, a Firecrest was reported along the old railway track on 14th. Stonechats were recorded at four sites, which included Earls Barton GP, Pitsford, Stanford and Wicksteed Water Meadows (Kettering), with a maximum of two at Pitsford on 14th.