The mild Atlantic airstream once again ensured traditional winter weather was kept firmly at bay, with local temperatures hitting a high of 12°C during the last two days of the period. The early part of the week, however, had birders ducking and diving when it came to confirming the identification of a problematic Aythya, discovered at Stanwick on day one.
Hollowell Res continued to play host to the female Ruddy Shelduck until at least 27th but it was a different shade of brown which brought a quickening of the pulse to the finder of a controversial quacker, sparking much debate over its identification during its stay at Stanwick GP from 25th to 27th. Initially looking very good for a female Ferruginous Duck, subsequent close examination revealed a hybrid in hiding, the game was up and on 29th it duly scarpered to Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows reserve.
Not so controversial were this week’s Nene Valley Greater Scaups, which included the female still at Stanwick and two very different looking first-winter drakes at Clifford Hill GP from 25th – all birds remaining until at least 30th.
Sticking with said valley, the five Cattle Egrets were still present at Ditchford GP on 25th but they appear to have attracted little interest since. Eager to stay in the frame, though, Great Egrets were present at ten localities with Stanwick and Thrapston GP mustering three apiece. An adult Caspian Gull joined the melee of scavengers at Rushton Landfill on 25th but no ‘white-wingers’ have yet emerged at this, the county’s last bastion of larid-luring putrefaction, during the mild winter we have experienced to date.
Short-eared Owls maintained their presence at last week’s four localities, the Neville’s Lodge three performing well between 25th and 29th, at least three – if not four – were at Borough Hill on 25th, two were still over setaside east of Stanford Res until 31st and one was still patrolling the bunkers at Harrington AF between 25th and 27th.
At Ecton SF, just one Siberian Chiffchaff – the original bird found on 7th – was present throughout the week, along with at least fifteen Common Chiffchaffs on 28th but bird of the week, at least for one person, was the Black Redstart which played hide-and-seek in an extensive landscape of untidy heaps of scaffolding on an industrial site in Corby on 28th-29th.
Stonechats were recorded at six sites, which included Borough Hill, Hollowell, Pitsford, Stanford, Thrapston and Kettering, with a maximum of five at Pitsford on 28th.