Newsround – 5th to 11th December 2020

Winter wildfowl and a period of little change was the order of the week, in which temperatures remained largely below average, murk prevailed and wind direction appeared to make little difference to any new arrivals on the scene.

Looking at home and grazing happily in the flat grassland of the Nene barrage, the twenty Barnacle Geese held their ground at Clifford Hill GP throughout the period and the one at Stanford Res remained until at least 9th.

Barnacle Goose ‘H1’, Clifford hill GP, 5th December 2020 (Bob Bullock). An individual from the feral population in Bedfordshire.
Barnacle Geese, Clifford Hill GP, 5th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)

At Hollowell Res, the seven Pink-footed Geese were joined by four more on 6th and 8th and several more were heard calling as they flew over Wakerley Great Wood on the first of these two dates. Pink-footed Goose now appears to be turning up more frequently in the county and in greater numbers, after enjoying a ten-fold increase in population over the last seventy years. This may be only the crest of a wave, though, as it’s said to be facing an uncertain future (more here).

Pink-footed Goose, Hollowell Res, 8th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Pink-footed Geese, Hollowell Res, 8th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)

After what was thought to have been a fleeting visit to Stanwick GP last week, the juvenile White-fronted Goose was relocated there with Greylags, at the north-eastern end of the complex, on 7th-8th. Two adults were subsequently discovered – again with Greylags – at Clifford Hill GP on 5th, remaining there until at least 10th. One of these exhibited some interesting characteristics, offering food for thought and optimistic conjecture (see here).

White-fronted Goose, Clifford Hill GP, 5th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Juvenile White-fronted Goose, Stanwick GP, 8th December 2020 (Steve Fisher)
White-fronted Geese, Clifford Hill GP, 10th December 2020 (Mike Alibone)

Up in the north of the county, three adult Whooper Swans were reported from Deene Lake on 6th but they were not present subsequently. Back at Hollowell, the female Ruddy Shelduck was seen on 5th, 8th and 10th.

Female Ruddy Shelduck, Hollowell Res, 8th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)

Hollowell also hung on to its juvenile Great Northern Diver throughout the period and Stanford’s four Black-necked Grebes also remained all week. One or two Great Egrets were reported from seven sites, including Cottingham, Deene Lake, Hollowell, Pitsford Res, Stanford, Stanwick and Summer Leys LNR with, once again, the eighth site of Thrapston logging the week’s highest site count of six, which were present throughout.

Juvenile Great Northern Diver, Hollowell Res, 8th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Black-necked Grebes, Stanford Res, 8th December 2020 (Theo de Clermont)
Black-necked Grebe, Stanford Res, 9th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)

After a raptorless seven days, last week, a Marsh Harrier flew east over Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows on 5th and a ‘ringtail’ harrier sp., presumably a Hen Harrier, flew low over the dam at Stanford on 7th.

Waders bagged during the period were the solitary Curlew on the DIRFT 3 A5 pools again on 5th and five Jack Snipes on a field pool close to Ravensthorpe STW on the same date.

This week saw same three species of gull as the last, with a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Rushton Landfill on 8th along with a second-winter Caspian Gull there on the same date, while the usual adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Hollowell on 10th.

Stanford logged this week’s fly-over Merlin on 9th, as well as again being one of the six localities to hold wintering Stonechats, along with Deene, Deenethorpe AF, Earls Barton GP, Thrapston and Hollowell, the latter site laying claim to the week’s maximum of five on 8th.

Stonechat, Hollowell Res, 8th December 2020 (Bob Bullock)

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/> bbbbbbbbbCrossbills, Wakerley Great Wood, 5th December 2020 (Stewart Short)

The number of sites from which Crossbills were reported was up this week to five. Unsurprisingly, Wakerley Great Wood took the lion’s share of thirty on 6th, while twenty-five were seen at nearby Fineshade Wood on 6th and 10th and Hollowell’s maximum during the period was seven on 8th. Elsewhere, singles flew over Badby Wood on 6th and Deenethorpe on 7th.

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