The week kicked off with two severe flood warnings, indicating a potential threat to life, in place at Cogenhoe Mill and on the River Nene at Billing Aquadrome as Storm Bella swept in from the Atlantic. Following this, local temperatures struggled to reach 3°C throughout the greater part of the period as winds swung north to north-westerly before we crossed the dateline into 2021.
Again, the focus was very much on wildfowl, the latter dominated by the growing number of White-fronted Geese in the Nene Valley. While eight – seven adults and a dissociated juvenile – remained at Stanwick GP on 31st, last week’s twenty-three at Summer Leys LNR had become twenty-six by 27th, remaining in the vicinity until 31st, when they were seen to fly off east.
On New Year’s Day they were at Stanwick, bringing the site total there to at least thirty-three. A single Barnacle Goose remained at Stanford Res, visiting nearby Stanford on Avon on 1st and at Hollowell Res, the female Ruddy Shelduck extended her already protracted stay by another week.
Following last week’s fleeting Yuletide trio at Pitsford Res, two more Bewick’s Swans were found – this time in the Welland Valley, between Rockingham and Gretton, on 27th. Staying on-trend they, too, had done a bunk by the following day.
In for the long haul, it seems, the juvenile Great Northern Diver remained at Pitsford all week but after a 30-day stay, the four Black-necked Grebes failed to see the new year in at Stanford, having departed by 30th. A Boxing Day Bittern was the reward for patience at Summer Leys, after which it – or another – was seen at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk the following day and again on 29th.
Up to seven Cattle Egrets remained at Stanwick throughout, while ten sites held Great Egrets, the highest counts being of six at Summer Leys on 27th and five at both Ravensthorpe Res on 26th and Stanwick on 30th.
Jack Snipes single-handedly filled the wader slot this week, with up to three at Hollowell throughout the period and one at Stanford on 27th, the latter site sucking in a one-night-only Kittiwake to the gull roost on 28th, taking this highly productive site’s 2020 final species total to a record one hundred and sixty-four. Meanwhile, down to the south-west, the Boddington gull roost produced a first-winter Mediterranean Gull on 30th, joined there by an adult on 1st. Caspian Gulls were found at three localities this week, with an adult at Hollowell on 28th, two adults at Rushton Landfill on 30th and 31st, being joined there by a first-winter on the first of these two dates, and a first-winter in flight over Harrington AF on 1st. The only Yellow-legged Gull, however, was an adult at Pitsford on 30th.
Harrington also produced a female Merlin on 27th while, back at Hollowell Res, a Siberian Chiffchaff was discovered on 26th and the latter site also held the highest number of Stonechats, with five there on 1st. Between one and three Stonechats were present at four other locations during the period.
Still on the up, Crossbills were again seen at five sites, with the Wakerley Great Wood count pushing fifty on 30th. Maxima elsewhere were twenty-three at Bucknell Wood on 31st, at least twenty at Fineshade Wood on 28th, seven at Hollowell on 1st and three at Badby Wood on 30th.