A largely westerly airstream, bringing intermittent rain, served to top up existing areas of floodwater throughout the county this week. ‘Dry January’ it isn’t and, apart from the rediscovery of the recent Greenland White-fronted Goose, there was little change to the birding mix.
However, the winter goosefest continued apace, beginning with the relocation of the Greenland White-fronted Goose in the Nene Valley, close to Summer Leys LNR, on 16th. It was still present on 19th, when it was also seen on the reserve proper.
Further east, around thirty White-fronted Geese remained at Stanwick GP until at least 19th and following last week’s Pink-footed Goose at Hollowell, more appeared this week – one on water meadows between Thrapston GP and Islip on 22nd and three at Kislingbury GP on the same date. A Barnacle Goose at Stanford Res on 17th was the only one recorded during the period.
Other wildfowl were also available but limited to the long-staying female Ruddy Shelduck at Hollowell on 17th and a female Red-crested Pochard, mobile between the gravel pits at Stortons and Kislingbury from 17th to 22nd, accompanied by a drake at the latter site on 21st.
The juvenile Great Northern Diver was still at Pitsford Res on 21st, the same date that three Cattle Egrets – the only ones reported this week – visited Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR. Great Egrets were still very much in evidence, being seen at Ditchford GP (IL&M), Ecton SF, Hollowell, Pitsford, Stanford, Summer Leys and Woodford, the last two sites producing the maxima of four and three, respectively.
A Marsh Harrier caused a stir at Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows on 19th. Winter records are on the increase but the species remains scarce at this time of the year, nonetheless.
No waders of note could be squeezed out of the week and winter gulls bounced back from last week’s zero to include an adult Mediterranean Gull at Pitsford on 19th, an adult Caspian Gull at Hollowell on 16th, plus a second-winter in the Stanford roost on 22nd and single adult Yellow-legged Gulls at both Pitsford and Stanford on 16th.
This week’s token Merlin was a male, just west of Hardwick, on 17th. Passerine numbers were somewhat depressed, with the two Bearded Tits at Stortons showing well on 17th and the male only on the following day, 18th.
And this week’s highest Stonechat total goes to … Hollowell, where five were present on 16th. Stonechats were also present at Clifford Hill GP, Ditchford, Irthlingborough, Pitsford, Stanford and Thrapston. Hollowell was also the only locality this week to produce Crossbills – a combined total of up to forty on 22nd.