Newsround – 22nd to 28th January 2022

The period’s weather remained predominantly dry but was essentially a mixed bag of dull, overcast conditions for the first four days, followed by a glimmer of sunshine during the last three, ahead of mild south-westerlies from the Azores. The best new bird this week was a Great Northern Diver, found in the fading light at Pitsford Res on 23rd.

With very few proving evasive, many of last week’s birds remained on station for anyone wanting to catch up with them. Geese were again prominent with the county’s sole Barnacle Goose, whatever its origin, still languishing at Pitsford at the period’s end. Ditto for the Ravensthorpe Pink-footed Goose, with another Pinkfoot being reported with two White-fronted Geese at Islip Water Meadows, on 22nd. At the adjoining site of Thrapston GP, the two adult and single first-winter Whitefronts remained until 23rd, subsequently being relocated at Stanwick GP on 27th-28th. Sywell CP’s first-winter Whitefront remained until at least 27th, while the trio at Stanford on Avon were still present, showing on the Northamptonshire side of the river on 27th-28th.

White-fronted Geese, Stanford on Avon, 28th January 2022 (Chris Hubbard)

Following a minor flurry of records last week, just one Whooper Swan was available to catch up with this week, an adult in fields near Cosgrove, a mere stone’s throw from the cosy setting of the Navigation Inn, on 25th-26th.  

Adult Whooper Swan, Cosgrove, 26th January 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Now to more dodgy fare and after last week’s appearance at Hollowell, on 17th, the female Ruddy Shelduck popped again, this time at Stanford on 27th and the female-type White-cheeked Pintail was still frequenting Deene Lake on 22nd.

Female Ruddy Shelduck, Stanford Res, 27th January 2022 (Chris Hubbard)
White-cheeked Pintail, Deene Lake, 22nd January 2022 (James Underwood)

Kicking off the week, although two months later than the peak for arrivals, a Great Northern Diver was found at Pitsford, late on 23rd. It remained throughout and if you’ve got it in mind to find one, Pitsford’s the place, accounting for more than half of all the county’s records in the last 35 years, and November’s normally the month, producing 48% of the records during the same period, followed by December with 33%.

The first Bittern of 2022 also pitched up at Stortons GP, where it was seen flying into the reedbed on 28th. Cattle Egrets peaked at eight at Stanwick GP on 24th and two were at Irthlingborough/Ditchford on 24th and 28th. Great Egrets maintained last week’s low profile with fourteen leaving the roost at Stanwick on 27th, while top counts elsewhere were threes at Ravensthorpe and Summer Leys LNR, twos at Ditchford and Pitsford and singles at Clifford Hill GP and Hollowell.

Great Egrets, Summer Leys LNR, 24th January 2022 (Paul Crotty)

With no reports of the Wood Sandpiper at Pitsford this week, top waders were down to just three species. Earls Barton’s Common Sandpiper remained throughout, while a Ruff scraped in at Summer Leys on 22nd and single Jack Snipes were present at Hollowell all week and at Ditchford on 27th.

Common Sandpiper, Earls Barton GP, 28th January 2022 (Leslie Fox)

On the Larid front, Caspian Gulls once again came to the fore, with Stanford hosting a third-winter on 23rd and DIRFT 3 producing two adults on the same date. An adult was at Rushton Landfill on 24th and 28th with two first-winters there on the latter date and Hollowell held an adult on 26th and two adults on 28th. In a similar vein to last week, Yellow-legged Gulls remained in short supply with just a first-winter at Clifford Hill on 25th.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Rushton Landfill, 28th January 2022 (Mike Alibone)

This week’s token Merlin was again between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton on 28th.

Once again, the Black Redstart remained at Borough Hill throughout, Stonechats were thinly distributed this week with birds at Ditchford, Upton CP and Hollowell, with a maximum of six at the latter site on 28th. And it looks as though interest in Hawfinches is now running at a low ebb, with just one seen at the much favoured site of Blatherwycke Churchyard on 23rd. At least one Corn Bunting hung on in the Brampton Valley, between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton, being seen on 24th and 28th.

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