Newsround – 19th to 25th February 2022

On the back of a continuing westerly airflow, the week kicked off with some serious bluster as Storm Franklin pushed in off the Atlantic. But it was very much a case of in like a lion, out like a lamb, as the last day of the period dawned calm and bright, providing ideal conditions and ample opportunity to catch up with this week’s star bird, the second Glossy Ibis of 2022.

Wading through the wildfowl has taken little time of late, as we’ve been no more than ankle-deep, with geese largely propping up the cohort and ducks in short supply. The Barnacle Goose at Pitsford Res stood up to be counted on 20th, while Ravensthorpe’s Pink-footed Goose remained with the local Greylags there until at least 24th. The three long-staying White-fronted Geese at Stanford on Avon saw another week out and the three at Stanwick GP were joined by a fourth bird on 22nd, all of which were still present at the week’s end.

Pink-footed Goose, Ravensthorpe Res, 24th February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

With winter ducks deluxe in seriously short supply, birders had to make do with last week’s drake Red-crested Pochard, on show throughout the period at Earls Barton GP, while another drake turned up at Ravensthorpe on 22nd, remaining there until at least 24th.

Red-crested Pochard, Earls Barton GP, 21st February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

The juvenile Great Northern Diver, first found on 23rd January, clocked up a month’s stay and saw another full week out at Pitsford.

Headliner of the week, then, was the second Glossy Ibis in as many months – a bird which followed hot on the heels of the 30-minute wonder at Summer Leys LNR on 10th January. With a good sixty-five noted across Britain over the past week or so, it would have been disappointing if Northants hadn’t been paid another visit. Fortunately, after its discovery at Stanwick’s North Lake on 24th, it was still present the next day, thereby allowing many a second bite of this 2022 cherry.

Glossy Ibis, Stanwick GP, 25th February 2022 (Bob Bullock)

Stanwick also hosted all of this week’s Cattle Egrets – two on 22nd, four on 23rd and five on 25th. Topping fourteen on the latter date, the same site again produced the highest tally of Great Egrets, while smaller numbers elsewhere included fives at both Ditchford and Thrapston GPs, two at Ravensthorpe and singles at Earls Barton, Hollowell Res, Pitsford, Stanford and Summer Leys.

On the wader front, the long-staying Ruff was still to be found at Summer Leys until at least 23rd but it appears we now have two wintering Common Sandpipers in the county – the Pitsford bird remaining all week, while the Earls Barton individual was relocated on 21st, having repositioned itself on a different pool, where it was still present at the end of the period.

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 21st February 2022 (David Smith)

Gulls left their mark, making further advances on last week’s numbers, with a second-winter Mediterranean Gull in the roost at Boddington Res on 21st and a new adult found in the Stanford roost the following evening. Caspian Gulls hit their highest weekly site total so far, with Rushton Landfill producing two first-winters on 21st, an adult and a third-winter on 22nd and a first-winter, second-winter, two third-winters and a fourth-winter on 25th. Elsewhere, a second-winter was in the Stanford gull roost on 21st and an adult visited Hollowell Res on 22nd.

Third-winter Caspian Gull, Rushton Landfill, 22nd February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Smaller numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were in evidence and included one at Stanford on 21st and a third-winter in the roost there, nightly, from 22nd to 25th, while at Pitsford an adult was present on 19th and 20th, along with a fourth-winter on the latter date.

Suboptimal viewing conditions, combined with a lack of observer coverage, resulted in the Duston Mill Dartford Warbler dropping off the radar this week. It may still be there, of course. Otherwise, it was indeed slim pickings on the passerine front, with only small numbers of Stonechats including top counts of three at Earls Barton and Hollowell on 22nd and twos at Ditchford GP on the latter date and at Thrapston on 25th.

Stonechat, Earls Barton GP, 22nd February 2022 (Leslie Fox)

The two Hawfinches at Cottesbrook were still present and dodging the gusts on 19th and 20th.

Newsround – 12th to 18th February 2022

Though generally mild throughout, this week’s weather was dominated by storms Dudley and Eunice, borne and delivered by the Atlantic gulf stream. Although Eunice amounted to little more than a wet fart locally, it was a different picture in southern regions of the UK, where there was widespread damage, numerous fallen trees, aircraft struggling to land and trains cancelled, while the Isle of Wight Needles recorded winds reaching 122 mph – provisionally the highest gusts ever recorded in England. Heeding warnings not to travel and to avoid the somewhat turbulent conditions, few birders ventured out on the last day of the week, but for the amber gamblers who did, and were betting on finding something good, it failed to materialise on the day. Let’s wait and see what the aftermath holds in store … Meanwhile, the Duston Mill Dartford Warbler once again remained the single point of interest throughout the week.

The weekly wildfowl selection was largely unchanged, with Ravensthorpe’s Pink-footed Goose still present until at least 14th and Sywell’s White-fronted Goose remaining until at least 13th. The three Whitefronts at Stanford on Avon were still settled in, and around, the field with the Percy Pilcher Monument and the Stanwick trio also remained in residence at the week’s end.

White-fronted Geese, Stanford on Avon, 12th February 2022 (Stuart Mundy)

New on the scene, a drake Red-crested Pochard was found at Earls Barton GP, also visiting adjacent Summer Leys LNR, on 17th, while the peripatetic drake Smew, having returned to Ravensthorpe Res on 14th, was still present there on 16th after last week’s visit to Pitsford Res.

Meanwhile, Pitsford’s Great Northern Diver remained on site for another full week.

The period’s Cattle Egrets were limited to a single day, 14th, when four were at Stanwick and one was found with Little Egrets along the River Nene opposite Summer Leys. Although not limited to a single day, Great Egrets were limited to single-figure counts, with Thrapston GP hosting the maximum of a mere five on 12th. Elsewhere, two were at Ravensthorpe between 14th and 16th and singles were found at Clifford Hill GP, Earls Barton, Hollowell Res, Pitsford, Stanford Res, Stanwick and Summer Leys.

On the wader front, the long-staying Ruff remained at Summer Leys until at least 15th, while the wintering Common Sandpiper seemed well settled on, and around, the dam at Pitsford until at least 17th. Just one Jack Snipe scraped into the proceedings, at Hollowell on 14th.

Last week’s adult Mediterranean Gull continued to turn up to the roost at Stanford until 14th, the same venue hosting the single-site majority of the period’s Caspian Gulls, which included two adults on 12th, a first- or late moulting second-winter on 16th and an adult on 18th. Three other sites regularly favoured by this species were DIRFT 3, where an adult and a first-winter were present on 14th, Hollowell, where a third-winter was found on 14th and the two sporadically visiting adults were again at large on 16th, and Rushton Landfill, which produced a third-winter on 15th and two first-winters on 17th.

First-winter Caspian Gull, DIRFT 3, 15th February 2022 (Mike Alibone)
First-winter Caspian Gull, Rushton Landfill, 17th February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Somewhat overshadowed, single adult Yellow-legged Gulls were at Pitsford all week and at both DIRFT 3 and Stanford Res on 17th.

Duston Mill’s durable Dartford Warbler held out until at least 17th, Eunice likely putting paid to any on-site appearance the following day.

Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 13th February 2022 (Lee Willcocks)
Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 17th February 2022 (Ken Prouse)

It’s not every day you can boast a Siberian Chiffchaff in your back yard – unless you live in Russia, that is, but this is, after all, Kettering not Krasnodar we’re talking about, and the bird found on the last day of last week was back in the same garden on 12th and 15th. Hats off to Nikolai Tikalotov. We’re gripped!

Back at Duston Mill and the supporting cast of two Stonechats remained throughout, while further duos were at Clifford Hill on 12th and Hollowell on 16th and singles were present at DIRFT 3 on 14th as well as at both Sywell CP and Bucknell Wood on 17th.

Male Stonechat, Earls Barton GP, 15th February 2022 (Leslie Fox)
Female Stonechat, Duston Mill, 17th February 2022 (Tony Stanford)

Inevitably having dropped off the radar, there were no reports of the Borough Hill Black Redstart during the period.

Hawfinch, Cottesbrooke, 17th February 2022 (Jon Cook)

Still showing on and off, though, were last week’s two Hawfinches at Cottesbrooke, still present on 17th.

Newsround – 5th to 11th February 2022

A persistent westerly airstream delivered gales on day two of what was an otherwise calm and largely dry week. The Duston Mill Dartford Warbler continued to head the cast of the period’s top birds, while a number of new discoveries were added to this week’s mix.

Wintering geese remained firmly in focus on the wildfowl front with, again, Pitsford’s Barnacle Goose, Ravensthorpe’s Pink-footed Goose and Sywell’s White-fronted Goose, all remaining throughout. So, too, did the three Whitefronts at Stanford on Avon, while the Nene Valley trio moved from Stanwick GP back to Thrapston GP on 6th, before returning to Stanwick the following day, remaining there until at least 10th.

White-fronted Goose, Stanford on Avon, 5th February 2022 (Jon Cook)
White-fronted Goose, Sywell CP, 11th February 2022 (Clive Bowley)

Another river valley, the Tove, continued to host the adult Whooper Swan, still nicely settled in fields north of the Navigation Inn, near Cosgrove, until at least 9th.

This week’s duck of the week – in fact, the only duck of the week – was the drake Smew which, having vacated Ravensthorpe on 3rd, was relocated at Pitsford a week later, on 10th.

Clearly lacking the latter’s itchy feet and looking rather more settled, Pitsford’s Great Northern Diver had chalked up twenty days’ stay by the week’s end.

Juvenile Great Northern Diver, Pitsford Res, 11th February 2022 (Tony Stanford)

Numbers of Cattle Egrets wax and wane and they were clearly down, with just singles – or the same individual – at Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR and Stanwick on 7th and two at the latter site the following day. Stanwick also remained top of the leader board for numbers of Great Egrets, with a consistent weekly roost count of fifteen on 8th. With the early to mid-winter high counts seemingly having evaporated, numbers continued to fall elsewhere, with other site maxima including three at Stanford Res on 7th, two at Ravensthorpe on 10th and singles at Billing GP, Ditchford GP, Earls Barton GP, Pitsford and Summer Leys.

A Marsh Harrier was seen briefly at Clifford Hill GP on 8th, before clearly moving on.

Waders were few and far between. After going unreported for a week, a Ruff resurfaced at Summer Leys on 7th, remaining on show until at least 9th, while last week’s Common Sandpiper continued to occupy the dam at Pitsford until at least 9th.

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 9th February 2022 (Martin Swannell)

The first Mediterranean Gull of 2022, a fine adult, dropped into the roost at Stanford on 10th, revisiting for the evening again on 11th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Stanford Res, 11th February 2022 (Chris Hubbard)

And while gulls may not be everyone’s cup of tea, ringed individuals are often obvious in the field, thereby providing the opportunity for a bit of ‘track and trace’ detective work. This particularly applies to the larger larids and one such, a first-winter Caspian Gull, watched at Rushton Landfill on 9th, bore a shiny yellow bangle inscribed with the code P:WH7, which ultimately indicated it had been ringed as a pullus at Wyspa NA RZ.Wisla, Kepa Nadbrzesk, Otwock, Mazowieckie, Poland, on 15th May 2021.

Polish-ringed first-winter Caspian Gull, Rushton Landfill, 9th February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

During its travelling the 1490 km to Rushton, it stopped off and spent some time at Thetford, Norfolk, between 2nd and 30th November 2021.

Movement of Polish-ringed first-winter Caspian Gull, ring number P:WH7 (Mike Alibone/Google Maps)

Other Caspian Gulls were also up for grabs, with a second-winter visiting DIRFT 3 on 6th, the Stanford gull roost producing an adult on the same date, followed by two the following evening. Two adults were also at Hollowell on 7th, 9th and 11th, being joined on the latter date by a third-winter, while a third-winter also visited Clifford Hill GP, briefly, on 10th. Single adult Yellow-legged Gulls were at Pitsford on 5th-6th and at Hollowell on 9th.

Second-winter Caspian Gull, DIRFT 3, 6th February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

This week’s token Merlin was a female flying north over Southbrook, Daventry on 10th.

On the edge of suburbia, puller and pleaser, the Duston Mill Dartford Warbler, continued to woo the crowds throughout the week.

Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 6th February 2022 (Leslie Fox)
Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 10th February 2022 (Martin Swannell)
Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 11th February 2022 (Andrew Cook)

It’s a pity the same cannot be said for the Siberian Chiffchaff, found feeding with two Chiffchaffs in riverside vegetation by the Sixfields Lake car park at Stortons GP on 6th. Found by visitors to the Dartford Warbler, this bird moved on quickly and was not seen subsequently. Another one not available to the masses spent 15 minutes in a Kettering garden on 11th. In a winter which has seen record numbers of what must surely be a ‘species in waiting’, it seems strange that the most frequently blessed wintering site of Ecton SF has not (yet) produced one among the ten or so Chiffchaffs which are currently wintering there.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Stortons GP, 6th February 2022 (James Underwood)
Siberian Chiffchaff, Kettering, 11th February 2021 (Nick Parker)

Overshadowed by the events at Duston Mill/Stortons GP, well out of the limelight, the wintering Black Redstart at Borough Hill scraped into the week’s proceedings on 5th. It’s probably still there … And Stonechats have enjoyed more attention this week, given their association with a certain warbler and all that … The Duston Mill duo continued to revel in their time under the spotlight, although two at Borough Hill on 5th didn’t exert the same pull, two were at DIRFT 3 on 6th and Hollowell again produced the highest count of four, on 9th.

Female Stonechat, Duston Mill, 10th February 2022 (Martin Swannell)
Male Stonechat, Duston Mill, 11th February 2022 (Andrew Cook)

Following last week’s Bucks-bound, border-hopping Hawfinch, near Ashton, two more were discovered – and fortunately nailed down – at Cottesbrooke on 11th.

Hawfinch, Cottesbrooke, 11th February 2022 (Leslie Fox)
Hawfinch, Cottesbrooke, 11th February 2022 (Leslie Fox)

This particular locality produced Hawfinches during the invasion in winter 2017-18, which begs the question, how many more may be out there? Time, once again, to yomp through your local Yew trees and check those Hornbeams …

Newsround – 29th January to 4th February 2022

With the winds swinging to the north-west and then remaining so throughout, the week opened with Storm Corrie hitting northern parts of the UK, before closing with sleet showers locally as a band of freezing rain crossed the country. Arguably however, the weather had little influence on this week’s birds, top of which was the county’s sixth record of Dartford Warbler.

But it was all very much déjà vu on the wildfowl front – the small numbers of wintering geese apparently not in any hurry to move on. So, with seemingly nowhere to go, Pitsford’s Barnacle Goose remained all week, as did Ravensthorpe’s Pink-footed Goose and Sywell’s White-fronted Goose, while last week’s trios of the latter species continued to frequent Stanwick GP until at least 3rd and Stanford on Avon, border-hopping, throughout.

Pink-footed Goose, Ravensthorpe Res, 1st February 2022 (Alan Coles)

Found last week, the grazing adult Whooper Swan was still in fields near Cosgrove, just north of the Navigation Inn, on 4th and by 30th, the female Ruddy Shelduck had moseyed on down from Stanford to Hollowell, while the female-type White-cheeked Pintail was still at Deene Lake on the same date. Oh, the joy of flagging up ornamentals …

Back on the menu after the best part of three weeks’ absence, the only right and proper duck this week was a drake Smew, on show at Ravensthorpe for three days, between 31st and 2nd.

Drake Smew, Ravensthorpe Res, 1st February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Remarkably appearing to elicit little interest, Pitsford’s Great Northern Diver was still present on 2nd and the Bittern, glimpsed flying into the reedbed at Stortons GP at the end of last week, offered similarly fleeting views there on 30th.

Cattle Egrets peaked at five at Stanwick GP on 3rd, although there were no reports from anywhere else during the period. Once again, Stanwick was also the place to be for impressive numbers of Great Egrets, the roost count there maxing out at fifteen on 1st. Other maximum site totals notched up included six at Summer Leys on 29th, five at Ravensthorpe on 1st, three at Thrapston GP on 29th, twos at Earls Barton GP on 30th, Hollowell on 2nd-4th and Naseby Res on 3rd, and singles at Stanford on 29th-30th and Ecton SF/Billing GP on 30th.

A Shag was reported from Pitsford on 2nd.

It’s fair to say the county struggled for waders this week. Aside from single Jack Snipes at Barnes Meadow LNR on 3rd and at both Hollowell and Ravensthorpe the next day, the only wader of note – simply because of its scarcity in winter – was a  Common Sandpiper at Pitsford, on the overflow at the end of the dam, on 2nd. Despite almost daily coverage, the overwintering individual at Earls Barton GP’s new workings (north) could not be found this week so perhaps this bird is one and the same.

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 2nd February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

On the Larid front, Caspian Gulls maintained their recent high profile, the Stanford gull roost producing a second-winter on 29th, a first-winter on 31st and a third-winter on 4th, while Hollowell hosted one on 30th, an adult and a third-winter on 2nd and a third-winter on 4th. Away from established water bodies, DIRFT 3 held an adult, a third-winter and a second-winter on 1st with the latter two individuals still present the next day, while Rushton Landfill produced an adult and a third-winter on 2nd. Yellow-legged Gulls continued to be overshadowed by the last species, with just four in the roost at Stanford on 30th, 2 there on 31st and an adult at Pitsford on 3rd.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Stanford Res, 31st January 2022 (Chris Hubbard)
Third-winter Caspian Gull, Rushton Landfill, 2nd February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

This week’s token Merlin was one flying east near Gordons Lodge, on the Bucks/Northants border, on 4th.

Heading up the passerines was a much welcomed, top-notch vagrant. Yes, hot on the heels of the fleeting back garden bird in October 2020 was a Dartford Warbler, looking distinctly female-like, at Duston Mill, Northampton on 2nd and 3rd. Constituting Northamptonshire’s sixth record, and loosely associating with two Stonechats, it occupied a somewhat straggly field between Stortons GP and the Northampton ring road, at times showing well and giving the opportunity for local birders to catch up with what, let’s face it, has not been an easy bird to see in the county.

Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 3rd February 2022 (Martin Swannell)
Dartford Warbler, Duston Mill, 3rd February 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Aside from the aforementioned Blakesley bird in October 2020, the last twitchable one, readily available for those happy to negotiate the then icy conditions, was at East Carlton in late November 2010. Prior to that, a couple of long stayers were, interestingly, in similar surroundings on the opposite side of the ring road to this week’s bird, the land now an industrial development known as Swan Valley. That was way back, between December 2004 and February 2005. How long this one will stay is anybody’s guess. Their uncanny habit of fraternising with Stonechats is well known, so … find a Stonechat or two, spend that extra bit of time following them around and, well, you never know … Talking of which, this week’s were dotted about at DIRFT 3, Duston Mill, Earls Barton GP, Hollowell, Ravensthorpe and Upton CP, with Hollowell laying claim to the week’s highest site total of six, on 4th.

Male Stonechat, Ravensthorpe, 4th February 2022 (Jon Cook)

And lest we should forget … this week, overshadowed and underwatched, the wintering Black Redstart remained at Borough Hill throughout while, a hair’s breadth from the Bucks border, a Hawfinch popped up at the unusual location of Gordons Lodge, near Ashton, before quickly departing Northamptonshire, on 3rd.