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.

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