As weather conditions moved slowly along in the direction toward a seasonal norm, last week’s leftovers, combined with a few new arrivals, served to keep things going …
Heading up this week’s wildfowl – if only for a few minutes – four Whooper Swans flew west at Daventry CP on the last day of the week. Apart from that, more static fare was on offer in the shape of a generally settled bunch of Red-crested Pochards, fourteen of which continued to feature at Stanford Res throughout the period. Daventry CP also hung on to its one and only drake for the same duration, while Pitsford Res made a bit of a comeback, with four on 13th and two on 16th.
Sticking with said reservoir, last week’s juvenile Great Northern Diver, found just before dusk on the last day, upped and went the following morning, 12th, heading off high south-west. On the cusp of winter there’s plenty of time for another – at Pitsford, or elsewhere.
Over the review period, Cattle Egrets were restricted to Stanwick GP, the roost there attracting up to thirteen between 13th and 15th.
The week’s raptors consisted of two harriers – a Marsh Harrier at Thrapston GP on 16th, followed by a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell two days later, on 18th. If they linger, catching up with them may prove to be another matter entirely …
Last week’s star waders maintained a presence, their numbers briefly boosted by the arrival – and subsequent rapid departure – of two Avocets at Boddington Res on 13th.
With most coming through during spring, appearances in November are few, with Boddington, Daventry and Thrapston accounting for the three records in that month during the last 20 years, which have seen a significant increase in occurrences. While the trend line in local records may mirror the shape of an Avocet’s bill, it also represents the upturn in its UK population growth, which has increased by 326% over the last 25 years.
Back at Pitsford, and looking set to tough out the winter, the Wood Sandpiper lingered along the shoreline, between the causeway and the current ‘low tide’ of Scaldwell Bay, for the duration of the period. Seemingly not following suit, though, last week’s Little Stint remained throughout the weekend of 12th-13th before subsequently vanishing. Another wader still on site there was last week’s Common Sandpiper, still on the dam on 16th, while the week’s only Jack Snipe was found at Hollowell Res on 18th.
Set to rival Stanford for roosting Mediterranean Gulls, Pitsford produced two different adults on consecutive evenings, the 16th and 17th, and Boddington almost made the grade by dishing up an adult Mediterranean x Black-headed Gull hybrid on 13th. Large, white-headed gulls were also available, with single adult Caspian Gulls in the roosts at Stanford on 13th and Boddington on 14th, and at Hollowell on 18th. Boddington, Pitsford and Stanford shared this week’s Yellow-legged Gulls with no more than three at any one location.
The Short-eared Owl remained on the outskirts of Farthingstone, being seen on 12th and 16th and a male Merlin put in an appearance at Summer Leys on 13th, followed by one flying north over the Brampton Valley, near Brixworth, the following day.
Passerines were again in short supply and topping the rather short bill was a first-winter Ring Ouzel over, and behind, the dam at Boddington on 14th, while this week’s Stonechat numbers rallied somewhat, with Pitsford holding five on 13th and Clifford Hill GP, Ditchford GP, Earls Barton GP, Hollowell, Kettering, Summer Leys and Upton CP all producing between one and two birds apiece.