As the meteorological pendulum swung back to weather conditions more normally associated with the time of year, cold north-easterlies from the Arctic gave way to warm south-westerlies off the Atlantic and a rapid thaw ensued.
Local bodies of water became ice-free once again and wildfowl numbers had rallied by the week’s end. Overall, though, in the run up to Christmas the picture was bleak. Smew topped the bill with the discovery of two drakes at Pitsford Res on 22nd, otherwise a drake Red-crested Pochard at Stanford Res was the only one left holding the fort throughout the period.
The Nene Valley hung on to at least one Marsh Harrier, with one seen over Earls Barton GP’s new workings, both north and south, on 18th, while the long-staying ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier continued to feature in the Brampton Valley at Blueberry Farm on 19th, crossing the Harborough Road to visit Harrington AF the following day.
In what transpired to be almost a carbon copy of last week’s waders, the Black-tailed Godwit remained at Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh LNR on 17th and single Jack Snipes were at both Daventry CP and Hollowell Res on 21st.
On the Larid front, single adult Caspian Gulls continued to be seen at both Hollowell and Stanford on 21st and 23rd, while adult Yellow-legged Gulls were at both Daventry and Pitsford on 21st.
Propping up the passerines, a sprinkling of one or two Stonechats occurred in the Brampton Valley on 17th, at Chipping Warden on 18th, Weedon on 19th, Earls Barton GP on 20th and Hollowell on 23rd.