Newsround – 28th January to 3rd February 2023

With winds off the Atlantic, a dry and ultimately mild week ensued as temperatures rose to above average by the end of the period. Much of last week’s fare lingered, including Ravensthorpe’s Ring-necked Duck and at least two Siberian Chiffchaffs at Ecton while, out of the rarity hat, a surprise appeared in the form of a White Stork, briefly, in Moulton.

Following due process, though, the Barnacle Goose of more than questionable origin remained with Canada Geese at Upton CP on 30th, while the almost equally eyebrow-raising single Pink-footed Geese were still present with Greylags at both Hollowell and Ravensthorpe Reservoirs on 28th and Wicksteed Park until 31st. On a similar theme, the itinerant female Ruddy Shelduck returned to Hollowell for the day on 30th.

Three Red-crested Pochards included the long-staying drake at Stanford Res all week, a new drake at Daventry CP on 31st and a female was present throughout the period at Summer Leys.

Drake Red-crested Pochard, Daventry CP, 31st January 2023 (Gary Pullan)

But moving into the higher echelons of more worthy wildfowl, appearing settled and prone to showing well off the causeway, the now popular female Ring-necked Duck completed its first full week at Ravensthorpe. The same cannot be said, though, for the other female found at Thrapston GP on the final day of the previous week. It was still present there, on Aldwincle Lake, the following day, 28th, but it’s not been seen since …

Female Ring-necked Duck, Ravensthorpe Res, 3rd February 2023 (Mike Alibone)

Much more obliging, however, and despite going AWOL for a day, was the female Greater Scaup at Hollowell, now into its third week. Keeping up appearances in Pitsford’s Walgrave Bay, the drake Smew remained until at least 29th.

Drake Smew, Pitsford Res, 29th January 2023 (James Skinner)

In the absence of any notable waders, gulls lined up in pretty much the usual places. The week’s token Mediterranean Gull, an adult, was found in the roost at Boddington on 3rd and Hollowell and Stanford carved up the majority of this week’s serving of Caspian Gulls between them. Of the latter, Hollowell produced an adult on 28th, two adults, a second-winter and a third-winter on 30th, three adults on 1st and two adults on 3rd. Stanford’s gull roost held an adult on 29th, two adults on 30th and a near-adult plus a third-winter on 2nd. It would appear likely that some of these are duplicates, moving between the two sites which, after all, aren’t too far apart as the gull flies. Meanwhile, DIRFT 3 produced an adult on 3rd.

Adult Caspian Gull, DIRFT 3, 3rd February 2023 (Mike Alibone)

Yellow-legged Gulls were down to just the regular, wintering adult at Pitsford, where it remained all week.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 2nd February 2023 (Mike Alibone)

The week’s big surprise, then, came in the form of a White Stork on a house roof, briefly, in Moulton on 29th. Quick off the mark, the observer managed a hastily obtained record shot of it taking flight, which appeared on social media shortly after the event but it was not possible to determine if it had any rings. It did not linger, nor was it seen again …

This week’s Merlin decided to grace Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR on 1st.

And sticking with the Nene Valley … At least two Siberian Chiffchaffs remained along the outflow at Ecton SF throughout the period. ‘SF’ is a simple abbreviation of ‘Sewage Farm’ and latter-day birders may be inclined to view the area as the more recently named ‘Great Billing STW’ (Sewage Treatment Works), or even Billing Gravel Pits, as some would have it. But for those of us birding for well over fifty years in Northants, the name ‘Ecton SF’ has heritage and dates back to the pre-1940s. Little Bittern, Night Heron, Montagu’s Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Black-winged Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Sociable Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs … the list is endless, the name can never be dropped or forgotten. The site is legend!

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 29th January 2023 (James Underwood)

Ecton SF also periodically produces Stonechats – but not this week, though, when they were limited to two at Upton CP on 30th and singles at Lilbourne Meadows NR and Hollowell Res on the same date and at Earls Barton GP on 1st.

Stonechat, Lilborne Meadows NR, 30th January 2023 (Mke Alibone)

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