Newsround – 25th February to 3rd March 2023

With the wind primarily from the north-east and, although the movement of some species was clearly evident, there was not even a sniff of any long-awaited and much anticipated spring migrants this week. Still, having now stepped into meteorological spring, there is much to look forward to and, with just about everything still in place from the week before, plenty to look back on and revisit.   

With the grey goose barrel having almost run dry, three Pink-footed Geese came to the fore, although only one of them was truly new – that one being found at Blatherwycke Lake on 28th. Aside from this, the bird with Greylags at Lilbourne Meadows NR reappeared on 27th-28th, as did the one-eyed individual at Wicksteed Park, where it was still present on 2nd.

Pink-footed Goose, Wicksteed Park Lake, 2nd March 2023 (James Underwood)

The female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Winwick Pools throughout the week and so, too, did the female Red-crested Pochard at Summer Leys LNR and the female Ring-necked Duck at Ravensthorpe Res.

Female Red-crested Pochard, Summer Leys LNR, 25th February 2023 (James Underwood)
Female Ring-necked Duck, Ravensthorpe Res, 27th February 2023 (Mike Alibone)
Female Ring-necked Duck, Ravensthorpe Res, 28th February 2023 (James Urwin)
Female Ring-necked Duck, Ravensthorpe Res, 3rd March 2023 (Bob Bullock)

Emulating the above American, the female Greater Scaup also saw out another week at the same site, while a new bird – this one a first-winter drake – was discovered at Billing GP on 1st, remaining there until the end of the period.

First-winter drake Greater Scaup, Billing GP, 1st March 2023 (Mike Alibone)

Last week’s two Smews at Blatherwycke just made it into the new week but were not reported again after 25th.

Scarce waders continued to be in short supply and 25th was clearly ‘Jack Snipe day’, when single birds were seen at both Hollowell and Pitsford Reservoirs.

But on the Larid front, Caspian Gulls again loomed large with last week’s Summer Leys first-winter spilling over into day one of the period, Hollowell holding firm with two adults on 25th and again on 2nd-3rd and a second-winter plus a third-winter dropping in to DIRFT 3 on 27th. As far as Yellow-legged Gulls were concerned, there was a little more on offer than of late, with the usual adult loitering in the vicinity of Pitsford’s Sailing Club on 25th and 27th, a second-winter at Wicksteed Park Lake on 2nd and a first-winter at Hollowell on 3rd.

Second-winter Yellow-legged Gull, Wicksteed Park Lake, 2nd March 2023 (James Underwood)

Potential head-scratcher of the week, though, was a second-winter ‘Viking Gull’ at Daventry CP on 3rd. The way things are going, this Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid seems likely to be the closest we’ll get this year to getting to grips with a Glaucous Gull proper, given the lack of numbers in the UK over the outgoing winter. Add to this the winding down and closure, this year, of Northamptonshire’s last remaining landfill site raises the question of what this spells for future appearances of ‘white-winged’ gulls in the county … they will be at a premium!

Second-winter ‘Viking Gull’, Daventry CP, 3rd March 2023 (Gary Pullan)

So, too, are passerines currently. No longer under the spotlight and retreating into the shadows was Stanwick’s male Bearded Tit, seen all too briefly this week only on 26th and 28th. Stonechats, though, were seemingly on the move, with Hollowell producing the highest count of five on 2nd-3rd, followed by four at Earls Barton GP on the first of these two dates, while Pitsford netted two on 25th and singles were at Lilbourne Meadows and Kettering on 28th and at Stanford Res from 28th until the week’s end.

Male Stonechat, Earls Barton GP, 2nd March 2023 (Leslie Fox)

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