Newsround – 4th to 10th March 2023

Spring was put well and truly on hold this week as winter came back with a vengeance. Biting northerlies from the Arctic brought temperatues down and, from mid-week, significant snowfall transformed the landscape, culminating on the last day of the period in 50 mph gales and blizzard conditions, courtesy of ‘Storm Larisa’.

Although many of last week’s birds remained in place, a sprinkling of migrants was evident – not least of which was a herd of fifteen Bewick’s Swans that arrived at Summer Leys LNR on 6th, sparking a mini-twitch before their departure to the east an hour or so after first light the following morning.

Although it’s tempting to believe these birds were from Slimbridge, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have confirmed they do not recognise them and they did not winter there. The UK winter population of Bewick’s decreased by 88% between 1993/94 and 2018/19 (BTO) and, as such, this species is Red-listed nationally in the UK Birds of Conservation Concern. This figure is reflected in Northamptonshire’s records which, since the turn of the century, now average only 3 per annum. There was none in 2022.

Other wildfowl were available, of course, their ‘wildness’ open to debate in some cases. Falling squarely into the latter category, a Barnacle Goose joined Canadas at Upton CP on 8th, while the Pink-footed Goose remained with Greylags at Wicksteed Park, Kettering until at least 9th.

Back at Summer Leys, the female Red-crested Pochard was still present on 5th, after which a drake was found adjacent to the reserve, at Earls Barton GP’s Mary’s Lake, on the last day of the period. Also remaining in situ were the female Ring-necked Duck and the female Greater Scaup at Ravensthorpe Res, until 10th and 6th, respectively. In the Nene Valley, the drake Greater Scaup also saw the week out at Billing GP.

Waders on offer were at a premium with the first Black-tailed Godwit of the year dropping in briefly to Summer Leys on 7th and the week’s only Jack Snipe was found at Stortons GP on 8th.

Gulls, too, were somewhat thin on the ground. An adult Mediterranean Gull joined the roost at Stanford Res on 6th and 7th and the number of Caspian Gulls was also rather diminished with a third-winter at DIRFT 3 on 5th and an adult at Hollowell Res on 6th, followed by three adults there the next day. At Pitsford Res, the wintering adult Yellow-legged Gull remained all week.

Also in short supply – perhaps understandably – were passerines, which were propped up on the rarity front by the continuing presence of Siberian Chiffchaffs along the outflow stream at Ecton SF. Two were seen on 7th and at least one remained on 10th.

There was also some movement of Stonechats during the week. Stanford held one at the beginning of the period and a further two arrived there near the week’s end. Elsewhere, Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (South) held at least 6 on 7th, Sywell CP produced four – possibly six – on 9th, four were at Hollowell on 6th-7th, two were at Earls Barton Lock on 10th and one at Hartwell on 7th.


3 thoughts on “Newsround – 4th to 10th March 2023

    1. A variety of reasons, Denzil. As a result of an average 5 degree increase in winter temperatures in mainland western Europe, many Bewick’s Swans are ‘short-stopping’ and spending winter there instead of in the UK. Also, a male Bewick’s longevity is said to be shorter than it used to be (not sure why). Regarding Geese, I think only Pink-footed has been on the up here in winter over the last 10-15 years as the population is doing well on their breeding grounds.

      1. Yes it’s interesting the effects of climate change on different species. I don’t like the sound of shorter lifespans of these beautiful birds though!

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