|Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton, Northants - pic by Bob Bullock|
We left soon after seeing the Diver catching up with a very concealed Great White Egret at the back of Moulton Grange Bay and then headed to a flooded field near Wellingborough for a spot of Gull watching. A Gull expert called Martin Elliot had been visiting Northants to see the Gulls and local birder Steve Fisher had introduced me to him in the past. He had been seeing white winged Gulls in the field all morning and the lure was too much to bear so me and John headed over and arrived just after lunchtime. The site is basically a couple of fields separated by a hedge in a low dip which have flooded with the recent rain and as it's in the shadow of the nearby Sidegate Landfill site it's a mecca for Gulls to take a quick dip between feeding. We scanned for a while and more birders turned up and then Martin picked out a very nice looking Iceland Gull on the flooded area which then frustratingly wandered behind the hedge and out of view. Local birder Adrian Borley had also arrived at this point and said he had seen a Glaucous fly in and land behind one of the bushes too. we spent a bit of time trying from different angle to see the birds behind the undergrowth before they thankfully flew up and landed in the field we were in giving great views. A couple of Caspian Gulls were kicking about with Martin finding a nice looking Caspian Gull at the back of the pack and then John Friendship-Taylor found a nice 2nd winter Caspian too. The Glaucous Gull was showing very well at the front of the pack and just behind it was an interesting looking Glaucous hybrid.
|Glaucous Gull, Wellingborough, Northants.|
The Iceland Gull was also showing well but I didn't that good images but luckily a few days later I did. As I had the Wednesday off work I popped back to the flooded fields near Wellingborough and luckily didn't have to wait for long before white winged Gulls were present. A Glaucous could be seen flying around on the field behind the hedge which then unfortunately flew back towards to landfill site, but then as I scanned around I noticed an Iceland Gull had landed in the field I was in and fortunately it hung around for ages! I managed to get a vid and a few pics as it loafed about.
|Iceland Gull, Wellingborough, Northants|
I rather begrudgingly left the site, leaving the Iceland Gull asleep in amongst a group of Gulls in the field. I always find it hard to tear myself away from a bird you don't normally get to see, especially when it's showing so well! I then had a wander around Ditchford and after quite a search I managed to catch up with the fairly long staying drake Scaup but apart from a couple of Egyptian Geese in a nearby field nothing else was there of note.
|Egyptian Geese, Ditchford GP's, Northants|
The following weekend was the WeBS count. I decided to take on Hardingstone Gravel Pit and the Billing Gravel Pit comlex as I tend to walk round here quite a bit anyway so I thought I may aswell do something constructive with my sightings. There were quite a lot of of birds about with large flocks of Tufted Duck and Wigeon. Gadwall numbers were pretty good too. The sight of 4 Grey Partridge running along the bank in an adjacent field provided a very welcome site in these times of struggling farmland birds. Perhaps the biggest surprise though came in the shape of a whooping 33 Moorhens in the Ecton sewage outflow! Also 5 Little Grebe were present but as the outflow isn't surrently counted as part of the WeBS area they can't be counted. The Siberian Chiffchaff was also present along with at least 5 Common Chiffchaff with one in full song. The fluid "chiff, chaff" notes could be heard for quite a distance around and provided a reminder of the relatively mild winter were having. Hardingstone Gravel Pits had a nice tally of 10 Goosander and another indicator of the approaching spring in the shape of a Grey Heron standing in it's nest.
|Grey Heron, Hardingstone Gravel Pits, Northampton|