The Week in Focus: 16th to 22nd May 2015

Unremarkable weather conditions, with predominantly westerly winds, contributed little to an equally unremarkable week in terms of new arrivals.

Two Garganey appeared at Stanford Res on 17th, remaining there until 21st, while the Summer Leys Great White Egret put in a likely final appearance there on 21st. Single Ospreys also visited Summer Leys on 17th and Stanford Res on 20th and there was an unconfirmed report of two at Clifford Hill GP on 18th-19th, while Peregrines overflew Stortons GP on 17th and Queen’s Park, Northampton on 20th.

Little Ringed Plovers were seen at four localities and Ringed Plovers numbered nine at Hollowell Res on 18th with six there on 21st, while twos were at Stanwick GP and Summer Leys on 19th and 20th respectively and, also in the Nene Valley, a Whimbrel visited Thrapston GP on 20th. The same date produced a Black-tailed Godwit at Summer Leys – they have been very scarce this year – but wader of the spring to date was the Temminck’s Stint which showed itself briefly to just one observer at Stanford Res on the evening of 18th. Dunlin numbers rose to ten at Hollowell Res on 21st after six there on 18th and singles at Stanford Res on the same date and at Summer Leys on 16th. The only Common Sandpiper was also at Summer Leys on 16th, three Redshanks were there on the same date and one was at Thrapton GP from 20th to 22nd.

As the vegetation grew taller and ever more dense in the Summer Leys Black-headed Gull colony, the second-summer Mediterranean Gull became more difficult to see, although it was still present on 16th. Along the valley at Stanwick, the putative second-summer Azorean Gull continued to test and tantalise a handful of observers from 18th to 20th

Putative second-summer Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 18th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Putative second-summer Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 18th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Putative second-summer Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 19th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Putative second-summer Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 19th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

and three Yellow-legged Gulls were present on 19th. The week’s only scarce passerine was a singing male Wood Warbler – the second of the spring – found at Pitsford Res on 22nd.

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The Week in Focus: 9th to 15th May 2015

The somewhat mixed, unsettled weather conditions were delivered by winds predominantly from a south-westerly quarter and, as expected, the main thrust of summer migrants began to slow. Perhaps the most notable feature of the past two to three weeks has been the paucity of passage waders which are eagerly awaited each spring. Just single records of Turnstone, Sanderling, Wood Sandpiper and Grey Plover probably make this the worst April/May for many years … and with not even a whiff of a Bar-tailed Godwit, could this be the shape of springs to come? Let’s hope not!

While the Nene Valley gravel pits remained largely devoid of waders, the Great White Egret continued to appear sporadically on the scrape at Summer Leys LNR throughout the week.

Capture2Ospreys were seen at Hollowell Res on 9th and 13th-14th and one was also reported flying over the A45 near Weedon on 12th but the only other raptor of note this week was a male Peregrine near Catesby on 10th.

Osprey, Hollowell Res, 13th May 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Osprey, Hollowell Res, 13th May 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Arguably the highlight of the week was the occurrence of two Common Cranes, which flew low over Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh Reserve at 10.30 on 15th. They quickly drifted off high but at 11.10 they were back, only to fly off high again toward nearby Thorpe Waterville.

Common Crane, Thrapston GP, 15th May 2015 (John Finlayson) Record Shot.

Common Crane, Thrapston GP, 15th May 2015 (John Finlayson) Record Shot.

Common Cranes, Thrapston GP, 15th May 2015 (John Finlayson) Record Shot.

Common Cranes, Thrapston GP, 15th May 2015 (John Finlayson) Record Shot.

Two Avocets at Stanwick GP on 13th headed the cast of waders which did make it to Northants this week and at total of approximately two hundred Golden Plovers flew

Avocet, Stanwick GP, 13th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Avocet, Stanwick GP, 13th May 2015 (Steve Fisher)

north over Oundle in three small flocks on 10th. Little Ringed Plovers were seen at four localities and Ringed Plover numbers ramped up to double figures at Clifford Hill GP with ten there on 9th, although elsewhere there were only two at Stanwick GP on 10th and one at Hollowell Res on 13th-14th with three there on 15th. A Whimbrel was found at Grimscote on 15th and on 10th, Stanwick GP hosted the spring’s only Turnstone to date and a male Ruff was present at Hollowell Res on 12th-13th, while two Sanderlings

Male Ruff, Hollowell Res, 13th May 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Male Ruff, Hollowell Res, 13th May 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

accompanied nine Dunlins at Clifford Hill GP on 9th. Smaller numbers of Dunlin included one showing likely characteristics of the race arctica at Stanwick GP on 9th-10th, two at Summer Leys on 13th and one at Hollowell Res on the same date with three there the following day and one on 15th, while the only Common Sandpipers were singles at Summer Leys on 9th-10th and 14th, three at Stanford Res on 11th and one at Clifford Hill GP on 15th. The latter site also hosted a Greenshank on the same date. Two Redshanks remained throughout at Summer Leys, where the long-staying second-summer Mediterranean Gull remained in the Black-headed Gull colony. Another Mediterranean Gull – this time a first-summer – was in the Stanwick Black-headed Gull colony from 9th to at least 14th, while the same site produced a very good candidate for a second-summer Azorean Gull on 9th-10th. With perhaps two other possible Azorean Gulls recorded at this site in the past year or so these occurrences beg the question just what is going on with the Yellow-legged Gull complex right now and what is the true origin – both genetically and geographically – of these birds? A second-summer Yellow-legged Gull observed mating with, and apparently paired to, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Stanwick this week will add fuel to the fire for proponents of the hybrid theory but observers of the ‘Azorean’ candidate say it’s bang on the money and are confident it is not a hybrid … Five more Yellow-legged Gulls were also at Stanwick on 9th – the same date that a first-summer was at Daventry CP, while these same two sites recorded Arctic Terns on 12th, numbering eight and one respectively.

One of the key species cited in the recently upheld objection to proposed leisure facility development at Fineshade Wood, Nightjar, was churring at the very same site on 9th. Subsequent evening visits drew a blank, however, while the first of another late arriving summer visitor, Spotted Flycatcher, were found at both Fawsley Park and Harrington AF on 10th. Just one Common Redstart was discovered – a male at Borough Hill on 11th along with a male Whinchat, with further single Whinchats at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) and Long Buckby on 11th and 12th respectively. Still coming through, though now likely to be wearing different genes, Northern Wheatears were found at Preston Capes and Pineham, Northampton (two) on 10th, two at Borough Hill and Blueberry Farm on 11th and 12th respectively and one at Pineham and two at Harrington AF on 13th. These latter two – both females – were trapped and biometrics duly confirmed their credentials as Greenland Wheatears, characteristics of which were also shown by the Pineham individual on the same date.

Capture1

These conform to the occurrence pattern of this subspecies which occurs later in spring in the UK than nominate race individuals, with the vast majority of Northerns on passage in early to mid-May being Greenland Wheatears, a fact established by ringing activities. Sadly, Corn Bunting is all but extinct as a breeding species in Northants so a singing male found at one site on 10th is probably the last …

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The Week in Focus: 2nd to 8th May 2015

A very unsettled start to May saw a deep Atlantic low bringing unseasonally gale force winds and heavy showers to central England mid-week. Amazingly, this weather system delivered no surprises to Northants, although Cambridgeshire’s Grafham Water – within spitting distance of the county boundary – pulled in both Arctic and Pomarine Skuas as a result.

Back in the frame this week, the Great White Egret appearing sporadically at Summer Leys LNR between 2nd and 8th was possibly a new bird, although more likely the returning Nene Valley wanderer of recent weeks.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys, 8th May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 8th May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Just one Osprey was reported during the period – at Daventry CP on 4th, and two Peregrines included singles at Summer Leys on 6th and Stanwick GP on 8th.

First up on the wader front – even if a little late putting in an appearance – a Grey Plover arrived at Summer Leys on 5th but had duly departed by the following day.

Grey Plover,  Summer Leys LNR, 5th May 2015 (Bob BullocK)

Grey Plover, Summer Leys LNR, 5th May 2015 (Bob BullocK)

Little Ringed Plovers remained there, however, with this site hosting the week’s maximum of five on 2nd, although there was a possibility of eight being present there at one point. This species was also noted at Clifford Hill GP and Thrapston GP. Ringed Plovers remained relatively scarce but six at Warmington GP was a good count on 4th, three were at Stanwick GP on 5th and two visited Summer Leys the next day. The latter site hosted a drop-in Whimbrel immediately after heavy rain on 3rd and a Dunlin the next day, followed by two more Dunlin there on 6th and singles at both Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick GP on 5th.

Whimbrel, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Whimbrel, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Four localities produced Common Sandpipers, with a maximum of three at Daventry CP on 4th and Summer Leys accounted for a Wood Sandpiper from 4th until the week’s end, while single Greenshanks were found at Stanwick GP on 2nd and Summer Leys the following day. Two Redshanks were also at the latter site at the same time, followed by singles at Thrapston GP on 3rd and Warmington GP on 4th. Summer Leys was the only locality to host this week’s Common Snipe, which numbered up to ten between 3rd and 6th.

Snipe CaptionStaying with Summer Leys, the long-staying second-summer Mediterranean Gull remained throughout the week but the lion’s share of scarce Larids fell as usual to

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 4th May 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 4th May 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Stanwick GP, which produced a second-summer Caspian Gull and two Yellow-legged Gulls on 4th, a Yellow-legged Gull plus a first-summer Little Gull the following day and five Yellow-legged Gulls on 8th. A second-summer Yellow-legged Gull also visited Clifford Hill GP on 7th, where an Arctic Tern was also present at the same time.

This week saw the arrival of the spring’s first Turtle Doves with singles at Old Sulehay on 2nd and at Harrington AF from 5th to 8th, although none has yet been found at the traditional site of Polebrook AF. Just one Common Redstart was discovered – a female at Borough Hill on 4th along with two Northern Wheatears at the same time, three more Northern Wheatears were at Harrington AF on 8th, while Clifford Hill GP produced another Northern on 3rd, a Greenland Wheatear on 7th and the week’s sole White Wagtail was at Summer Leys on 6th.

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The Week in Focus: 25th April to 1st May 2015

A predominantly dry and bright week punctuated only by a series of short, heavy downpours on 29th. Winds veered largely between northwest and southwest during the last week of what was officially the fifth sunniest April on record.

A Ruddy Shelduck flying over the Brampton Valley toward Brixworth on 26th was probably not everyone’s idea of a wetland wonder but it’s worth a mention nevertheless, otherwise it falls to last week’s drake Garganey at Summer Leys LNR until 27th to be the sole wildfowl representative in this week’s summary. With the lack of rare herons for the first week for months it’s on to raptors and the surprise appearance of two Hen Harriers – a ‘ringtail’ and an adult male – both moving west and separated in time by one hour at Twywell Hills and Dales LNR on 29th, while a male Marsh Harrier flew east at Stanford Res on 1st. The only Ospreys reported this week were at Thrapston GP on 27th and at Hollowell Res on 1st and Peregrines were seen at the first of these two locations on 26th and at Harrington AF the following day.

Little Ringed Plovers were recorded at six locations with a maximum of five at Hollowell Res on 29th and, for the second week running, Ringed Plover numbers were low with just singles at both Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick GP on 26th. A Whimbrel remained at Summer Leys between 25th and 28th and eight were also seen flying south-west over Pitsford Res on 26th.

Whimbrel, Summer Leys LNR, 26th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy)

Whimbrel, Summer Leys LNR, 26th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy)

Although there were three at Hollowell Res and one at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP on 25th, Dunlin numbers ramped up at the latter site with fourteen there, the same number

Dunlin, Pitsford Res, 26th April 2015 (Angus Molyneux)

Dunlin, Pitsford Res, 26th April 2015 (Angus Molyneux)

at Clifford Hill GP and two at Pitsford Res – all on 26th; thereafter, singles were recorded at Pitsford and Hollowell Reservoirs, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys between 27th and 29th. Eight localities produced Common Sandpipers, with a maximum of four at

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 27th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy)

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 27th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy)

Stanwick GP on 27th, while single Green Sandpipers were seen only at Summer Leys and Wicksteed Park Lake, with the first of these two localities producing a Greenshank on 25th-26th with another at Stanwick GP in 26th. Summer Leys also held the week’s only Redshank – on 27th – and the week’s only Common Snipe, with six on 26th and three on 30th.

Staying with Summer Leys, the second-summer Mediterranean Gull continued to be reported until 28th (although it was probably still present at the week’s end), while passage terns included four Black Terns at Pitsford Res on 29th and small numbers of Arctic Terns, including two reported over Scaldwell on 25th, two at Clifford Hill GP on 26th, one at Daventry CP on 28th and five at Hollowell Res on 29th.

One or two Wood Warblers normally find their way to the county each spring and the first – perhaps only – one this year was a singing male discovered at Daventry CP on 26th.

Wood Warbler, Daventry CP, 26th April 2015 (Simon Hales)

Wood Warbler, Daventry CP, 26th April 2015 (Simon Hales)

Wood Warbler, Daventry CP, 26th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Wood Warbler, Daventry CP, 26th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

‘New’ Ring Ouzels were found at Long Buckby, where there were up to three on 25th-26th, and at Harrington AF, where a male was present between 27th and 29th, while a late Fieldfare at Moulton on 28th was noteworthy. A Common Redstart was at Harrington AF on 29th, Whinchats were found at seven localities and Northern Wheatears at

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 25th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 25th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

White Wagtail, Pitsford Res, 26th April 2015 (Angus Molyneux). One of three present on the dam.

White Wagtail, Pitsford Res, 26th April 2015 (Angus Molyneux). One of three present on the dam.

four. Migrant White Wagtails appeared at five localities, with a maximum of four at Pitsford Res on 27th, while a flava wagtail at Daventry CP on 27th-28th appeared to be a good candidate for a female Blue-headed.

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The Week in Focus: 18th to 24th April 2015

Another week of above average temperatures saw further arrivals of summer visitors and the brief reappearance of a rarity from March.

With all the county’s wetlands free from the clutter of winter wildfowl a drake Garganey at Summer Leys LNR from 20th to 24th laid claim to being ‘duck of the week’, beating to the title the two Red-crested Pochards which visited adjacent Mary’s Lake on 18th.

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 20th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 20th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Last week’s Great White Egret appeared to remain in the central Nene Valley, being seen at Ditchford GP on 19th and at both Stanwick GP and Summer Leys on 21st, while the only raptors reported were an Osprey at Hollowell Res on 22nd and Peregrines at Higham Ferrers and Northampton on 19th.

Wader numbers did not improve above last week’s totals, with Little Ringed Plovers seen at three localities and just one Ringed Plover – at Hollowell Res on 23rd – although three Whimbrels at Clifford Hill GP on 24th was noteworthy. The two Summer Leys Ruff remained until 23rd with the same site holding up to two Dunlins until the same date. Common Sandpipers were found at five localities with a maximum of three at Stanwick GP on 23rd, while Green Sandpipers were seen at six, with a maximum of

Common Sandpiper, Upton Valley Way, Northampton, 23rd April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Common Sandpiper, Upton Valley Way, Northampton, 23rd April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Green Sandpiper, Upton Valley Way, Northampton, 23rd April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Green Sandpiper, Upton Valley Way, Northampton, 23rd April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

four at Daventry CP on 22nd and Greenshanks numbered one at Stanwick GP on 18th and two at Summer Leys on 23rd-24th. Single Redshanks were at both Thrapston GP and by the River Nene at Oundle on 19th and four were counted at Summer Leys on 21st, the latter locality holding the week’s maximum of six Common Snipe on 23rd, while singles were at Earls Barton GP’s Quarry Walk on 21st and Stanwick GP on 23rd.

In an exceptional week for gulls by any standards, the second-summer Mediterranean Gull continued to provide visitors to Summer Leys with marvellous views as it continued to hold territory in the Black-headed Gull colony throughout the week, while another ‘Med’ – this time a first-winter – was found at Daventry CP on 21st. But even these were overshadowed by spectacular (by Northamptonshire standards) numbers of Little Gulls, the largest flock of which appeared on 23rd at Daventry CP, where numbers rose to an impressive thirty-three on the evening of 23rd. The same date also saw nineteen at Hollowell Res and four at Stanwick GP, while Clifford Hill GP regulars logged one on 18th and six on 22nd and the one from last week remained at Stanwick GP until 22nd; an adult went through at Thrapston GP on 19th and, back at Daventry CP, three were present on 21st and one on 24th.

Little Gull captionDaventry also produced this week’s star bird – and returning rarity – a first-summer Ring-billed Gull. It appeared only briefly for a wash and brush up during the late afternoons of 22nd and 23rd, on each occasion heading off before anyone but the finder could catch up with it. It appeared identical to last month’s Boddington bird and, if it was the same individual, where had it been hiding during the intervening period? Much easier to catch up with than this, though, was the Stanwick Glaucous Gull, which continued to appear during the late afternoons and evenings until 23rd, amazingly being joined there by an adult Iceland Gull on 21st and 22nd.

Adult Glaucous Gull, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Adult Glaucous Gull, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Adult Iceland Gull, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Adult Iceland Gull, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Also at Stanwick were two second-summer Caspian Gulls on 21st and one again on 23rd. Perhaps surprisingly both of this week’s Yellow-legged Gulls were elsewhere – a first-summer at Pitford Res on 22nd and a second-summer at Daventry CP the following day.

With Common Terns now well ensconced at breeding sites attention was understandably focussed on migrants. More Black Terns appeared this week, with one at Summer Leys on 21st followed by six there on 23rd, while this location also produced a transient Sandwich Tern on the latter of these two dates. Arctic Tern passage this week appeared to be compressed into just two days, 21st and 22nd. The first of these two dates saw twenty-six at Hollowell Res and four at Boddington Res, while the following day produced fifteen at Daventry CP, eleven at Hollowell Res and seven at Stanwick GP.

Summer visitor ‘firsts’ this week included Common Swift at Long Buckby on 18th, Lesser Whitethroat at Hartwell on 19th and Garden Warbler at Pitsford Res on 22nd. Continuing an exceptional run of records this spring, migrant Ring Ouzels were still very much in evidence with at least two remaining on the lower slopes of Newnham Hill until 19th, single males were near Hollowell Res – also on 19th – and at Long Buckby and Shutlanger on 23rd, with a female at Isham on 24th.

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell Res, 19th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell Res, 19th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell Res, 19th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell Res, 19th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

This week also produced two more Pied Flycatchers – both males – with one at Tomlin Wood (Kingscliffe) on 21st and the other at Loddington on 24th but the only Common Redstart was a male at Great Oakley on 21st. More Whinchats arrived this week with singles found at Summer Leys on 18th-19th, at adjacent Earls Barton GP on 22nd and at

Whinchat, Earls Barton GP, 22nd April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Whinchat, Earls Barton GP, 22nd April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Boddington Res on 24th, although the number of Northern Wheatears was down with singles at Summer Leys on 18th-19th, Hemington on 19th and at Harrington AF on 19th-20th. Migrant White Wagtails included singles at Pitsford Res and Fawsley Park on 22nd, and at Hollowell Res there were five on 22nd and one on 23rd.

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The Week in Focus: 11th to 17th April 2015

Following a blustery start, another week of light winds and above average temperatures ensued, providing ideal conditions for more north-bound migrants …

Departing winter ducks included four Pintails, which dropped into Daventry CP on 14th, while a pair of Garganeys arrived at Summer Leys LNR on 12th, remaining there until the following day.

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 13th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 13th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 13th April 2015 (John Moon)

Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 13th April 2015 (John Moon)

Another day, another Great White Egret – this time at Stanwick GP on 15th and it seems likely it will be the last one before the late summer dispersal brings more back to the county.  The Summer Leys Marsh Harrier was last seen on 11th and another was quartering the old Chelveston AF four days later, on 15th, when a female Goshawk was also seen over nearby Stanwick GP. Fewer Ospreys were recorded with just one drifting over Brixworth then Pitsford Res on 14th and another was over Daventry the following day, while Peregrines were seen at Daventry CP, Summer Leys and in the Brampton Valley and Merlins at Woodford Halse on 12th, Harrington AF on 14th and Newnham Hill on 16th.

The only Golden Plovers this week were twenty at Harrington AF on 14th, while Little Ringed Plovers were seen at seven localities and a handful of Ringed Plovers included singles at Summer Leys, Clifford Hill GP, Thrapston GP and Hollowell Res with up to two at Stanwick GP.  More Whimbrels appeared this week with singles at Daventry CP on 14th and 17th and one at Summer Leys on 15th, where there was also a Curlew on the same date. Summer Leys also laid claim to a Ruff seen daily there all week, being joined by a second bird from 15th, while a trickle of Dunlins included four at Stanwick GP on 11th, three at Clifford Hill GP on 12th and 14th and singles again at Stanwick on 14th and at Summer Leys the following day. The first Common Sandpipers were at Stanwick GP and Daventry CP on 14th, followed by one at Summer Leys on 15th and two again at Stanwick the following day, while Green Sandpipers were at Upton Valley Way (Northampton) on 12th, Daventry CP on 14th and at Ditchford GP the following day. Summer Leys produced the week’s only Greenshank on 14th-15th and up to five Redshanks.

The same locality continued to host the second-summer Mediterranean Gull which was still holding territory in the Black-headed Gull colony at the week’s end,

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 12th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 12th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

two adult Little Gulls were at Pitsford Res on 17th and Stanwick GP also hung on to a Little Gull all week as well as the Pitsea red-ringed adult Glaucous Gull all week at the same time attracting a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull on 11th. Also at Stanwick, the first Arctic Tern came through on 12th, swiftly followed by another at Pitsford Res on the same date, two at Summer Leys on 13th and three at Ditchford GP on 15th, while a Black Tern appeared at Pitsford Res on 17th.

Further summer visitor ‘firsts’ this week included Cuckoo in the Brampton Valley on 12th, Common Whitethroat at Bozenham Mill on 14th, Lesser Whitethroat at Ravensthorpe Res on 17th, Grasshopper Warbler at Stanwick GP on the same date and Reed Warbler at the same locality two days later, while a Nightingale was singing at Glapthorn Cow Pasture on 12th.

For the second week running Ring Ouzels maintained a locally heavy presence with up to seven on the lower slopes of Newnham Hill from 12th until the week’s end.

Ring Ouzel, Newnham Hill, 14th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy). One of seven present at this site.

Ring Ouzel, Newnham Hill, 14th April 2015 (Stuart Mundy). One of seven present at this site.

Ring Ouzels, Newnham Hill, 12th April 2015 (Mike Alibone). Two of seven present at this site.

Ring Ouzels, Newnham Hill, 12th April 2015 (Mike Alibone). Two of seven present at this site.

This represents the largest flock size to be recorded in Northants for a good many years. Away from Newnham single males were present at Harrington AF on 14th-16th and on private land near Hollowell Res on 17th.

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell, 17th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

Male Ring Ouzel, near Hollowell, 17th April 2015 (Cathy Ryden)

With only one or two county records per year, a male Pied Flycatcher at Pitsford Res on 14th was a rare treat for one observer. Unfortunately it could not be found the following day.

Male Pied Flycatcher, Pitsford Res, 14th April 2015 (Terry Armstrong)

Male Pied Flycatcher, Pitsford Res, 14th April 2015 (Terry Armstrong)

A small number of Common Redstarts continued to be found with singles at Byfield Pool on 11th, Borough Hill on 14th and Earls Barton GP on 17th, while up to three were present around Newnham Hill between 12th and 15th. The same site hosted the first migrant Whinchat of the spring on the last of these dates. In contrast to last week there were many more Northern Wheatears found, including singles at Clifford Hill GP, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys, two at Chelveston AF, three at Borough Hill and at Moulton Quarry, four at Newnham Hill and six at Harrington AF.

Northern Wheatear, Moulton Quarry, 14th April 2015 (Douglas Mcfarlane)

Northern Wheatear, Moulton Quarry, 14th April 2015 (Douglas Mcfarlane)

Migrant White Wagtails included five at Clifford Hill GP on 12th and singles at Stanwick GP on 13th and Boddington Res the following day.

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The Week in Focus: 4th to 10th April 2015

A remarkably dry and settled week, which saw temperatures hit the low twenties and variable light south-westerly to south-easterly winds wafting Saharan dust our way at the week’s end. Such conditions proved, as ever, conducive to northbound migrants and the floodgates duly opened …

Another Pink-footed Goose put in an appearance this week – April is a classic month for this species to turn up, especially in the Nene Valley, where this one was seen at Stanwick GP on 10th. The only other wildfowl of note were three Pintails at Pitsford Res on 4th and singles at Welford Res on 5th and at Stanwick GP the following day.

Drake Pintail, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Drake Pintail, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

One Great White Egret remained at Ditchford GP, where it was last seen on 4th. Hot on the heels of last week’s Ospreys were further singles over Corby on 4th, Welford Res on

Osprey, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Osprey, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

5th and at Hollowell Res and Earl Barton GP on 10th, while a male Hen Harrier visited Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 4th and a Marsh Harrier appeared to take up residence in the Summer Leys area, where it was seen almost daily between 4th and 10th. The first Hobby appeared over Spratton on 8th, quickly followed by another at Ravensthorpe Res on 10th, while Peregrines were seen at seven sites this week.

Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Amid several scattered UK records during the period, two Common Cranes were reported – one over Blueberry Farm on 5th and the other high over Towcester on 9th. A notable inland passage of Avocets also occurred, with one at Clifford Hill on 4th increasing to nine there – Northants’ largest flock for a good many years – the following day, which also saw two visiting Stanwick and Ditchford GPs before another remained elusive around Summer Leys LNR on 6th.

Avocets, Clifford Hill GP, 5th April 2014 (Bob Bullock)

Avocets, Clifford Hill GP, 5th April 2014 (Bob Bullock)

Clearly outnumbering the one Golden Plover – at Harrington AF on the 8th – Little Ringed Plovers appeared in ones and twos at Clifford Hill GP, Stanwick GP, Summer Leys, Hollowell Res and Upton Valley (Northampton).

Little Ringed Plover, Hollowell Res, 10th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Little Ringed Plover, Hollowell Res, 10th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

The first spring Whimbrel was one or two birds calling at night over Oundle on 4th and single Curlews were seen at Bozenham Mill also on 4th, Pitsford Res on 5th and at Wadenhoe on 6th. Three Black-tailed Godwits visited Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows reserve on 10th and the only Common Snipe reported this week was also at Ditchford GP on 8th, while one Jack Snipe remained at Hollowell Res on 4th. A Ruff at Summer Leys on 9th-10th added further to the local wader passage, while single Green Sandpipers were found at Upton Valley Way (Northampton) on 5th and at Summer Leys on 8th and two were at Daventry CP on 10th.

Arriving almost en masse on the southerly winds, Common Terns appeared on 10th at Clifford Hill, Stanwick and Thrapston GPs as well as at Daventry CP and Summer Leys – the same day producing ten Little Gulls at Thrapston GP and one at Clifford Hill GP. Despite being well into April, rare gulls continued to feature, with the ever-showy second-summer Mediterranean Gull still holding territory in the Black-headed Gull colony on Summer Leys’ Rotary Island all week and with an adult at Thrapston GP on 10th.

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 6th April 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 6th April 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 8th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 8th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

A good candidate for an adult Baltic Gull visited the gull mecca of Stanwick GP on the evening of 4th, the same site producing a second-summer Caspian Gull on 8th and the lingering, Pitsea red-ringed adult Glaucous Gull during the late afternoons/early evenings throughout the period.

Further summer visitor ‘firsts’ this week included House Martin at Wadenhoe on 10th, Sedge Warbler at Stanwick GP on 6th, with Willow Warbler there the following day and Yellow Wagtail at Hollowell Res on 8th. A significant inland passage of Ring Ouzels took place across southern England this week and resulted in singles appearing at Harrington AF on 5th and 10th, Coton on 8th and at Borough Hill on 9th and 10th.

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 10th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 10th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

JFT Caption

A male Black Redstart was photographed on farmland at Braunston on 9th, the same day a male Common Redstart was found at Summer Leys, followed by further males at

Male Common Redstart, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Male Common Redstart, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Hollowell Res and Blueberry Farm the next day. There were surprisingly few Northern Wheatears with just two at Harrington AF on 5th, followed by singles there on 6th and

Northern Wheatear, Harrington AF, 5th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Northern Wheatear, Harrington AF, 5th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

10th, and two at Borough Hill on the last of these dates. Another ‘late’ Brambling was found this week – this time at Thrapston GP on 10th.

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