All you ever wanted to know about Raptors …

Jennifer Anderson will shortly be running a course  on Raptors in the library at Higham Ferrers. The course consists of six modules and covers the Conservation, Ecology, Biology and  Anatomy, life cycles, endangered species and the history of mans association with birds of prey. The course starts on 7th October and runs for six Fridays from 1-2 pm.
The cost is £5 per session and tea and coffee will be provided. See below for contact details.
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The Week in Focus 17th to 23rd September 2016

The week kicked off with a drop in temperature, winds from the northern quarter, overcast skies and heavy drizzle – perfect skua weather but the reality of standing exposed on Pitsford causeway (no sitting in cars, remember) waiting, waiting, waiting, quickly lost its appeal for some of us at least. Aside from similar conditions on day 3, the week turned out mainly fine with the eastern side of the UK benefiting bird-wise from an easterly airstream, although there was no change in land-locked Northants – still waiting, waiting, waiting …

The Ruddy Shelduck remained, as expected, at Pitsford Res, and more Pintails arrived this week – not in any large numbers but up to two at each of Daventry CP, Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Stanwick GP, while the only Garganey were two at Hollowell Res on 20th. A female Red-crested Pochard x Mallard hybrid was found at nearby Ravensthorpe Res on the same date. Up to three ‘thoroughbred’ Red-crested Pochards remained at Pitsford Res on 17th-18th and a drake Common Scoter visited Hollowell Res on 19th.

A Bittern was a surprise discovery on the ‘new diggings’ at Earls Barton GP on the WeBS count on 17th, nowadays much more difficult to see in the County than Great White Egret, more of which piled in this week.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 22nd September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 22nd September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great White Egret, Hollowell Res, 22nd September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Great White Egret, Hollowell Res, 22nd September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

 

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 23rd September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 23rd September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Last week’s individual at Pitsford Res remained until at least 18th, when it was joined by a second bird, one remained all week at Summer Leys LNR, another was found at Deene Lake on 18th and, on the same date, another was discovered at Ravensthorpe Res and commuted between there and nearby Hollowell Res until at least 22nd. The partial summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe remained for two more days off the feeding station at Summer Leys but had departed after the weekend.

Adult Black-necked Grebe, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Adult Black-necked Grebe, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Adult Black-necked Grebe, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Adult Black-necked Grebe, Summer Leys LNR, 17th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

In a week notable for its absence of raptor reports Hobbies were still being seen – in most instances moving south – at Pitsford Res and Thrapston GP on 17th, Daventry CP and Stanford Res on 20th, Preston Deanery on 21st and Daventry CP again on 23rd.

As the end of September approaches, wader numbers begin to dwindle. The long-staying juvenile Grey Plover at Boddington Res remained all week, while Ringed Plovers included one at Stanwick GP on 17th, two at Hollowell Res on 18th increasing to five there on 22nd and, on 19th, twos at Pitsford Res and Daventry CP and four at Clifford Hill GP. A juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit visited Summer Leys on 18th – the same day that a juvenile Knot chose the unlikely location of the car park at Ravensthorpe Res to spend the day, albeit intermittently.

Juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 18th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 18th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 18th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 18th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Juvenile Knot, Ravensthorpe Res, 18th September 2016 (Lee Loveridge)

Juvenile Knot, Ravensthorpe Res, 18th September 2016 (Lee Loveridge)

Juvenile Knot, Ravensthorpe Res, 18th September 2016 (Allan Maybury)

Juvenile Knot, Ravensthorpe Res, 18th September 2016 (Allan Maybury)

The only Ruff were singles at Ditchford GP on 18th, Daventry CP on 19th-23rd and Naseby Res on 20th and the only Dunlin was one at Hollowell Res on 18th-19th, while Common Sandpipers were reduced to two at Boddington Res and one at Daventry CP on 17th and 23rd and singles at Naseby Res on 18th-20th, Hollowell Res on 19th, at Stanford Res the following day, with one again at Boddington Res on 23rd. Up to two Green Sandpipers were at Daventry CP between 17th and 20th and three on 23rd, one was at Pitsford Res on 17th, two were found at Deene Lake on 18th and one visited Naseby Res on 20th.  Common Snipe were recorded at seven localities with maxima of seven at Ditchford GP on 18th and at Hollowell Res on 20th.

Few scarce gulls were in evidence this week with the rarest of the few all being seen on 17th – these comprising a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Boddington Res, a first-winter Caspian Gull at Daventry CP and an adult Caspian Gull at Pitsford Res. Small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were found at Boddington Res, Pitsford Res, Hollowell Res, Daventry CP and in the Brampton Valley with the first named of these site holding the maximum of five on 17th. Getting late now, single Common Terns visited Ditchford GP on 18th and Hollowell Res on 20th.

Most of our Common Redstarts have now moved through, reflected this week by just one, at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 17th. Similarly, the only Whinchats were two at the latter locality on the same date and one at Bozenham Mill on 23rd. There were also three Stonechats at Blueberry Farm, followed by further singles at Summer Leys on 19th and Sywell CP the next day.

Stonechat, Sywell CP, 20th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Stonechat, Sywell CP, 20th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Northern Wheatears also appeared in slightly smaller number with singles again at Blueberry Farm on 17th, at Summer Leys and Preston Deanery on 21st and 23rd followed by three between Quinton and Preston Deanery on 22nd.

Northern Wheatear, Preston Deanery, 21st September 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Northern Wheatear, Preston Deanery, 21st September 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Much commoner in autumn than we probably believe, a White Wagtail was identified at Pitsford Res on 17th and, on the same date, a Tree Pipit was working its way across fields near the Grand Union Canal, north of Daventry and east of Welton.

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The Week In Focus, 10th to 16th September

The warmest September day since 1911 saw temperatures rise to 34.4ºC on 13th, backed by a south to south-easterly airstream. Otherwise, largely dry weather prevailed locally until the week’s end, the wind having changed to west or south-westerly. The flow of migrants continued although, once again, the period produced little to write home about.

The Ruddy Shelduck remained throughout at Pitsford Res, principally by the dam, while single Pintails were at the same site on 14th and at Stanwick GP from 12th to 14th. Also remaining were the juvenile female Garganey at Daventry CP until 14th and the juvenile male at Summer Leys LNR until 16th, plus the eclipse drake Goldeneye at Stanford Res on 11th.

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

This week’s Red-crested Pochards included one at Hollowell Res on 14th and up to six at Pitsford Res, where the female Red-crested Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid was also seen again on 14th.

A Great White Egret was found at Pitsford Res on 14th, remaining at the week’s end and a partial summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe took up residence off the feeding station at Summer Leys from 15th. In contrast to last week, just one Marsh Harrier was seen on 11th and 13th, quartering fields in the Brampton Valley, below Hanging Houghton while, nearby, an adult Osprey visited Pitsford Res on 12th, another adult was seen flying south over Daventry on the same date and one flew south over Elton the following day.

Adult Osprey, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Adult Osprey, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Adult Osprey, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Adult Osprey, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

A Peregrine was at Rushden on 10th and a juvenile showed well at Summer Leys on 13th, while lingering Hobbies were still at six localities during the week.

Juvenile Peregrine, Summer Leys LNR, 13th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Juvenile Peregrine, Summer Leys LNR, 13th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Hobby, Summer Leys LNR, 10th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Hobby, Summer Leys LNR, 10th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

In terms of numbers there was a notable shortage of waders but variety was up this week, kicking off with single juvenile Grey Plovers – long-staying at Boddington Res from 11th and briefly at Summer Leys on 14th.

Grey Plover, Boddington Res, 14th September 2016 (John Friendship-Taylor)

Grey Plover, Boddington Res, 14th September 2016 (John Friendship-Taylor)

Grey Plover, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Grey Plover, Summer Leys LNR, 14th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Single Ringed Plovers visited Ditchford GP on 12th and Naseby Res on 14th, while Hollowell Res produced six on 16th and Pitsford Res held two on 14th with eight more flying south there on the same date.

Ringed Plovers, Pitsford Res, 14th September 2016 (John Nicholls)

Ringed Plovers, Pitsford Res, 14th September 2016 (John Nicholls)

Twenty-four Bar-tailed Godwits flying north-west over Boddington Res on the evening of 10th was a very unusual autumn record – this species is far more often seen in spring – and the second Turnstone to visit Stanwick GP this autumn appeared there on 14th, while a flock of seven flew west, just north of Daventry CP on 12th. Two Ruff were at Pitsford Res between 10th and 14th and a juvenile male visited Hollowell Res before moving to nearby Naseby Res on the latter date. This species has been much scarcer than usual in the county this autumn. Even more scarce, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was a one-day visitor to Daventry CP on 10th; despite record numbers on the east coast (and inland) earlier in the autumn we have not fared at all well for this species locally. Hollowell Res produced the week’s only Dunlins with up to three there during the period, while Common Sandpipers were again recorded from ten sites, with no more than two at any one locality. Six sites produced Green Sandpipers with a maximum of four Daventry CP on 13th and the same number at Naseby Res on 16th but Greenshank numbers remained low with just a 25-minute stopover being made by three at Summer Leys on the morning of 16th. A relatively late Wood Sandpiper flew south, calling, over Boddington Res on 13th, the same site holding the week’s only Redshank the following day, while small numbers of Common Snipe were recorded at this site as well as at Ditchford GP, Pitsford Res, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys with a maximum of eleven at the latter site on 16th.

Common Snipe, Pitsford Res, 15th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Common Snipe, Pitsford Res, 15th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

After good numbers in spring, Black Tern is another species which has been scarce this autumn and six at Boddington Res on 12th did not linger. There was also a Sandwich Tern at Stanwick GP on 14th, which was part of a national inland movement and a juvenile Little Gull appeared at the Pitsford Res gull roost on the same date. Three first-winter Mediterranean Gulls comprised singles at Naseby Res on 12th, Daventry CP on 14th and Boddington Res on 16th, while three localities produced small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls with Boddington Res holding two on 12th, four on 15th and one on 16th, Ditchford GP hosting three on 12th and Pitsford Res producing one on 12th, six on 14th and three on 16th. This week’s Caspian Gulls were limited to just three records of a juvenile and second-winter at Boddington Res on 12th plus a first-winter there on 15th and a fourth-winter at Naseby Res on 16th.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

A Turtle Dove – probably the last to be seen this year – was at Harrington AF on 10th, and the same site continued to produce Common Redstarts with two there from 10th to 13th, while the 11th saw singles near Walgrave and at Twywell Hills & Dales and four were together at Fawsley Park on the same date; one or two were also present at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 13th. Whinchats continued to trickle through with singles at Pitsford Res on 10th and 13th, Clifford Hill GP on 11th and Hollowell Res on 14th, while twos were at both Blueberry Farm and Harrington AF on 13th and reports of Northern Wheatears were restricted to singles at both Walgrave and Warmington on 11th, Pitsford Res on 12th-13th and at both Blueberry Farm and Harrington AF also on 13th.

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 12th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

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Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull Identification Workshop

Gull aficionado Martin Elliott will be back on a one-time visit to Stanwick on 29th September to run a special Yellow-legged and Caspiangull-id-advertisement-2016 Gull ID masterclass. Don’t miss it …

 

 

 

 

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The Week in Focus, 3rd to 9th September 2016

Conditions remained warm and dry as a westerly airstream gave way to winds from the south from mid-week, bolstered by a high pressure system over eastern Europe. There was no shortage of migrants across the board but the week again passed with no sign of the long overdue ‘big one.’

Predictably, the Ruddy Shelduck remained at Pitsford Res and the juvenile male Garganey at Summer Leys LNR throughout, while the juvenile female was still present at Daventry CP until at least 7th and another visited Hollowell Res on 4th. Of potential interest to some was the rediscovery of the female Red-crested Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid at Pitsford Res on 5th.

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 4th September (Mike Alibone)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 4th September (Mike Alibone)

Remaining slippery and elusive, the juvenile Shag continued its exclusively early morning/late evening appearances at at Stanwick GP until at least 4th and the Great White Egret from 1st reappeared at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP on 4th-5th.

Continuing their autumn run, Marsh Harriers were seen in the Brampton Valley on 5th and 7th, at Harrington AF and Summer Leys on 6th and at Pitsford Res on 9th.

Marsh Harrier Pitsford Res, 9th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Marsh Harrier Pitsford Res, 9th September 2016 (Alan Coles)

In contrast to last week, four passage Ospreys comprised singles at Pitsford Res on 3rd, over Fotheringhay on 6th, flying east along the Nene valley between Wollaston and Irchester on 8th and south-west over the M1 near Flore on the same date. Peregrines, too, were up, with singles at Clifford Hill GP on 3rd, Daventry CP on 6th, at Elton and in the Brampton Valley on 7th, at Harrington AF on 7th-8th and at Bozenham Mill on 8th, while lingering Hobbies were still at seven localities during the week.

Waders continued to be reported from a variety of localities and, in a week with no Little Ringed Plovers, Ringed Plover numbers were on the up with two at Summer Leys on 4th-5th, five at Hollowell Res on 4th increasing to six on 6th and then ten from 7th to 9th and one at Pitsford Res on 6th-7th.

Juvenile Ringed Plover, Pisford Res, 6th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Ringed Plover, Pisford Res, 6th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Ringed Plovers, Hollowell Res, 7th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Ringed Plovers, Hollowell Res, 7th September 2016 (Martin Swannell)

A Black-tailed Godwit visited Daventry CP on 4th and, again, there was only one record of Ruff – five at Hollowell Res on 9th. Apart from one at Boddington Res between 3rd and 6th, Hollowell produced the week’s only Dunlins with up to four there throughout the period. The most widespread and commonly occurring wader of the autumn, Common Sandpiper, continued to be seen in good numbers throughout the period, being recorded from ten localities with a maximum of four at Hollowell Res on 5th, while Green Sandpipers were down on last week with one at Naseby Res on 4th and up to two at Daventry CP between 4th and 7th and the same number at Summer Leys between 5th and 9th. A Spotted Redshank was found at Naseby Res on 9th, this species having become a regular – though very scarce – passage migrant in the county over the last ten to fifteen years. It’s not proving to be a good autumn for Greenshanks and numbers continued at a very low ebb with just one at Summer Leys from 4th to 7th.

Greenshank, Summer Leys LNR, 7th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Greenshank, Summer Leys LNR, 7th September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

This week’s gulls threw up a couple of first-winter Mediterranean Gulls – Pitsford Res on 3rd, Boddington Res on 4th and two more at Daventry CP on 7th while, again, the adult gull showing characteristics of Azorean Yellow-legged Gull briefly visited Stanwick GP on 9th, the same individual having also visited Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire (less than 20 km distant) on 5th. Small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls formed the basis of records from Draughton, Pitsford Res, Hollowell Res and Daventry CP with no more than five or six at any one location, while this week’s Caspian Gulls comprised a juvenile at Daventry CP and a third-winter at Boddington Res – both on 6th.  What was potentially the year’s last Common Swift was seen over Raunds on 3rd and, hot on the heels of last week’s Pied Flycatcher at Denton Wood, three more appeared – all in suburban Northampton – with two at Harlestone Road Allotments and one at Bradlaugh Fields, all three of which were found on the evening of 7th.

Pied Flycatcher, Northampton, 7th September 2016 (Stuart Mundy)

Pied Flycatcher, Northampton, 7th September 2016 (Stuart Mundy)

Common Redstart numbers dwindled somewhat to one at Clifford Hill GP on 3rd, a male at Pitsford Res on 5th, single juveniles trapped and ringed at Stanford Res on 6th and 8th, twos at each of Blueberry Farm, Walgrave and Harrington AF on 7th and one at the latter locality the following day. Whinchats were found again at six localities, with up to three at both Clifford Hill GP and Sywell CP, singles at Creaton, Lilbourne and Walgrave but the maximum was six at Blueberry Farm on 5th, when there were also up to three Stonechats there.

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 6th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 6th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 6th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 6th September 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Whinchat, Sywell CP, 8th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Whinchat, Sywell CP, 8th September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Fewer Northern Wheatears were in evidence this week with singles near Finedon on 3rd and Clifford Hill GP the following day, rising to two there on 6th and one was at Harrington AF on 8th. Still in short supply, a Tree Pipit flew over Blueberry Farm on 5th, while a juvenile Crossbill visited a lone pine tree in a Wellingborough garden briefly on 6th.

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The Week in Focus, 27th August to 2nd September 2016

Conditions remained largely dry again with, in the main, a south-westerly airstream. Water levels at local reservoirs and lakes remained surprisingly high so limiting wader action to only a very few localities.

The Ruddy Shelduck remained at Pitsford Res and the Garganey at Daventry CP until 2nd and another frequented the scrape at Summer Leys LNR from 31st until 2nd, while the only other duck of note was a female Red-crested Pochard at Pitsford Res on 29th.

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Alan Coles)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Juvenile drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

The juvenile Shag also remained at Stanwick GP until at least 30th, vacating its island roost on the A45 Lay-by Pit during the day for fishing areas unknown and a Great White Egret appeared at Summer Leys on 1st.

Marsh Harriers continued to be reported with one flying north-west at Hellidon on 28th, another at Harrington AF on 29th and 30th and a third at Stanwick GP on the last of these dates. Just one Osprey was seen – at Hollowell Res on 29th and the only Peregrines were up to two at Hellidon on 28th and 30th, while soon to be departing Hobbies were still at five localities during the week.

Adult Hobby, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Adult Hobby, Summer Leys LNR, 1st September 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Numbers of Little Ringed Plovers were down on last week with two at Clifford Hill GP on 27th and one at Daventry CP from 27th to 29th and Ringed Plovers mustered up to four at Clifford Hill GP between 27th and 29th and one at Stanwick GP on 28th. A Black-tailed Godwit visited Hollowell Res on 29th and nine dropped in briefly at Summer Leys on 31st, while the juvenile Turnstone at Stanwick GP, from 17th, finally departed at some time on 29th, having completed a record thirteen-day stay.

Juvenile Turnstone, Stanwick GP, 29th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Juvenile Turnstone, Stanwick GP, 29th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Stanwick also hosted the week’s only Ruff – a juvenile on 28th-29th. More unusual for August was a juvenile Sanderling at Clifford Hill GP on 29th, the latter locality

Juvenile Ruff, Stanwick GP, 29th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Juvenile Ruff, Stanwick GP, 29th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

additionally producing three Dunlins on the same date, three were also at Hollowell Res from 31st to 2nd and one at Stanwick GP on 28th-29th.

Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 31st August 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 31st August 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Hollowell also delivered the autumn’s second Little Stint, a juvenile, on 1st. Common Sandpipers continued to be seen in good numbers throughout the period, being recorded from eight localities with no more than four at any one locality, while Green Sandpipers were recorded at four with a maximum of seven at Daventry CP on 27th.

Juvenile Little Stint with Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 1st September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Juvenile Little Stint with Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 1st September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Juvenile Little Stint with Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 1st September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Juvenile Little Stint with Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 1st September 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Greenshank numbers remained low with singles at both Thrapston GP and Stanwick GP on 29th, followed by one at Summer Leys on 31st, while single Redshanks appeared at Pitsford Res on 27th and Clifford Hill GP on 29th. Just four Common Snipe were at Summer Leys on 28th, one at Hollowell Res on 31st and three at Earls Barton GP on 2nd.

A juvenile Little Gull visited Summer Leys on 31st and first-winter Mediterranean Gulls this week included singles at Pitsford Res on 27th and Stanwick GP on 29th, while two visited Summer Leys on 30th. Again, the adult gull showing characteristics of Azorean Yellow-legged Gull briefly visited Stanwick GP – this time early in the

Putative 'Azorean' Gull, Stanwick GP, 2nd September 2016 (Steve Fisher)

Putative adult ‘Azorean’ Gull, Stanwick GP, 2nd September 2016 (Steve Fisher)

afternoon – on 2nd, while Yellow-legged Gulls included single adults at Pitsford Res on 27th-29th and Stanwick GP on 28th, a first-winter at Daventry CP on 29th, four at Summer Leys the following day and one at Hollowell Res on 2nd.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 28th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 28th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

All of this week’s Caspian Gulls were restricted to Stanwick GP, where there was a second-summer on 27th, an adult and a first-summer on 30th, two adults and two second-summers on 1st and a first-summer on 2nd.

Again, Turtle Doves were found only at Harrington AF, where there were two on 29th, a Pied Flycatcher turned up in a garden at Denton Wood on 31st and Common Redstarts were still very much in evidence with records from Blueberry Farm, Brampton Valley, Clifford Hill GP, Daventry CP, Eydon, Fawsley Park, Harrington AF, Hellidon and Walgrave, with a maximum of at least four at the latter site on 29th. Whinchats were more widespread than in the previous review period, with records from Blueberry Farm. Brampton Valley, Finedon, Harrington AF, Hollowell Res, Sywell CP and Walgrave

Whinchat, Sywell CP, 2nd September 2016 (Alan Francis)

Whinchat, Sywell CP, 2nd September 2016 (Alan Francis)

and there were still three Stonechats lingering at Blueberry Farm. More Northern Wheatears appeared this week with singles at Denton Wood and in the Brampton Valley on 29th, two at Hellidon on 30th and singles at Summer Leys and near Finedon on 1st. A Tree Pipit flew over Harrington AF on 28th.

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Two Weeks in Focus, 13th to 26th August 2016

A largely dry couple of weeks saw temperatures hit 30º C as the winds swung south-easterly, for a time ushering in hot air from mainland Europe. A two-week period makes a significant difference to what can be expected as migration gathers pace and we head into autumn proper. Numbers of waders, gulls and especially passerines are ramping up as September looms large in the birding calendar.

The Ruddy Shelduck remained at Pitsford Res, where it was seen on 20th, while the same locality saw the beginning of the annual autumn build-up of Red-crested Pochards with up to six there from 23rd.

Ruddy Shelduck, Pitsford Res, 15th August 2016 (Alan Francis)

Ruddy Shelduck, Pitsford Res, 15th August 2016 (Alan Francis)

Elsewhere, the drake Goldeneye remained at Stanford Res until at least 24th and a Garganey was at Daventry CP on 25th-26th and, back at Pitsford Res, another was found on 26th. The same dates saw a juvenile Shag at Stanwick GP, which was only the second record for the site, while this species is by no means annual in the county with the last being in December 2013.

Juvenile Shag, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Juvenile Shag, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Raptors this in the period included a Marsh Harrier in the vicinity of Scaldwell and Walgrave Bays at Pitsford Res between 15th and 25th with perhaps the same individual visiting the nearby Brampton Valley on 23rd-24th. Single Ospreys were also at Pitsford Res on 14th and 24th-25th while others were seen at Hollowell Res on 14th and at Sywell CP on 23rd, although it is possible that just one roaming individual could account for all of these records. Peregrines appeared at Hellidon on 14th, Ditchford GP on 15th, at Summer Leys LNR on 17th and 23rd and at Hollowell Res on 25th.

Adult Peregrine, Summer Leys, 23rd August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Adult Peregrine, Summer Leys, 23rd August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

The autumn’s first Golden Plover appeared at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 17th and Little Ringed Plovers were recorded from Daventry CP, Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res, Summer Leys and Sywell CP. Most, if not all, were single juveniles.

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Sywell CP, 22nd August 2016 (Alan Francis)

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Sywell CP, 22nd August 2016 (Alan Francis)

By contrast there were only two Ringed Plovers, which consisted of singles at Ditchford GP on 13th and Stanwick GP on 21st-22nd. A Whimbrel flew south-west at Daventry CP on 26th, while three Curlews flew west at Stanford Res on 23rd and two were at Hollowell Res two days later but, compared with the previous period, Black-tailed Godwit passage had slowed to just one at Summer Leys on 19th and two there on 21st. A juvenile Turnstone took up residence on the Visitor Centre Lake at Stanwick GP from 17th and was still present on 26th, while the first of the autumn’s Ruffs appeared with singles at Summer Leys on 15th and 19th and at Hollowell Res on 16th and 21st.

Juvenile Turnstone, Stanwick GP, 21st August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Juvenile Turnstone, Stanwick GP, 21st August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

The latter locality produced three Dunlins on 25th, but numbers otherwise remained low with just singles at Summer Leys on 19th and Stanwick GP between 20th and 26th.

Juvenile Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 15th August 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 15th August 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile Little Stint, Summer Leys LNR, 12th August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Juvenile Little Stint, Summer Leys LNR, 12th August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Sometimes quite elusive, a Little Stint remained at Summer Leys between 12th and 14th. Common Sandpipers continued to be seen in good numbers throughout the period, being recorded from eight localities with a maximum count of six at Daventry CP on 24th,

Juvenile Common Sandpiper, Sywell CP, 22nd August 2016 (Alan Francis)

Juvenile Common Sandpiper, Sywell CP, 22nd August 2016 (Alan Francis)

while Green Sandpipers were recorded at six with a maximum of five at Summer Leys on 17th. A Spotted Redshank appeared briefly at Summer Leys on 25th and Greenshank numbers were surprisingly low with, apart from four at Stanwick GP on 22nd, singles at Summer Leys on 13th, Stanwick on 18th and 21st, Stanford Res on 23rd and Hollowell Res on 25th. Hollowell and Summer Leys were the only localities to host Common Snipe with the former producing singles on 13th and 21st, two on 16th and six on 25th and the latter with two on 14th and three on 21st.

Green Sandpiper, Summer Leys LNR, 21st August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Green Sandpiper, Summer Leys LNR, 21st August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Green Sandpiper, Summer Leys LNR, 22nd August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Green Sandpiper, Summer Leys LNR, 22nd August 2016 (Ricky Sinfield)

Along with diminishing numbers of Common Terns, the period saw a short-staying Little Tern at Stanford Res on 19th – the same date on which ten Black Terns paid an equally brief visit to Summer Leys, departing high to the west during the evening. Three Mediterranean Gulls included a juvenile at Daventry CP on 18th, a second-summer there on 24th and another juvenile at Hollowell Res the following day. Potentially hugely rarer, however, was the adult gull showing characteristics of Azorean Yellow-legged Gull at Stanwick GP’s pre-roost gathering on 24th and 25th. We’ve been here before, of course, and with this well-marked race now officially on the British List and a previous record of a returning individual (Stanwick 2013, 2014) pending acceptance by BBRC, this bird – believed by some to be the same individual – clearly warrants further study if it lingers.

Caption AZGUCaption AZGU

Putative adult Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Putative adult Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Putative adult Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Putative adult Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP, 25th August 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Normal’ Yellow-legged Gulls were recorded in smaller numbers than during the lastperiod at Stanwick, Daventry CP, Summer Leys and Pitsford Res with a maximum of eight at the latter site on 13th.

Cartion YLGU

 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 14th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 14th August 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Caspian Gulls, represented largely by immatures, were found at Daventry CP on 13th, with two there on 15th, one on 16th and 25th, Stanwick GP, where there were two on 15th, 17th (one adult) and 23rd, one on 25th and four the next day and Clifford Hill GP, where there was an adult on 14th.

First-summer Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 26th August 2016 (Steve Fisher)

First-summer Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 26th August 2016 (Steve Fisher)

Again, Turtle Doves were found only at Harrington AF, where there were four to five on 21st and one on 24th. The ringing highlight of the second week was undoubtedly a Wryneck which was trapped on 26th at Stanford Res by the Stanford Ringing Group, which has an enviable track record for pulling scarce migrants from its nets.

Wryneck, Stanford Res, 26th August 2016 (Mick Townsend)

Wryneck, Stanford Res, 26th August 2016 (Mick Townsend)

Common Redstarts came through in good numbers with records from Blueberry Farm, Borough Hill, Daventry CP, Eydon, Fawsley Park, Harrington AF, Hellidon, Hollowell Res and Walgrave, with a maximum of four at the latter site on 25th and, in addition, a first-year female was trapped and ringed at Stanford Res on 18th. Related species remained scarce, however, with reports of Whinchats limited to two at Borough Hill on 13th, two at Blueberry Farm on 17th and 23rd and one in the Brampton Valley on 24th, where there were still two Stonechats on the same date. Just three Northern Wheatears included singles at Blueberry Farm on 17th and at both Stanford Res and Harrington AF on 21st. The latter site also produced two Tree Pipits on 26th – following the autumn’s first over Fineshade Wood on 14th – and a Corn Bunting on 24th.

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