Red-backed Shrike at Thrapston GP

A Red-backed Shrike was showing well in bushes by the river, opposite the hide on stilts at Thrapston GP’s Tichmarsh reserve late this afternoon. Alan Bull captured images of this splendid male, which is the first in the County since the last accepted record of a male at Hartwell on 24th May 2004. This species last bred in Northamptonshire in the 1960s.

Red-backed Shrike, Thrapston GP, 11th July 2011 (Alan Bull)

Northern Willow Warbler … in June!

The Stanford Ringing Group has again been busy trapping rare warblers, having yesterday netted Northamptonshire’s second only Northern Willow Warbler. Identified on biometrics this race, acredula, which breeds as close as Norway, is regularly recorded on passage in the UK but what an odd time to find one inland in the Midlands!

Northern Willow Warbler, Stanford Res, 30th June 2011 (John Cranfield)

Normally Willow Warblers start moving south at the end of July. So where did it originate? It is a female with a brood patch growing over so maybe from Scotland (where this race is believed by some to breed) or maybe a Scandinavian breeder whose brood has failed and it decided to return south early? I would be pleased to receive comments on its possible origin. Interestingly, the only previous record of this race for Northamptonshire was also trapped by the SRG on 23rd August 2008.