A strong southerly airstream prevailed throughout the week, the floodgates opened and spring migrants and summer visitors poured in.
A Barnacle Goose at Deene Lake on 15th was no doubt feral, nevertheless a ‘C list’ bird, as were the 2 Egyptian Geese at Stanwick GP on the same date along with the usual six at Ditchford GP all week. Continuing the theme, a female Mandarin Duck was on a brook below Hanging Houghton on 13th and 15th and two drakes were seen at Blatherwycke Lake on the latter date, while a pair of Garganey was at Ditchford GP on 13th and a drake Pintail visited Hollowell Res on 18th. Single Drake Scaup were at Ditchford GP and Stanwick GP on 14th, the latter remaining the following day, and a pair of Red-crested Pochards was found at Hardingstone GP on 19th, while Goosander numbers dwindled to just one at Clifford Hill GP on 15th and three at Stanwick GP on 16th and 17th with two there on 19th. The Daventry CP Black-necked Grebe remained until 14th.
Raptor counts were up on last week with a Marsh Harrier flying west at Summer Leys LNR on 17th, single Ospreys over Clifford Hill GP and Pitsford Res on 13th and over Hanging Houghton on 16th, a Merlin at the latter locality on 17th and a Peregrine there on 16th with singles also at Clifford Hill GP on 13th and Pitsford Res on 19th.
Although Little Ringed Plovers were present at six localities, Ringed Plovers remained scarce with singles only at Stanwick GP on 15th and at Clifford Hill GP on 18th. Perhaps surprisingly there were still plenty of Golden Plovers around with approximately forty-five at Harrington AF on 15th, twenty-eight at Stanwick GP and seventy-three near Naseby Res on 16th and sixty-one at Clifford Hill GP on 17th with ninety-six there the following day. The latter site hosted a Grey Plover on 17th and 18th, while last week’s Knot was still present there on 13th. The only Dunlins were two at the latter site on 13th and 18th and singles at Stanwick GP on 14th and 19th and what were presumably the last of the winter’s Jack Snipe, a trio, were at Hollowell Res on 15th. The recent run on Black-tailed Godwits slowed, with last week’s Clifford Hill bird remaining until 13th and a group of five visited Stanwick GP on 17th, when seven Whimbrel also
paid a brief visit to Clifford Hill GP. Curlews similarly were in short supply with singles at Stanford Res on 13th and at Summer Leys LNR the following day, while Common Sandpipers were found at six localities and single Green Sandpipers were at Stanwick GP on 14th and Pitsford Res on 16th and two were on flood pools at Upton Valley from 15th to 17th and two again at Stanwick on 19th.
With most of the wintering gulls having departed the only scarce larids were a second-year Yellow-legged Gull at Stanwick GP on 14th and two adults visited Clifford Hill GP the following day but the year’s first Arctic Terns arrived this week with three at Daventry CP on 14, singles at Boddington Res on 17th and at Bozeat GP on 18th, sixteen at Daventry CP and five at Clifford Hill GP on 18th and three at Stanwick GP, two at Boddington Res, five at Daventry CP and five at Pitsford Res – all on 19th.
A ‘small flock’ of Ring-necked Parakeets flew over Stoke Bruerne on 14th. The number of records in recent years suggests the likelihood of breeding in this area but this has never been proven. The first Cuckoo of the year was seen at Summer Leys LNR on 14th followed closely by the second at Old Sulehay the next day. The first Common Whitethroat appeared at Stanwick GP on 15th followed by the first Lesser Whitethroat at the same locality on 17th and the first Reed Warbler was at Summer Leys LNR the next day. A male Ring Ouzel was at Harrington AF on 13th, followed by two females there two days later, none of which lingered, while more than one hundred Redwings were still at East Haddon on the first of these two dates. The first Nightingale of the spring was singing at the traditional location of Glapthorn Cow Pasture on 17th and, on the same date, a Black Redstart paid three brief visits to a garden in Sywell.
A nationwide influx of Common Redstarts resulted in records of up to five at Clifford Hill GP on 15th-16th, four at Borough Hill on 19th and twos at Woodford Halse on 16th and Corby Sewage Works and Collyweston Quarry on 19th and singles at Brackmills (Northampton) on 16th-17th and 19th, Borough Hill on the same dates and again at Clifford Hill on 17th-18th.
Male Whinchats at Pitsford Res and Brackmills (Northampton) on 16th were the second earliest in the County since 1969 (the earliest was on 15th April 1984) and further singles wereat Summer Leys LNR and again at Brackmills on 19th, while more Northern Wheatears were found this week with records from eight sites and a maximum of nine at Brackmills on 16th. A male Pied Flycatcher paid a very brief visit to the same Sywell garden as the Black Redstart, above, on 15th providing the homeowner with two excellent ‘garden ticks’ within forty-eight hours!
After a light sprinkling of Yellow Wagtails last week, this week’s picture was entirely different with records from ten sites with double-figure counts from three of these and a maximum of forty-four at Upton Valley (Northampton) on 19th.
The same site hosted a male Blue-headed Wagtail on 17th and another male was at Hollowell Res on 14th and 15th. There were also good numbers of White Wagtails recorded, reflecting the national picture, with records of mainly singles from seven localities but twelve were at Upton Valley on 19th, 8 at Stanwick GP on 16th and at least six at Bozeat GP on 18th. A Tree Pipit flying north over Stanford Res on 13th was noteworthy as a scarce passage migrant in Northants in recent years. Brambling numbers dwindled with singles at Borough Hill on 13th, Pitsford Res on 13th, 14th and 19th, East Hunsbury (Northampton) on 14th and Harrington AF on 14th with two there the following day. The only Crossbills this week were a flock of approximately sixteen at Showsley on 14th.