An unseasonally blustery start to the week gave way to a mixed bag of weather including sunshine and showers, the latter from moisture-heavy air emanating from the western Atlantic at the week’s end. Local birding was unsurprisingly slow.
A male Marsh Harrier flying east over the A14/A6 Junction at Rothwell on 27th, an Osprey fishing at Welford Res on 24th and two Peregrines at a site in the north of the County were the only raptors of note this week. Single Black-tailed Godwits visited Stanwick GP on 22nd, Hollowell Res on 23rd, Clifford Hill GP on 25th and Summer Leys LNR on 28th and the only other passage waders during the period were a Curlew at Stanwick GP on 28th and two Green Sandpipers there on 22nd with one there again on 24th. Between three hundred and four hundred loafing large gulls were at the latter site in the early part of the week, being joined there by a near-adult Caspian Gull, up to eight Yellow-legged Gulls and an out of season Common Gull on 24th-25th with four Yellow-legged Gulls there again on 28th. Similarly unseasonal was a Siskin, again at Stanwick, on 25th and two juveniles – perhaps indicative of local breeding – on a garden feeder at Old Stratford on 26th.
The local Wildlife Trust in conjunction with Opticron is staging an optics demonstration day on Saturday, 29th June, at Pitsford Reservoir between 10.00 and 16.00, enabling visitors to test a range of Opticron equipment under field conditions. An optics expert will be on hand to offer the opportunity to test and compare Opticron binoculars and telescopes under field conditions. There is no pressure to buy but a percentage of the profit on any product sales will be donated to the Wildlife Trust. Further details here.
The weather was mixed with variable light winds as we entered a lean week in which potential headline birds came no closer than being possibles or near misses.
Two Garganeys were present at Summer Leys LNR on 18th while the drake Red-crested Pochard remained there until at least 16th. A Black Kite drifting west over Peterborough early in the evening of 16th was clearly destined not to be found in Northants, or was it? A report of a ‘possible’ over Broughton early the next day was not positively identified by the observer and a ‘ninety-nine percenter’ was (back?) in the Peterborough area, at Norman Cross – just 5 km east of the Northants county border – early on 18th. While hopeful of connecting with the Peterborough Black Kite over Irthlingborough on 16th, one optimistic sky-scanner picked up what was most likely a female Red-footed Falcon heading high north-west but this, too, looks like being another one that got away … A reminder that autumn is just around the corner came in the shape of Green Sandpipers at Summer Leys on 18th and at Stanwick GP on 19th, while single Curlews visited Clifford Hill GP on 17th and Chacombe on 18th and four were found at a suitable breeding site on the first of these two dates.
The high pressure system in place over the UK gave way to an Atlantic low, bringing more unsettled conditions and the early summer lull continued throughout the week.
A drake Garganey lingered at Summer Leys LNR from 9th to 14th, being joined there by what is assumed to be last week’s drake Red-crested Pochard from Stanwick GP from
12th to 14th, while the female Goldeneye at adjacent Earls Barton GP’s Mary’s Lake was still present on 8th. News of an adult Night Heron was released toward the end of its two-week stay on a private lake at Stoke Albany, emerging via a convoluted route and not in time for birders to catch up with it before it was last seen on 7th. This is only the ninth Night Heron to be recorded in Northants and it would have proved popular with local birders had it stayed longer, the previous record having been twenty-three years ago in 1990! Raptors of note this week were a Marsh Harrier flying north-east at Long Buckby on 9th and single Ospreys at Thrapston GP on 8th and over Sidegate Landfill on 14th, while passage waders included single Black-tailed Godwits at Summer Leys on 9th and 12th and at Stanwick GP on 10th and a Curlew at the latter locality on 8th. Rooftop breeding of Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls appears to have taken off in the County in recent years and the non-breeding population of immature large gulls is similarly increasing with loafing Nene Valley flocks attracting a first-summer Caspian Gull to Stanwick GP on 9th and up to seven Yellow-legged Gulls at the same site between 8th and 10th.
With a high pressure system sitting over the UK all week the weather remained warm and dry and conditions calm. One or two new birds were discovered to keep the interest engine running …
This week’s ducks deluxe comprised the drake Red-crested Pochard still present at Stanwick GP on 2nd and 3rd and the female Goldeneye still at Earls Barton GP – reportedly with an injured wing – on 1st. The first of what will hopefully be a Juneful of Quail was heard singing late in the evening at Glapthorn on 5th and two Black-necked Grebes paid a surprise visit to Daventry CP on 7th, showing well close to the overflow there during the afternoon. The only raptor of note was an adult Peregrine over Thrapston GP on 3rd and the only passage wader a Greenshank at Summer Leys on 3rd
and 4th while up to two second-summer Yellow-legged Gulls loitered at Stanwick GP on the same dates. Scarce passerines were restricted to a couple from the chat end of the systematic list, namely a Black Redstart in an Oundle garden briefly on 4th and a