Great White Egret at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits

Dave Jackson found this superb Great White Egret this morning at Clifford Hill GP. It was still there late in the afternoon and seems reasonably tolerant of various human activities going on around it.

Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 27th July 2013 (Dave Jackson)
Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 27th July 2013 (Dave Jackson)
Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 27th July 2013 (Mike Alibone)  
Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 27th July 2013 (Dave Jackson).
Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 27th July 2013 (Dave Jackson).

Since the first County record at Stanford Reservoir in July 1992, there have been at least fifteen subsequent records, including three together in October 2002 and three together in the early part of this year at Earls Barton GP. The likely source of our visitors is France and The Netherlands where, according to British Birds, there is now a wintering population in excess of 2000 individuals!

The Week in Focus: 20th to 26th July 2013

Nineteen consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 28°C (recorded somewhere in the UK) made this the hottest summer so far this century and up to 34°C was recorded locally on 22nd. Subsequent to this, the weather broke down somewhat with isolated heavy showers and thunderstorms during the latter part of the week. Reservoir water levels remain disappointingly high, providing little in the way of attractive habitat for the migrant waders which have recently started to come through the county.

An eclipse drake Mandarin Duck visited Ravensthorpe Res on 23rd, the summering drake Wigeon remained at Hollowell Res until at least 25th, single Garganeys were at Stanwick GP on 20th and Summer Leys LNR on 21st and an eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard remained at Stanwick GP between 24th and 26th. For the second week running Daventry CP produced a flock of Common Scoters with five, including four drakes, there on 22nd.

The only raptors of note this week were single Ospreys at Stanford Res on 20th and in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton the following day, while a female Peregrine visited Summer Leys, also on 21st.

Little Ringed Plovers were recorded from Hollowell Res, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys, a migrant Ringed Plover was found at Stanwick GP on 26th and a Dunlin also at Stanwick GP on 20th. The first Common Snipe of the autumn – four – were at Summer Leys on 23rd and 24th, a Black-tailed Godwit visited nearby Earls Barton GP on 21st and twelve were at Summer Leys on 26th, while Common Sandpipers were recorded from Ditchford GP (Broadholme STW), Stanwick GP, Summer Leys, Hollowell Res, Stanford Res and Pitsford Res with a maximum of six at the latter site on 26th. Green Sandpipers, too, were found at more localities than last week with Pitsford Res, Ditchford GP, Summer Leys, Earls Barton GP and Stanwick GP all producing this species with a maximum of four at the last named of these sites on 26th. Single Greenshanks visited both Thrapston GP and Daventry CP on 20th, Hollowell Res on 23rd and Stanwick GP on 24th.

Stanwick also produced an adult Caspian Gull on the evening of 23rd, along with 26 Yellow-legged Gulls on the same date and eleven there on 26th. Another Yellow-legged Gull visited Hollowell Res on 23rd and three more were in the Pitsford Res gull roost on 26th. Last week’s adult Black Tern began to moult into winter plumage before it was last

seen on 21st. The national Crossbill influx became more evident this week with at least twelve at Sulby on 20th, six at Summer Leys and five west over Langlands, Northampton – all on 20th – and up to six at Harlestone Heath and four south over Pitsford Res on 22nd.

The Week in Focus: 13th to 19th July 2013

The virtually stationary high pressure system remained over the UK throughout the week, temperatures rose to above 30°C and migrants became more in evidence as the week progressed.

Summering Wigeon were found at Pitsford Res on 14th, Summer Leys (four) on 15th and at Blatherwycke Lake on 17th while a Garganey was again at Summer Leys LNR on 14th with two eclipse drakes there on 19th, and a female Red-crested Pochard was at Pitsford Res on 14th. Thirteen Common Scoters, including eight drakes, visited Daventry CP on 15th, being rather mobile around the site during their brief stay. The autumn’s first Dunlin was at Thrapston GP on 13th and an islandica Black-tailed Godwit visited Boddington Res the following day, up to four Green Sandpipers were at Daventry CP during the week, a Common Sandpiper was there on 15th and the same site hosted a Greenshank at the same time and a first-summer Yellow-legged Gull on 19th; another first-summer was also off the dam at Pitsford Res on the same date, while another Greenshank was found at Thrapston GP on 13th. Last week’s adult Black Tern continued its stay at Summer Leys throughout the period and two juvenile Common Redstarts were at the same site on 14th and another visited Harrington AF on 18th. A Siskin was at Fermyn Wood on 17th, where there was also a Crossbill on the same date, when several were also in nearby Souther Wood and twelve were at Denton Wood on 19th.

The Week in Focus: 6th to 12th July 2013

A high pressure system remained in position over the UK throughout the week, ensuring the continuing run of warm, dry conditions. A trickle of migrants hinted that autumn was underway … just.

A drake Wigeon was unusual at Hollowell Res on 11th and a Mandarin Duck visited nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 10th, the same day that a Garganey was found at Summer Leys LNR, where there was also a Goldeneye on 7th. An Osprey flew west at Pitsford Res on 6th and it, or another, flew east over Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 8th  but the only other raptor of note was a Peregrine in Northampton on 10th. Summer Leys played host to a number of transient Black-tailed Godwits with singles on 7th and 12th, 7 on 8th

Six Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa islandica, Summer Leys LNR, 10th July 2013 (Mike Alibone). Present in the wader bay and videoscoped from Pioneer Hide. The individual spending most of its time at the right hand end of the group is a female. Larger, longer billed, less extensively coloured underparts and less boldly patterned upperparts may invite confusion with Continental Black-tailed Godwit L. l. limosa, which is much less frequently encountered in Northamptonshire.

and 6 on 10th and a Green Sandpiper visited Daventry CP on 9th, the same site hosting a Greenshank on 10th and 11th while another was at Summer Leys on 7th. Loafing summer larids at Stanwick GP on 11th included a Common Gull and seventeen Yellow-legged Gulls while a first-summer Little Gull visited Daventry CP on 9th and the first Black Tern of the ‘autumn’ was at Summer Leys on 12th. Several Crossbills were mobile around Bucknell Wood on 6th.

The Week in Focus: 29th June to 5th July 2013

A largely dry and settled week with the highest temperatures of the year to date brought little in the way of new birds to the County, apart from a last-minute flyover White Stork …

A White Stork flying high over Sywell Airfield at 16.30 on 5th was seen by just one lucky observer. Otherwise, a Peregrine drifted over Geddington on 29th, four Black-tailed Godwits visited Summer Leys on the same day and another was there on 4th while a Greenshank – the first of the autumn – was at Thrapston GP on 29th.  The only other passage waders were species only to be expected with a Green Sandpiper at Thrapston GP on 30th and two at Stanwick GP on 2nd and a Common Sandpiper there on the same date along with four Yellow-legged Gulls.