The Week in Focus: 10th to 16th August 2013

Mixed weather conditions combined with a largely westerly airstream to produce little in the way of new birds this week.

A Ross’s Goose was discovered at Stanwick GP on 11th and was still present there on 13th. Although this species is one of the earliest geese to depart from its Arctic breeding grounds in autumn, an early to mid-August arrival in the UK is not likely so, undoubtedly of captive origin, it falls into the category of ‘scarce escape’ compared to the normal, run of the mill, fence-hopping wildfowl we are used to seeing locally.

Ross's Goose, Stanwick GP, 11th August 2013 (Mike Alibone)
Ross’s Goose, Stanwick GP, 11th August 2013 (Mike Alibone)

A Garganey, the credentials of which were never in dispute, was also at Stanwick GP on 12th-13th as was last week’s eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard while a Goldeneye was found at Pitsford Res on the first of these two dates and remained until 15th.

An early autumn Bittern put in a brief appearance on the edge of the reeds on the scrape at Summer Leys LNR on 13th and was also seen there again on 16th.

Bittern, Summer Leys LNR, 13th August 2013 (Clive Bowley)
Bittern, Summer Leys LNR, 13th August 2013 (Clive Bowley)

Up to two Marsh Harriers frequented Harrington AF between 11th and 16th, while, on 15th, two were at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell and one flew west over Weedon on 16th. Single Ospreys were seen daily at Blueberry Farm between 10th and 13th and one was at Pitsford Res on 14th-15th and the only Peregrine of the week was a juvenile at Stanwick GP on 10th.

Two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were at at Summer Leys until at least 11th with a juvenile Ringed Plover there on the same date and again on 16th. Two more Little Ringeds and a Dunlin were at Stanwick GP on 14th, another Dunlin visited Summer Leys on 16th and two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers were reported from Stanwick GP on 13th, where there was also a Ruff on the same, and the following, date with two at Daventry CP on 16th. Larger waders included eleven Black-tailed Godwits at Stanwick GP on 12th, a Whimbrel there on the following day and a Curlew in flight over Harrington AF on 16th. Common Sandpipers were recorded from Summer Leys, Bozeat GP, Ditchford GP, Earls Barton GP, Stanwick GP, Pitsford Res and Sywell CP with no more than two at any one location, while Green Sandpipers were found at Bozeat GP, Ditchford GP, Stanwick GP and Daventry CP with a maximum of five at the latter site on 16th. The only Greenshanks recorded this week were up to three at Summer Leys, two at adjacent Earls Barton GP on 11th and two at Stanwick GP on 14th.

Yellow-legged Gulls numbers remained high at Stanwick GP throughout the week with a maximum of forty-four – a new record high count for Northants – on 10th and one also visited Daventry CP on 16th, the same site also hosting a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on 13th.

Harrington Airfield produced single Common Redstarts on 11th, 12th, and 16th and another was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on the latter date while two Whinchats were at the former locality on 11th and up to six remained at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell all week. The autumn’s first Northern Wheatears were found at Byfield on 14th and at Cransley Res two days later and a Tree Pipit – now a scarce migrant in Northants – flew over Harrington AF on 12th.  Migrant Crossbills continued to be seen, with two singles flying south-west over Harrington AF on 10th, three flying east over Stanwick GP on 13th and two again over Harrington AF on 15th.

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