The Week in Focus: 24th to 30th August 2013

A strong easterly element to the wind direction in the early part of the week resulted in a busy time for local birders with 24th seeing a significant arrival of new birds.

The first Wigeon of the autumn arrived this week and double-figure counts came from several localities with the maximum being seventeen at Stanwick GP on 27th. Similarly, the autumn’s first Pintail appeared at Summer Leys LNR on 28th with six dropping in briefly to rest on ‘the slips’ there before continuing south and another remaining until 30th.

Eclipse drake Pintail, Summer Leys LNR, 28th August 2013 (Mike Alibone)

The same site produced a Garganey on 24th and further singles were found at Stanwick GP on 27th and at Pitsford Res the following day. More Red-crested Pochards arrived with four at Stanford Res on 24th, two at Summer Leys on the same date and two at Pitsford Res all week, while the long-staying eclipse drake remained at Stanwick GP throughout the period. A Goldeneye also remained at Pitsford Res all week and a Black-necked Grebe was found on the main lake at Stanwick GP on 27th before quickly moving on.

It’s proving to be a good autumn for Marsh Harriers with long-staying birds (or possibly the same individual) at Harrington AF until 25th and in the nearby Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm area until 29th, along with singles at Stanwick GP on 24th and Summer Leys on 27th. An Osprey visited Pitsford Res regularly between 24th and 29th and a Peregrine was seen again at Stanwick GP on 25th.

Wader passage was brisk at the start of the week. The only Little Ringed Plover was one at Stanwick GP on 29th but more Ringed Plovers appeared with a juvenile at Summer Leys from 24th to 28th and six at Clifford Hill GP on 25th with three there the following day. Two Grey Plovers were on ‘the slips’ at Summer Leys fleetingly on 24th and four Dunlin were at Stanwick GP on the same date with two remaining on 25th and 26th, dwindling to just one on 27th. The same site produced good numbers of Ruff again on 24th, with a flock of twenty juveniles on the islands in the A45 Lay-by Pit, another by the visitor centre, and nine flying west while four were at Pitsford Res and one at Hollowell Res on the same date and three appeared at Summer Leys the following day with one remaining until 28th. Single Black-tailed Godwits were at Summer Leys from 24th to 26th and at Stanwick GP on 27th and 29th, while two were found south of the causeway at Pitsford Res on the latter date and five visited Summer Leys on 30th. Other large waders included two Whimbrels flying west at Stanwick GP on 25th and a Curlew on the ground at Clifford Hill GP the following day. Common Sandpipers were found in slightly higher numbers than last week at Pitsford Res, Naseby Res, Hollowell Res, Sulby Res and Stanwick GP with a maximum of five at Sulby Res on 30th. Four Green Sandpipers were at Summer Leys on 24th-25th with just one remaining the following day, two were at Slby Res on 30th and singles were at Stanwick GP on 24th and 29th while up to three Greenshanks were at Pitsford Res between 24th and 29th, two were at Sulby Res on 30th and singles visited Stanwick GP on 25th and 27th. The latter site hosted the week’s only Redshanks with just two there on 29th; this species is proving to be scarce this autumn. A Turnstone also visited Stanwick GP on 24th.

A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was in the gull roost off the yacht club at Pitsford Res on 24th, being joined by a second juvenile there the following evening and one was there again on 30th. Last week’s juvenile Caspian Gull was again at Stanwick GP on 24th and another was at Pitsford Res gull roost on 30th. The same two sites continued to produce Yellow-legged Gulls throughout the week with maxima of ten at Pitsford on 24th and approximately twenty-five at Stanwick on 29th. A juvenile Little Gull also visited the latter site very briefly on 24th and was joined equally briefly by two juvenile Arctic Terns there at the same time. The 24th also proved to be a great day for Black Terns with forty-five on Thrapston GP’s Town Lake providing a wonderful early evening spectacle. Six visited Summer Leys on the same date and four were there the following day along with two at Welford Res and one at Pitsford Res.

A Short-eared Owl was reported by the landowners at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 24th and another was found at Harrington AF on 30th when a juvenile Ring Ouzel was also found at the same site. Blueberry Farm hosted a Common Redstart on 29th while others appeared at Pitsford Res on 24th, Harrington AF and Spratton on 25th and a male was in Denton Wood

Male Common Redstart, Denton Wood, 29th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Male Common Redstart, Denton Wood, 29th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

on 28th and 29th. Up to six Whinchats were at Blueberry Farm throughout the week and a Northern Wheatear was there on 29th with another at nearby Harrington AF on 28th. A Tree Pipit flew east over Stanford Res on 24th and another south over Brackley on 28th while flyover Crossbills consisted of five over Stanwick GP on 24th and two over Hanging Houghton on 27th.

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