The Week in Focus: 31st August to 6th September 2013

There was a westerly airflow throughout the week accompanied by unusually high temperatues (high twenties) and mainly clear skies toward the week’s end. This quickly changed, dropping suddenly by ten degrees on 6th as a result of an area of low pressure, which produced easterlies off southern Scandinavia, northerlies down the North Sea and rain and cloud stretching to the near continent … but nothing new in Northants.

More Pintail arrived this week with singles on 3rd at both Stanwick GP and Summer Leys LNR with the latter site producing a Garganey on the same date. Pitsford Res continued to host a Goldeneye and two Red-crested Pochards throughout the week as well as a short-staying Black-necked Grebe on 1st only.

The long-staying Marsh Harrier continued to be seen throughout the period at Harrington AF and in the nearby Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm area while a juvenile flew east at Hollowell Res on 6th, an Osprey flew south there on the same date and another was in the Harrington AF/Blueberry Farm area on 31st and 3rd, while a Peregrine visited Pitsford Res on 2nd.

The lack of suitable habitat meant that the week did not yield an increase in the number of waders. The only Little Ringed Plovers were singles at Stanwick GP on 3rd and 6th and two at Hollowell Res on the same dates and the only Ringed Plovers were singles at Pitsford Res on 1st with two there on 6th, Welford Res on 2nd and at Clifford Hill GP on 6th with five there on 2nd. A Golden Plover visited Stanwick GP on 5th and another flew over Harrington AF on 6th and four Dunlin were at Hollowell Res on 2nd while twos visited Clifford Hill GP on the same date, Summer Leys the following day, Stanwick GP on 5th and two flew south-west at Clifford Hill GP on 6th with one also at Pitsford Res on the same date.

Juvenile Dunlin, Hollowell Res, 2nd September 2013 (Mike Alibone). Part of a group of four which dropped in to feed late in the morning. Once the commonest small wader in Northants and a regular winter visitor, Dunlin is now a passage migrant in small numbers in both spring and autumn. Long gone are the days when wintering flocks in excess of two hundred individuals were to be found at Pitsford Reservoir, building up while large areas of mud were exposed in autumn and remaining until rising water levels forced them to find alternative feeding habitat elsewhere later in the winter.

In contrast to last week just two Ruff were found – at Pitsford Res on 4th and at Earls Barton GP on 6th. Four Black-tailed Godwits visited Summer Leys on 2nd with one there the next day and just one Whimbrel was seen flying over at Harrington AF on 5th. Common Sandpipers were found at Welford Res, where there were two on 31st and four on 2nd, Pitsford Res, where there were three on 1st-2nd and four on 4th and at Stanwick GP with two on 3rd and one on 5th-6th, while the only Green Sandpipers were seen on 2nd – when three were at Sulby Res and one visited Foxholes Fisheries, Crick – and 6th, when one was at Pitsford Res. The only Greenshanks during the period were at Pitsford Res, where there was one on 2nd and two on 4th and 6th.

Rare gulls were few and far between with a juvenile Caspian Gull briefly at Daventry CP on 3rd being the only candidate this week, while a juvenile Mediterranean Gull visited Hollowell Res on 6th an adult Yellow-legged Gull was there on 31st and 6th and three were at Pitsford Res on 1st.

Of the more interesting passerine migrants, a juvenile Ring Ouzel was located at Harrington AF on 31st (remaining until the next day) when there was also one or two Common Redstarts, a Northern Wheatear and a Whinchat there, while four of the latter species remained at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell all week, the number at this site increasing to eight on 5th-6th. Finally, approximately twenty Crossbills were found in Salcey Forest on 2nd.

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