A fast-moving Atlantic depression crossed northern Britain at the beginning of the week, bringing strong southwesterlies to western Britain, although these had lost impetus by the time they reached the Midlands. Otherwise the largely westerly airflow continued and the weather remained largely dry.
Coinciding with fresh Icelandic arrivals in northern Britain this week, thirty-one Pink-footed Geese flew high west over Pitsford Res on 18th while 20th saw the return to the Nene Valley of ‘Wossy’, last month’s escaped Ross’s Goose – this time at Clifford Hill GP.
Although with rather better credentials, another species which consistently receives short shrift from birders in the UK is Ruddy Shelduck and last week’s female remained south of the causeway at Pitsford Res all week; more on this later.
Two Pintails at Summer Leys LNR on 14th were the only ones this week, the same site hosting a Garganey throughout the period, although seven were there on 14th, one also visiting Clifford Hill GP the same day. A Goldeneye was found at Stanford Res also on 14th while the long-staying bird at Pitsford Res remained all week.
Raptors were in short supply with single Merlins at Raunds on 13th-14th, Pitsford Res on 16th and at Harrington Res the following day while a female Peregrine was at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 15th, 16th and 19th and a juvenile visited Stanwick GP on the last of these dates.
Wader passage was lifted somewhat this week. Single Little Ringed Plovers visited Clifford Hill GP and Hollowell Res on 14th, the latter site along with nearby Stanford Res also hosting a Ringed Plover on the same date. At least three were at Clifford Hill GP – also on 14th with some still there on 16th when three were also at Summer Leys, increasing to five there on 20th.
A Golden Plover was seen at Harrington AF on 14th and fourteen flew over nearby Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 18th. Wader of the week was the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper which appeared during drizzly conditions at Clifford Hill GP on 14th but there have still been no Little Stints so far this autumn and time is surely running out …
Up to seven Dunlins were present at Clifford Hill GP between 14th and 20th while singes visited Summer Leys on 16th and Stanwick GP the following day but only Ruff this week were two near the dam at Pitsford Res on 14th and 15th and one at Summer Leys on 14th.
Two juvenile Black-tailed Godwits visited the latter locality on 20th. Common Sandpipers were found at five localities with two at Boddington Res and one at Hollowell Res on 14th, three or four at Pitsford Res on 16th and singles at Welford Res and Ditchford GP on 20th. Green Sandpiper numbers remained low with two at Pitsford Res on 14th, one there on 17th and one at Ditchford GP on 20th, while a late Wood Sandpiper was discovered on the drained lake at Wicksteed Park on 19th. 13th with two there on 10th and one at Stanwick GP on 12th. The only Greenshanks during the period were at Pitsford Res, where there were up to two between 14th and 18th. There have been no American waders in the county so far this autumn but we are now approaching the last week of September, which has a great track record locally for producing the goods, so fingers crossed!
A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was found in the gull roost at Pitsford on 16th with five Yellow-legged Gulls there on 18th. Other Yellow-legged Gulls included singles at Hollowell Res on 14th and at Ditchford GP on 20th while seven were at Stanwick GP on 19th. With all the local breeding Common Terns now departed two were found at Hollowell Res on 14th along with a juvenile Arctic Tern.
Away from the wetlands, a Short-eared Owl was at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 14th and two were present there on 18th while a Common Redstart was found at nearby Harrington AF on the first of these two dates. Whinchat were rather more widespread this week with singles at Boddington Res and Borough Hill on 14th and Sywell CP on 16th, up to two at Pitsford Res between 14th and 18th and up to eight at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell between 14th and 19th. A single Northern Wheatear at Harrington AF on 14th-15th continued to mark a poor autumn for this species locally but a flock of approximately fifty Yellow Wagtails at Chelveston Airfield on 20th was a good local record for this species.