The relatively warm south-westerly airstream at the beginning of the week had given way to cold north-easterlies and rain by the week’s end. A phenomenal 33,000+ Redwings were counted migrating over one point in neighbouring Bedfordshire on 10th as more winter visitors appeared in Northants.
Yes, winter’s intent was announced by the arrival of several species this week, kicking off with six Whooper Swans flying east just before dusk fell at Stanwick GP on 10th. The same, or perhaps a different flock was seen flying south-west at Thrapston GP the following morning with a lone individual was also seen flying north-east there and nine adults briefly at Hollowell Res the same day. The Pitsford pair of Ruddy Shelducks was present until 8th but they have become highly mobile and may still be present somewhere on the reservoir. Elsewhere, scarcer wildfowl were represented by last week’s Pintail remaining at Hollowell Res until 10th, singles at Stanford Res on 5th and Thrapston GP on 11th and four or five at Summer Leys LNR on 7th, the latter being joined there by three Garganey on the same date, while an eclipse drake Garganey was also at Clifford Hill GP on 5th.
Last week’s eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard was still at Stanford Res on 5th, five Common Scoters (two drakes) appeared at Hollowell Res and another at nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 10th and the first Goosander of the season was on the fishing lake at Wicksteed Park on the same date.
Hot on the heels of last week’s two Great White Egrets, two more – this time together – arrived at Pitsford Res on 8th with at least one remaining there until 11th. Meanwhile, in the Nene Valley, another was found at Stanwick GP early morning also on 11th and a Black-necked Grebe – a species proving scarce this autumn – appeared at Stanford Res on 5th.
Raptors were also in short supply this week with a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier flying west at Summer Leys on 11th and a Peregrine there on 6th, while a juvenile visited Stanwick GP on the same day and an adult was there on 9th.
Wader passage is now at an understandably low ebb and there were few new arrivals. Ringed Plovers at Pitsford Res dropped from six on 5th to four by 9th and two were still at Clifford Hill GP on 5th where there were approximately two hundred Golden Plovers on 9th with five at Summer Leys on 6th. The long-staying Grey Plover remained at Stanwick GP until early morning on 6th and another flew east over Hollowell Res on 5th. The two Little Stints at the former locality remained until 5th and the same site held a Dunlin from 5th to 9th, three were at Pitsford Res from 5th to 7th with one there on 8th-9th and two on 11th and two were at Clifford Hill GP on 5th. The only Ruff this week was one at Daventry CP on 7th, the same site producing a flock of fifteen Black-tailed Godwits for just thirty minutes on 5th, while another was at Stanwick GP on the same date. Just one Common Sandpiper was found – at Pitsford Res – on 9th, the same site producing the week’s only Green Sandpiper on 8th.
Single first-winter Mediterranean Gulls were at Daventry CP on 8th and 11th and a fourth-winter Caspian Gull visited Stanwick GP on 5th, an adult was there on 8th and another adult was found at Thrapston GP on 11th. Amazingly, ‘the’ (or another) Azorean Yellow-legged Gull was back at Stanwick GP for just a couple of minutes on 8th, again giving observers no chance to catch up with it and approximately thirty Yellow-legged Gulls were there on the same date. Two more were at Hollowell Res on 5th, six were at Thrapston GP on 11th and an adult remained at Pitsford Res all week.
A late Willow Warbler was at Hardingstone on 11th, a male Ring Ouzel – only the second of the autumn – was found at Hollowell Res on 10th and the winter’s first Fieldfares – three of them – flew over Stanford Res on 9th. Departing summer visitors included last week’s Whinchat remaining at Clifford Hill GP until 5th and what were probably the last Yellow Wagtails of the year at Hollowell Res and Brackley on the same date. More inbound winter visitors included the first Bramblings at Stanford Res and Summer Leys on 5th, followed by one at Stanwick GP and six west over Thrapston GP on 11th.