The Week in Focus: 19th to 25th October 2013

This week’s weather was dominated by westerly or southwesterly winds, which produced showers and some short periods of heavy rain. Some interesting migrants found their way to the county while several long-stayers seemed set to remain for a while to come.

Following last week’s Egyptian Goose at Stanwick GP, two more were found at adjacent Ditchford GP on 23rd and the drake Mandarin Duck from Wicksteed Park Lake had moved to nearby Kettering Leisure Village Lake on 19th. The long-staying eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard remained at Stanford Res until at least 19th and another joined the three at Pitsford Res on 23rd and the total had increased to nine by 25th. A Bittern was located at Stanwick GP on 25th while the two Great White Egrets remained at, or around, Pitsford Res to at least 23rd with one until 25th.

On the raptor front, a male Hen Harrier was found at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 22nd, where it remained until the next day when a ‘ringtail’ was also discovered at the same site, being reported again there on 24th. The lingering Osprey at Stanford Res was still present there on 22nd, single Merlins visited Harrington AF and Pytchley Golf Course on 24th and Peregrines were found at Blueberry Farm and at Ditchford GP on 22nd and 23rd respectively.

Late autumn migrant Ringed Plovers included singles at Pitsford Res and Stanwick GP on 19th while numbers of Golden Plovers continued to build at six localities, with a maximum of c.600 at Clifford Hill GP on 19th. The only Dunlin this week was one at Pitsford Res on 23rd and a Jack Snipe was discovered at Grange Park, Northampton on the same date, while a Black-tailed Godwit visited Summer Leys LNR on 19th before moving further along the Nene Valley to Stanwick on 20th, remaining there until 25th. The latter site produced a Redshank on the same date, single Green Sandpipers were at Ravensthorpe Res from 19th to 23rd and at Pitsford Res on the latter date and a late Common Sandpiper was also found at Pitsford Res on 22nd.

A first-winter Mediterranean Gull appeared at Ravensthorpe Res on 23rd and five Caspian Gulls included an adult at Stanwick GP on 19th with two adults and a first-winter there on 22nd and an adult at Pitsford Res on the latter date. The elusive adult Azorean Yellow-legged Gull made one of its unpredictable appearances at Stanwick GP on 19th and approximately twenty Yellow-legged Gulls were also there on the same date and on 22nd, when an adult was also at Pitsford Res and two adults there on 25th.

Short-eared Owls remained scarce with just one at Harrington AF on 19th and 24th, the same site holding a first-winter Ring Ouzel throughout the period as well as what for

First-winter Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Mike Alibone)

many locals was ‘bird of the week’, a Great Grey Shrike on 24th and 25th. True to form,

Great Grey Shrike, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Great Grey Shrike, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Bob Bullock). The combination of lightly barred underparts, lack of whitish scapulars, pale tips to greater coverts and dark grey upperparts is indicative of a first-winter.

Great Grey Shrike, Harrington AF, 24th and 25th October 2013 (Alan Coles)

Great Grey Shrike, Harrington AF, 24th and 25th October 2013 (Alan Coles)

Great Grey Shrike, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Mike Alibone)

it remained highly mobile along the scrub belt between the first and third bunkers and the main concrete track as previous individuals have done in the past. Birders admiring the shrike also discovered a Black Redstart there on 24th.

Black Redstart, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Black Redstart, Harrington AF, 24th October 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Stonechats – locally scarce this year – were seen in Sywell early in the week and at Blueberry Farm on 24th but the title of rarest bird of the week goes to the Richard’s Pipit, which was flushed from a weedy field behind the dam at Daventry CP before moving to an adjacent field prior to flying off toward Borough Hill. This is only the 9th Northants record and follows hot on the heels of last year’s at almost the same locality. Single Rock Pipits, common by comparison, appeared at Stanford Res on 19th and at Stanwick GP on 22nd and two Crossbills flew over Harrington AF on 24th.

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