The Week in Focus: 26th October to 1st November 2013

The strong west to south-westerly airstream continued unabated, culminating in ‘Hurricane St Jude’, which brought devastating winds and rain to areas of southern Britain on 28th, although Northants remained unscathed. The hope of a wreck of inland seabirds went unfulfilled – a month earlier and it would likely have been a different story – but there was still plenty of interesting species around to keep local birders busy.

A Pintail was at Ravensthorpe Res on 27th and five were found at Stanwick GP on 30th but Pitsford Res produced the highest count, twelve, on 27th. On the same date the Red-crested Pochard total reached ten there, all of which remained until at least 31st with seven on 1st, while two drakes were at Stanford Res on 26th and another visited Stanwick GP on 29th. Last week’s two Great White Egrets at Pitsford Res became three on 28th, all of which were still present on 31st, although two were present on 1st and another was found at Stanwick GP on 30th.

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 28th October 2013 (Dave Jackson)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 28th October 2013 (Dave Jackson)

Great White Egret, Stanwick GP, 30th October 2012 (Steve Fisher)

Great White Egret, Stanwick GP, 30th October 2012 (Steve Fisher)

Stanford Reservoir’s long-staying Osprey failed to make it into the record books as Northamptonshire’s latest ever as it was not seen beyond 30th. The county’s current latest record was one flying southwest over Kislingbury GP on 31st October 2008. Single Merlins were seen at Harrington AF on 26th and 29th, Stanwick GP on 30th and at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 31st, while the only Peregrines were singles at Ravensthorpe Res on 27th and Pitsford Res on 29th and 31st.

With wader passage all but over, the only Dunlin this week were three at Pitsford Res on 31st, a Jack Snipe was found at Stanwick GP on 30th with last week’s Black-tailed Godwit still present there on 31st. Pitsford Res produced a Redshank also on 31st and three Green Sandpipers on 27th, falling to two on 29th and one on 31st and 1st.

Three Caspian Gulls – two adults and a second-winter – were at Stanwick GP on 28th with just one adult there on 29th-30th and, once again, the elusive adult Azorean Yellow-legged Gull made one of its unpredictable appearances there on 26th, while single adult Yellow-legged Gulls were at Stanford Res and Pitsford Res on 26th and 31st respectively with two adults at the latter site on 28th.

Adult Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 30th October 2013 (Steve Fisher)

Adult Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 30th October 2013 (Steve Fisher)

A Long-eared Owl was seen briefly in the Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Brixworth on 31st with Short-eared Owls at nearby Blueberry Farm on 26th and near Salcey Forest on 1st but bird of the week for many, if not all, was the obliging Hoopoe at Brickhill Farm Fisheries, between Woodford Halse and Eydon. Discovered by the landowner on 26th and easily viewable from a minor road, it performed well for all comers until 29th.

Hoopoe, Woodford Halse, 27th October 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Hoopoe, Woodford Halse, 27th October 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Hoopoe, Woodford Halse, 28th October 2013 (Mike Alibone)

Hoopoe, Woodford Halse, 28th October 2013 (Mike Alibone)

Hoopoe, Woodford Halse, 28th October 2013 (Mike Alibone)
Birders in Hoopoeland, 28th October 2013 (Mike Alibone). This popular bird attracted a steady trickle of admirers during its four-day stay.

Birders in Hoopoeland, 28th October 2013 (Mike Alibone). This popular bird attracted a steady trickle of admirers during its four-day stay.

Last week’s Great Grey Shrike was also still a popular draw at Harrington AF until at least 29th while the first Bearded Tits of the autumn, a male and female, were found at Stortons GP on 27th and another was calling from the reedbed at Ecton SF on the same date.

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

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

A late departing Swallow was seen over Church Brampton on 28th and a Ring Ouzel was discovered close to the causeway car park at Pitsford Res on 31st with a Black Redstart at the dam there on the same date. At Blueberry Farm, two Stonechats were present between 26th and 29th and the same area held twelve Bramblings on 28th with smaller numbers reported from Stanwick GP and Harrington AF and a female Crossbill flew south-west over Stanford Res on 26th.

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