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.
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.
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.
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.
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.