The Week in Focus: 19th to 25th April 2014

An area of low pressure to the south-east ensured a north-easterly airstream in the early part of the week, with outbreaks of rain and misty/murky conditions slowing and lowering a number of northbound migrants, particularly Arctic Terns, which were seen in some numbers on 20th.

Thrapston Gravel Pits continued to host the Pink-footed Goose until at least 21st, while the roving, escaped Ross’s Goose was seen again at Pitsford Res on the same date.

Pink-footed Goose, Thrapston GP, 21st April 2014 (Mike Alibone)

Pink-footed Goose, Thrapston GP, 21st April 2014 (Mike Alibone)

Considered by some to be fighting a losing battle with aesthetics, an Egyptian Goose was at Clifford Hill GP also on 21st, remaining there until at least 24th and a female Red-crested Pochard was discovered at the largely underwatched site of Thorpe Malsor Res – again on 21st. A drake Scaup found at Pitsford Res on 19th was still present there on 24th, the wintering Long-tailed Duck remained at Earls Barton GP all week and a female Common Scoter appeared at Thrapston GP on 24th. Other remnants of winter hung on in the form of 2 Goldeneyes at Thrapston GP on 21st and two were at Pitsford Res on 23rd and one at Summer Leys on 25th, while a drake Goosander was also at Thrapston GP on 21st and a female remained at Daventry CP on 20th.

Three fine, summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebes found their way to Pitsford Res on 19th but did not linger and a dip into the almost empty raptor bag pulled out only single Peregrines from Pitsford Res on 19th, Hardingstone on 20th and Hemington on 20th-21st.

Wader passage began to gain momentum but failed to produce anything to match the quality of last week’s Harrington Stone-curlew. Little Ringed Plovers were reported from four Nene Valley localities and dwindling Golden Plover numbers included two at Hemington on 20th and six in the Brampton Valley on 22nd. Six Bar-tailed Godwits spent the day at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows Reserve on 20th with two Black-tailed Godwits at Summer Leys on 25th and the week’s only Whimbrel – which was also the first of the year – flew over Summer Leys on 22nd, while the same Green Sandpiper remained at Kislingbury Meadows on 19th, a lonely Common Sandpiper visited Clifford Hill GP on 22nd-23rd and the spring’s first Turnstone lingered at Summer Leys on 20th-21st.

Turnstone, Summer Leys LNR, 21st April 2014 (Simon Hales)

Turnstone, Summer Leys LNR, 21st April 2014 (Simon Hales)

On 20th, a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again at Stanwick GP among ninety-two loafing Greater Black-backed Gulls but the only other gulls of note were single Little Gulls at Daventry CP on 21st and Summer Leys on 25th.

Adult Little Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 25th April 2014 (John Moon)

Adult Little Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 25th April 2014 (John Moon)

The spring’s first Black Terns, three, were at Daventry CP on 21st and the same site hosted twenty-four Arctic Terns on 20th, several went through Clifford Hill GP and two or three were at Summer Leys on the same date with two there again on 22nd.

A Ring-necked Parakeet was at Stoke Bruerne on 20th, the spring’s first Common Swift appeared at Pitsford Res two days later and a Firecrest was discovered at Pitsford Res on 21st. With almost all the common summer warblers already in, the first Garden Warbler was found at Pitsford Res on 19th, quickly followed by others at Summer Leys on 21st and Daventry CP on 22nd but only one Grasshopper Warbler was located, a singing male at Stortons GP on 19th.

Grasshopper Warbler, Stortons GP, 21st April 2014 (John Moon)

Grasshopper Warbler, Stortons GP, 19th April 2014 (John Moon)

Up to three Ring Ouzels performed at Harrington AF between 19th and 24th and a male Black Redstart was discovered nearby in the Brampton Valley on 22nd, while

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 22nd April 2014 (John Moon)

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 22nd April 2014 (John Moon)

Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 22nd April 2014 (Alan Coles)

Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 22nd April 2014 (Alan Coles)

Common Redstarts, all males, were at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd, Harrington AF on 23rd and in the Brampton Valley on 25th. Northern Wheatears were reported from four localities with a maximum of at nine at Hemington on 21st. Again, only two  White Wagtails were found at this week – one at Hemington on 21st and one at Earls Barton GP on 22nd, while the only Brambling was one on a feeder in a Kettering garden on 20th.

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