Officially the sixth warmest June on record delivered a largely dry week with temperatures above the seasonal average, tempered by light winds predominantly from the west and north. After last week’s whiff of autumn came further evidence that more species were already on the move.
Another breeding record of Egyptian Goose came from the River Nene at Barnwell this week, where a well grown juvenile and two adults were seen on 21st. That the population of this species is on the up in the UK is reflected by breeding records no longer being considered by the British Birds Rare Breeding Birds Panel. More questionable fare in the shape of two Ruddy Shelducks was on offer at Pitsford Res on 25th. Their true origin has yet to be fully established but the Dutch are currently in the process of unravelling the string, so to speak. Other wildfowl this week included a female Garganey at Stanwick GP on 26th-27th and the summering drake Goldeneye at Thrapston GP on 24th. Continuing this year’s run of Spoonbills, another was seen flying south over Wellingborough on 25th, while the only notable raptors were an Osprey over Duston on 24th and a Peregrine at Hardingstone GP on 23rd.
Little Ringed Plovers were reported only from Stanwick GP, where five were present on 26th, the same site hosting all of this week’s other waders on the same date, including the autumn’s first Common Snipe and Greenshank and five Green Sandpipers. Two Sandwich Terns were present there at the same time, along with up to five
Yellow-legged Gulls – quite a haul for late June at a site which receives considerably less coverage than its not too distant neighbour, Summer Leys. A Black Tern visited Pitsford Res on 22nd. Continuing the theme of recent weeks, a Ring-necked Parakeet was again close to the aviaries in Northampton’s Abington Park on 21st and another adorned a street light in nearby Bewick Road on 23rd.
More Grasshopper Warblers came out of the woodwork this week with reeling males at Fermyn Wood CP on 26th and at Stortons GP on the same date.
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While remaining generally warm throughout, the week kicked off with isolated thunderstorms and showers, followed by alternating periods of cloud and sunshine. A high pressure system remained in place over the country, skewed to the west in the latter half, producing a gentle northerly wind. Some signs of autumn were in the air …
The summer slump kicked in big time this week, leaving local birders to contemplate jet-washing their patios or heading south to see the amazingly obliging, second British Short-toed Eagle in East Sussex – or both. The closest we came in lookalike terms was an Osprey, which flew over Blueberry Farm, Maidwell – carrying a fish instead of a snake – on 14th. Apart from Hobbies reported from four localities, the only other raptors of note were two Peregrines cruising over Northampton town centre on 15th.
Little Ringed Plovers continued to be reported from Summer Leys LNR, where six were present on 14th and a pair was proven to have bred just outside Northampton on 15th. A male Ruff visited Stanwick GP on 19th and the same locality hosted the first of the autumn’s Green Sandpipers from 16th to 18th with three there on 19th, while up to seven Yellow-legged Gulls were there on the same dates.
Two Turtle Doves were still at Harrington AF on 18th and a Ring-necked Parakeet was dangerously close to the aviaries in Northampton’s Abington Park on 15th. Grasshopper Warblers continued to remain scarce with up to two singing males at Blueberry Farm between 16th and 19th being the only ones reported this week.
After some sporadic showers during the first week, summer finally arrived and the remnants of spring migration melted away as temperatures reached the mid-twenties during the second part of the review period.
Of feral origin but still locally scarce, two Barnacle Geese arrived at Earls Barton GP on 3rd, frequenting the sheep fields at Hardwater Crossing until 5th and a drake Garganey was at nearby Summer Leys LNR on 3rd and 4th, being joined there by a pair on 5th.
The only other wildfowl of note were a pair of Red-crested Pochards briefly on Earls Barton GP’s Mary’s Lake on 2nd, along with the summering female Goldeneye there on 4th and the drake still at Thrapston GP on 10th. A Quail sang briefly at Harrington AF on 1st and, back on Mary’s Lake, a fine summer-plumaged Red-necked Grebe appeared on 31st but decided not to linger.
A Great White Egret flying west at Stanwick GP on 10th was by today’s standards unseasonal, bucking the trend of winter occurrences. An Osprey flew over Brixworth on 1st and 6th and a Marsh Harrier was again at Harrington AF on 1st and 2nd with another over Daventry on 5th.
Little Ringed Plovers continued to be reported from Summer Leys with four on 5th being joined there briefly by a Little Stint on the same date. The only other passage wader recorded was a Whimbrel flying over Hanging Houghton on 1st, while a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull visited Stanwick GP on 10th.
Just four localities have produced Turtle Doves this year with perhaps the most frequently encountered pair being at Harrington AF throughout the period, while up to three were also present at Ashton Wold/Polebrook Airfield and one was purring in Sywell Wood on 13th.
A Ring-necked Parakeet was in suburban Northampton on 13th. The future looks bleak for Grasshopper Warblers this year with the only reports in the period restricted to singing males at Harrington AF on 1st and Blueberry Farm, Maidwell also on 1st and again on 10th. It’s now generally accepted that we have lost Tree Pipit as a local breeding species so one flying over Northampton on 1st was noteworthy, as was a singing male Corn Bunting in west Northants on 5th and 9th – the only one reported in the county so far this year.