First-winter, in July and present for just one day. A local scarcity with only one or two records per year. Thanks to this excellent set of images by Steve Brayshaw we can confidently age last weekend’s Denton Wood Pied Flycatcher as a first-winter.
A combination of characters set this bird apart from adult female and non-breeding male but the clincher is the pattern on the middle tertial: broad white fringe on the outer web, thickening at the tip while extending slightly down the shaft, creating a ‘step’ effect where it joins the thinner, white border on the inner web.
In adults the white fringe is narrow and more uniform in width, like that on the lower tertial of this individual. Other first-winter features include the slightly darker throat, making the pale submoustacial stripe stand out, paler tips to some of the median coverts, curved white tips to the greater coverts forming a ‘sawtooth’ effect and the relatively pointed tail feathers.
Black (not brown-black) tail and upper tail coverts suggest this is a young male. A very smart bird indeed!
More from Phil Jackman on the ‘leucistic’ juvenile Starling in his Kettering garden. It – or one like it – is back, this time having moulted much more of its juvenile plumage during the intervening three weeks and, as suggested in the previous post on the topic, it appears that the bird’s ‘leucism’ may be/is age-related.
Thought I’d post some video of the Summer Leys Garganey. Never a lame duck but not one which stands out to anything like the extent of a fine spring drake and this juvenile has a not particularly well-marked face pattern compared to many.
This is because the dark horizontal cheek bar is reduced to a blob on the ear coverts and the pale loral spot is rather diffuse. It’s a juvenile – as opposed to a female – aged by the neat, fresh feather fringes giving it an immaculate appearance, the finely-streaked neck (adult females are more blotchy here and on the upperparts), the brown, streaky belly – not visible here, but hinted at where the flanks disappear below the water level – (females have a whitish, unmarked belly) and the warm, almost rusty-brown hue to the plumage compared to the colder tones of adults.
Albino House Sparrow – or at least a white one, anyway. It appears not to have pink eyes but this juvenile is from a small colony at Easton on the Hill. Comparatively rare but not without precedent. Many thanks to Jeff Davies for the image.
With high pressure sitting over the country for much of the week the warm spell continued as further signs of autumn became evident.
The two Ruddy Shelducks continued to be reported from Pitsford Res until the week’s end, while a Garganey remained at Stanwick GP on the same date, another was at Summer Leys LNR on 25th and last week’s female Goldeneye was still at Stanford Res on 20th with the long-stayer at Earls Barton GP on 25th.
Single Ospreys were fishing at Pitsford Res on 22nd and 25th and Stanford Res on 24th, while two visited Hollowell Res on 25th along with a Marsh Harrier.
There was no substantial increase in passage waders which included single Ringed Plovers at Stanwick GP on 21st and Hollowell Res on 25th, while six Little Ringed Plovers were counted at Summer Leys LNR on 19th, four were at Stanwick GP on 21st and five at Hollowell Res on 25th.
Common Snipe were limited to two at Summer Leys LNR on 20th, where an Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit was present on 25th, up to 3 Green Sandpipers remained at Stanwick GP, the same number was at Broadholme SWT (Ditchford GP) on 22nd and two were at Daventry CP and one at Hollowell Res on 25th. Single Wood Sandpipers – the first of the autumn’s few – were at Summer Leys LNR briefly on 19th and Hollowell Res on 25th and Common Sandpipers remained very much in evidence with up to five at Hollowell Res on 25th, three at both Stanwick and Summer Leys LNR and singles at Broadholme, Daventry CP and Pitsford Res.
The first of the autumn’s Mediterranean Gulls – a smart juvenile – was at Daventry CP on the morning of 25th and another (or the same) visited Pitsford Res during the evening, while numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls continued to climb with 32 at Stanwick GP on 19th and smaller numbers elsewhere, including one at Pitsford Res on 19th, two there on 25th and one and Daventry CP on the same date.
Two Turtle Doves remained at Harrington AF until at least 22nd, while a Ring-necked Parakeet visited a garden in Denton on 21st-23rd and one was in Abington Park, Northampton on 24th and Grasshopper Warblers were still singing at Earls Barton GP on 20th and at Harrington AF on 22nd and 25th.
The latter site produced a Whinchat and a Common Redstart on 22nd with two of the latter species there the following day and one on 25th, while a Black Redstart was seen briefly in gardens in Long Buckby on 19th and two Crossbills flew east at Harrington on 25th.
A predominantly dry week with temperatures starting to build to the high twenties in the latter part in advance of wet weather systems crossing the channel from the near continent.
One of last week’s ‘Cackling’ Geese (or a hybrid) – apparently there had been two – remained at Daventry CP until at least 14th and the two Ruddy Shelducks continued to be prominent in the dam area of Pitsford Res all week, while a Garganey remained at Stanwick GP. A female Red-crested Pochard at Pitsford Res on 12th-13th had been joined by two more by 15th and two flew east at Stanwick GP on the same date, while the Earls Barton female Goldeneye was again on Mary’s Lake on 13th and another visited Stanford Res on 17th.
The latter site also produced Northamptonshire’s fifth-ever Glossy Ibis during the afternoon of 15th. True to form, it did not stay, arriving from the north and circling the reservoir before continuing south. This week’s Ospreys were singles at Brixworth on 13th and Hollowell Res on 18th, otherwise it was a lean week for raptors.
Waders continued to trickle through with a Ringed Plover and six Little Ringed Plovers at Hollowell Res on 18th, while top counts of the latter were nine at Stanwick on 13th and seven at Summer Leys on the same date. On 12th, Summer Leys also produced a Little Stint – uncommon in the county in recent years and exceptional in July. A Black-tailed Godwit was in a field adjacent to Stanwick GP on 14th and a Greenshank visited Hollowell Res on 18th while up to 7 Green Sandpipers remained at Stanwick all week with smaller numbers at Daventry CP, Hollowell Res and Summer Leys. Common Sandpipers topped the bill for numbers this week with a single flock of sixteen arriving at Stanwick GP on the morning of 15th, six were at Hollowell Res on 18th and up to four at Summer Leys on 13th. The leucistic Black-headed Gull appeared again at Stanwick GP on 14th with the Yellow-legged Gull count peaking at twenty-seven there on the same date, while smaller numbers elsewhere included three at Pitsford Res on 15th and singles there and at Hollowell Res on 18th.
Harrington AF continued to host up to two Turtle Doves throughout the week, while two Grasshopper Warblers were still singing there on 15th with singles of Common Redstart and Whinchat there on the same date
Prompted by the last post on the subject, Minimal Interest, Joan Chaplin sent me these images of a Cackling Goose at Foxholes Fisheries, Crick from 23rd April 2012.
This bird arrived with visiting Canada Geese and was subsequently thought to be of the race minima. In common with the Daventry individual it shows a number of features which are inconsistent with that race: too large, too long-necked, the body is more elongated, the head not square enough and the bill – though small, is the wrong shape, i.e. too long.
All features are, however, spot-on for taverneri, Taverner’s Cackling Goose, right down to the thin, broken throat line which almost divides the two white cheek patches.
Note how the bird’s size and shape appear to vary with pose and camera angle! While this western USA bird was surely an escape, Taverner’s has been recorded in Ireland in the recent past.
That’s what this Cackling Goose at Daventry CP today is likely to elicit. Apparently it has been present two weeks among the local Canada Geese and, given its range along the western seaboard of North America, and its time and place of occurrence, it is almost certainly an escape – although it is a long-distance migrant!
Cackling Goose was split from Canada Goose as long ago as 2004 and four races are recognised: hutchinsii (‘Richardson’s Cackling Goose’),taverneri (‘Taverner’s Cackling Goose’), leucopareia (‘Aleutian Cackling Goose’) and minima (‘Ridgway’s Cackling Goose’). Each race is identifiable on a combination of structure and plumage characters and the individual at Daventry most closely resembles minima in plumage but it can sometimes appear a little larger than would be expected and the head shape is not quite right, minima should show a squarer head profile and shorter bill than this bird. So is it another race or a hybrid?
It’s between half and two-thirds the size of the accompanying Canada Geese, darker, shorter-necked and much smaller-billed. The main plumage difference is the all dark brown breast and belly, with the black at the base of the neck ‘fuzzing’ into it.
Richardson’s Cackling Goose is similar in size and can be almost as dark but has a clear cut neckline with normally a narrow white base dividing it from the brown breast.
Cackling Goose is not on the British List though a number of records have been accepted by BBRC. The Daventry individual is a nice bird and well worth a look, even though it must surely be an escape …
Many of you will know Fineshade Wood, even though it is at the far north of Northants. It is a large area of Forestry Commission Woodland, and part of the historic Rockingham Forest.
There is a proposal by Forest Holidays to build a 70-cabin holiday park on 96 acres of this part of the Public Forest Estate – a proposal that will devastate a very important wildlife-rich area. Fineshade has been developed as a walking and cycling destination in recent years with a network of forest trails and the former RSPB Visitor Centre. There are still important undisturbed areas where human access is difficult – which is what makes it great for birds and reptiles in particular. In one of these areas of semi-natural woodland, north east of the visitor centre Forest Holidays plan to build a network of 2 miles of new forest tracks leading to 70 cabins, a central leisure block, maintenance site and 189 parking spaces. There will be year-round accommodation for 352 people within the depths of the wood. 352 people having a normal holiday experience i.e. making noise, having barbecues, walking dogs, starting and driving cars, switching on lights, playing music etc..
Such a devastating development would normally require an Environmental Impact Assesment but the planning application now before East Northants Council is accompanied by only a “Preliminary Ecological Report”. There has been a partial survey of reptiles and amphibians, no survey of breeding birds (they rely BTO and county records) , no bat survey, no survey of dormice, a partial plant survey. They do not even appear to have considered Butterflies, Moths and other invertebrates.
The Wildlife Trust together with local and national wildlife groups will be making their comments to the Council but we really need a huge swell of supporting objections from individual birders and naturalists. Please can you help? You can do so simply by sending an email now. Details are below.
The threat to birds
The following birds are listed in the FH report
“Red list species that have been recorded include: Song Thrush, Tree Pipit, Yellow Hammer, Marsh Tit, Grasshopper Warbler, Nightjar, Willow Tit, Skylark and Cuckoo. Amber list species that have been recorded include: Dunnock, Garden Warbler, Red Kite, Redstart, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Mistle Thrush.”
To that I can add Long-eared Owls and roding Woodcock this year.
They conclude “therefore the site is of at least county importance for birds”. They reach a similar conclusion for reptiles, particularly adders.
Suggested “Mitigation and Enhancement” amounts to don’t clear the vegetation during the nesting season, try to create some good habitat elsewhere and stick up some bird boxes!
The planning application
The full application is online here, where objections can also be lodged
The early part of the week saw the UK sandwiched between two areas of low pressure which brought intermittent showers, some of them heavy, to the county although dry weather ultimately prevailed.
A Cackling Goose – presumably an escape – at Daventry CP on 11th has apparently been present two weeks and the two Ruddy Shelducks, ensconced by the dam at Pitsford Res all week, are clearly in it for the long haul, while a Garganey remained at Stanwick GP and two eclipse drake Red-crested Pochards dropped in there on 7th. Maidwell’s Blueberry Farm produced this week’s star raptors – an Osprey on 7th and a ‘cream-crown’ Marsh Harrier on 7th and 10th, while an adult Peregrine was at Blatherwycke Lake on 11th, but Stanwick GP stole the show with its superb run of waders this week. While Hollowell Res produced a Ringed Plover and three Little Ringed Plovers on 11th, nine Little Ringed Plovers was the top count at Stanwick on 9th, a Dunlin visited on 8th followed by a Common Snipe next day. Another Common Snipe was at Summer Leys LNR on 7th and, having attracted a Whimbrel and 4 Black-tailed Godwits on 6th, twenty-two of the latter species were there the following day; ten also turned up at Stanwick GP on 8th and one remained there between 7th and 10th, being joined by a Bar-tailed Godwit on the last of these dates. Stanwick’s mid-summer puple patch continued with two Spotted Redshanks on 8th, with three there briefly the following day, while a Greenshank was there on 9th followed by three on 10th, two visited Hollowell Res on 11th while up to 6 Green Sandpipers remained at Stanwick all week and singles visited both Daventry CP and Hollowell Res on 11th. Common Sandpipers continued to trickle through with four at Hollowell Res on 11th, up to three at both Stanwick and Summer Leys and one at Daventry CP on 11th. The number of Yellow-legged Gulls continued to build at Stanwick, climbing to twenty-one on 10th, while two adults visited Pitsford Res on 8th and singles were at both Hollowell Res and Clifford Hill GP on 11th. Turtle Doves were still in short supply with just the regular duo remaining on site at Harrington AF on 7th, while nearby a male Black Redstart was around farm buildings at Blueberry Farm on 7th-8th, a Common Redstart was in the wider Brampton Valley on 10th and the singing male Grasshopper Warbler remained there on 7th. Three more of the latter species comprised singles Lady Wood on 6th, Fermyn Wood CP on 8th and Earls Barton GP on 6th and 10th, while eight Crossbills flew over Blueberry Farm on 7th.