The Week in Focus: 13th to 19th September 2014

The week’s weather remained dry and rather cloudy under the influence of a high pressure system to the north-east, allowing an easterly airstream to become established throughout the period. While the east coast fared well for migrants, Northants failed to deliver any surprises, leaving observers somewhat vexed as they struggled to find anything outstanding. Even the extensive mud exposed at Hollowell Reservoir – arguably the county’s best wader habitat at present – failed to pull.

Much of the same old stuff remained from last week, namely the two Barnacle Geese at Hollowell and the two Ruddy Shelducks at Pitsford Res – where the lingering flock of Red-crested Pochards swelled to thirteen on 15th – while an eclipse drake of the latter species was found at Stanford Res on 13th and the leucistic bird remained at Clifford Hill GP.

Ruddy Shelducks, PItsford Res, 14th September 2014 (Simon Hales)

Ruddy Shelducks, PItsford Res, 14th September 2014 (Simon Hales)

More dwelling ducks included up to two Garganeys at Summer Leys and one at Ravensthorpe Res all week and another visited Pitsford Res on 14th, while two Pintails were at Stanford Res on 13th-15th and up to two visited Pitsford Res between 14th and 17th.

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 14th September 2014 (Simon Hales)

Great White Egret, Pitsford Res, 14th September 2014 (Simon Hales)

The latter site continued to host last week’s Great White Egret and another was photographed in flight over Thrapston GP on 18th, while the smart adult Red-necked Grebe continued to delight visitors to Daventry CP throughout the period.

Red-necked Grebe with European Perch, Daventry CP, 15th September 2014 (John Moon)

Red-necked Grebe with European Perch, Daventry CP, 15th September 2014 (John Moon)

‘Cream-crown’ Marsh Harriers visited Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 15th and 18th and another was at Thrapston GP on 17th but the only Peregrine reported was the regularly visiting female at Blueberry Farm on four dates during the week. And so on to waders … This week’s highlight was a nice, scaly juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, present for just one day – the 15th – on the muddy spit between the dam and Moulton Grange Bay at Pitsford Res.

Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 15th September 2014 (John Moon)

Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 15th September 2014 (John Moon)

The same small area attracted up to six Ruffs and a Dunlin. Further Dunlin included four at Clifford Hill GP on 19th and singles, all on 15th, at Ravensthorpe Res and Clifford Hill GP and two at Ditchford GP, while the same date saw single Ruffs at Ravensthorpe Res, Stanford Res and Clifford Hill GP and two at Hollowell Res; there were also three at Clifford Hill on 19th. Two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were at Clifford Hill GP on 13th-19th and single Ringed Plovers visited Hollowell Res and Stanwick GP on 15th. Two Black-tailed Godwit dropped in at Clifford Hill GP on 13th where a Little Stint was found two days later. One or two Common Sandpipers were present at six localities with five at Daventry CP on 15th, while Green Sandpipers this week numbered no more than two at Pitsford Res, Ravensthorpe Res and Daventry CP.  Just one Greenshank made it on to the week’s list with Daventry CP being the favoured locality on 18th and only one Redshank was found, at Pitsford Res, on 15th, while up to four Common Snipe were at Daventry CP, Pitsford Res and Stanwick GP and three at Clifford Hill GP.

A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was at Daventry CP on 15th along with a juvenile Caspian Gull  with more of the latter species including one on the same date at Stanwick GP, where there were five present on 18th. Apart from two adults at Pitsford Res and the regular adult at Hollowell Res, the only other Yellow-legged Gulls were represented by a sizeable count of approximately ninety at Stanwick GP on 18th.

Pretty much the same species of passerines topped the bill as last week including, remarkably – hot on the heels of Northamptonshire’s third – another Northern Willow Warbler trapped and ringed at Stanford Res on 13th.

'Northern' Willow Warbler, Stanford Res, 13th September 2014 (Adam Homer)

‘Northern’ Willow Warbler, Stanford Res, 13th September 2014 (Adam Homer)

A Turtle Dove was at Harrington AF on 18th with the same site hosting a Common Redstart on 16th-18th, while up to two were in the Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm area for most of the week and one visited Stanford Res on 15th. Up to six Whinchats were also in the vicinity of Blueberry Farm, as was a Stonechat, while the only other Whinchat was one at Stanwick GP on 15th. Northern Wheatears remained thin on the ground with one at Hollowell Res on 17th and two at Harrington AF on 17th-18th while a White Wagtail was identified at Clifford Hill GP on 15th and migrant Tree Pipits this week included singles on 18th at Harrington AF, Daventry CP and Blueberry Farm, Maidwell.

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