The dry weather persisted throughout the two weeks of this period, although the winds became predominantly westerly and light. Some long-staying ‘favourites’ remained, wader passage predictably dwindled and a couple of scarce migrants made all too brief appearances in suburban gardens.
A Pink-footed Goose arrived from the north at Ravensthorpe Res and promptly joined the Greylag flock there on 25th, while the two Ruddy Shelducks at Pitsford Res were still present on 20th, although they were not reported again until 2nd. On site there the lingering flock of Red-crested Pochards remained at thirteen throughout, the leucistic drake was again at Clifford Hill GP on 21st and the eclipse drake was still at Stanford Res on 20th with three Pintail there on the same date. Up to two more Pintail were at Pitsford Res between 29th and 2nd and up to three Garganeys were on view at Summer Leys LNR between 20th and 28th, while one remained at Ravensthorpe Res until 25th and another was at Pitsford Res on the same date.
A Bittern visited Summer Leys briefly before heading west on 21st and the same site hosted a Great White Egret the following day, remaining there until 30th. In the west of the county, Daventry CP’s Red-necked Grebe was last seen on 23rd.
‘Cream-crown’ Marsh Harriers visited Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 22nd and Harrington AF two days later and Ospreys visited Pitsford Res on 21st and Thrapston GP on 26th, while male Merlins appeared at Harrington AF on 20th and Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 25th. Up to two adult Peregrines remained at a locality in the Nene Valley throughout the period, the regular adult female was seen at Blueberry Farm and Harrington AF on four dates and singles visited Summer Leys on 22nd and Hollowell Res on 25th.
Two Little Ringed Plovers were still at Clifford Hill GP on 21st with single Ringed Plovers there on 23rd and 26th and further singles at Summer Leys on 23rd and Pitsford Res on 25th, while Golden Plovers were recorded at there, as well as Brampton Valley and Harrington AF, with a maximum of approximately fifty at the latter site on 22nd. The only Black-tailed Godwit this week was one at Clifford Hill GP on 23rd, where there were also two Ruff on 21st and 25th. Another Ruff visited Earls Barton GP on 20th and two were present at Pitsford Res from 27th to 30th and two Dunlin were at Clifford Hill GP on 21st and 26th. Just one Common Sandpiper – at Daventry CP on 23rd – preserved this species’ status as a weekly reportee in these summaries, while single Green Sandpipers were seen at Stanford Res on 20th and Hollowell Res on 25th and three were present at both Daventry CP on 23rd and Ravensthorpe Res on 24th-25th. Seven reports of Common Snipe included singles at Pitsford Res on 20th and 30th with three there on 25th, six at Moulton Quarry on 22nd with four there on 2nd, four at Summer Leys on 22nd and three at Ravensthorpe Res on 25th. Yellow-legged Gull numbers dwindled to just two at Hollowell Res on 24th and 30th and three at Pitsford Res on 25th with one there on 2nd but no counts were received from the established ‘stronghold’ at Stanwick GP, which had hosted ninety on 18th September.
A Ring-necked Parakeet flying over Riverside, Northampton on 27th was unremarkable but a Wryneck photographed in a Rushden garden on the same date was a bit more on the money, as was a probable Yellow-browed Warbler, glimpsed in a Great Billing garden on 23rd! Potentially the two best birds of the month, they were not seen again after their initial sightings. The first autumn Redwings, four, flew over Harrington AF on 28th and, after the huge run of Common Redstarts this autumn, only two were seen during the period: one between Pitsford Res and Walgrave on 21st and the other trapped and ringed at Stanford Res the following day. Similarly, Whinchat numbers began to tail off with one at Clifford Hill GP on 21st, at least four at Blueberry Farm until 23rd and singles at Thrapston GP on 23rd and at Hollowell Res on 27th and 30th but it’s proving to be a good autumn for Stonechats with records of singles at Pitsford Res and Clifford Hill GP, up to two at Blueberry Farm and up to four at Hollowell Res until 30th.
Northern Wheatears continued to remain scarce, however, with two still at Harrington AF to 23rd and one at Blueberry Farm the following day while two White Wagtails visited Hollowell Res on 24th and a Rock Pipit visited the scrape at Summer Leys LNR on 3rd before being flushed by a Sparrowhawk, never to return …