The Week in Focus: 4th to 10th April 2015

A remarkably dry and settled week, which saw temperatures hit the low twenties and variable light south-westerly to south-easterly winds wafting Saharan dust our way at the week’s end. Such conditions proved, as ever, conducive to northbound migrants and the floodgates duly opened …

Another Pink-footed Goose put in an appearance this week – April is a classic month for this species to turn up, especially in the Nene Valley, where this one was seen at Stanwick GP on 10th. The only other wildfowl of note were three Pintails at Pitsford Res on 4th and singles at Welford Res on 5th and at Stanwick GP the following day.

Drake Pintail, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Drake Pintail, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

One Great White Egret remained at Ditchford GP, where it was last seen on 4th. Hot on the heels of last week’s Ospreys were further singles over Corby on 4th, Welford Res on

Osprey, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Osprey, Welford Res, 5th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

5th and at Hollowell Res and Earl Barton GP on 10th, while a male Hen Harrier visited Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 4th and a Marsh Harrier appeared to take up residence in the Summer Leys area, where it was seen almost daily between 4th and 10th. The first Hobby appeared over Spratton on 8th, quickly followed by another at Ravensthorpe Res on 10th, while Peregrines were seen at seven sites this week.

Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Amid several scattered UK records during the period, two Common Cranes were reported – one over Blueberry Farm on 5th and the other high over Towcester on 9th. A notable inland passage of Avocets also occurred, with one at Clifford Hill on 4th increasing to nine there – Northants’ largest flock for a good many years – the following day, which also saw two visiting Stanwick and Ditchford GPs before another remained elusive around Summer Leys LNR on 6th.

Avocets, Clifford Hill GP, 5th April 2014 (Bob Bullock)

Avocets, Clifford Hill GP, 5th April 2014 (Bob Bullock)

Clearly outnumbering the one Golden Plover – at Harrington AF on the 8th – Little Ringed Plovers appeared in ones and twos at Clifford Hill GP, Stanwick GP, Summer Leys, Hollowell Res and Upton Valley (Northampton).

Little Ringed Plover, Hollowell Res, 10th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Little Ringed Plover, Hollowell Res, 10th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

The first spring Whimbrel was one or two birds calling at night over Oundle on 4th and single Curlews were seen at Bozenham Mill also on 4th, Pitsford Res on 5th and at Wadenhoe on 6th. Three Black-tailed Godwits visited Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows reserve on 10th and the only Common Snipe reported this week was also at Ditchford GP on 8th, while one Jack Snipe remained at Hollowell Res on 4th. A Ruff at Summer Leys on 9th-10th added further to the local wader passage, while single Green Sandpipers were found at Upton Valley Way (Northampton) on 5th and at Summer Leys on 8th and two were at Daventry CP on 10th.

Arriving almost en masse on the southerly winds, Common Terns appeared on 10th at Clifford Hill, Stanwick and Thrapston GPs as well as at Daventry CP and Summer Leys – the same day producing ten Little Gulls at Thrapston GP and one at Clifford Hill GP. Despite being well into April, rare gulls continued to feature, with the ever-showy second-summer Mediterranean Gull still holding territory in the Black-headed Gull colony on Summer Leys’ Rotary Island all week and with an adult at Thrapston GP on 10th.

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 6th April 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 6th April 2015 (Dave Jackson)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 8th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Second-summer Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 8th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

A good candidate for an adult Baltic Gull visited the gull mecca of Stanwick GP on the evening of 4th, the same site producing a second-summer Caspian Gull on 8th and the lingering, Pitsea red-ringed adult Glaucous Gull during the late afternoons/early evenings throughout the period.

Further summer visitor ‘firsts’ this week included House Martin at Wadenhoe on 10th, Sedge Warbler at Stanwick GP on 6th, with Willow Warbler there the following day and Yellow Wagtail at Hollowell Res on 8th. A significant inland passage of Ring Ouzels took place across southern England this week and resulted in singles appearing at Harrington AF on 5th and 10th, Coton on 8th and at Borough Hill on 9th and 10th.

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 10th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

Male Ring Ouzel, Harrington AF, 10th April 2015 (Alan Coles)

JFT Caption

A male Black Redstart was photographed on farmland at Braunston on 9th, the same day a male Common Redstart was found at Summer Leys, followed by further males at

Male Common Redstart, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Male Common Redstart, Summer Leys LNR, 9th April 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Hollowell Res and Blueberry Farm the next day. There were surprisingly few Northern Wheatears with just two at Harrington AF on 5th, followed by singles there on 6th and

Northern Wheatear, Harrington AF, 5th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Northern Wheatear, Harrington AF, 5th April 2015 (Bob Bullock)

10th, and two at Borough Hill on the last of these dates. Another ‘late’ Brambling was found this week – this time at Thrapston GP on 10th.

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