The Week in Focus: 30th May to 5th June 2015

The period included a bout of unseasonal gales, brought in by a deep Atlantic low pressure system on 1st/2nd but the week’s end enjoyed a southerly, warm airflow from the continent, albeit short-lived.

A Pink-footed Goose at Clifford Hill GP on 30th and a drake Garganey at Stanford Res on 3rd-4th emerged as the only scarce wildfowl of the week, while hot on the heels of last week’s Polebrook Quail came three more, with singles in the Brampton Valley near Kelmarsh on 30th, at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell from 30th to 4th and at Harrington AF on 31st.

Then came the fly-overs. An adult Gannet reportedly south over the A14 near Thrapston following the gales on 2nd, a Great White Egret south over Harrington AF on 31st and another Teflon County Special – a female Red-footed Falcon, which was hawking over the feeder stream just north of Boddington Res for five minutes on 30th. The latter is the first in spring since 2000 and a bird which the single Peregrine at Hanging Houghton on the same date – plus numerous Hobbies elsewhere – can never make up for.

Aside from the now summering Little Ringed Plovers at three sites, spring’s final wader fling came in the form of six ‘tundra’ Ringed Plovers at Clifford Hill GP on 30th (nine had been present there the previous evening) followed by two at Stanwick GP the next day and six at Hollowell Res on 2nd – all of which it seems logical to assume were also likely to have been of the race tundrae. Sanderlings also chose this week to make up for their apparent absence earlier in the spring with singles at Clifford Hill GP on 31st, Stanwick GP on 2nd and Summer Leys LNR the following day, while three visited Stanwick GP on 1st.

Sanderling, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd June 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Not to be outdone, Dunlin too put in appearances at Clifford Hill GP, where there were eight on 30th (following twelve on the previous evening), at Stanwick GP, where there were twelve on 31st, at Hollowell Res (two on 2nd) and at Stanford Res (one on 3rd).

Black Tern, Stanwick GP, 31st May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Black Tern, Stanwick GP, 31st May 2015 (Bob Bullock)

One of the few Black Terns to be recorded this spring appeared at Stanwick GP on 31st while a ‘portlandica’ Arctic Tern put in a brief appearance at Summer Leys on 3rd – the same site continuing to host the long-staying second-summer Mediterranean Gull until at least the same date.

‘Portlandica’ Arctic Tern, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd June 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Other rare larids were, unsurprisingly, restricted to Stanwick GP, where year-round gull watching continued to yield results in the form of the putative second-summer Azorean Gull again on 4th and up to five Yellow-legged Gulls and a second-summer Caspian

Putative second-summer Azorean Gull, Stanwick GP 4th June 2015 (Steve Fisher)

Gull between 2nd and 4th. This week’s scarce passerines came in the form of an uncharacteristically late spring Black Redstart at Harrington AF on 30th, a male Greenland Wheatear near Boddington Res on 30th plus a Northern Wheatear (probably also Greenland) at Duston Mill, Northampton on 31st and two parties of Crossbills which were heard only at both Yardley Chase and at Pitsford Res on 30th.