The Week in Focus: 1st to 7th August 2015

A fine, dry start to the week saw, for the first time, almost nothing reportable at the weekend, although the early autumn ‘clearout’ of Common Swifts was evidently well under way with hundreds, if not thousands, reported streaming south over the county, taking advantage of the clear skies and sunshine throughout the initial two-day period. Wader passage increased in diversity and the focus shifted away from the Nene Valley and more toward the county’s reservoirs.

Pitsford’s two Ruddy Shelducks were still present to at least 5th, albeit they were mobile about the reservoir, and a Garganey appeared at Stanwick GP on 3rd. Flyover Ospreys were seen at Blatherwycke Lake on 2nd and at Pitsford Res on 3rd and 4th and Peregrines were at Higham Ferrers on 1st, Staverton on 4th and Hanging Houghton the next day.

Early autumn wader passage ramped up this week, commencing with the appearance of a Turnstone at Pitsford Res on 3rd, while Little Ringed Plover numbers remained low with four at Hollowell Res on 2nd-4th, five there on 7th and one at Clifford Hill GP on 3rd.

Adult Turnstone, Pitsford Res, 3rd August 2015 (Alan Francis)

Two Ringed Plovers were also at Hollowell Res on 2nd and 7th and singles were found at Clifford Hill GP and Pitsford Res on 3rd and 5th-7th respectively. After last month’s large numbers, just one Black-tailed Godwit put in an appearance this week, at Hollowell Res on 5th, but Dunlin more than made up for this with an astonishing flock estimated to be in the region of four hundred and forty arriving there during the afternoon of 7th – putting the 1970s Pitsford wintering flocks of two hundred or so firmly in the shade; prior to this there had been nine on 2nd, dwindling to just one there two days later.

Dunlins, Hollowell Res, 7th August 2015 (Bob Bullock). Part of a 440-strong flock present briefly at this location.

Dunlins, Hollowell Res, 7th August 2015 (Bob Bullock). Part of a 440-strong flock present briefly at this location.

Dunlins, Hollowell Res, 7th August 2015 (Bob Bullock). Part of a 440-strong flock present briefly at this location.

Adult Dunlin, ringed and flagged, Hollowell Res, 7th August 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Five Little Stints together at Clifford Hill GP on 3rd were unusually early while Common Sandpipers were reported from Stanwick GP, Daventry CP, Hollowell Res and Pitsford Res, with a maximum of 4 at the latter site on 4th.

Common Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 5th August 2015 (Alan Francis)

The same four localities also held small numbers of Green Sandpipers, peaking at eight at Daventry CP. Another scarce wader in the county in recent times is Spotted Redshank, one of which appeared at Pitsford Res on 6th. The days when double-figure counts of this species were made late into the autumn at this site are now just a distant memory.

Spotted Redshank, Pitsford Res, 6th August 2015 (Bob Bullock)

No so with Greenshank, although singles at Pitsford Res on 2nd and 4th – 2 there on 7th – and Daventry CP on 5th constitute unusually slim pickings at this time of the year, as did the week’s few Common Snipe with one at Summer Leys LNR on 6th, five at Hollowell Res on the same date and one there the following day.

‘Summer gulling’ at Stanwick GP produced a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on 3rd, and three juveniles were at Clifford Hill GP on 7th. Stanwick also held a third-summer Caspian Gull on 3rd, followed by an adult two days later plus three adults on 7th, while an adult visited Daventry CP briefly also on 7th. Stanwick also produced 45+ Yellow-legged Gulls on the same date and singles visited Hollowell Res on 2nd, Pitsford Res on 5th and Clifford Hill GP on 7th while seven were at Daventry CP on 6th, with two there on 7th, when eight were at Pitsford Res.

Scarce passerine migrants were at a low ebb with single Common Redstarts at Harrington AF on 1st and near Pitsford Res the following day plus six Crossbills at Staverton on 4th.