Two Weeks in Focus: 15th to 28th August 2015

With a mixed bag of weather conditions and largely lower than expected temperatures the last two weeks have had more of a September feel to them. Duck numbers began to build significantly, wader passage remained strong and a couple of blasts of easterly and south-easterly winds off the continent just prior to the start of the period, and again midway through it, produced some more interesting passerine migrants.

Almost a permanent fixture, it seems, the two Ruddy Shelducks remained at Pitsford Res throughout and two Garganeys visited Stanwick GP briefly on 21st, this same site hosting three Pintails on 19th-21st, while another Pintail visited Summer Leys LNR on 24th-25th.

Ruddy Shelduck, Pitsford Res, 25th August 2015 (Alan Francis)

Ruddy Shelducks, Pitsford Res, 27th August 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

The autumn build-up of Red-crested Pochards commenced at Pitsford Res with three on 16th rising to seven there on 27th and the first of the autumn’s Great White Egrets appeared at the same site on 22nd, where it remained until 28th, being joined briefly by a second individual on 23rd. This second bird then promptly relocated to Summer Leys LNR the following day, remaining in the area until 28th. Just along the valley, the Bittern was seen again at Stanwick GP on 16th while, further east, a juvenile Black-necked Grebe was found at Thrapston GP on 25th, remaining there until at least 27th.

Marsh Harriers continued to be seen, with two ‘cream-crowns’ at Pitsford Res on 23rd, one through east at Summer Leys LNR on 27th and two juveniles at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell the following day. Ospreys were seen at four localities, including singles at Hollowell Res on 15th, 22nd and 26th with two there on 19th and three on 28th, Pitsford Res on 21st, 24th and 28th with two there on 17th, Stanford Res on 22nd and over Badby Wood on 19th.  Peregrines this week were singles at Higham Ferrers on 19th, 25th and 26th with one at nearby Ditchford GP on 22nd.

Single Golden Plovers visited Stanwick GP on 16th-17th and Harrington AF on 17th and numbers of Little Ringed Plovers were reduced to singles at Clifford Hill GP on 15th and Hollowell Res on 20th-22nd with two again at the latter site on 26th. Numbers of Ringed Plovers continued to rise with reports from Hollowell Res, Naseby Res, Pitsford Res, Clifford Hill GP, Summer Leys LNR and Stanwick GP, with a maximum of seven at the latter locality on 24th.

Ringed Plover, Pitsford Res, 15th August 2015 (Martin Swannell)

The only Whimbrels during the period were all singles at Pitsford Res, where one flew south on 16th and a juvenile was on the ground on 20th with another there on 22nd.

Juvenile Whimbrel, Pitsford Res, 20th August 2015 (Alan Francis)

With the majority having passed through in late July/early August, there were also few Black-tailed Godwits to be had during the period – just four over Pitsford Res on 23rd and one at Stanwick GP on 26th.

Black-tailed Godwits, Pitsford Res, 23rd August 2015 (Douglas McFarlane)

Two Little Stints flew through at Hollowell Res on 25th and the same date saw one arrive at Stanwick GP, where it stayed until at least 27th, while single-figure counts of Dunlin came from seven localities, with a maximum of five at Stanwick GP on 26th. Ruff were found at Pitsford Res, Hollowell Res, Naseby Res, Stanwick GP, Daventry CP and Wicksteed Park Lake with a maximum count of four at Pitsford Res on 22nd, while

Juvenile Ruff, Pitsford Res, 19th August 2015 (Alan Francis)

Juvenile Ruff, Wicksteed Park lake, 21st August 2015 (Alan Francis)

Common Sandpipers appeared to be enjoying a local migrational boom with continual records from eleven localities, including double-figure counts from Hollowell Res of twelve on 22nd, fourteen on 25th and ten on 26th. Green Sandpipers were found at eight sites, with a maximum of seven at Daventry CP on 18th-20th and single Wood Sandpipers visited Pitsford Res on 16th and 25th, Stanwick GP on 19th and nearby Ditchford GP on 22nd. Greenshank numbers fell a little as this species was recorded from only five localities – all single birds, except two at Pitsford Res on 21st and the only Redshanks

Greenshank, Summer Leys LNR, 16th August 2015 (Martin Swannell)

Greenshank, Summer Leys LNR, 20th August 2015 (Alan Coles)

reported were singles at Hollowell Res between 15th and 22nd, Pitsford Res on 17th and Stanwick GP on 19th but a flock of sixteen in adverse weather conditions at Naseby Res on 27th brought with them the autumn’s second Spotted Redshank, although all had disappeared the following day. With just one Common Snipe at Stanwick GP between 16th and 19th, followed by three there on 24th, five at Summer Leys LNR on 24th-25th and one at Pitsford Res on the latter date, numbers were looking a bit wispy …

Black Terns were few and far between with one at Ditchford GP on 22nd, followed by two at Pitsford Res on 24th and one at Hollowell Res on 27th-28th. Three juvenile Little Gulls paid a brief visit to Daventry CP on 23rd while a juvenile Mediterranean Gull visited Hollowell Res on 15th, a first-winter was at Daventry CP on 27th and a juvenile/first-winter visited Pitsford Res on 28th. Daventry CP seemed set to rival Stanwick GP for Caspian Gulls during the period with an adult there on 18th followed by a juvenile on 19th and 20th. Stanwick still managed to produce two adults on 17th, an adult on 24th, an adult and a juvenile on 26th and a juvenile on 27th; a juvenile was also at Pitsford Res on 19th. Yellow-legged Gulls were widespread, mainly in small, single-figure numbers, being seen at Pitsford, Res, Hollowell Res, Stanford Res, Daventry CP, Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick GP with a maximum count of thirty-four at the latter locality on 26th.

More scarce passerines migrants were found, including two Wrynecks – one at Clifford Hill GP on 15th and the other at Harrington AF on 28th; both proved to be very short-stayers and they managed to evade the many observers who came to look for them.

Wryneck, Harrington AF, 28th August 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Wryneck, Harrington AF, 28th August 2015 (Bob Bullock)

They were both associated with east coast falls as were two Pied Flycatchers – the first, a juvenile, trapped at Stanford Res on 24th and the other found at Pitsford Res the following day.

Juvenile Pied Flycatcher, Stanford Res, 24th August 2015 (Mick Townsend)

Juvenile Pied Flycatcher, Stanford Res, 24th August 2015 (Mick Townsend)

Whinchats were found at seven sites, most of which held two birds but six were counted in the Brampton Valley on 25th, while Common Redstarts appeared in good numbers with ones and twos seen in six localities but threes were at Blueberry Farm on 16th and between Pitsford Res and Walgrave on 28th.

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 25th August 2014 (Bob Bullock)

By contrast, there were few Northern Wheatears with three at Pitsford Res on 16th, singles at Harrington AF on 17th, Hollowell Res on 25th and near Blueberry Farm on 28th with two in the Brampton Valley on 25th. Eight Crossbills flew over Blueberry Farm on 16th, four were over Harrington AF the following day and three flew over Denton Wood on 23rd.