The Week in Focus: 5th to 11th September 2015

After an initially damp start, high pressure system remained over the UK for much of the week, resulting in dry and settled conditions locally, giving way to a south-easterly airstream at the week’s end. Wader numbers began to tail off although passerine migration was very much in evidence throughout the period.

Last week’s Barnacle Goose was still at Clifford Hill GP on 7th and the two Ruddy Shelducks remained at Pitsford Res until the same date. Just one Pintail was seen this week – a drake at Wicksteed Park Lake on 10th and, while Garganey numbers remained low, new birds were found at Blatherwycke Lake on 8th and Pitsford Res on 11th, with the Hollowell Res bird present throughout the period. It’s difficult to assess just how many Great White Egrets have been present over the past week. Three, two or just one highly mobile individual? Singles were at Hollowell Res on 5th, Pitsford Res on 5th-6th and Summer Leys LNR 8th-9th.

Similarly, Marsh Harriers appeared at four localities but there may have been only two individuals which included one flying west at Summer Leys on 8th and a juvenile at Hollowell Res and nearby Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 9th and at Harrington AF the following day. Blueberry Farm also featured Peregrines on 6th and 9th, one was seen at Higham Ferrers on 7th-9th and another visited Summer Leys on 8th.

Wader numbers appear to have dwindled this week with just four Ringed Plovers at Hollowell Res between 6th and 11th and three at Naseby Res on 10th, while the  juvenile Black-tailed Godwit lingered at Hollowell Res until 6th, with it, or another, visiting nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 10th and another at Stanwick GP on 5th. Two Whimbrels flew over between Walgrave and Pitsford Res on 8th, a Curlew was at the latter locality on 6th and two more visited Clifford Hill GP the following day.  Single Dunlins were at Stanwick GP on 5th and 11th, Naseby Res on 10th and Hollowell Res on 9th-11th with two there on 6th and three on 8th, while single Ruffs were at Stanwick GP on 5th and Summer Leys on 11th with Naseby Res producing seven on 6th, falling to five on 10th. A Turnstone visited Hollowell Res on 6th and Common Sandpipers were found at Pitsford, Hollowell, and Naseby reservoirs as well as at Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick GP, with a maximum of three at the latter locality on 5th. Green Sandpipers occurred at Daventry CP, Harrington AF, Pitsford, Ravensthorpe and Naseby reservoirs with a maximum of four at the latter locality on 8th-10th and in a seemingly good year (by local standards) for Spotted Redshanks another was found this week at Daventry CP on 10th. Greenshank scarcity continued with just singles at Pitsford Res on 5th-6th and Naseby Res on 6th-8th and the only Redshanks were singles at Pitsford Res on 5th and Hollowell Res on 8th plus two at Daventry CP on 11th.

Black Terns have also been hard to come by this year and the only one for this week’s roll-call presented itself at Thrapston GP on 5th, while the only Mediterranean Gull was an adult at Pitsford Res on 7th. Caspian Gulls, on the other hand, continued their long run of occurrence and site-faithfulness at Stanwick GP with four – including an apparently Polish-ringed juvenile – there on 10th, while an adult was at Pitsford Res on 7th.

Apparent Polish-ringed juvenile Caspian Gull in moult to first-winter, Stanwick GP, 10th September 2015 (Steve Fisher)
Apparent Polish-ringed juvenile Caspian Gull in moult to first-winter, Stanwick GP, 10th September 2015 (Steve Fisher)

The latter site continued to host up to two adult Yellow-legged Gulls throughout the week as did Hollowell Res, while an adult and a first-winter visited nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 8th but Stanwick again claimed the lion’s share with approximately forty present there on 10th.

An early Short-eared Owl was seen at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 5th and again on 9th and last week’s juvenile Cuckoo lingered at Brixworth CP/Pitsford Res until at least 6th. Whinchats were recorded throughout the period, from eight localities, with a maximum of eleven at Blueberry Farm on 6th and the remarkable run of Common Redstarts continued with up to thirty individuals recorded from a total of eleven localities. Notable among these was a series of birds trapped and ringed at Stanford Res, which comprised singles on 7th, 8th and 10th plus two on 9th. During the thirty-nine year period 1976 – 2014 the Stanford Ringing Group had trapped and ringed only eighteen Common Redstarts and this year alone has already seen eight processed through the nets.

Northern Wheatear, near Cold Ashby, 5th September 2015 (Mike Simon)
Northern Wheatear, near Cold Ashby, 5th September 2015 (Mike Simon)

By contrast, single Northern Wheatears were found near Cold Ashby on 5th, Pitsford Res/Walgrave on 6th, Blueberry Farm on 6th and 9th and at Hollowell Res on 10th-11th  and migrant Tree Pipits were logged at Pitsford Res on 6th (trapped and ringed), Blueberry Farm on 6th and 8th, Hollowell Res on 10th and two over Sulgrave the following day.

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