The Week in Focus: 17th to 23rd October 2015

It was back to a week of westerlies, which also included one day of heavy rain. Migration, however, continued unabated with waves of winter thrushes, Skylarks and finches moving through the county along with a handful of new, scarcer arrivals.

Falling into the latter category – and part of a national movement – a Whooper Swan joined the Mutes at Blatherwycke Lake on 18th, while a Barnacle Goose was again at Clifford Hill GP on 20th and two were at Pitsford Res on 23rd. The latter site continued to host last week’s Ruddy Shelduck until 23rd, as well as producing the highest count of Pintails so far this autumn with twenty-four there on 23rd, while the drake remained at Wicksteed Park Lake on 20th, another visited Clifford Hill GP on the same date and one was at Daventry CP on 23rd. One juvenile Garganey remained into this week – the Ravensthorpe Res individual, which ultimately proved to be a male and was still present on 19th.

Juvenile male Garganey, Ravensthorpe Res, 19th October 2015 (Mike Alibone)
Juvenile male Garganey, Ravensthorpe Res, 19th October 2015 (Mike Alibone)

Up to thirteen Red-crested Pochards were at Pitsford Res on 21st, this location also continuing to host three Great White Egrets until 23rd, when five were counted north of the causeway – a record number for the site and equal to the county’s previous single site record at Summer Leys on 20th February this year. One also visited the latter site on 17th, followed there briefly on 20th by a first-winter Spoonbill, which had spent the previous three weeks at Eyebrook Res in Leicestershire.

First-winter Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 20th October 2015 (John Nicholls)
First-winter Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 20th October 2015 (John Nicholls)
First-winter Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 20th October 2015 (John Nicholls)
First-winter Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 20th October 2015 (John Nicholls)

Summer Leys also produced a Marsh Harrier between 17th and 19th, while a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier was seen at Harrington AF on the last of these dates. Single Merlins – or just one mobile individual – were in the Brampton Valley at Merry Tom crossing on 17th, near Brampton Halt on 18th and at Blueberry Farm on 18th-19th and Peregrines visited Harrington AF on 18th, Blueberry Farm on 19th-20th and Daventry CP on 23rd.

Numbers of Golden Plover ramped up this week with maximum site counts including three hundred at Thorpe Waterville on 18th, one hundred and sixty-five at Daventry CP on 23rd, one hundred and fifty at Harrington AF on 19th and thirty-four at Hartwell on 22nd. Other waders included two Ringed Plovers at Hollowell Res on 17th and 23rd, 2 Dunlin and three Common Snipe at Pitsford Res and 2 Common Snipe at Hollowell Res – all on 17th – and two Green Sandpipers at Ravensthorpe Res on 19th with three at Daventry CP on 23rd. Scarce larids included a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Daventry CP and an adult Caspian Gull at Hollowell Res – both on 23rd and up to two adult Yellow-legged Gulls remaining at Pitsford Res and at Hollowell Res, while one was at Hartwell and three at Daventry CP on 22nd.

North Northants produced four Short-eared Owls – two each at Harrington AF and Blueberry Farm – all on 19th and the following day saw two Firecrests appear, one of which was a female trapped and ringed at Stanford Res and the other a male in a mobile tit flock at Hollowell Res. Another Black Redstart was found this week – one around ‘The Granary’ at Fawsley Park on 23rd, while a very late Whinchat was discovered at Stanwick GP on 20th, the same site also hosting up to two Stonechats on 20th-21st. More Stonechats included the regulars at Blueberry Farm, where up to three were present all week, two at Hollowell Res on 23rd and one at Harrington AF on 19th. As late autumn became even later more Bramblings were found this week and the quota included fourteen at Stanford Res on 17th, one at Polebrook AF on 18th, two at Harrington AF on 18th with eight there the following day, two at Blueberry Farm on 18th and 20th and at least four at Walgrave on the last of these dates. A Corn Bunting around the bunkers of Harrington AF on 18th would appear to be only the second record of this species in the county this year.

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