Two Weeks in Focus: 24th October to 6th November 2015

An unseasonally mild two weeks saw record-breaking November temperatures on 1st as winds persisted from a largely southerly direction throughout the period.

Aside from the Pitsford Ruddy Shelduck remaining until 3rd, a mixed bag of wildfowl included more Pintails, with singles at Daventry CP, Ravensthorpe Res, Stanwick GP, Summer Leys LNR and Wicksteed Park Lake plus six at Pitsford Res on 31st and four at Earls Barton GP on 5th.

Drake Pintail, Wicksteed Park Lake, 29th October 2015 (Alan Francis)

Drake Pintail, Wicksteed Park Lake, 29th October 2015 (Alan Francis)

Drake Pintail, Earls Barton GP, 27th October 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Drake Pintail, Earls Barton GP, 27th October 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Two Garganeys remained into November – the first-winter female at Pitsford Res on 3rd and the young drake at Ravensthorpe Res until at least 4th, while Daventry CP bowled a curved ball in the shape of a first-winter drake American Wigeon x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid on 28th and Pitsford delivered a Ferruginous Duck x Red-crested Pochard hybrid on 31st. ‘Real’ Red-crested Pochards included up to seven at Stanford Res between 25th and 1st, up to ten at Pitsford Res on 31st-1st, one at Stanwick GP on 4th and up to six at Daventry CP on 4th-5th.

First-winter female Garganey, Pitsford Res, 3rd November 2015 (Bob Bullock)

First-winter female Garganey, Pitsford Res, 3rd November 2015 (Bob Bullock)

A Bittern put in a brief appearance at Summer Leys LNR on 25th while up to five Great White Egrets remained at Pitsford Res throughout the period and one visited Stanford Res on 1st. Pitsford also produced a Slavonian Grebe on 30th-31st – only the third to be seen in the county this year.

Great White Egrets, Pitsford Res, 1st November 2015 (Bob Bullock)

Great White Egrets, Pitsford Res, 1st November 2015 (Bob Bullock)

The second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, present at Summer Leys LNR since at least mid-October, remained throughout, appearing with some regularity over the scrape, where it provided great photo opportunities for some. Peregrines were widespread this week with singles at Borough Hill, Brixworth CP, Ecton SF, Higham Ferrers, Stanwick GP and Summer Leys LNR, while twos were seen at both Ditchford GP and Hardingstone GP.

Second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 1st November 2015 (Alan Coles)

Second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 1st November 2015 (Alan Coles)

Second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 1st November 2015 (Alan Coles)

Second calendar year male Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 1st November 2015 (Alan Coles)

On the wader front, Golden Plovers were reported from Daventry CP, Harrington AF, Harringworth, Hollowell Res, Summer Leys LNR, Thorpe Waterville and Tiffield with the largest count of three hundred and four coming from Daventry CP on 26th.

Golden Plovers, Summer Leys LNR, 26th October 2015 (Alan Coles)

Golden Plovers, Summer Leys LNR, 26th October 2015 (Alan Coles)

A single Ringed Plover visited Pitsford Res on 30th, 2 Dunlin were at Stanwick GP on 4th and  Common Snipe were at six localities, with double-figure counts of fifteen at Ecton SF on 1st and twenty-three at Daventry CP on 6th. Green Sandpipers were found at Daventry CP, Ecton SF, Pitsford Res and Ravensthorpe Res with a maximum of three at the latter locality on 1st.

Common Snipe, Ecton SF, 1st November 2015 (Mike Alibone)

Common Snipe, Ecton SF, 1st November 2015 (Mike Alibone)

This week’s Mediterranean Gull was again a first-winter, this time in the roost at Pitsford Res on 24th, while single adult Caspian Gulls were Stanford Res on 25th and Daventry CP on 6th and a third-year visited Hollowell Res on 26th. The reservoirs of Boddington, Hollowell, Pitsford and Ravensthorpe all produced Yellow-legged Gulls as did Daventry CP with the latter site, along with Pitsford, producing the period’s maxima of four.

Just one Short-eared Owl was mobile around Harrington AF on 4th, while a seriously late Sand Martin was a surprise for one observer at Stanford Res on 1st – although it still has a long way to go to beat the latest record of a juvenile which remained around Islip SF from 17th to 22nd November 1976. Another Black Redstart was found during the period, at Wellingborough on 28th, while Stonechats continued to be seen in the Brampton Valley and at Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res, Summer Leys LNR and  Thrapston GP, with a maximum of six at Hollowell Res on 26th. Late October still continues to produce Rock Pipits and Hollowell Res held up to two on 26th-27th, while a Water Pipit flew south, calling, over Harrington AF on 4th. Small numbers of Bramblings were seen at Borough Hill, Catesby, Daventry CP, East Carlton CP, Pitsford Res, Woodford Halse and Harrington AF – the latter site producing the maximum of six on 3rd.

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