The Week in Focus 2nd to 8th April 2016

With a southerly airstream and temperatures reaching the mid- to high teens, the first two days of the period felt like spring but this was short-lived. Temperatures fell away mid-week, showers ensued and the winds were on the verge of becoming easterly at the end of the period. This was not enough to deter more migrants, though, and the first Common Swift, Grasshopper Warbler and Sedge Warbler had been logged by the week’s end.

A potentially ‘new’ Barnacle Goose appeared at Thrapston GP on 6th and the Pitsford Ruddy Shelduck was still present until at least the same date, while just one drake Garganey remained at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR until 2nd. On the brink of qualifying as a long-stayer, the Summer Leys Scaup remained throughout the period.

A single Great White Egret made it into this week, when it was seen at Summer Leys on 2nd and flying over the main Earls Barton GP complex the following day. Two rare grebes – both short-stayers – were found at the weekend. A Slavonian Grebe spent most of the day at Daventry CP on 2nd and a Black-necked Grebe made a brief appearance in Pintail Bay at Pitsford Res the following day.

Although the diversity of raptors was at a low point, at least three Ospreys were around to hold the interest with singles visiting Pitsford Res on 2nd and 5th, while reports of fly-overs at Clifford Hill GP and Summer Leys on the morning of 4th are likely to refer to the same individual and, in addition to this, one flew north-west at Boddington Res on 8th.

Osprey, Pitsford Res, 2nd April 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Aside from potential breeders, reports of Peregrines dwindled to just three, with singles at Borough Hill on 3rd and at Summer Leys on 5th and 8th.

Early April is traditionally the best time to find an Avocet and this year is no exception. Two appeared, both on 3rd, both were in the Nene Valley and both were characteristically short-stayers. The first was at Stanwick GP, where it was found on the A45 Lay-by Pit first thing in the morning and the second was seen later at Summer Leys. On 2nd,

Avocet, Stanwick GP, 3rd April 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Avocet, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd April 2016 (Tony Vials)

approximately four hundred and fifty Golden Plovers were counted at Stanford Res and twenty were at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), while a Ringed Plover plus three pairs of Little Ringed Plovers were at a Nene Valley breeding site on 3rd and single Little Ringeds were at Stanwick GP and Summer Leys up to 8th. Lone Curlews visited Pitsford Res on 1st, Bozenham Mill and Hanging Houghton on 2nd and two were at a potential breeding site in the Nene Valley on 3rd, while an Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit was at Summer Leys on 7th-8th.

Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys, 8th April 2016 (Alan Coles)

After an absence last week, single Dunlins visited Stanwick GP and Summer Leys on 4th and the only Green Sandpiper was the malingerer at Pitsford Res on 2nd-4th, while the only Redshanks reported were six at Stanwick GP on the last of these dates. A Jack Snipe was flushed at Harrington AF on 5th and Common Snipe numbers were pegged to three at Stanford Res on 2nd and one at Stanwick GP on 6th.

If it had not been for an adult Little Gull at Sywell CP on 3rd there would have been no rare gulls this week but an arrival of terns went some way to make up for this with the first

Little Gull, Sywell CP, 3rd April 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Little Gull, Sywell CP, 3rd April 2016 (Bob Bullock)

of the year’s Common Terns found on Thrapston GP’s Town Lake on 2nd, followed next day by two at Stanwick GP. The latter site also produced a fly-over Sandwich Tern on 4th.

Sandwich Tern, Stanwick GP, 4th April 2016 (Steve Fisher)

The first Common Swift – the second earliest ever by a day – was at nearby Finedon on 6th, the first Grasshopper Warbler of the spring was singing behind Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP on 8th and the first Sedge Warbler was at adjacent Summer Leys on 8th. After a relative paucity of Northern Wheatears last week this species was recorded from nine localities during the period, with a maximum of five at Borough Hill on 4th.

Northern Wheatear, Harrington AF, 4th April 2016 (Bob Bullock)

More White Wagtails came through, although only in small numbers, which included two at Thrapston GP on 3rd and singles at Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick GP on 4th and 6th respectively, while lingering Bramblings remained at Maidwell, where there were two on 2nd and in gardens in Hanging Houghton, where there were two on 2nd and one on 5th and in Geddington, where seven were present on 3rd, dwindling to one on 7th.