The week kicked off with a drop in temperature, winds from the northern quarter, overcast skies and heavy drizzle – perfect skua weather but the reality of standing exposed on Pitsford causeway (no sitting in cars, remember) waiting, waiting, waiting, quickly lost its appeal for some of us at least. Aside from similar conditions on day 3, the week turned out mainly fine with the eastern side of the UK benefiting bird-wise from an easterly airstream, although there was no change in land-locked Northants – still waiting, waiting, waiting …
The Ruddy Shelduck remained, as expected, at Pitsford Res, and more Pintails arrived this week – not in any large numbers but up to two at each of Daventry CP, Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Stanwick GP, while the only Garganey were two at Hollowell Res on 20th. A female Red-crested Pochard x Mallard hybrid was found at nearby Ravensthorpe Res on the same date. Up to three ‘thoroughbred’ Red-crested Pochards remained at Pitsford Res on 17th-18th and a drake Common Scoter visited Hollowell Res on 19th.
A Bittern was a surprise discovery on the ‘new diggings’ at Earls Barton GP on the WeBS count on 17th, nowadays much more difficult to see in the County than Great White Egret, more of which piled in this week.
Last week’s individual at Pitsford Res remained until at least 18th, when it was joined by a second bird, one remained all week at Summer Leys LNR, another was found at Deene Lake on 18th and, on the same date, another was discovered at Ravensthorpe Res and commuted between there and nearby Hollowell Res until at least 22nd. The partial summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe remained for two more days off the feeding station at Summer Leys but had departed after the weekend.
In a week notable for its absence of raptor reports Hobbies were still being seen – in most instances moving south – at Pitsford Res and Thrapston GP on 17th, Daventry CP and Stanford Res on 20th, Preston Deanery on 21st and Daventry CP again on 23rd.
As the end of September approaches, wader numbers begin to dwindle. The long-staying juvenile Grey Plover at Boddington Res remained all week, while Ringed Plovers included one at Stanwick GP on 17th, two at Hollowell Res on 18th increasing to five there on 22nd and, on 19th, twos at Pitsford Res and Daventry CP and four at Clifford Hill GP. A juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit visited Summer Leys on 18th – the same day that a juvenile Knot chose the unlikely location of the car park at Ravensthorpe Res to spend the day, albeit intermittently.
The only Ruff were singles at Ditchford GP on 18th, Daventry CP on 19th-23rd and Naseby Res on 20th and the only Dunlin was one at Hollowell Res on 18th-19th, while Common Sandpipers were reduced to two at Boddington Res and one at Daventry CP on 17th and 23rd and singles at Naseby Res on 18th-20th, Hollowell Res on 19th, at Stanford Res the following day, with one again at Boddington Res on 23rd. Up to two Green Sandpipers were at Daventry CP between 17th and 20th and three on 23rd, one was at Pitsford Res on 17th, two were found at Deene Lake on 18th and one visited Naseby Res on 20th. Common Snipe were recorded at seven localities with maxima of seven at Ditchford GP on 18th and at Hollowell Res on 20th.
Few scarce gulls were in evidence this week with the rarest of the few all being seen on 17th – these comprising a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Boddington Res, a first-winter Caspian Gull at Daventry CP and an adult Caspian Gull at Pitsford Res. Small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were found at Boddington Res, Pitsford Res, Hollowell Res, Daventry CP and in the Brampton Valley with the first named of these site holding the maximum of five on 17th. Getting late now, single Common Terns visited Ditchford GP on 18th and Hollowell Res on 20th.
Most of our Common Redstarts have now moved through, reflected this week by just one, at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 17th. Similarly, the only Whinchats were two at the latter locality on the same date and one at Bozenham Mill on 23rd. There were also three Stonechats at Blueberry Farm, followed by further singles at Summer Leys on 19th and Sywell CP the next day.
Northern Wheatears also appeared in slightly smaller number with singles again at Blueberry Farm on 17th, at Summer Leys and Preston Deanery on 21st and 23rd followed by three between Quinton and Preston Deanery on 22nd.
Much commoner in autumn than we probably believe, a White Wagtail was identified at Pitsford Res on 17th and, on the same date, a Tree Pipit was working its way across fields near the Grand Union Canal, north of Daventry and east of Welton.