The Week in Focus 1st to 7th October 2016

Aside from some fast moving heavy showers accompanied by thunder and lightning on 1st, the remainder of the week was dry, largely sunny with the winds variable between north-east and south-east. The easterly airstream stretched from well beyond Scandinavia, bringing with it many scarce eastern migrants to coastal UK. With many Yellow-browed Warblers also making it well inland, Northamptonshire surely has one or two lurking somewhere not too far away …

The Ruddy Shelduck remained at Pitsford Res throughout as Pintail numbers there continued to rise to reach a total of twenty-one on 1st and one also visited Stanford Res on 7th. A Garganey was also present at Pitsford from 1st to 5th and another was found at Hollowell Res on 2nd, while up to three Red-crested Pochards were also at Pitsford between 1st and 5th and, on 1st, an eclipse drake was at Stanford Res and five visited Hollowell Res.

Eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard, Stanford Res, 2nd October 2016 (Chris Hubbard)

Totting up this week’s Great White Egrets brings us to a total of at least six. The bird from Hollowell Res was seen to depart in the direction of Pitsford Res late in the day on 1st, from when the Pitsford two became three, and singles also lingered on at Deene Lake until 2nd and at Summer Leys LNR intermittently between 3rd and 5th. Elsewhere, further singles visited Thrapston GP on 2nd, Stanwick GP on 4th and Daventry CP on 7th, with the latter site continuing to host the last week’s Black-necked Grebe throughout the period.

Great White Egret, Deene Lake, 2nd October 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR (Terry Armstrong)

A Honey Buzzard drifted low south over Pitsford Res on 1st and a Marsh Harrier between Upton Mill and Pineham (Northampton) on 5th were the only large raptors of note, while just two Peregrines – singles at Harrington AF on 2nd and Pitsford Res on 5th – quickly rounds off the raptor offering for this week.

On the wader front, around fifteen Golden Plovers were at Harrington AF on 2nd and a Grey Plover visited Hollowell Res on 1st but had gone by the next day. Small numbers of Ringed Plovers included two at Clifford Hill GP on 1st, followed by singles at Daventry CP on 4th and at both Boddington Res and Pitsford Res on 5th. Black-tailed Godwits continued to migrate through with three at Summer Leys on 1st which were seen later in the day flying east over Ditchford GP. Again, the week’s only Ruff was the Daventry CP individual, which remained until at least 3rd and, after an absence last week, Dunlin again appeared in small numbers with two at Clifford Hill GP on 1st, one at Hollowell Res on 1st-2nd, two at Ditchford GP on 2nd, four at Pitsford Res on 3rd and one at Daventry CP on 7th. Potentially the last Common Sandpiper of the year was one at Sywell CP on 5th, while between one and three Green Sandpipers were noted at Daventry CP, Deene Lake and Pitsford Res throughout the week.

Common Sandpiper, Sywell CP, 5th October 2016 (Alan Francis)

Green Sandpiper, Pitsford Res, 6th October 2016 (Alan Francis)

A couple of late Greenshank comprised singles at both Ditchford GP and Pitsford Res on 2nd, while Common Snipe numbers remained in single figures with three at Hollowell Res on 1st, six at Deene Lake on 2nd and two at Daventry CP on 7th.

Scarce gulls remained in short supply, with two adult Caspian Gulls in the roost at Pitsford Res on 2nd, up to two adult Yellow-legged Gulls were there on 1st-2nd and three at Boddington Res on 5th. A migrant Short-eared Owl at Harrington AF on 2nd was the first one of the autumn as were two Bearded Tits – perhaps the only ones of the autumn – at Summer Leys on 7th. The only hint of flavour from the east was a Siberian Chiffchaff trapped and ringed at Stanford Res on 5th.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Stanford Res, 5th October 2016 (Mick Townsend)

Whinchats were still being encountered in the early part of the week, with singles at Harrington AF and Pitsford Res plus two at Staverton – all on 2nd, while up to three Stonechats were at Stanford Res on 1st-2nd, one was at Ditchford GP on 2nd and up to two were at Harrington AF between 2nd and 6th.

Male Stonechat, Stanford Res, 2nd October 2016 (Chris Hubbard)

Rock Pipit, Hollowell Res, 3rd October 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

Rock Pipit, Hollowell Res, 3rd October 2016 (Cathy Ryden)

A Rock Pipit – another typical scarce autumn migrant and the first of the season – was found on the dam at Hollowell Res on 3rd and a male Brambling appeared at Stanford Res on 7th.