The Week in Focus 8th to 14th October 2016

The easterly airstream, resulting from a blocking area of high pressure over Scandinavia, continued throughout the week, bringing with it a substantial numbers of common migrants, along with potentially the highest number of eastern vagrants to be recorded in any one autumn in the UK. Meanwhile, Northamptonshire is still awaiting its first untrapped Yellow-browed Warbler for several years.

The first of the winter geese materialised in the shape of four Pink-feet flying south over Stanford Res on 14th, while the Ruddy Shelduck remained, as usual, by the sailing club at Pitsford Res throughout the period. Pintails became more widespread this week with five at Earls Barton GP on 8th and two still there three days later, one at Thrapston GP and two at Stanford Res on 9th, one at Boddington Res on 10th and another at Hollowell Res the next day. Hollowell also produced two Red-crested Pochards on 11th, the same date that four were also at Pitsford.

Patience and a potentially long vigil are likely to be required for those wanting to see the Bittern discovered at Stortons GP on 9th and which was still present the following day. Sitting on the bench on the south side of the reedbed, armed with a hip flask or copious amounts of coffee as sustenance, may produce the desired result of flight views for anyone who has all day – just don’t blink …

Bittern, Stortons GP, 8th October 2016 (Bob Bullock)

This week’s brace of Great White Egrets included one at Ringstead GP – the first record for this site – on 8th, one at Thrapston GP and the settled individual at Deene Lake on 9th, when there were also three at Pitsford Res, where the tally increased to five on 11th and one was at Daventry CP from 12th until the week’s end.

Great White Egret, Deene Lake, 9th October 2016 (James Underwood)

The latter site again continued to host last week’s Black-necked Grebe throughout the period. The only raptors reported this week were Peregrines – singles at Summer Leys and Harrington AF on 8th, two near Sidegate Lane, Wellingborough on the same date and one at Stanford Res on 12th.

With wader passage all but over, up to forty Golden Plovers were at Harrington AF during the week, two Dunlins were at Pitsford Res on 9th and one visited Summer Leys on 11th and surely, this time, the last Common Sandpiper of the year was at Daventry CP on 13th.

Golden Plovers, Harrington AF, 9th October 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Golden Plovers, Harrington AF, 9th October 2016 (Martin Swannell)

Daventry CP also held a Green Sandpiper on the same date, while singles were at Ditchford GP and Deene Lake on 8th and 9th respectively and one was at Pitsford Res on 8th followed by two there on 11th. Small numbers of Common Snipe included singles at Ditchford GP and Summer Leys on 8th, fourteen at Deene Lake the following day, two at Hollowell Res and at least five at Pitsford Res on 11th and four at Boddington Res on 12th.

The potential highlight of the week would have been the Arctic Skua flying west, just south of Borough Hill on 10th but viewing conditions at the time precluded a positive ID. This is the first skua of any species in the county since 2011 when, again, an unidentified skua (thought probably to be a Long-tailed) was seen in flight near Weedon on 20th September. The few scarce larids included a first-winter Mediterranean Gull in the roost at Stanford Res on 12th and an adult Caspian Gull in the Pitsford Res roost the following evening, while the latter site produced single adult Yellow-legged Gulls on 8th, 13th and 14th while Boddington Res held three on 10th and two on 12th.

‘Pinging’ in the reedbed at Stortons GP, two Bearded Tits gave themselves away on 9th and there were at least four there the following day, while two were again at Summer Leys on 14th.

Male Bearded Tit, Stortons GP, 8th October 2016 (Bob Bullock)

Female Bearded Tit, Stortons GP, 8th October 2016 (Bob Bullock)

A Ring Ouzel was discovered in fields north-east of Long Buckby on 8th, a relatively late Whinchat was at Borough Hill on 10th and there were four Stonechats there on the same date. Elsewhere, between one and two Stonechats were seen at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), Harrington AF, Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res, Summer Leys and Sywell CP and two Northern Wheatears appeared at Harrington AF on 8th and one was at Preston Deanery the following day.

Northern Wheatear, Preston Deanery, 9th October 2016 (Mike Alibone)

Two more Rock Pipits were found this week – one at Stanford Res on 9th and the other at Boddington Res on 12th, with the latter site producing a Hawfinch briefly on 10th.

Rock Pipit, Stanford Res, 9th October 2016 (Chris Hubbard)