A mini heatwave, with temperatures hitting the low thirties during the penultimate week, sees spring merge with autumn as the first southbound Black-tailed Godwits and Greenshank arrive in the county and a small, brown duck causes a stir.
Continuing its reluctance to depart, the first-summer Eurasian White-fronted Goose moved from Stanford Res back to Pitsford, where it remained until 11th, while single drake Garganeys appeared again at Summer Leys LNR on 3rd and Stanwick GP on 15th. A drake Red-crested Pochard, now in eclipse, loitered at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR until at least 12th but the surprise discovery of a female with one young duckling at Thrapston GP, mid-month, turned out to be the first breeding of this species in Northamptonshire.
The origins of our Red-crested Pochards have never really been known for certain but the above discovery must surely be a case of feral breeding. The last day of the month produced seventeen Common Scoters at Daventry CP – the first decent-sized flock we’ve have locally for a long time and part of a large national overland movement taking place at this time.
Nice though they were, they did not attract anything like as much attention as a certain diminutive diving duck, which appeared at Clifford Hill GP on 24th – a potential first for Northamptonshire in the form of a female Bufflehead. Not the best time of year but there has been a series of June occurrences, coupled with a cluster of previous Midlands records, so hopes ran high as local, and some not so local, birders descended on this Nene Valley site on the edge of suburbia. It quickly transpired our girl was wearing a ring – albeit a metal one – and the rot began to set in. With more than 22,500 Buffleheads historically having been ‘banded’ in Canada and the USA, the presence of a ring was still not necessarily a problem but the ring detail was far from clear until, that is, she upped and went to Daventry CP on 27th. It was there and then that she was snapped in close-up, the ring detail scrutinised and any potential credential immediately dismissed as she was duly pronounced an escape. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
It has been a very poor spring for Quail, with just two singing males reported – both of which appeared to be one-day wonders. One was near the railway close to Kings Sutton on 9th and the other in a flax field near Burton Latimer on 18th. Summer Leys produced both of the period’s rare herons, which included a Great White Egret on the scrape on 14th and a Bittern in flight over the car park on 20th and again on the scrape the following day.
Wandering Ospreys featured at four localities during the month, including Welford Res on 3rd, 8th and 13th, three flew over Bulwick on the latter date and one visited Blatherwycke Lake on 16th but Stanford Res claimed the lion’s share. Stanford’s low water level continued to attract waders, including an Avocet for two days on 25th-26th, a late spring Grey Plover on 3rd and a presumably non-breeding first-summer Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit on 11th ahead of the first southbound Black-taileds – a nice flock of twenty-seven – on 25th.
One of these wore an Icelandic ring indicating it was a twelve-year old male and, thanks to Chris Hubbard’s research, its movement history is charted below. Clearly there was a Black-tailed Godwit movement taking place on 25th with further records of at least twenty-five at Summer Leys and one over St James, Northampton. More had arrived by the month’s end with 30th producing at least nine more at Stanford and singles at both Stanwick and Summer Leys. The autumn’s first Greenshank arrived at Stanford on 28th, lingering until the month’s end but further south, at Daventry CP, it was still spring when
five Sanderlings flew west on 6th.There was no avoiding Stanford’s pull for two Little Terns which arrived there on 28th but Pitsford – at which the water level is now looking enticingly low – attracted a Sandwich Tern to Scaldwell Bay on 19th. Both species are rarely recorded in the county in summer.
Following the breeding of Mediterranean Gulls at Stanwick earlier this year, another adult visited the Black-headed Gull colony there on 19th and two adults flew over Byfield the following day. June records of Yellow-legged Gulls are few and far between but the month saw two at Stanford on 17th, one at Daventry CP on 26th and one at Boddington Res on 30th – all of which were immatures. We also had our first June records of Caspian Gull, with Pitsford Res producing a second-summer on 10th, two second-summers the following day and one on 18th, while a first-summer appeared at Daventry CP on 27th.
Finally, the only passerine migrants found anywhere this month presumably belonged to autumn and they were all Common Redstarts. A female was at Clifford Hill GP on 25th-26th followed by a male there on 30th and a male visited a garden in Spratton on 26th.