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.
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.
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.
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.