In contrast to last week’s wet and murky conditions, this week was largely dry with a persistent south to south-westerly airstream raising temperatures to a local peak of 26°C on 19th. Summer visitors new in during the period were Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat on 14th, Garden Warbler on 15th, Nightingale on 17th and Reed Warbler on 18th.
After last week’s handful of records, another Dark-bellied Brent Goose was found at Stanwick GP on 17th and more Garganey appeared, with two at Clifford Hill GP on 14th and up to four on Lower Barnwell floods between 16th and 20th. Diving ducks continued to put on a good showing, which included the male and female Red-crested Pochard still at Kislingbury GP until at least 16th, a Scaup at Pitsford Res on the same date and Common Scoters still turning up, with 14th producing two at Pitsford Res, a drake at Summer Leys LNR and one flying over Duston, as well as the two females from last week remaining at Clifford Hill GP until 15th.
Apart from the one frequenting the River Nene adjacent to Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR until 20th, Great White Egrets were either mobile or transient and included singles at Thrapston GP on 14th, over Clifford Hill GP on 15th, Ditchford GP on 16th, Stanwick GP on 17th and Stanford Res on 20th, while two paid a five-minute visit to Lower Barnwell floods before flying north-west on 15th. The star of the Nene Valley, making an exclusive appearance for one day only, was a summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe at Stanwick on 14th.
Raptors were limited to a single Marsh Harrier flying south-west at Stanwick GP on 14th and single – now only to be expected – Ospreys at Thrapston GP on 14th, 16th and 20th, over the A508 at Hanging Houghton on 15th, Hollowell Res on 16th, Pitsford Res on 19th and Ringstead GP on 20th, plus two at Harringworth Lodge Lake on 14th.
Totally unexpected, however, was the Stone Curlew which flew over the A45 at Upton (Northampton) on the evening of 19th and appeared to land somewhere near Upton Lodge Farm. Subsequent searches in the immediate area uncovered nothing, although suitable habitat there is limited. This will be only the sixteenth county record and the first since 2014, if accepted. Following a belated report of an Avocet at Summer Leys on 13th, two were there the next day, remaining throughout the morning.
The first spring Whimbrel flew east over Clifford Hill GP on 19th and another was there the following day, the same site producing five Black-tailed Godwits on 14th. Stanford Res again produced a Greenshank on 15th – the third of the spring at this site – while one was seen at Summer Leys, two days later, on 17th.
The first Black Tern of the spring appeared at Ditchford GP on 19th, followed by an Arctic Tern there on 20th while, on the same date, single Arctic Terns were found at Earls Barton GP and Thrapston GP, two were at Clifford Hill GP and four visited Daventry CP.
Three more Kittiwakes – all adults and all at Thrapston GP – extended the species’ outstanding run this spring and included one on 18th and two on 20th, while Little Gulls appeared at four localities, with Clifford Hill GP producing the lion’s share of six on 15th, three on 16th, two on 17th and one on 19th. Two were also at Summer Leys on 19th and singles visited Stanwick GP on 14th and Daventry CP on 17th and 20th.
Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were at Stanwick on 14th while the only big gull of the week was an adult Yellow-legged Gull at Daventry CP on 17th.
After last week’s two single-observer Ring Ouzels, one finally gave itself up to the masses (or at least to most of those who wanted to see it), although not without a fight. Found at Clifford Hill GP on 16th, it went missing for the whole of the following day, before reappearing in the same favoured spot on the evening of 17th and then playing hide-and-seek on 18th.
Again, just one Common Redstart was seen this week – a female between Scaldwell and Pitsford Res on 16th-17th but there were much better numbers of Northern Wheatears, with Clifford Hill GP producing the maximum count of ten on 18th, plus six on 14th, two on 16th-17th and one on 19th. Elsewhere, singles were at Harrington AF on 14th, Kislingbury Meadows on 16th, Preston Deanery on 17th, Earls Barton GP on 18th and Hartwell on 20th. Finally, a lone, singing male Corn Bunting was between Deenethorpe and Upper Benefield on 19th.
— John Hunt (@JHOUNDLE) April 19, 2018
This individual was singing like a Yellowhammer and BWP states that isolated males, which mix regularly with Yellowhammers, away from other Corn Buntings, pick up and sing a Yellowhammer-type song. This is a sad state of affairs and just goes to show how low the Corn Bunting population has fallen locally