In a nod to the arrival of meteorological spring this week, a singing Chiffchaff at a non-wintering locality provided a hint of many more migrants to come but it was the first Black-bellied Dipper for twenty-four years which drew the crowds during its three-day stay in the county.
A female Scaup at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows on 5th was the sole representative of this week’s Anseriformes. Surely more is on the cards from this group over the next few weeks as things start to move throughout the early part of the spring. But just a hop, skip and a jump to the Watersports Pit, west of Ditchford Lane saw last week’s four Cattle Egrets now down to three on 6th, while Great Egrets continued to be found at eight localities, with no more than two at any one site. Further down the Nene Valley, the first Marsh Harrier of the year appeared at Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh LNR on 5th.
Things were looking up again for gulls, with March normally seeing a good deal of northward movement – particularly for Mediterranean Gulls, an adult of which was at Daventry CP on 5th-6th.
The year’s second Iceland Gull – again an adult – joined the throng at Rushton Landfill on 6th, the same site hosting a third-winter Caspian Gull on the same date, while a third-winter Yellow-legged Gull visited Daventry CP on 2nd, followed by a fourth-winter there the next day. Keep watching those gull roosts!
Harrington AF hung on to its Short-eared Owl until at least 29th, Borough Hill still had two on 6th and the Stanford Res bird notched up another week, still being present on 5th. Stonechats were still on station at Borough Hill (six), Hartwell, where there were five and Stanford, two, while singles at Harrington and Thrapston appeared to be new birds.
But bird of the week and, so far, the year was the first Northamptonshire Black-bellied Dipper – or any Dipper come to that – for almost a quarter of a century. Oh, yes. On display at Sywell CP for only two and a half days, it attracted the attention of more than just a steady procession of admiring birders, narrowly escaping the talons of a Sparrowhawk on two occasions, one of which was neatly captured on film by Graham Norris.
With Black-bellied Dipper now a national rarity, how long will we have to wait for the next one?