Six of the best – and another record-breaker in this week’s look at summer visitors arriving in the county.
Following last week’s review of this year’s summer visitor arrival dates so far, another six are now in, including the earliest-ever Lesser Whitethroat on 10th April. This species appears to have enjoyed a fairly consistent run of early arrival dates in recent years, with the previous earliest on 12th April in 1981, 2014, 2016 and 2017. Last year’s first was found on 17th April – a full week later than this year’s.
Coming close, in second place, is Whinchat on 16th April, which is only one day behind the previous earliest in 1984 and 2015. Beyond this, the Nightingale is four days earlier than last year’s, the Reed Warbler was found on the same date as last year’s first and the Hobby is six days earlier than the first one to be seen last year but probably more in line with the ‘average’ arrival date for this species.
This leaves Tree Pipit. It’s a difficult one to draw comparisons in arrival dates between this year and previous years because of the population decline it has undergone, especially in central and southern England, over the past twenty-five years. Red-listed in the UK as a species of critical concern, in our county it is now a scarce passage migrant. In 2012, for the first time ever, there were no spring records.
More to come. As always, an expanded list of general migrant arrival and departure dates, including historical extremes, is published annually in the Northamptonshire Bird Report.