The westerly airflow continued this week, which remained largely dry, with temperatures depressed in the early part. Shags lingered at two localities, one of which also produced a sixth county record …
In fact, there was little change afoot across the board, including the almost inert Pink-footed Goose and the female Ruddy Shelduck, now part of the fixtures and fittings in the Hollowell/Ravensthorpe area, where they were still present on 9th. Apart from this dodgy duo, a female Red-crested Pochard at Pitsford Res from 7th to 10th was the only other wildfowl of note.
Following previous recent occurrences, another Spoonbill was reported during the week, this one flying west over Billing Garden Centre, adjacent to Billing GP, early doors on 8th. It was not relocated. Encouragingly, Cattle Egret numbers jumped to a record nine roosting at Stanwick GP on 9th and 11th, five of which were seen below nearby Irthlingborough Church on the first of these two dates. Just one more gets us to double-figures … Fairly well nailed-down and with no more than three at any one location, Great Egrets maintained a presence at Hollowell, Pitsford and Summer Leys throughout and one flew over Oundle on 10th.
Meanwhile, Shags hung on at two localities, although their numbers dwindled further with the death of one of the Stanford two on 7th, the other remaining until 11th. At Pitsford, three birds appeared to have decreased to one by 8th, after which there were no further reports from the site.
On the raptor front, Ospreys were seen at both Thrapston GP and Stanford on 5th and one – a juvenile – was seen flying over the Brampton Valley below Brixworth the following day, while 11th saw Marsh Harriers at both Stanford and Stanwick.
Waders were, again, seemingly on the wane, with two Ruffs briefly at Earls Barton GP on 6th, a juvenile at Clifford Hill GP on 7th and two juveniles at Hollowell Res on 8th. A Greenshank visited Ditchford GP on 8th and up to three were at Earls Barton GP from 8th to 10th – a pretty poor show for a species that used to be a common autumn migrant.
There was also little change regarding gulls this week, with three first-winter Mediterranean Gulls at Daventry CP on 7th and an adult at Welford Res the following day, while a juvenile Caspian Gull appeared in the roost at Boddington Res on 7th and an adult visited Stanwick GP on 9th. Yellow-legged Gull numbers were down on last week – back into single figures, in fact – the highest number at any of this week’s seven localities being eight at Stanwick on 9th. Elsewhere, five were in the roost at Boddington on 7th, up to three were at Pitsford throughout the period and the same number at DIRFT 3 on 5th, while singles visited Thrapston GP on 5th, Daventry on 7th and Ringstead GP on 11th.
The male Merlin in the Brampton Valley, between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton, was seen again on 10th and a female/juvenile visited Stanford on 9th.
Passerine passage continued unabated, which brings us neatly to ‘bird of the week’ – at least for a privileged, though well deserved, few – a juvenile Marsh Warbler trapped and ringed by the hard-working ringing group at Stanford on 10th. This represents only the 6th record for the county, three of which have been in the last three years. The smart money will be on the group trapping a monster rare as autumn further unfolds over the next few weeks …
The SRG also trapped and ringed five Common Redstarts on the same date, while the highest single locality day-count this week was six at Harrington AF on 5th, with up to four remaining there until 9th. Elsewhere, two remained between Walgrave and Old on 6th and singles were found between Shutlanger and Stoke Bruerne on 9th and at Preston Deanery the following day.
Back at Stanford, three Whinchats were present on 5th, one of which was trapped and ringed, representing only the fifth ever to be ringed there. Elsewhere, up to two were in the Brampton Valley between 8th and 10th and singles were found near Glapthorn Cow Pasture on 5th, at Chelveston AF on 6th and at Harrington AF on 9th.
A single Stonechat was in the Brampton Valley on 10th. With records from five localities, Northern Wheatear numbers were up on last week, although all reports were of singles, apart from two at Borough Hill on 7th. One was at Stanford from 6th to 11th, another at Harrington between 6th and 9th, one visited Pitsford on 6th and another was found at Harpole on the same date.
The early autumn has so far proven generous with Tree Pipits, three more of which were seen this week, including singles over Higham Ferrers and at Chelveston on 6th and over Harrington the following day. Just when we thought Crossbill numbers were dwindling, they bounced back, with the northern woodlands producing the highest numbers of the year so far. These included around forty at the much favour’d locality of Wakerley Great Wood on 7th and thirty-two at nearby Fineshade Wood on 10th. Elsewhere, ten flew over Newnham on 9th and three were over Kettering on 10th.