A short-lived ‘Indian Summer’ extended into the second half of this two-week period before giving way to a northerly airstream, culminating in lower than average temperatures and gales. The good fortune of the Stanford Ringing Group continued with another Wryneck and a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was – and probably still is – on a roll …
Present throughout the period but clearly taking an awayday, the female Ruddy Shelduck visited Foxholes Fisheries at Crick on 22nd before returning to its now favoured locality of Ravensthorpe Res later on the same day.
Meanwhile, heading up the wildfowl cast proper, single Garganeys were found at Hollowell Res on 12th, Daventry CP on 18th and at Pitsford Res on 18th-19th, while the female Red-crested Pochard remained at the latter site until 14th.
Continuing this year’s Spoonbill rush, another put in a brief appearance, sharing the shoreline with two Great Egrets at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR on 15th.
And yes, they made it – Cattle Egrets hit double figures – a new Northamptonshire record count for the species was made at the Stanwick roost, where at least ten were present, early in the morning on 23rd. Numbers here varied daily throughout the period but up to five visited nearby Ditchford/Irthlingborough between 12th and 15th.
Great Egrets remained well-scattered over seven sites, with Pitsford producing the maximum count of five on 17th and 22nd.
Just three raptors during the period included an Osprey over Ditchford/IL&M on 19th, a ‘ringtail’ harrier sp., believed to be a Hen Harrier, at Lilbourne Meadows LNR on 13th and a Marsh Harrier at Stanwick, intermittently throughout. The latter sported red wing-tags, enabling it to be identified as a young female from a brood of four (one female, three males) raised at Thorpe Marshes, near Beccles, Suffolk. This is the first sighting since it was tagged on 7th June 2020.
Waders bounced back a little, with two Ruffs at Pitsford on 22nd and one at Stanwick on 25th and the star of the wader movement so far this autumn, a juvenile Little Stint, at Hollowell between 18th and 20th. In fact, it’s likely to be the only one in the county in 2020 …
A juvenile Wood Sandpiper dropped into Summer Leys late on 22nd, remaining until the following morning, while single Greenshanks visited Pitsford on 12th, Naseby Res on 15th and two were at Earls Barton GP on 16th.
No new species were added to the gull list when compared with the last period. Single first-winter Mediterranean Gulls visited Summer Leys on 19th and Stanwick on 21st, where an adult Caspian Gull was found on 18th. It, or another, had been at nearby Ditchford GP/IL&M on 13th. Meanwhile, Yellow-legged Gulls were to be had at Earls Barton, Pitsford, Stanwick and Thrapston, with Stanwick producing the highest total of seven on 18th. One more Merlin appeared during the period, this time at Harrington AF on 19th.
Meanwhile, the Stanford Ringing Group was on a roll, trapping its second Wryneck of the autumn on 14th, followed by a Yellow-browed Warbler on 22nd. The latter was the 6th trapped and ringed by the group and is only the 15th Northants record. The SRG’s amazing run continues, with more autumn glory to come, no doubt – and we’re not talking evergreen shrubs here …
Normally associated with late autumn, the third Black Redstart of the season was found on 20th, obligingly remaining in place until 22nd, at the easily accessible location of Borough Hill. The latter locality also produced Common Redstarts on 15th and 20th, while one was at Stanford on 12th and two remained at Harrington AF between 13th and 17th.
Just four Whinchats were found as we approached closer toward the end of September. These included singles at Braunston on 13th, Wicksteed Water Meadows (Kettering) on 14th, Borough Hill on 20th and Corby on 21st-22nd, while the number of Stonechats ramped up, with records from Borough Hill, Clifford Hill GP, Corby, Geddington, Harrington, Hollowell and Twywell Hills & Dales, including a maximum of at least nine at Borough Hill on 20th.
Northern Wheatear numbers fell to only four individuals: one trapped and ringed at Stanford on 12th, a different bird there on 14th and singles at both Borough Hill and Harrington on 21st.
Which leaves only Crossbills, albeit in smaller numbers than in previous weeks, with Wakerley Great Wood holding six on 14th and two on 19th.