Newsround – 26th September to 2nd October 2020

A series of Atlantic-borne fronts brought a week of mixed, often showery, weather, culminating in a low pressure system, ‘Storm Alex’, delivering a strong easterly airstream off the continent throughout the final day of the period. The arrival of the first Redwings on 27th saw autumn enter another phase, while the week’s highlights appeared in the shapes of Black Redstart and Rock Pipit.

Now a long time part of the furniture, the female Ruddy Shelduck maintained its presence in the Hollowell/Ravensthorpe area until at least 27th and a Garganey was again at Pitsford Res on 29th. A ‘new’, or relocating, female Red-crested Pochard was found on 28th at Kislingbury GP, a site rapidly becoming engulfed by housing developments, and it was still present there on 1st.

Female Red-crested Pochard, Kislingbury GP, 28th September 2020 (Tony Stanford)

A little deeper into suburbia and a Bittern emerged from a reedbed at Stortons GP on 29th, while up to six Cattle Egrets confined themselves to Stanwick GP until at least 30th. No doubt they will be there for a long time to come. Great Egrets were seen at Ditchford GP, Geddington, Hollowell, Naseby Res, Pitsford, Stanford, Stanwick, Summer Leys and Thrapston, with Pitsford again clocking up the maximum count of six on 28th-29th.

The wing-tagged juvenile female Marsh Harrier continued to roam the Nene Valley in the vicinity of the Ditchford/Stanwick lake complex and was still present on 30th.

Meanwhile, things looked grim on the wader front, with just a single juvenile Ruff at Pitsford on 27th and a juvenile ‘Tundra’ Ringed Plover at Daventry CP on 28th-29th. So, is it all over for another year? Time is fast running out for surprises …

Juvenile Ruff, Pitsford Res, 27th September 2020 (Doug Goddard)

Gulls, too, dwindled. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull visited Pitsford on 29th and Yellow-legged Gull numbers were down on previous periods, with one at Stanford on 26th and up to three at Pitsford all week. A Merlin was again seen at Harrington AF on 30th.

In the passerine camp, Borough Hill came up trumps with another Black Redstart on 1st – or had the last one there simply gone missing for nine days? A leap to the north-east of here, the elevated ground which is Harrington AF was one of only two localities to produce Common Redstart with one on 26th and 30th, while one was trapped at Stanford on 28th – the twenty-ninth to be ringed there this year.

Black Redstart, Borough Hill, 1st October 2020 (Mike Alibone). Yellow gape flanges visible on the open bill age this bird as a juvenile.
Common Redstart, Stanford Res, 28th September 2020 (Theo de Clermont)

In the absence of Whinchats, the number of Stonechats continued to climb, with records from Borough Hill, Bozenham Mill, Brampton Valley, Earls Barton GP, Hollowell, Kislingbury, Pitsford, Stanford and Storton’s GP, with a maximum of six at Hollowell on 29th and the same number at Borough Hill on 1st.

Stonechat, Kislingbury GP, 1st October 2020 (Tony Stanford)

Northern Wheatear numbers fell further to just singles at Hollowell on 29th and Kislingbury on 30th-1st.

Northern Wheatear, Kislingbury GP, 30th September 2020 (Tony Stanford)

With a penchant for reservoir dams from late September into early October, Rock Pipits are now on the radar and the first for the year appeared briefly on the weathered concrete of Pitsford’s on 29th, followed quickly by another flying over Stanford’s the next day.  Crossbills clung on in the north of the county, with four flying over Kettering on 28th, around twenty at Wakerley Great Wood on 1st and six at nearby Fineshade Wood on the same date.

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