A predominantly northerly airstream, changing to easterly at the week’s end, ensured temperatures remained depressed, although the migrants just kept coming, with passerines aplenty …
The continued popularity of the four Garganeys at Summer Leys LNR was a draw to the site for many and at least two remained until 14th. Pitsford Res also chipped in with two in Scaldwell Bay, from 11th until the week’s end, as well as producing two Common Scoters at the opposite end on 14th – the latter being the dambusters in ending the dry run for this species which, hitherto, had been confined to ‘nocmig only’ records this year.
This winter’s long-staying drake Ring-necked Duck sat another week out at Clifford Hill GP, sometimes displaying to female Tufted Ducks – well, when in Rome … and the Ditchford/Stanwick drake Smew appeared to be edging closer to its homeland as it moved just that little bit further east, to Thrapston GP, on 10th-12th.
Meanwhile, back at Pitsford, after a dearth this winter, a Great Northern Diver was found on 14th, remaining there until 16th.
The pattern of early morning sightings at Stanwick continued this week for the county’s historically most accessible and much admir’d Glossy Ibis, which duly became more difficult to pin down. It was still present, at its formerly favoured location of Aldwincle Lake at Thrapston, as we moved into the new week.
Stanwick also continued as usual to be the main site for Cattle Egrets, four being present there on 10th and two on 16th, while one visited Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR on 15th. Great Egrets continued to make their normal spring exit from the county, with singles, only, hanging on at Pitsford, Stanford Res, Stanwick and Summer Leys as the week progressed.
Single Ospreys were seen at the eight sites of Chapel Brampton, Clifford Hill, Deene Lake, Ditchford, Hollowell Res, Pitsford, Stanwick and Summer Leys, while other raptors also available – if you were there at the time – were, as last week, a Marsh Harrier over Earls Barton GP’s new workings (south) on 11th and a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier flying south-west over Stanwick on 16th.
Waders this week were limited. Single Curlews were at Hinton AF on 13th, Ecton SF on 15th and at both Stanford Res and Summer Leys on 16th. The year’s second Bar-tailed Godwit – a proper spring passage bird – pitched up at Thrapston GP on 16th, while single Black-tailed Godwits were at Ditchford on 15th and Summer Leys on 16th and single Greenshanks were also at Ditchford on 15th and Thrapston the following day.
Another week, another Kittiwake – an adult being a brief visitor to Stanwick on 10th. Other fixtures and fittings included the now weekly Mediterranean Gull line-up at Earls Barton/Summer Leys, where two or three adults and a second-summer were present, on and off, and another adult was at Chelveston AF on 10th. Last week’s juvenile Glaucous Gull put in another appearance at DIRFT 3 on 11th, the same site holding both adult and third-winter Yellow-legged Gulls on 15th, while an adult and a second-summer of the latter species remained at Pitsford on 16th.
Passerines came very much to the fore this week. We kick off with the first Cuckoo of the year, at Southwick Wood on 14th – a pretty much average arrival date – but a Woodlark flying north at Onley on 16th was only the second to be reported this year, as well as constituting a near-miss for Warwickshire, as it cruised through on our side of the border.
The year’s first Reed Warblers were both found on 13th, one at Summer Leys just pipping one at Stanwick to the post by a mere forty minutes!
But it was the first Ring Ouzel which proved to be a popular draw for many of the county’s birders this week – a male in the fields just east of Summer Leys on 12th and 13th, the warm sunshine, a Blue-headed Wagtail and the point-blank drake Garganey nearby no doubt strongly contributing to the observer build-up there on the latter date. Another was was found at Harrington AF, also on 13th, again proving popular there until the week’s end.
Another first in for the year was a Nightingale at Stanwick on 11th, while another Black Redstart, this week at Long Buckby on 13th, continued this species’ remarkable run so far this spring.
More Common Redstarts also followed on from last week’s sprinkling, with ones and twos at Daventry CP, Eydon, Fawsley Park, Harrington, Hinton, Summer Leys and Stanford, the latter trapped and ringed. Most, if not all, were males.
Northern Wheatears pretty much followed suit, with Chelveston, Clifford Hill, Deenethorpe AF, Harrington, Hinton and Hollowell all holding one or two migrants, the exception being four at Chelveston on 10th and three at Deenethorpe on 11th.
But generating considerable interest this week were wagtails. Set against a backcloth of the largest number of Yellow Wagtails we have seen in spring for several years was a series of potential oddballs and some not so oddballs. We begin with a swanky male Blue-headed Wagtail, which became the focus of attention for many, in the fields behind Summer Leys from 10th until at least 13th. Following this was the subsequent discovery of a female (or possibly ‘Channel’-type hybrid) in the same area from 13th, intermittently until 16th. Two more classic male ‘Channel’ Wagtails were also discovered – one at Earls Barton’s New Workings (North) on 12th, swiftly followed the next day by another at Clifford Hill GP.
White Wagtail passage also gathered pace, with Clifford Hill, DIRFT 3, Earls Barton, Hollowell, Pitsford, Stanwick and Summer Leys all producing multiples, the highest counts being eleven at Pitsford on 16th, at least ten at Summer Leys on 10th and six at Earls Barton on 15th.
Another first for the year was a Tree Pipit flying over Stanford on 10th, while another Water Pipit was also seen and head in flight at Pitsford on 16th.
Also in flight, a Hawfinch heard at Harrington on 10th, while Crossbill makes it into this week’s round-up by the skin of its teeth with one at Hollowell on the same date.