The majority of the week saw cool, low pressure-dominated air delivering thunder clouds and rain from the Atlantic. But in the last two days of the period, high pressure moved in and the winds swung southerly, resulting in long overdue sunshine and blue skies. Indisputably, however, this week belonged to the colour purple …
… and with the rush of migrants well and truly over, after what has been an almost legendary spring in the county, the last of the regular summer visitors rolled up right on cue and, as always, fashionably late. So, with an element of site predictability, the first Quail to sound the summer in was singing in the Brampton Valley, between Hanging Houghton and Cottesbrooke, on 26th, remaining until the week’s end.
Keeping a low profile, at least two Cattle Egrets remained in the favoured location of Stanwick GP on 23rd-24th but it was a different kettle of fish altogether that became this week’s birding blitzer. Snapped and subsequently flagged up by the Summer Leys photographic fraternity, a smart adult Purple Heron broke cover onto the scrape on 27th before allegedly disappearing. But, next day, there it was again, as it happened, going on to please all comers from dawn until dusk, albeit partly obscured by reeds for the majority of the time.
Purple Heron, Summer Leys LNR, 28th May 2021 (Mike Alibone)
With visits more frequent in the last century, it’s been a long, 10-year wait since the last one, in 2011, with the 1980s enjoying records in 6 out of 10 years, including annual occurrences in the 4 consecutive years of 1984-87. This year’s bird is the 20th county record.
On the raptor front, single Marsh Harriers were at Harrington AF briefly on 25th and over Stanford Res on 27th.
This week’s wader action – such as it was – was confined to DIRFT 3, where six of last week’s ten Sanderlings remained on 22nd and a Tundra Ringed Plover put in an appearance on 26th. The same site also continued to produce gulls of note, including five Yellow-legged Gulls on 22nd and two on 27th, when two first-summer Caspian Gulls were also present.
Another first-summer Caspian Gull visited Pitsford Res on 23rd, when a Black Tern was also discovered there. This was followed by another which lingered at Earls Barton GP and Summer Leys from 25th to 27th.