A cool north-easterly airstream and a haul of passerine migrants characterised the week.
In the battle to produce the most Garganeys, Stanwick GP came out on top, just two days into the period, with five on 22nd, otherwise it was between one and three birds there on a daily basis. Rival, Daventry CP, mustered two on 23rd-24th and singles on 22nd and 26th. Both of last week’s two Red-crested Pochards – the female at Stanford Res and the eclipse drake at Pitsford – made it into this week, with the drake still present on 21st and the female remaining throughout the period.
Appearing unsettled and fidgety, a Black necked Grebe – the first of the autumn – slid into Boddington Res on the evening of 25th. Unsurprisingly, it was nowhere to be seen the following day.
Keeping up appearances, Cattle Egret numbers leapt to three, two adults and a juvenile, at Stanwick between 25th and 27th, the same site producing a Great Egret on 26th, followed by two there the next day. In a better showing than last week, this average white band appeared at three further sites – Hollowell Res, Pitsford (two) and Summer Leys LNR.
Thrapston GP produced the week’s only Osprey, an obligingly showy individual atop a pylon close to Elinor Trout Lake, on 23rd-24th. Other raptors were available and were represented by Marsh Harriers at Pitsford on 24th, Stanford on 25th-26th and Stanwick on 26th
Waders continued to trickle through at selective sites although, across the board, there has been virtually no further drop in local water levels conducive to producing decent numbers, or tempting long stays. Even Hollowell, normally with mud aplenty by late August, is disappointingly high. A Curlew flew east at Boddington Res on 22nd and two were at DIRFT 3 on 24th, while further large waders in the shape of Black-tailed Godwits appeared at Daventry on 26th, followed by three at Stanwick the next day.
A juvenile Knot was found at Summer Leys on 22nd, remaining until the following day and up to two Ruffs were at the same site throughout, while two also paid a brief visit to DIRFT 3 on 22nd and one was at Pitsford Res on 26th.
Last week’s Spotted Redshank remained at Daventry until 23rd, while three put in a frustratingly brief appearance at Summer Leys, before flying off, on 22nd and Greenshanks continued to remain scarce, with twos at Clifford Hill GP and Daventry on 23rd and 24th, respectively and one was at Stanwick on 27th.
The latter site was again the place to be for gulls, producing the autumn’s second-highest count of thirty-one Yellow-legged Gulls on 21st, with further double-figure counts of seventeen on 25th and ten on 26th. Two additional sites produced smaller numbers, including three at Pitsford Res on 22nd and two at DIRFT 3 on the same date, the latter found among the same loafing flock as a second-summer Caspian Gull on the same date. An adult Caspian also put in an appearance at Stanwick on 27th.
In what has turned out to be a rather disappointing year, so far, for Black Terns, two juveniles were found at Clifford Hill on 22nd, with at least one remaining the following day.
On dry land, then … a Short-eared Owl was reported from the Brampton Valley, between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton on 26th and a Merlin was seen between Farndon and Great Oxendon on 21st.
And we begin an eclectic mix of passerines with last week’s early Redwing still at Stanford on 23rd, this site also top of the leaderboard for Common Redstarts, which have been found at an impressive thirteen localities this week. Twelve birds were trapped and ringed at Stanford between 24th and 27th, while maximum counts of birds seen elsewhere are as follows: four at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell, three or four at Braunston, threes at Harrington AF and at Stanford on Avon, twos at Duston and Honey Hill, one or two at Hinton AF, and singles at Hardingstone GP, Lamport, Lilbourne Meadows LNR, Stortons GP and Welford Res.
Whinchats also picked up this week, with Harrington AF holding up to two between 22nd and 25th, two at Welford Res on 26th-27th, one trapped and ringed at Stanford on 25th, singles at Duston and Pitsford Res on 26th and one at Hinton AF on 27th.
Happily following suit, Northern Wheatears also stepped up to the mark, with twos in the Brampton Valley and at Hinton AF on 26th and 27th, respectively and singles at Blueberry Farm on 21st, Harrington AF on 22nd and 24th, near Boughton on 22nd, at Boddington Res, Duston and Quinton on 26th and at Welford Res on 27th.
And it wouldn’t be late August without the odd Tree Pipit or two, would it? Singles were reported in flight from Harrington AF and at Stanford – both on 24th