The westerly airstream and associated unseasonally dull weather throughout the period likely had little or no bearing on the assortment of birds on offer this week and there were few – if any – surprises.
Decidedly dodgy ducks or, more correctly, iffy wildfowl in general, included what is presumably the same Pink-footed Goose as the one at Pitsford Res back in June and July, fresh out of the woodwork at Ravensthorpe Res on 20th. And sharing a similarly suspect origin, as some would no doubt say, a female Ruddy Shelduck appeared at DIRFT 3’s A5 Pools on 19th. In fact, it is logical to assume this is the same returning individual as the one which favoured the north-west of the county and Hollowell Res in particular, from 29th May 2019 to 1st February 2020 and again from 7th June 2020 to 2nd February 2021. Where does it go from late winter to early summer? The UK status of this species is currently under review by the BOURC, so watch this space …
Meanwhile, last week’s Garganey at Stanwick GP chalked up another seven days’ stay, remaining there until 20th, as did both of last week’s two Red-crested Pochards – the female at Stanford Res and the eclipse drake at Pitsford. Also at Stanwick, a one-day bird showing characteristics of Ferruginous Duck on 19th but it departed before any conclusive views were obtained … and a curt reminder not to forget the continued presence of the presumed Chiloe Wigeon x Crested Duck hybrid at Summer Leys LNR was provided when it popped up again at the reserve on 18th.
In a nod to conformity, a Cattle Egret put in an appearance at Stanwick on 16th, while the only Great Egrets this week were found at Pitsford, where up to four were present between 14th and 19th.
This week’s raptors were limited to Marsh Harriers, with singles reported at both Harrington AF and Thrapston GP on 17th and in the Brampton Valley and south-west over Stanford on 20th.
With ideal wader habitat at a premium, this week’s crème de la crème was a juvenile Spotted Redshank which, having been found on 17th, saw out the remainder of the period at Daventry CP, while last week’s Wood Sandpiper at Stanwick remained until 16th. The latter time and place also produced the week’s only Greenshank and the only Black-tailed Godwits – two – were again at Stanwick on 14th. Single Curlews were also there on 16th and in flight over Stanford on 19th, when two also flew over Thrapston GP. Two sites produced Ruffs, with one at Pitsford on 17th and two at Summer Leys on 19th.
Back to Stanwick, which was the place to be for this week’s Caspian Gulls. Single adults were present on 16th and 20th and a ‘near-adult’ was there on 16th, while a first-summer was found at DIRFT 3 on 14th. The latter site delivered the highest count of this week’s Yellow-legged Gulls, with fifteen there, also on 14th, followed by ten at Stanwick on 16th. Five other sites produced smaller numbers, ranging from one to four, at Corby, Pitsford, Ravensthorpe, Stanford and Thrapston, on and off, throughout.
To kick off this week’s passerines, an early Redwing found itself in the photographic limelight at Stanford on 16th. This is the earliest ever to be logged in autumn in Northants, beating the previous record, two at Pitsford on 15th September 1990, by a clear month.
Meanwhile, the autumn run of Common Redstarts continued, with an impressive nine sites producing at least eighteen birds. The most at any single locality was four at Stanford on Avon on 16th, while maxima at other sites comprised three at Harrington AF, at least two near Old, two at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell, two at Lilbourne Meadows NR, two at Stanford Res (including a juvenile trapped and ringed on 14th) and singles in the Brampton Valley, at Clifford Hill GP and at Lamport.
By contrast, however, there were far fewer Whinchats, with two at Harrington AF on 17th and 20th and one in the Brampton Valley on 16th, where an unspecified number of Stonechats was also reported on 20th. Northern Wheatears were also in relatively short supply, with one in the Brampton Valley on 16th, two there on 20th, one at Harrington between 17th and 20th and one at Pitsford on 18th.