A mixed bag of weather, backed by a largely westerly airstream, did little to hasten the arrival of the expected quota of spring migrants … but come they did, albeit in small numbers.
Once again, this week’s standout birds kick off with Garganey, all sightings of which were confined to Summer Leys LNR and nearby Hardwater Lake, where daily counts produced a maximum of five on 4th. The only other duck of distinction was the female Ring-necked Duck, which remained on show at Ringstead GP’s Kinewell Lake throughout the period.
Just along the Nene Valley, the Glossy Ibis remained faithful to Stanwick GP until at least 6th. Stanwick also held two Cattle Egrets on 6th but the bigger numbers were again to be found at Woodford, where nine were present between 2nd and 4th, dropping down to three by the week’s end.
Small numbers of Great Egrets included a random scatter of river valley singles at Earls Barton GP, Kislingbury GP/Upton CP, Ringstead and Woodford and twos at Stanwick and Summer Leys on 3rd and 7th, respectively.
Raptors in the mix included two Ospreys – one flying south over Kelmarsh on 2nd and the other at Hollowell Res on 3rd, while a Marsh Harrier was over the reedbed at Stortons GP on 8th, a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier flew over Collyweston on 4th and a grey male harrier sp. remained unidentified as it passed south-west over Moulton on 2nd.
After a four-day bout of incessant, voracious feeding, last week’s star wader, the Earls Barton GP Spotted Redshank, just scraped in before going AWOL on 3rd but its top-notch position was quickly filled by a Wood Sandpiper on a building site flood pool abutting Upton CP from 4th. Or should this more correctly read the Wood Sandpiper? In reality, it is the best part of a month too early for this species to appear as a migrant in Britain and, so far this year, there has been only one Wood Sandpiper in the whole of the UK – the bird which resided in Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford, from 4th November 2021 to 21st January. So, where has it been hiding during the intervening period? Despite a backdrop of active building construction and a proliferation of high vis orange PPE, it elicited considerably more than a modicum of daily interest and remained ‘on site’ until the week’s end.
Other members of the visiting wader cohort included single Black-tailed Godwits at DIRFT 3 on 2nd-3rd and Stanwick on 2nd and 5th, while up to two Ruffs were at both Stanwick and Summer Leys throughout the week and the floodwater at Lower Barnwell Lock, Oundle produced one again on 2nd.
Further extending their well-attended gig, Jack Snipes continued to perform out in the open on Summer Leys scrape but they appeared to be on a countdown to departure, with three on 2nd, two on 3rd and one on 4th – after which there were no further reports. And while the two overwintering Common Sandpipers continued to put in appearances at Pitsford and Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (North), their exclusive status was unashamedly usurped this week by the arrival of the first spring migrant, bang on time, at Sywell CP on 7th.
Gulls this week were in short supply. The adult Mediterranean Gull at Ringstead on 1st was again there the following day and it, or another, was also seen almost daily at nearby Stanwick throughout the week, while a single adult Yellow-legged Gull was present at Pitsford on 4th.
On the passerine front, another scarce summer visitor checked in this week with the arrival of a female Ring Ouzel at Honey Hill on 3rd, although it appeared to have departed by the following day.
Another week, another Black Redstart as, echoing last week’s fleeting garden visit by a bird in Long Buckby, another one showed up in similar circumstances near Wellingborough on 7th.
And it looks like the weekly permitted quota of four Northern Wheatears was once again not exceeded, with singles at Chelveston AF on 2nd-3rd, Harrington AF on 7th and at both Earls Barton GP and Kislingbury GP/Upton CP on 8th.