A largely settled week, weatherwise, saw a sustained southerly airstream develop across western Europe, culminating in the highest temperature of the year so far, a balmy 21°C, locally, on 15th. With apparently perfect conditions for northward migration, it seems the floodgates finally opened and we were where we should be by mid-April – in the thick of it, with arrivals of summer visitors and, on the back of that, some teasers …
It was very much a case of déjà vu as far as this week’s wildfowl were concerned, with four of last week’s Summer Leys Garganeys, including three fine drakes, remaining until 13th, after which only one was present. Thrapston GP also produced a pair on 9th and 13th and two drakes were present there on 15th.
Seeing out another week, Ringstead GP’s female Ring-necked Duck remained on show at Kinewell Lake, visiting nearby Stanwick GP on 10th-11th.
For those in the right place at the right time, bird of the week was a White Stork, which cruised west over Summer Leys during the afternoon of 12th but instead of continuing along the Nene Valley, it went off-piste at some point, being seen heading high north over Blisworth some 30 minutes later. It bore a metal ring, the value of which is pretty much null and void without that all-important number being clocked.
Seemingly now part of the springtime furniture, the Glossy Ibis remained at Stanwick all week.
Little more than 24 hours after the White Stork moved over Summer Leys, somewhat tantalisingly, an immature Spoonbill flew north-east over the same site, gaining altitude and disappearing high over adjacent Mary’s Lake, on 13th. What was highly likely to have been the same bird was seen briefly before flying north near Peterborough later in the day. This is the second to visit the county this spring and more are sure to follow in due course.
Up to eight Cattle Egrets were again on view directly below the church at Woodford, while two visited Stanwick on 14th. During the period, Stanwick also held three Great Egrets, two were seen at Summer Leys and singles visited Hollowell Res and Woodford.
A movement of raptors was more evident this week and included Ospreys at Stanwick on 9th, Pitsford Res on 9th and 10th, Kelmarsh on 11th, Hollowell on 13th, Daventry CP on 14th and at Thrapston the following day. Fly-through Marsh Harriers were at both Summer Leys and Upton CP on 9th, Daventry CP and Harrington AF on 12th and over Stanwick on 14th.
Some fresh waders were a welcome addition to this week’s mix and while the Nene Valley featured as strongly as usual – including a report of an Avocet at Ditchford GP on 11th – it by no means had the monopoly. The first Whimbrels of the year were at Clifford Hill GP and Stanwick on 11th, quickly followed by one flying over Stanford Res the following day. Numbers of Black-tailed Godwits remained rather low, with one at Summer Leys on 10th, two at Stanwick on 11th and 12th and two briefly visiting Earls Barton GP’s Hardwater Lake on the last of these two dates.
The two long-staying male Ruffs at Summer Leys were joined by a female on 13th, after which only one male was seen during the remaining two days of the period.
Heavy showers early in the evening on 13th resulted in the grounding of a number of migrants, the most notable of which was a Sanderling on Pitsford causeway. Offering comfortably close views, this formed a rare treat for those who managed to connect. It had departed by the following morning.
The only Jack Snipes this week were at Hollowell Res, where two were present on 13th, at least one of which remained the following day. The first tranche of Greenshanks also marked the week, with two at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP on 12th-14th and one the following day, plus singles in flight east at Stanford on 13th, north over Lilbourne Meadows early on 15th and on the A5 Pools at DIRFT 3 on the same date.
And last but by no means least, the Wood Sandpiper continued to appear at home on the building site flood pool alongside Upton CP, where it remained until at least 14th.
A whiff of easterlies on 11th brought three more Little Gulls to Summer Leys and one to Kislingbury GP, followed by four at Clifford Hill GP the next day. Otherwise it was business as usual with the adult Mediterranean Gull at Stanwick throughout the week being joined there by another on 14th, while the first Sandwich Terns of the year were reported flying west over the car park at Summer Leys on 13th.
Passerines rallied somewhat this week, and fittingly a monumental milestone was reached on 14th, when the Stanford Ringing Group processed their 165,000th bird at the reservoir of the same name. An admirable achievement over some 41 years’ effort on site, which includes some mouth-watering rarities, with Dusky and Icterine Warblers in the not too distant past immediately springing to mind.
Aside from the inbound summer visitors already mentioned above, more Ring Ouzels arrived, Honey Hill again playing host to up to six between 12th and 15th. Six together is a fair old number, the likes of which we are not used to seeing locally and, needless to say, the site pulled in a good number of admirers throughout the period. Elsewhere, one visited Chelveston AF on 9th and another was found at Ringstead GP on 14th.
New in this week were Common Redstarts and, after the first at Daventry CP on 12th, two more followed – one at Honey hill on 13th and the other at Byfield on 14th.
The arrival of Northern Wheatears further gained momentum this week, with both Hartwell and Honey Hill producing five apiece on 13th, three were at Byfield on 12th, when two were also at Clifford Hill GP and two at Harrington, two were in the Brampton Valley on 15th, when two were again at Hartwell and singles were at Hinton AF on 10th, Clifford Hill GP on 11th, Ashton STW on 12th, Honey Hill on 12th and Stanford Res on 15th.
A significant movement of Yellow Wagtails was accompanied by White Wagtails, of which Pitsford took the lion’s share with six on the dam there on 14th. Four other localities also delivered, with two at Summer Leys on 12th followed by one there on 14th and singles at Clifford Hill GP on 12th, Upton CP on 13th and at Ashton STW the following day.