Newsround – 16th to 22nd April 2022

Last week’s warm, southerly airstream continued for the first half of the period but by mid-week, the winds had turned easterly as a result of a high pressure system developing over Scandinavia. While this change promised much, it did, in fact, deliver rather less than expected and this week’s two ‘standout’ birds – majestic as they were – hailed from two very different UK reintroduction schemes.  

Following a rush of new summer visitors last week, this week proved to be much, much quieter, with new pins on the map at a premium.

The cast of wildfowl begins with the continued presence of Garganeys, including the single drake hanging on at Summer Leys until 20th, when it was joined again briefly by two more. Thrapston GP’s pair remained throughout the period and, new in, a drake visited Stanford Res on 19th. Also new in this week was a drake Red-crested Pochard on the fishing lake at Wicksteed Park, Kettering, on 19th-20th, while Ringstead GP’s female Ring-necked Duck remained faithful to Kinewell Lake until at least 20th.

Drake Red-crested Pochard, Wicksteed Park, Kettering, 20th April 2022 (Alan Francis)

Following last week’s fly-over White Stork, what seems highly likely to have been the same bird caused a stir, this time on the ground, just north of Summer Leys LNR on the evening of 21st. Shortly after its discovery, it flew north-east and was then picked up again flying north-east over Stanwick before being relocated on a small pool next to North Lake there, allowing a handful of people to catch up with it before it flew off, once more. Early next morning it was back, when the ring on its left tibia was readily readable as ‘GB46’, allowing a bit of track and trace to be effected and its history to be unveiled.

Female White Stork ‘GB46’, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2022 (Chris Sidebottom)
Female White Stork ‘GB46’, Stanwick GP, 22nd April 2022 (Steve Fisher)

It quickly emerged that GB46 is a well-travelled, 5-year old female which originally came from Poland. She was brought to the UK in early 2018 after sustaining an injury in the wild and was held at the project’s satellite site in Surrey before being released in August 2019. She then spent the rest of 2019 and 2020 exploring the UK and after being seen on the Isle of Wight on 18th September 2020, a sighting in Bergen, followed on 16th April 2021. She was then reported from the Netherlands at the end of March this year and was most recently reported in Aberdeenshire last week (The White Stork Project, per Chris Sidebottom). All good and interesting stuff but there will be some who may be a tad disappointed that this was not a truly wild bird …

Meanwhile, not a stone’s throw away, the Glossy Ibis remained on the Main Lake at Stanwick all week.

And it looks like Stanwick also took back all its Cattle Egrets, recently on loan to nearby Woodford, with the full eight reappearing there between 18th and 21st, although two visited Ringstead on 22nd. During the period, Stanwick also held the highest number of Great Egrets, four on 16th, while three were at Ditchford GP on 19th and singles were at Stortons GP on 17th and at Summer Leys between 18th and 20th.

This week’s raptors kicked off with a White-tailed Eagle at Stanford on 16th, when it stuck to the Leicestershire side of the reservoir. The next morning, however, it made the crossing to Northamptonshire and lingered in nearby trees before heading off south. In parallel with the White Stork, it emanated from the currently running UK reintroduction scheme and has been identified as second-year female, ‘G819’, from the Isle of Wight. It was subsequently tracked heading east, to the north of Corby, later in the day.

The usual scattering of Ospreys included singles at Hollowell on 16th, 17th and 20th, Pitsford Res on 16th, Thrapston on 17th and Stanford on 20th and 22nd. Fly-through Marsh Harriers were at Stanford on 17th, Thrapston on 19th and over the Brampton Valley on 20th.

Waders continued to trickle through and, after the year’s first Whimbrels last week, more followed with two arriving at Clifford Hill GP on 20th and singles at both Stanwick and Summer Leys on 22nd.  

Whimbrel, Clifford Hill GP, 20th April 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Four Black-tailed Godwits over Summer Leys on 16th constituted a rather meager offering of this species this week and, following the year’s first at Stanwick on 20th March, Summer Leys produced a Bar-tailed Godwit on 17th while, nearby, Earls Barton GP’s Hardwater Lake held two from 17th to 18th, one remaining until the week’s end.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Earls Barton GP, 18th April 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Summer Leys continued to hang on to one or two Ruffs throughout the period and a Jack Snipe on 21st, while two of the latter species were at Hollowell on 16th, with one there on 18th and 20th. A further push of Greenshanks this week included two at Pitsford on 16th, one at Summer Leys on 18th, two at DIRFT 3 on the same date with one there on 20th, two at Lilbourne Meadows NR on 21st, one at Ditchford on the same date and four at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd.

Greenshanks, Clifford Hill GP, 22nd April 2022 (Mike Alibone)

And it looks like this is the week we wave goodbye to the Wood Sandpiper at Upton CP, where it remained until 19th. A significant drop in water level reduced its favoured building site flood pool to residual puddles by mid-week. Time to move on …

Gulls this week were limited in numbers. The two adult Mediterranean Gulls remained at Stanwick throughout the period, while two – an adult and a second-summer – flew west at Ringstead on 17th. Elsewhere, it was Yellow-legged Gulls which attempted to fill the holes, with an adult at Pitsford on 18th and a second-summer at Clifford Hill GP on 20th.

Following last week’s fly-through Sandwich Terns at Summer Leys, four more headed east over Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR on 22nd. The year’s first Arctic Tern appeared at Clifford Hill on 16th and was quickly followed by five at Summer Leys on 19th and four flying north-east over Stanwick the next day.

Very much overshadowed by everything above, passerines were limited to last week’s spill-over Ring Ouzels at Honey Hill, where four were still present on 16th, with two or three remaining until at least 20th. A new bird, a male, was found at West Farndon on 21st and was still present the following day.

Male Ring Ouzel, Honey Hill, 16th April 2022 (Jon Cook)

This week’s Northern Wheatears comprised two at Borough Hill on 16th and one between Teeton and Hollowell on the same date, one at Clifford Hill on 18th, three at Harrington AF and two at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 20th and one at Earls Barton GP on 21st.

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