No let up in the dry weather saw more migrants on the move, including some early bonus birds, comprising both the bold and the bizarre. Falling squarely into the latter category was the first ‘pure’ Ferruginous Duck in Northamptonshire for eleven years.
Following the short-term scare elicited by a hybrid at Stanwick back in January 2020, there is no doubt about the identification of this week’s bird, a juvenile male, which turned up at Daventry CP on 31st, remaining there throughout the week. What may be in doubt, however, is its origin. Clearly one of the two which turned up a stone’s throw away, at Draycote Water, it remains a mystery as to what they are doing there, unseasonally, in late summer – especially as this mirrors last year’s occurrence at the same locality around the same time. Is there a local wildfowl collection in the vicinity, from which captive-bred birds are escaping before they are pinioned? The jury is out …
Despite some twenty-five previous records, Ferruginous Duck – currently a ‘BB rarity’ – is now a seriously rare bird in the county. The last acceptable one was a drake at Pitsford Res, returning for its third year, from 28th September to 14th October 2011, while the only other record this century was a first-winter drake at Daventry CP from 15th December 2002 to 10th February 2003, and what was believed to have been the same bird visiting at Hollowell Res on 1st February 2003.
In contrast to the above, six Common Scoters (five drakes) at Pitsford in no way proved contentious when they dropped in while undertaking their overland moult migration, on 31st. Pitsford also held up to four Red-crested Pochards (two drakes) throughout the week, along with an eclipse drake Garganey on 1st, ahead of what was likely to have been the same bird there again on 4th-5th.
Last week’s Bittern was seen again at Summer Leys LNR on 30th while, back at Pitsford, two Cattle Egrets paid a brief visit the following day. The latter site also produced the week’s maximum count of Great Egrets with five present on the 5th, while Summer Leys and Thrapston GP held one apiece during the period.
Heading up the raptors, single Ospreys were seen over Hollowell Res on 30th and 31st, Stanford Res on 30th and 5th and at Daventry on 3rd. Marsh Harriers remained in the spotlight this week, though, with one flying west over Sulby on 30th, and singles at Stanford on the same date, Summer Leys on 30th-31st and 4th and over Pitsford on 5th.
On the wader front, two Whimbrels flew west over Ditchford GP and over Summer Leys shortly afterward on 30th and one flew over Pitsford on 31st. Pitsford also scored a respectable twenty-eight Black-tailed Godwits – albeit fleetingly – on 31st and a modest ten flying south there, on 4th. Four and seven were at Summer Leys on 31st and 4th, respectively, four visited Stanford on 5th and singles were found at Daventry, Hollowell and Pitsford on 1st.
The week’s only Greenshank was mobile around Summer Leys between 30th and 2nd, the same site hosting an adult Wood Sandpiper between 30th and 1st while, a little further west along the Nene valley, a juvenile Wood Sandpiper spent the day at Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (North) on 4th.
Following the first pop-in juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the autumn at Stanford last week, another was there equally briefly on 4th. Upsizing, Yellow-legged Gulls peaked at seven at Pitsford on 31st, followed by three there on 1st and at least one lingering throughout the week. Elsewhere, single birds visited Stanford on 31st and 2nd, Harrington AF and Stanwick GP on 2nd and Wicksteed Park Lake (Kettering) on 4th.
A Short-eared Owl was captured on a trail-cam, positioned in the Brampton Valley, during the early hours of 5th.
A short hop away at Harrington AF, topping this week’s passerines were two rather nice Pied Flycatchers, present for one day, on 30th. A great find and a welcome distraction from the run-of-the-mill bits and pieces coming through hitherto. More were to follow, with 1st seeing another located at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell and yet another down in in the south-west of the county, at Eydon, on 4th.
A scarce, much admir’d and locally sought after migrant, Pied Flycatcher is an almost annual visitor, producing an average of three records per year, although 1995 saw an amazing thirteen appearing, ten of which were in autumn. Though rare, records in July are not without precedent but August remains the peak month for occurrences.
Common Redstarts were again in profusion this week with up to two at six localities including Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), Clifford Hill GP, Harrington AF (where one was trapped and ringed on 4th), Lamport, Pitsford Res and Woodford Halse. Two more Northern Wheatears appeared – one at Wollaston on 4th and the other in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton the following day. A single Common Crossbill flew over Harrington on 31st.