Another thermometer-popping week saw a small flurry of new birds in, flanking some seemingly settled long stayers.
Another unseasonal Pink-footed Goose was found at Daventry CP on 12th, with odds-on favourite it being one of the two or three found locally during the last week of July. Aside from this, the only dapper dabbler during the period was the Garganey which remained at Pitsford Res until 8th. Pitsford also maintained its monopoly on Red-crested Pochards, with up to five on 7th, falling back to two on 12th, while a drake Ferruginous Duck x Common Pochard hybrid was also found there on 11th. Sometimes easy but frequently playing hard to get, the ‘real’ juvenile drake Ferruginous Duck clocked up another week at Daventry, remaining there throughout the period.
Not as straightforward to see as they were in the early part of the year, Cattle Egrets are now at a premium, with just one this week, at Stanwick GP, on 11th-12th. Conversely, this week’s Great Egrets peaked at four on 8th, at Pitsford Res, while singles were present on and off at Naseby Res, Stanwick, Summer Leys LNR and Thrapston GP.
While a Honey Buzzard was reportedly seen flying south over Islip on 12th, more tangible fare appeared in the shape of a Marsh Harrier at Summer Leys between 6th and 8th and another in the Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm, Maidwell area on the same dates.
Continuing the raptor theme, single Ospreys were seen over Stanford Res on 6th-8th, Summer Leys on 7th, Naseby on 11th and Hollowell on 7th and 9th – the latter bird being identified from its faded Darvic ring as a ‘veteran’ 17-year old female.
Although an early returning Golden Plover appeared at Hollowell on 9th, the Nene Valley produced the pick of this week’s waders with, in fact, all of these being limited to the Earls Barton GP complex.
Top ranking goes to Wood Sandpiper, two of which were present there between 8th and 11th, one occupying the newly exposed shallows of Mary’s Lake for the duration, visiting adjacent Summer Leys on 10th. The other was present for a day, on 9th, a little further up the valley at New Workings (North). Otherwise, it was down to Black-tailed Godwits to keep the wader ball rolling, with Summer Leys hosting two crisp juveniles throughout the period, joined briefly by a third bird on 6th and an adult on 12th.
The week’s only Caspian Gull, a third-year and the first of the autumn, dropped in at Daventry on 11th, while Yellow-legged Gulls peaked at six at Priors Hall, Corby on 6th. Elsewhere, five were at Wicksteed Park Lake, Kettering on 8th and ones and twos were seen at Daventry, Earls Barton, Pitsford and Stanwick.
Once again a Short-eared Owl showed itself briefly in the Brampton Valley on 6th and was, for a second time, captured on a trail-cam positioned there, during the early hours of 8th.
On the passerine front, numbers of Common Redstarts ramped up with birds seen at eleven localities, including Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), Brampton Valley, Eydon, Harrington AF (where one was trapped and ringed on 11th), Lamport, Lilbourne Meadows NR, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res, Stanford-on-Avon, Welford and Woodford Halse. The highest numbers were three at Blueberry Farm between 6th and 8th and the same number at Welford on 11th.
The number of Whinchats remained low, with up to two in the Brampton Valley remaining from last week until 8th and a juvenile at Harrington AF on 7th. A juvenile was found at Harrington on 7th. Northern Wheatear numbers rallied a little with singles at Pitsford Res on 7th-8th, in the Brampton Valley on 8th, Harrington on 9th and at Duston on 11th.
It’s a sad, sad situation when the first Tree Pipit of the year turns up in August but this was exactly the case when one flew over Blueberry Farm on 6th, followed by singles at Stanford Res on 7th and Pitsford Res on 10th, while five separate individuals flew over Harrington on 11th.
Equally saddening, the county also saw its second-only record of Corn Bunting this year with one briefly at Stanford on the last day of the period.