During the period in which we crossed the dateline into meteorological autumn, easterlies picked up and garden birds once more came to the fore.
But first, suspect Pink-footed Geese remained on station with the Daventry CP bird seeing out the second week and the Thrapston individual re-emerging on 25th. Absent for a couple of weeks, the female Ruddy Shelduck revisited Hollowell Res on 24th and 31st, two Garganeys dropped in to Cransley Res on 26th and another was found at Pitsford on 30th. Pitsford Res also continued to play host to a small number of Red-crested Pochards, including five there on 20th and one from 27th to 1st. Other diving ducks included a female-type Greater Scaup at Clifford Hill GP on 25th and the long-staying drake Ferruginous Duck, now having shed more of its juvenile feathers, at Daventry CP until 1st.
Escaping the traditional confines of Stanwick GP, where one was present on 21st-23rd, followed by four on 2nd, single Cattle Egrets appeared at Summer Leys on 25th and at Stanford Res – a long-anticipated first for the site – on 28th.
Ospreys and Marsh Harriers have dominated the late summer raptor scene this year and they continued to feature over the period, with singles of the former at Pitsford on 20th and 1st and at Thrapston GP’s Elinor Trout Lake on 22nd, 24th and 28th. Marsh Harriers appeared below Hanging Houghton in the Brampton Valley on 20th, at Summer Leys on 23rd, Stanford Res on 24th and 28th, Stanwick GP on 27th and Daventry CP on 30th.
On the wader front, just one Whimbrel was seen during the period, flying over Clifford Hill GP on 25th. Black-tailed Godwits, on the other hand, maintained a strong presence with thirteen at Hollowell on 25th and varying, single-digit numbers at Summer Leys between 20th and 30th, with a maximum of seven there on 26th. Elsewhere, singles remained at Daventry CP between 20th and 23rd and at Pitsford on 23rd and 27th, with six there on 2nd, one was at Clifford Hill GP on 26th and 31st and two visited Naseby Res on the latter date.
Ruff numbers failed to climb above a site maximum of two – the latter at Naseby Res on 31st-1st – otherwise, singles were found at Daventry on 29th and 2nd, Stanford on 31st-1st, Clifford Hill on 31st and Summer Leys on 1st-2nd.
Meanwhile, a new bird for 2022, a Little Stint at Thrapston GP on 31st, fortunately remained just that, narrowly escaping the apparent collective hallucinogenic gaze of a group of a dozen or so observers assembled nearby. This week’s one and only Wood Sandpiper checked in at Summer Leys on 30th, the same site holding up to three Greenshanks between 20th and 1st. Other Greenshanks made themselves available at Thrapston on 25th, Pitsford on the same date with one-two there on 1st-2nd and two at Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (North) on 1st.
Thin on the ground so far this year, the week’s only Mediterranean Gull – a juvenile moulting to first-winter – was found at Stanwick on 2nd, while an adult Caspian Gull visited Daventry on 23rd. Up to two Yellow-legged Gulls were seen at Daventry, Pitsford and Stanwick during the period.
Following the first of the autumn’s Black Terns at Thrapston and Stanwick during the previous period, the Stanwick bird remained until 27th and up to three juveniles lingered at Pitsford between 20th and 25th. Not to be left out, the smaller reservoirs of Stanford and Boddington were visited, respectively, by two juveniles on 21st and an adult on 25th.
A male Merlin was seen at Lamport on 24th.
And bird of the week? Well, that honour fell to Wryneck – two of them to be precise, the first of which was found in a garden at Woodend on 21st. Sometimes visible, sometimes not, it was seen again briefly the following day. The second was pulled from a mist net at Stanford, before being rung, on 30th but it was not seen subsequently. Being trapped almost to the day in 2021, this was the ringing group’s fourth in three years.
The ringers at Stanford also struck lucky with a Pied Flycatcher on 28th – only the third ever to be ringed there.
Seemingly now the norm for early autumn, the plethora of Common Redstarts continued with records from twelve sites, including Blueberry Farm (Maidwell), Brampton Valley, Chipping Warden, Fawsley, Harrington, Lamport, Old Stratford, Pitsford, Stanford, Stanford-on-Avon, Thrapston and Woodford Halse. The highest counts were five trapped and ringed at Stanford on 30th and four at Harrington between 22nd and 31st.
Sharing some of the above localities with the last species, Whinchats, too, were also found in good numbers, with records from Borough Hill, Brampton Valley, Clifford Hill, Fawsley, Harrington, Hollowell, Old Stratford and Stanford – Harrington and Hollowell producing the maximum of five apiece on 28th and 29th, respectively.
Northern Wheatears were a little less widespread, with no single site producing more than one bird. Borough Hill, Brampton Valley, Clifford Hill, Harrington, Pitsford and Stanford all featured during the period.
Following an earlier than normal autumn passage, just one Tree Pipit was found, at Harrington, on 29th, while a Corn Bunting appeared unexpectedly at Ditchford GP on 21st.