Although we’ve clocked up record-breaking numbers of Cattle Egrets this week, with a largely northerly airstream – particularly at the end of the period – the birding has been somewhat lacklustre in comparison to that experienced in previous weeks.
Yes, in a week during which local birding has been rather like pulling teeth, the first wild Pink-footed Geese have arrived ‘up north’ in the UK. This, however, adds no further credibility to either of the long-stayers at Daventry CP or Stanwick GP, still present on 10th and 13th, respectively. Two one-day Garganeys included an eclipse drake at Daventry on 10th and one at Pitsford Res on 14th, while Stanford Res produced five Red-crested Pochards on the first of these two dates.
Becoming rather more sporadic in its occurrence at Daventry, the previously long-staying first-winter drake Ferruginous Duck – now looking rather more dapper in pretty much adult plumage – put in another appearance there on 15th.
Last week’s quintet of Cattle Egrets remained in the Townholme Meadows area at Ditchford GP until at least 12th but on the evening of the same date, a flock of sixteen flew west at Summer Leys LNR, ahead of a record-breaking count of at least twenty-one emerging from the roost at Stanwick GP, early the following morning.
On the raptor front, the same three species as last week were again in evidence in the county. Three Ospreys included one at Stanford on 10th and a juvenile over Hollowell village on the same date, followed by another juvenile flying south-west over Daventry on 13th.
Also keeping up appearances, Marsh Harriers comprised a male heading low south over Daventry on 10th, one at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell the following day and another at Summer Leys on 13th. At a time of year ripe for the production of a Pallid Harrier, unsurprisingly, Northamptonshire had to make do with third-best (let’s not forget Montagu’s) once again in the shape of two ‘ringtail’ Hen Harriers, one of which flew south at Fotheringhay on 13th, while the other – likely to have been last week’s bird – made another appearance at Harrington AF on 15th.
Scarcer passage waders remained just that, with just one Black-tailed Godwit at Pitsford from 10th to 13th, two Ruffs at Naseby Res from 12th to 14th, plus twos at both Summer Leys and Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (North) on 13th.
This week’s token Wood Sandpiper was at Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh LNR on 13th and the only Greenshanks were one at Pitsford on 10th-11th, followed by up to three there between 13th and 16th and one at Earls Barton GP between 10th and 16th.
A small trickle of the scarcer gulls included single juvenile Caspian Gulls at Boddington Res on 10th and 11th, with a first-winter there on the latter date, while the previous week’s German-ringed adult male remained at Naseby until 14th. Also in a repeat performance of last week, there were again few Yellow-legged Gulls in evidence, with an adult at Daventry on 10th, a second-winter at Boddington on 11th, two adults at Pitsford on 11th and 14th and one at Stanwick GP on 9th.
The first Arctic Tern of the autumn, an adult, visited Ravensthorpe Res on 11th.
Continuing the recent run of Merlins, one was seen at Stanwick on 13th.
And it looks like we are continuing to do well this autumn for Pied Flycatchers, with another being found alongside Spotted Flycatchers in a rural garden between Badby and Fawsley on 10th. Against this, though, Common Redstart numbers began to dwindle, the favoured sites of Blueberry Farm and Harrington both producing up to two birds on two and three dates, respectively, while singles were also found at Hollowell on 10th and 16th, Orlingbury on 11th, in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 13th and at Stanford on 15th – the latter bird being trapped and ringed.
Numbers of Whinchats remained relatively high, with maximum site totals of four at Borough Hill on 12th and in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 14th. Elsewhere, twos were at Hollowell and Woodford Halse and singles near Brockhall and at Chelveston AF and Clifford Hill GP.
As we can expect Whinchat totals to diminish over the next week or two, their shoes will no doubt be filled by Stonechats, numbers of which were clearly on the up during the period. The five sites of Borough Hill, Earls Barton GP, Hollowell, Stanford and Upton CP all produced birds, the highest number being six at Borough Hill on 12th and at Earls Barton GP on 15th.
Northern Wheatears continued to be found in various localities. Blueberry Farm, Boughton, Brampton Valley, Clifford Hill, Earls Barton, Harrington and Pitsford all produced birds in ones and twos but three were at Duston on 10th.
To round off, a Corn Bunting put in an appearance for one day in the Brampton Valley, below Hanging Houghton, on 13th.