Newsround – 24th to 30th September 2022

With the delivery of a few more waders and the now-to-be-expected annual Yellow-browed Warbler trapped at Stanford, the past week panned out quite reasonably, ending in a wet and windy blow from the southwest.

Pitsford Res continued to hang on to its Garganey, which was seen intermittently throughout the period, while the only other duck with the potential to set the site alight was a female Ferruginous Duck or hybrid, which evaded positive identification on 27th. It wasn’t reported subsequently. Over to the east, a drake Red-crested Pochard was a one-day affair at Thrapston GP on 28th.

Stanwick GP was the only locality to deliver the week’s Cattle Egrets, numbers of which rose from three on 24th to eleven on 30th. An early morning visit to the roost there may ultimately yield more, of course.

And if last week’s low total of raptors represented slim pickings, then this week we hit rock-bottom with just a single Marsh Harrier seen flying south-east over Clifford Hill GP on the last day of the period.

Waders, though, were another matter entirely. A Grey Plover at Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh Reserve on 29th was only the third one of 2022 and, following two one-day birds in the spring, sparked a mini-twitch to the site.

Grey Plover, Thrapston GP, 29th September 2022 (Nick Parker)

Titchmarsh also conjured up another third for the year, a Little Stint, plus a Black-tailed Godwit and two Ruffs – all on the same day as the Grey Plover. Other Ruffs were also available but only for birders visiting Pitsford, where two remained all week, being joined by a third on 25th.

Ruff, Pitsford Res, 30th September 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Although playing hard to get, Pitsford continued to hang on to one of last week’s two Spotted Redshanks until 25th, two Greenshanks were there on the latter date and up to two lingered at Earls Barton GP throughout the week. After the autumn’s first, last week, 2 Jack Snipes were found at Ditchford GP on 29th and one remained at Hollowell on 30th.

On the larid front, a first-winter Caspian Gull showed up at Summer Leys on 30th, while Yellow-legged Gulls maintained a local presence with a first-winter at Hollowell on 24th, up to three adults at Pitsford between 26th and 30th, single adults at Thrapston GP on 28th and at Summer Leys on 30th and 2 adults at Earls Barton GP on 29th.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Earls Barton GP, 29th September 2022 (Mike Alibone)

This week’s Merlin, a male, was at Harrington AF on 26th.

But diving into the passerines, what better way to start than with a smart sprite of a Yellow-browed Warbler? It almost goes without saying that this, the first – and probably the last – of the autumn, was pulled from one of the nets at Stanford, which has now chalked up eight (seven trapped and ringed) out of the county’s total of seventeen records. This is the fifth consecutive year that Stanford has struck lucky with this stripey Siberian jewel, the annual occurrence of which there is now taken as a given.  

Yellow-browed Warbler, Stanford Res, 30th September 2022 (Chris Hubbard)

Also predictable, though clearly not in the same class, was a fleeting view of a Ring Ouzel at Harrington on 24th, the same site holding single Common Redstarts on the same date and again on 28th. Two further birds were seen on 24th – one in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and the other in a private garden at Grange Park, Northampton. Three sites continued to produce Whinchats throughout the period, including two or three birds in the Brampton Valley and singles at Pitsford and Hollowell, with one remaining at the latter locality on 30th. And the autumn build-up of Stonechats continued, with the highest tally of eight in the Brampton Valley between 25th and 29th. Elsewhere, six were at Earls Barton GP’s New Workings (South) on 29th and at least five at Hollowell on 27th, while up to three were at Pitsford, twos were found at Harrington, Hellidon, Preston Deanery, Teeton and Thrapston and singles at Deenethorpe and Ditchford.

Female Stonechat, Pitsford Res, 27th September 2022 (Mike Alibone)

Again, Northern Wheatears were down to the bare bones, with just a single bird in the Brampton Valley on 26th and 29th and, just east of there, two Crossbills flew over Harrington on 24th.


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