While an Atlantic airstream persisted throughout the period, Stanford netted its second Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn, and one of the county’s rarest larids paid a fleeting evening visit to Pitsford in the early part of the week.
First off, though, and heading up this week’s wildfowl, were two Whooper Swans which flew east over Hollowell Res on 11th, quickly followed by seven at Stanford Res, just before sunset, on 14th. Although these are the first in the county this autumn, by the end of September others had reached places as far-flung as Scotland, South Wales, Suffolk and Cornwall, with fifteen having made it back to the Cambridgeshire Nene Washes by 28th.
Also at Hollowell was a/the Pink-footed Goose among the local Greylag flock there on 9th, 11th and 14th.
Apart from the re-emergence of the apparent female Ferruginous Duck x Red-crested Pochard hybrid, at Pitsford on 8th-10th, three reservoirs got in on the Red-crested Pochard act this week. Hollowell produced five on 9th, Pitsford six on 10th, rising to nine on 13th and Stanford held four from 12th until the week’s end.
Along the Nene Valley, the Stanwick GP Cattle Egrets were limited to a one-day count of eight on 8th.
On the raptor front, Marsh Harriers held steady with two again – one over the Scrape at Summer Leys LNR on 9th and the other in the more agricultural setting of Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 13th.
By mid-October, waders are typically thin on the ground but this week saw quality rightly triumph over quantity with a new Little Stint, in for one day at Ditchford GP on 10th, following a late Wood Sandpiper at Pitsford on 9th. A Black-tailed Godwit remained for two days, north of the causeway at Ravensthorpe Res, on 12th-13th.
Topping the bill this week, though, was a smart juvenile Sabine’s Gull, which appeared – and promptly disappeared – during the last hour of daylight at Pitsford on 10th. Echoing the brief, 40-minute evening stay of the last one there, in 2010, it was present off the dam for no more than 30 minutes and was last seen heading off high south into the gathering dusk over Pitsford village, more than suggesting that there was no chance it was going to be there the following day. And, of course, it wasn’t. Turning the pages back five years, the last was at Daventry CP in September 2017 – a much more obliging individual which proved popular during its 3-day stay on site. This week’s bird now becomes the county’s 12th record.
Pitsford also retained one of last week’s first-winter Little Gulls until 8th and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull also dropped into the gull roost there on 10th, followed by an adult in the roost at Stanford two evenings later, on 12th. Yellow-legged Gulls remained in small numbers at the favoured location of Pitsford Res, where there were up to two adults during the period, while single adults were at DIRFT 3 on 11th and at Hollowell Res on 14th.
Out on its own, a juvenile Black Tern at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows NR on the last day of the week lifted this autumn’s records from a meagre 5 to a meagre 6.
This week’s obligatory appearance by a Short-eared Owl was where else but in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 11th, while 9th saw two Merlins – one at nearby Harrington AF and the other at Stanford Res.
But it was the latter locality that scored with, yet again, another Yellow-browed Warbler trapped, ringed and released near the feeding station, where it remained on view for a short time on 14th. This individual is thought to be a different bird to the one which accompanied a tit flock in a small area on the Leicestershire side of the reservoir for 3 days earlier in the week which, if true, means the site as a whole has pulled in three this year! Quite astonishing in view of the fact that 2022 is widely acknowledged as not being a ‘big yellow-browed year’.
Also at Stanford, a Common Redstart was trapped and ringed on 11th – the latest ever at this site and the 24th to have been ringed there this year.
This week’s Stonechats maxed out at seven near Deenethorpe on 9th, while records came from a further 8 localities including Bozenham Mill, Brampton Valley, Ditchford GP, Ecton SF, Harrington, Hollowell, Pitsford and Stanford. Hot on the heels of last week’s two, the third Rock Pipit of 2022 appeared on the ground at Clifford Hill GP on 10th, while singles of both Water Pipit – the year’s second – and a rather late Tree Pipit, flew over Harrington on 13th.
Three Hawfinches flew over Cosgrove on 8th. Perhaps a sign of more to come this winter …