Newsround – 11th to 17th March 2023

Despite the tussle between two opposing weather systems and the toing and froing of a cold northerly airstream, the period shaped up nicely into a classic mid-March week for spring migrants.

In this respect, Summer Leys LNR held good to its name, producing three firsts for the year, two of which were true summer visitors.

Aside from the above, other sites quickly followed suit, with Sand Martins in particular appearing on three further consecutive days, numbers of which included five at Wicksteed Park Lake on 14th, two at Kislingbury GP and seven at Pitsford Res on 15th, followed by forty at the latter site – plus singles at Lilbourne Meadows NR and Summer Leys – on 16th. DIRFT 3 also produced three Little Ringed Plovers on the last of these dates and another visited Summer Leys on 17th. And then there were Northern Wheatears, listed above but broken down into singles at two sites in the Brampton Valley, two at Harrington AF and one at Summer Leys. Last but not least, an Osprey was thrown in for good measure on the final day of the week.

Bouncing back to basics now, wildfowl of potentially questionable origin included the Upton CP Barnacle Goose, remaining until 12th, the Pink-footed Goose with Greylags at, and around, Wicksteed Park, Kettering until at least 15th and the female Ruddy Shelduck still at Winwick Pools, also on 15th.

Downsizing to diving ducks, last week’s female Red-crested Pochard continued to occupy the Main Lake at Summer Leys until mid-week and, attracting far less attention than it did some weeks back, the female Ring-necked Duck was still present at Ravensthorpe Res until 15th. Having apparently developed itchy feet though, for the first time, it clearly cast site faithfulness to the wind and had moved to nearby Hollowell Res by the week’s end.

The long-staying female Greater Scaup, however, remained at Ravensthorpe throughout, while the first-winter drake was still on site at Billing GP until at least 16th. It, or another, visited nearby Clifford Hill GP on 12th.

In addition to the aforementioned Little Ringed Plovers, a wider passage of waders this week included a trickle of Curlews, Ringed Plovers and Dunlins but unquestionably topping the bill were the three Avocets that dropped in to Summer Leys for a mere ten minutes on the morning of 14th. Having quickly departed to the west, searches at locations further up the Nene Valley unfortunately proved fruitless.

Three sites produced Black-tailed Godwits, with five at Summer Leys, briefly, on 13th, two at Lilbourne Meadows on 16th and the same number at Ditchford GP the following day. The latter site also produced a Jack Snipe on 15th and one was also at Pitsford Res on the previous day.

To gulls and the second-winter ‘Viking Gull’ (Glaucous x Herring hybrid) again visited Daventry CP on 14th – noteworthy but perhaps not measuring high enough on the laridometer to elicit any significant level of interest for most. It appears the same bird has recently been seen in the gull roost at Draycote, just over the border in Warwickshire. More run-of-the-mill fare appeared in the shape of Caspian Gulls, which included a first-winter at Stanford Res on 11th, a second-winter at Wicksteed Park Lake, Kettering on 12th and a bird of the same age on the same date at DIRFT 3. An adult also visited Stanwick on 14th, while Daventry pulled in a second-winter on 15th and a first-winter on 17th.

Meanwhile, the wintering adult Yellow-legged Gull remained at Pitsford throughout the period.

Scarce raptors were few and far between but Summer Leys did conjure up a transient Marsh Harrier, albeit very briefly, on 12th. Back over in the Brampton Valley, and the last day of the week produced not one but two Merlins – a male at the southern end, close to Brampton View Care Village, and a female/immature near Boughton Crossing.

Back on the menu, for one day only, was Stanwick’s male Bearded Tit, in precisely the same location as previously, on 15th. Its whereabouts over the preceding two weeks remains a mystery …

Aside from certain summer visitors already mentioned, other passerines were limited to two Siberian Chiffchaffs hanging on at Ecton SF until at least 12th and a widespread brace of Stonechats, most – if not all of which – appeared to be migrants.

At least three Stonechats were at Pitsford between 12th and 14th, twos were at Stanford Res on 12th, Clifford Hill GP from 12th to 16th, Kislingbury GP on 15th and possibly three in the Brampton Valley between 12th and 17th. Elsewhere, singles were at Sywell CP from 12th to 16th, Boughton on 12th and Ditchford GP on 15th.


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