Generally regarded as a Caspian Gull, this second-calendar year (first-summer) bird has been visiting Ravensthorpe Reservoir since early August. From the initial images obtained by Gary Pullan, it looked marvelously ‘snouty’ and long-legged – two features widely associated with Caspian Gull.
There were, however, some characteristics which simply did not ring right for Caspian Gull, leading Gary and I to debate its identity, which swung from Caspian to Yellow-legged, though Caspian x Yellow-legged hybrid and then back to Caspian. John Moon chipped in with a better image, which did not really change anything at the time.
On 31st August, I managed to get some digiscoped shots (below) of which some, after scrutiny, were perhaps more suggestive of Yellow-legged Gull – not least because of the bill structure.
Summary of features based primarily on images taken on 31st August.
Large and lanky and legs long and good for Caspian
Shortish (closed) wings but renewed primaries probably still growing
Mantle shade of grey too light for Yellow-leggedGul but OK for Caspian (but see comments)
Bill long but heavy, with large gonys – looks in some images to be fine for Yellow-legged Gull but too chunky for Caspian but in others ok(ish) for Caspian
Underwing coverts quite dark – darker than I would expect for Caspian but Malling Olsen states some Caspians can have quite dark underwings (and see comments below)
Head shape, long forehead and eye position ok for Caspian and looks ‘snouty’
I forwarded a set of images to Carl Baggott – the Leicestershire Recorder, ‘King of Shawell’ and a man with a true passion for gulls and with extensive experience of Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls in eastern Europe and Yellow-legged in Portugal.
Carl kindly commented as follows:
This is quite a difficult bird, but I don’t get a Caspian Gull feel from the images. It seems closer to YLG and I am not too concerned about the lightness of the grey feathers as this is quite variable at that age. The tertials favour YLG also, as does the large head and bill. The snouty description of Caspian Gull head is overstressed and doesn’t really help with most gulls. As you say some Caspian Gulls can have dark underwings and I have photographed birds in Germany with similar underwings. Most 2CY Caspian Gulls have pale inner primaries or a venetian blind effect across the inner primaries.
I have seen birds like this at Shawell and left them unidentified. It can be very difficult with ones like this as you don’t know their origin. I have seen Yellow-legged Gulls in Portugal that are easily confused with Caspian Gulls and even American Herring Gulls.
On the question of the possibility of a hybrid:
It could well be [a hybrid], but difficult to say for certain. There is nothing to really hang your hat on. A colour-ring is always useful as you know so at least you know where it’s from. Hybrids are easier as adults or first-winters usually as you can look at coverts (Caspian Gulls especially) on the young birds and primaries on adults. Then it comes down to matter of opinion unless you know the species of the parents. Hybrid is always the go to, but there is a great deal of variation in pure birds.
The above not only highlights the difficulty of identifying ‘odd’ gulls in the field but also the problems with trying to identify them from images taken from different angles and in different poses – for example, see the apparent change in head shape and bill thickness in the above images.
For a set of images of similarly-aged Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls in The Netherlands see here.
The bank holiday weekend saw the dam burst on autumn migration. With a light south-easterly airstream, originating from a high pressure system centred beyond eastern Europe, temperature records were not the only ones broken, as the county also enjoyed a deluge of passerines on the move … and a lot more as the week unfolded.
With a passing nod to the female Ruddy Shelduck at Hollowell Res and the eclipse drake Garganey at Stanford Res – both still present on 25th – there was far more happening in and around our reservoirs to capture the imagination and demand attention.
Even the six Cattle Egrets still at Stanwick GP now seem like part of the furniture. There seems little doubt they will soon assume Great Egret status, talking of which there were up to four around this week, including two at Summer Leys LNR on 30th, one on and off at Pitsford Res, plus one at Stanford on 28th.
A far better week for Ospreys kicked off with three north of Pitsford causeway on 25th, followed by another there on 29th and singles at Thrapston GP on 25th, flying south over Byfield on the same date, flying west over Summer Leys and south over Kettering on 26th and east over Stanford on 28th.
After the shorebird doldrums of the last review period, a much-improved picture on the wader front saw an Avocet at Pitsford, briefly on 26th and a Black-tailed Godwit over the causeway there on the same date. Another Black-tailed Godwit visited Hollowell on 25th and two Turnstones included one flying south-west over Stanwick on 26th and a smart, scaly juvenile on Pitsford dam on 29th-30th.
At Stanford, four Ruffs flew south-west without stopping on 28th and the fourth Spotted Redshank of the autumn arrived at Hollowell on 25th but, like the previous three, it had departed by the following day.
With six together, also at Hollowell on 25th, the arrival of Greenshanks was more encouraging this week, with up to four at Stanford on 28th and 29th, three at Pitsford and two still at Hollowell also on 29th and one at Summer Leys from 25th until the week’s end.
Summer Leys also featured with two elegant Wood Sandpipers for one day on 25th, followed by another there on 30th.
The bank holiday weather system provided ideal conditions for picking up a rare tern or two and a much need boost for those who managed to connect. Aside from a lingering juvenile Little Tern at Boddington Res, between 25th and 27th, it quickly became clear on 24th that a substantial movement of Black Terns was underway.
The first four appeared at Stanford, early doors, quickly followed by the discovery of at least ten off the dam at Pitsford and five at Boddington, where four more arrived two days later, on 26th. These birds formed just a small part of a national movement involving hundreds, if not thousands, across south and east England. Beyond the county line, an impressive ninety-six were counted at Farmoor Res in Oxfordshire, for example. How many did we miss? Adding a little more spice to the mix, single Sandwich Terns flew through at Pitsford on 24th and at both Ravensthorpe Res and Stanwick the following day.
Overshadowed by terns, gulls were again low in numbers, the best of which was a petite and crisply marked juvenile Little Gull that hung around long enough to be photographed at Summer Leys on 28th, vanishing late in the day, only to reappear briefly the following morning.
Just one Mediterranean Gull – an adult – was on the sailing club pontoon at Pitsford on 24th, two Yellow-legged Gulls were at Stanwick on the same date and an adult Yellow-legged was around Boddington on 26th and 27th. Last week’s second calendar year Caspian Gull from Ravensthorpe put in a brief appearance at nearby Hollowell on 25th.
But it was passerines that really stole the show – and not just the rare ones to boot. The Stanford Ringing Group had its work cut out simply trying to keep up with the seemingly incessant deluge of birds piling into its nets during a multi record-breaking eight-hour session on 24th (read about it here), which included processing 163 Blackcaps, 143 Whitethroats and 70 Reed Warblers, to name but a few. Along with these, six Common Redstarts were also trapped and ringed and the site continued to host small numbers of this species daily, with a peak count of eleven – nine of which were trapped and ringed – on 27th. Common Redstarts were also found at four other localities, peak counts of which were four at Harrington AF on 25th-26th, three at Twywell Hills and Dales on 30th, at least two in the Blueberry Farm area of Brampton Valley on 28th and singles at Sywell CP on 24th and Borough Hill on 26th. For an overview of the autumn’s extensive passage, so far, see here.
Whinchats were also far more numerous than the preceding week. Last week’s four were still at Blueberry Farm until 25th, with at least one remaining until 28th, Stanford produced three on 24th and one on 27th, two were at Borough Hill on 25th-26th, up to two were at Harrington AF between 24th and 27th, three were found at Sywell CP on 29th (two on 30th) and two at Twywell Hills and Dales on 30th and singles at Fawsley Park on 25th, near Lamport on 26th and at Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) on 30th.
Up, too, in numbers were Northern Wheatears – most of them found in the same areas as the aforementioned Common Redstarts and Whinchats. In the Brampton Valley up to three were in the Blueberry Farm area between 24th and 28th, Harrington AF attracted at least two between 24th and 29th, two were near Lamport on 26th and singles were found in Broughton on 24th and at Stanford Res (trapped) on the same date, a male was at Borough Hill on 25th with a second bird there on 26th and singles visited Pitsford Res on 27th and Glapthorn on 29th.
Reflecting the relatively heavy passage on the east coast, Pied Flycatchers put on their best show for many years (if not ever) with four appearing. Singles were found at both Stanford Res and Deenethorpe on 24th, one was at Duston (Northampton) on 26th and another was discovered with a roving tit flock at Brixworth CP on 29th. Tree Pipits, too, continued to be logged in numbers higher than usual, with 24th producing two in the Brampton Valley and singles at both Pitsford and Stanford, while one was found at Borough Hill the following day, on 25th. Perhaps next week will be a little quieter …
Record numbers of Common Redstarts have been moving through Northamptonshire over the past few weeks, peaking today with a double-figure count at Stanford Reservoir.
It has been an amazing autumn for Common Redstarts, giving rise to speculation that some may have bred locally. While this may have been true for one or two birds at least, there have been too many to account for the odd, out of range breeding pair and with the picture seemingly mirrored nationally, it appears this species has enjoyed a productive breeding season.
Apart from single males at Moreton Pinkney on 22nd June and at Lamport on 26th June, the first record of the autumn came from Arbury Hill, west of Badby, where an adult and a juvenile were seen as early as 2nd July, perhaps indicating local breeding. Denton Wood similarly provided views of a juvenile on 11th July, again fuelling speculation of local breeding. What was assumed to be the same bird was seen there again on 18th July and from 28th July through to 1st August and again on 10th and 17th August. It was a male and the fact that its post-juvenile moult had steadily progressed each time it was seen would indicate it was the same individual throughout.
Following the Denton Wood bird, there have been approximately 43 records, accounting for something like 80 individuals. What an autumn! Here are some of those birds.
With the Atlantic jetstream further north this week, the weather remained largely dry, bright and breezy, on the back of a predominantly west to south-westerly airflow. Topping the bill was a ‘wrecked’ Shag in Weedon, otherwise it was business as usual …
As wildfowl are still a little thin on the ground at present, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck continued to keep things afloat at Hollowell Res, as did Stanford’s eclipse drake Garganey, now into its fifth week on site. At least one Red-crested Pochard remained at Pitsford Res until 19th.
A juvenile Shag picked up on the outskirts of Weedon on 20th was a bizarre find indeed as this species is not prone to becoming grounded inland like other birds more traditionally associated with a maritime environment. Said to have been in good physical condition, it was thought to be diseased and was taken into professional care, with the aim of recovery prior to its release in the near future.
Cattle Egrets continued to be seen daily at Stanwick GP with, as last week, the maximum being six – three adults, three juveniles – on 18th. Moving up the rare egret size scale, single Great Egrets were again on the scrape at Summer Leys from 18th-23rd and at Pitsford Res on 19th.
Pitsford was also one of only two sites to yield Ospreys this week, with two there on 18th followed by singles on 20th and 22nd, while singles were at Hollowell on 17th and 23rd. Pitsford also produced another Marsh Harrier – a juvenile on 18th.
Five species of waders this week was less than impressive, as were their low numbers. In this respect, a solitary Whimbrel flew south at Daventry CP on 19th and single Black-tailed Godwits were found at Summer Leys on 18th, Ravensthorpe Res on 19th and Clifford Hill GP on 22nd. The Thrapston Turnstone hung on until 18th, a Greenshank visited Summer Leys on 22nd and five were at Hollowell res on 23rd.
Gulls, too, were lower in numbers. Again, the only two Caspian Gulls this week were a second calendar year at Ravensthorpe Res on 19th and a juvenile at Daventry CP the following day. Similarly, there were only low, single-figure counts of Yellow-legged Gulls, comprising one at Hollowell on 17th, two at Daventry on 19th, three at Ravensthorpe on 21st with one on 23rd and one at Hollowell Res on 23rd.
On the passerine front, it’s been a great week for Tree Pipits, with the lion’s share at Stanford Res, where one was trapped and ringed on 20th, two flew over and one was on the deck there on 21st and another was present the following day. Elsewhere, one was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 22nd and two were on Borough Hill on 23rd. Common Redstarts were down a little on last week’s total but a first-winter male was again at Denton Wood on 17th, two were at Fawsley Park on 18th and singles were at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 18th and 22nd.
Whinchats, to, were also a little more in evidence, with up to four at Blueberry Farm between 18th and 22nd and singles at Borough Hill on 19th and Stanford Res on 21st. By contrast, only one Northern Wheatear was found – this being near Chapel Brampton on 21st-23rd, while four Crossbills were reported in the Brampton Valley on 22nd.
A series of Atlantic low pressure systems, moving rapidly east, delivered below average temperatures, unseasonally strong winds and some hefty bouts of rain during the week. There were also some great birds to be had – including a fifth for Northamptonshire – if you were one of the lucky few …
Having been around for several weeks, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Hollowell Res, although with others appearing in at least a dozen – principally east coast – counties, including a flock of eight in Northumberland, on a national level, arguably, it’s no longer alone.Stanford’s eclipse drake Garganey continued its stay throughout the week and another visited Pitsford Res on 12th, when the three drake Red-crested Pochards were also still present there. In the Nene Valley, a drake Common Scoter was found at Clifford Hill GP on 11th, remaining there until the next day.
Representing a potential last chance saloon for those still hoping to catch up with one this year, another illusive Common Quail was reported, this time from Fawsley Park, on 12th, continuing on the now generally established theme of ‘hear today, gone tomorrow’ for the species this year. Well, for ‘tomorrow’, read ‘immediately afterwards’, in these particular instances …
More positive news came on the Cattle Egret front as the juveniles from the Ringstead family fledged this week, making their way, without delay, to Stanwick’s Main Lake to do what Cattle Egrets do around cows. The maximum seen together there at any one time was six, on 14th. Elsewhere, single Great Egrets did their best to enliven Pitsford on 10th-11th and Summer Leys on 12th-13th.
In stark contrast to last week, there was a distinct lack of Ospreys during the period, with just two reported – a juvenile at Pitsford on 11th and an adult at Hollowell two days later, on 13th. More than making up, though, two Marsh Harriers were seen – one at Boddington Res on 11th, the other at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) on 13th.
On the wader front this week, if the breadth of species couldn’t have been better, then the depth surely should have been, with just single birds representing each species in most instances, kicking off with six Black-tailed Godwits at Stanwick on 14th. A Turnstone arrived at Thrapston GP on 11th and remained all week while, back at Stanwick, a Ruff arrived on 10th, staying three days until 12th.
Following in the footsteps of the previous two this autumn, a Spotted Redshank dropped in for a late evening stop-off at Summer Leys on 12th but it had made a hasty departure by early the following morning. Single Greenshanks showed up at Pitsford on 11th-12th and at Stanwick on 11th and 15th.
A Little Gull – the first since the spring rush – was in the gull roost at Pitsford on 13th and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was there the following day but the only two Caspian Gulls this week were confined to Ravensthorpe Res, where there was an adult on 12th, followed by a second-year on 16th. Single-figure counts of Yellow-legged Gulls came from Hollowell, Pitsford, Ravensthorpe and Stanwick, with a maximum of nine at Pitsford on 13th.
With perhaps no more than half a dozen breeding pairs in the UK now, Marsh Warbler will always be a difficult bird to catch up with in Northants but at least for some, Clifford Hill GP delivered this week.
Although not quite on the same rarity scale as the above, though arguably a damn sight better looking, a crisp-plumaged, first-winter Pied Flycatcher was found at Barnwell CP on 11th. This is only the second in Northamptonshire this year, following one in spring, at Barton Seagrave, on 16th April.
Numbers of Common Redstarts picked up again this week, with up to two at Blueberry Farm on 11th-13th, followed by singles at Fleetland Farm, Duston (Northampton) and Twywell Hills & Dales on 12th, Pitsford Res on 13th and Ditchford GP on 16th, while at least two Whinchats were still at Blueberry Farm between 11th and 13th.
Hot on the heels of the autumn’s first Northern Wheatears, last week, came up to eight more, with singles at Pitsford Res on 11th and 14th, three at Fleetland Farm and two at Harrington AF on 13th and one at Clifford Hill GP on 15th. Hopefully, there will be many more to come before the autumn’s out.
Under the influence of standard westerlies off the Atlantic, the weather remained largely settled before delivering an avalanche of gales and rain at the week’s end. Some fairly standard early autumn fare was on offer throughout the period.
Having clearly developed itchy feet, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck flipped from Hollowell Res to Ravensthorpe Res on 3rd and was back at Hollowell on 6th-8th before returning to Ravensthorpe on 9th.
Stanford’s eclipse drake Garganey remained until at least 5th and two of last week’s three on Titchmarsh LNR, at Thrapston GP, were seen again on 4th, while the continued presence of up to three drake Red-crested Pochards at Pitsford Res came as little surprise.
Ringstead GP’s four juvenile Cattle Egrets were still on site mid-week, while the three adults continued to feed with the local herd in the vicinity of Main Lake at nearby Stanwick. After a blank week, a Great Egret at least brought some interest to Summer Leys’ scrape between 7th and 9th, while the escaped Sacred Ibis with a penchant for visiting village gardens, dropped into one briefly at Nether Heyford on 4th.
Back at Pitsford, a Black-necked Grebe was present in Scaldwell Bay for the afternoon of 8th but provided no joy for those searching for it the following day. There have been numerous August records from said bay at Pitsford over the years but they have tended to occur much closer to the month’s end.
This week there were Ospreys aplenty, with Pitsford producing the lion’s share, including two on 3rd, two – if not three – on 5th and singles on 6th, 8th and 9th. Elsewhere, singles visited Thrapston GP on 3rd, Hollowell on 3rd and 8th and the pool at Harrington AF on 6th, the same date upon which a female or juvenile Merlin was at Stanwick GP.
This week’s wader line-up was not as impressive as last week’s but migration continued with 9th producing single Black-tailed Godwits over Daventry CP and at Pitsford, a Whimbrel over Stanwick on 4th, a Turnstone at Summer Leys on 8th and a Ruff at nearby Ditchford GP’s IL&M the following day. Greenshanks showed up at Pitsford on 5th and 9th and also at Summer Leys on the latter date, while single Wood Sandpipers were found at Stanwick GP on 8th and 9th and at Summer Leys on 9th, only one of which stuck around long enough to be seen by observers other than the finder.
More juvenile Mediterranean Gulls appeared this week, three in all, comprising singles at Pitsford on 6th and 9th and at Daventry CP on the latter date. Ravensthorpe Res hung on to its adult Caspian Gull until 4th, while small numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were found at Daventry, Hollowell, Pitsford, Ravensthorpe Thrapston and Stanwick, with a maximum of seven at the latter site on 4th.
Hot on the heels of the autumn’s first Tree Pipit, at Harrington AF last week, the same site delivered another one six days later, on 8th. These two are both two to three weeks earlier than normal and it’s interesting that coastal watchpoints (e.g. Portland) are also noting early departing migrants of this species. Fewer Common Redstarts were recorded this week, with just one at Harrington AF on 3rd-4th and another hanging on at Twywell Hills & Dales between 5th and 8th, while at least two Whinchats were still at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 3rd and the first Northern Wheatears of the autumn appeared on 9th, with singles at Hollowell and near Pitsford village.
With the previous week’s heat ebbing away, the country became under the influence of something more readily associated with British summertime: rain. The first two days saw plenty of it and the weather system responsible also had a dramatic effect on migrants, with many appearing far earlier than is normal.
While acknowledging the continued presence of the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck at Hollowell Res, this week there were other ducks on offer to dazzle and delight … perhaps. Stanford’s eclipse drake Garganey remained throughout and this species’ ranks were swelled further by the discovery of first one, then two, then three on Titchmarsh LNR at Thrapston GP before the week was out.
Pitsford’s two drake Red-crested Pochards were still in situ at the northern end on 1st-2nd but south of the causeway up to five drake Common Scoters were found on 28th – perhaps associated with the adverse weather conditions prevailing on that date.
Looking as if they are now on the verge of vacating their nest at Ringstead GP, the four juvenile Cattle Egrets were showing a little more bravado, crashing around in the bushes of their island home, while the three adults continued to feed at nearby Stanwick. Meanwhile, a Great Egret was present again at Pitsford on 2nd.
Back on the menu for early autumn, this week saw two Marsh Harriers in the county, one of which was mobile around the Brixworth/Brampton Valley area between 27th and 31st, while the other was at Stanford Res on 29th-30th. Meanwhile, single Ospreys continued to visit Hollowell on 27th and Pitsford on 30th and 1st-2nd.
But for birds susceptible to weather not conducive to overland migration, the grim conditions of the first two days resulted in some remarkably early and scarce species appearing this week. Waders were the first to fall foul and beyond a Black-tailed Godwit visiting at Stanwick on 27th and 2nd, single Whimbrels appeared there on 28th, at Pitsford on 30th and at Hollowell on 31st. A Sanderling was found at Summer Leys LNR on 28th, another visited Stanwick on the same date and a Ruff was also at Stanwick on the following day. Chief prize among this week’s waders, though, were two juvenile Spotted Redshanks, both of which were incredibly short staying. One dropped into Summer Leys on the evening of 30th and the other was discovered at Stanwick, early in the morning of 1st, before apparently moving on in haste.
A sprinkling of Greenshanks included singles at both Summer Leys and Ditchford IL&M on 28th, one at Ravensthorpe Res on 31st and at nearby Hollowell on 1st-2nd. A Wood Sandpiper was discovered at Thrapston GP on 27th. While the date is not unusual, the isolation of the record is, as it occurred during an enormous nationwide influx, which included treble-figure counts on the east coast and many birds penetrating far inland. There should have been many more in Northants but it was not to be. Although not in the same league, also noteworthy is the unusually high number of Common Sandpipers which passed through during the week, with Hollowell producing a remarkable twenty on 1st.
And so to the other weather-related arrivals – more specifically, Arctic Terns. Made up of small groups, at least forty of them came through between 28th and 31st, with all but two of these on 28th. What is amazing, however, is that this number included several juveniles, which do not normally occur before September at the earliest. In fact, the occurrence of juvenile Arctic Terns in Northamptonshire in July is probably unprecedented. Location totals for 28th comprise seventeen at Thrapston GP, eleven at Stanford Res, five at Stanwick, at least three at Clifford Hill GP and two at Pitsford. Single juveniles were at Pitsford on 30th and Summer Leys on 31st. Early Black Terns appeared at the same time and on 28th included one at Summer Leys and two at Stanwick, followed by one at the latter locality the next day.
The first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the autumn was found at Summer Leys on 29th, while numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls continued to rise, with site maxima of ten at Stanwick, five at both Pitsford and Ravensthorpe and singles at Thrapston and Hollowell. This early autumn build-up also came with added Caspian Gulls – a third-summer at Stanwick and an adult at Ravensthorpe on 30th, followed by a first-summer at the latter site on 2nd.
Aside from the autumn’s first Tree Pipit, at Harrington AF on 2nd, there have already been higher than usual numbers of migrant Common Redstarts so far in July and even more were added to the tally during the period. It’s difficult to know if their occurrence was weather-related but it must have at least been an influencing factor to some degree. Up to two were in the Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm area throughout the week, two were at Upper Boddington on 30th, up to three were at Twywell Hills & Dales on 1st-2nd, a juvenile male was at Yardley Chase between 28th and 1st and singles were at Summer Leys on 29th and at Harrington AF between 29th and 31st.
The Brampton Valley/Blueberry Farm area also produced up to two Whinchats between 28th and 2nd and four Common Crossbills – presumably fly-overs – on the latter date.
Sandwiched between an unusual kink in the North Atlantic Jetstream and a high pressure system to the east, winds for the majority of the week emanated from North Africa and the UK enjoyed its potentially hottest day on record, on 25th, when Northampton hit a sweltering 36°C. Although it appeared to have little local influence on migrants, it no doubt contributed significantly to the continued evaporation at local reservoirs, exposing more muddy margins for waders, ahead of the slowly unfolding autumn passage.
But it was already déjà vu in many respects, with not a great deal of change to the birdscape this week. Still enjoying the company of local Canada Geese, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Hollowell Res, while an eclipse drake Garganey, which arrived at Stanford Res on 23rd, was still present at the week’s end. Pitsford’s two drake Red-crested Pochards once again became three on 24th and another drake was found at Ringstead GP on 21st, remaining there also until 24th.
Cattle Egrets maintained their prominence in the Nene Valley, the trio of adults undertaking multiple commutes daily between their highly favoured herd of cows at Stanwick GP and their nest – this week proven to contain four juveniles – at nearby Ringstead GP. Somewhat overshadowed (and rightly so), two Great Egrets were at Pitsford Res on 23rd, with at least one still present the following day.
Now mucking in with free-range chickens in a large country garden in north Northants, last week’s Sacred Ibis was said to be enjoying domestic hens’ food, cream crackers, toast and sea sticks – the latter sourced from Heron Foods, no less! Despite the laudable efforts made by the landowner to locate the collection it has clearly escaped from, none of the many contacted has stepped forward to reclaim it. Still present at the week’s end, it looks like it will be around for some time to come but for anyone with this species on his or her bucket list, the nearest truly wild population is in Mauritania.
With no records last week, single Ospreys put in brief appearances at Hollowell on 21st-22nd and Pitsford on 22nd.
Set against a backcloth of small numbers of commoner species, wader passage ebbed somewhat during the period, with just two Black-tailed Godwits visiting Stanwick on 23rd and a Greenshank at Stanford Res on 26th.
Meanwhile, as is usual for late summer, numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls began to increase, with up to five at Pitsford and ones and twos regularly at Hollowell, Ravensthorpe and Stanwick.
Passerines of note this week again featured Common Redstarts, with two at Harrington AF on 24th-26th plus one in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 25th and a female Common Crossbill at Ravensthorpe on 26th.