The last week of autumn saw a continuation of northerly and easterly winds accompanied by low temperatures until the middle part, when south-westerlies helped raise the temperatures to a high of 14ºC on 28th, as well as delivering prolonged heavy rain. Rare and scarce wildfowl topped the bill during the period.
Six Bewick’s Swans, two adults and four first-winters, paid a brief visit to Thrapston GP’s North Lake on 25th before departing east during the afternoon. These are the only ones to be recorded in the county so far this year. The only Whooper Swans this week were the eleven, seemingly still settled all week, north of the causeway, at Pitsford Res and the first-winter still at Thrapston GP on 30th. In the Nene Valley, five White-fronted Geese flew west over Ditchford GP on 25th and just to the east, a Pink-footed Goose was found at Stanwick GP on 28th, while the Barnacle Goose was still present there on the same date. The mobile female Ruddy Shelduck was still at Pitsford Res on 25th, while over to the west, the drake American Wigeon x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid, last seen at Daventry CP on 16th, resurfaced at Ravensthorpe Res on 27th. Back at Pitsford, the week’s highest site total of Red-crested Pochards fell from eighteen last week to thirteen on 24th. Elsewhere, two were at Stanford Res all week and one remained at Hollowell Res throughout, while the first-winter Scaup also remained all week at Thrapston GP.
Following last week’s mystery report of a drake Ring-necked Duck on Town Lake at Thrapston on 18th, one appeared in Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res on the afternoon of 25th. At first posing awkwardly for photos, it quickly became camera-shy, subsequently appearing to do a bunk. Making it into the record books as Northamptonshire’s sixth, it was present just long enough for one or two locals to catch up with it but it wasn’t seen for the remaining part of the week.
Just two Cattle Egrets continued to be seen daily at the north-east end of the Stanwick GP complex, while up to two Great White Egrets continued to be seen there, with the same number at Stanford Res. Elsewhere, Pitsford continued to host up to four and singles were seen at Ditchford GP, Hollowell Res, Ravensthorpe Res and Summer Leys LNR.
Stanford Res continued its monopoly on harriers with the juvenile Hen Harrier still present until at least 29th and last week’s Marsh Harrier was again seen there on 24th.
The wader trade picked up with the first-winter Black-tailed Godwit still at Pitsford Res and a Ruff was discovered there on 24th, both birds remaining throughout, while a fly-through Spotted Redshank was seen there on 26th.
Single adult Mediterranean Gulls were at both Hollowell Res and Pitsford Res on 26th, although it is likely the same individual accounted for both observations, while an adult Caspian Gull was found near Middleton Cheney on 25th, being relocated later in the day at nearby Chacombe.
A second-winter Caspian Gull visited Daventry CP on 30th. Yellow-legged Gulls continued to be logged in small numbers, with three near Middleton Cheney on 25th and the same number again at Hollowell Res the following day, while singles were at Chacombe on 25th and Pitsford Res throughout the week.
The Borough Hill Short-eared Owl remained throughout the week, another was seen at Harrington AF on 28th and the first wintering Firecrest was discovered near the feeding station at Pitsford Res the following day. The only Bramblings reported were one at Pitsford Res on 26th, two at Hanging Houghton on 24th and up to eight in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton all week.