The weather for the last two weeks, now firmly dominated by Atlantic low pressure systems, has remained largely dry and has not been a key influencer on the appearance of birds locally. While wader passage has yet to gather pace, the movement of passerines gained momentum, with the mist nets of Stanford delivering yet more surprises.
Apart from a Ruddy Shelduck at Welford Res on 24th, keeping wildfowl afloat during the review period, Garganeys were present at four localities, the most notable of which was Stanwick GP, where an eclipse drake was present between 11th and 20th. Elsewhere, singles visited Summer Leys LNR on 12th and 15th and both Pitsford and Hollowell Reservoirs on 18th.
Eclipse drake Garganey, Stanwick GP, 16th August 2018 (Mike Alibone)
Meanwhile, the site most consistent for producing Great White Egrets was again Thrapston GP, where two were frequently present on Titchmarsh LNR throughout the period, with the same site producing three together on 19th. There may have been some movement of the third bird between here and Stanwick, where one was seen on 11th-12th, 14th and 23rd-24th with perhaps the same individual visiting Ditchford GP on 24th. The one lingering at Daventry CP was seen almost daily until 18th and one visited Hollowell Res on 20th.
Ospreys were recorded from six localities, again prominent at Thrapston GP and Hollowell Res – both sites producing two together on several occasions. Away from these locations, two drifted north over Moulton on 13th and singles were at Pitsford Res on 14th, Priors Hall (Corby) on 19th and Ditchford GP on 23rd.
Osprey, Hollowell Res, 19th August 2018 (Martin Swannell)
Osprey, Thrapston GP, 21st August 2018 (Alan Francis)
Juvenile Osprey, Ditchford GP, 23rd August 2018 (Tony Vials)
Marsh Harrier action ramped up during the period with two juveniles flying west over Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows on 11th, followed by singles north of the causeway at Pitsford Res on 14th-15th, over Thrapston GP on 16th and 21st-22nd and over Keepers Lodge Bay and adjacent fields at Stanford Res on 21st.
It was the worst two-week period for waders with, aside from small numbers of commoner waders, the only birds of note were two Ruffs at Summer Leys on 15th – and that’s scraping the barrel!
The second Black Tern of the autumn, a juvenile, appeared at Hollowell Res on 22nd and the season’s first Little Gull was found off the dam at Stanford Res on 21st but it did not linger. Mediterranean Gulls were rather more obliging, however, with single juveniles visiting Ditchford GP IL&M on 11th, Hollowell Res on 14th, Pitsford Res on 15th and Stanwick GP on 20th, while an adult was found at Daventry CP on 23rd.
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull, Stanwick GP, 20th August 2018 (Steve Fisher)
There were only three Caspian Gulls, though, an adult at Hollowell Res on 11th and two – an adult and a first-summer – together at Daventry CP the following day and Yellow-legged Gulls were reported from five localities, with a maximum count of eight at Stanwick on 20th.
Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 23rd August 2018 (Steve Fisher)
And so to passerines, which saw a bit of an upturn in numbers as well as another quality warbler – even if only a ‘sub’ – being pulled again from a mist net at Stanford Res. The fourth Northern Willow Warbler for the county was trapped and ringed on 21st, following the previous three identified by the same means there in 2008, 2011 and 2014.
Northern Willow Warbler (left) and Willow Warbler, Stanford Res, 21st August 2018 (Chris Hubbard)
Beyond this, up to four Common Redstarts were regularly to be found at Twywell Hills & Dales between 14th and 23rd, with the same site producing a Whinchat on 16th-17th, while further singles were at Borough Hill on 20th and near Glapthorn on 22nd.
Male Common Redstart, Twywell, 16th August 2018 (Bob Bullock)
Back to Stanford for one of the most difficult passerines to find locally since it stopped breeding locally: Tree Pipit. No less than four were trapped on 21st
Tree Pipit, Stanford Res, 21st August 2018 (Chris Hubbard)
If you’re lucky it’s a late August flyover migrant at Borough Hill or Harrington – a tease or ‘teez’, whichever way you look at it.