Rarity Round-up 11th to 17th March 2017

Mild south to south-westerlies coupled with lengthy bouts of unhindered sunshine were largely responsible for Northants hitting its highest temperature (16.2 deg C) of the year so far this week. More summer migrants arrived, with Chiffchaffs widespread by the week’s end – one site hosting at least seventeen on 13th – more Sand Martins and the first Little Ringed Plovers at Stanford Res on 16th, increasing to six there the following day. Stanford is shaping up nicely as the place to watch for wader passage this spring. Maintenance work being carried out on the dam has resulted in a significant drop in the water level there, which is likely to hit an all-time low over the forthcoming weeks.

The wintering adult Whooper Swan remained at Sywell CP until at least 13th, as did the Eurasian White-fronted Goose at Pitsford Res, while another was discovered with the Greylag flock at Blatherwycke Lake on the same date. Up to four Red-crested Pochards (three drakes) were still at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR until 14th, the long-staying female Scaup remained at on the main lake at Stanwick GP until at least 13th and, despite the drop in water level, the Long-tailed Duck remained on site at Stanford Res throughout the period. Also at Stanford, the ‘redhead’ Smew was still present on 13th, while two (one drake) were found at Clifford Hill GP’s main lake on 11th, where they remained until 13th.

Long-tailed Duck, Stanford Res, 12th March 2017 (Alan Boddington)

The clear-out of wintering Great White Egrets continued, with one still at Ravensthorpe Res on 13th and up to two at Summer Leys between 11th and 17th, while Pitsford’s rare grebe duo of Slavonian and Red-necked lingered all week.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 12th March 2017 (Adrian Borley)
Slavonian Grebe, Pitsford Res, 13th March 2017 (Alan Francis)

The 12th proved itself to be a bit of a ‘godwit day’ with single Black-taileds appearing at Clifford Hill GP, Pitsford Res and Summer Leys while, either side of it, single Jack Snipes were at Stanford Res on 11th and Pitsford Res on 13th.With northward Common Gull passage well under way, less common species were also in evidence in the shape of a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Stanwick GP and an adult at Daventry CP – both on 11th. Single Yellow-legged Gulls visited Stanwick GP on 11th and at Daventry on 12th, while three were found on the latter date at DIRFT 3 (near Lilbourne), this site also hosting a first-winter Caspian Gull on 11th and five (an adult, two first-winters and two second-winters) the following day. A third-winter Caspian Gull also visited Rushton Landfill on 17th.                  No Short-eared Owls have been reported since 13th, when one was near Sulgrave and two were still at Neville’s Lodge, near Finedon and, in contrast to last week, the winter’s Waxwings ebbed away with just three briefly in Wellingborough on 13th and five over Moulton on 15th.

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