Rarity Round-up 18th to 24th March 2017

Despite the winds coming from the south-west, the majority of the week remained cold as a North Atlantic low dragged winds down from northern latitudes and these were subsequently replaced by easterlies at the week’s end. Summer migrants continued to arrive, however, with the first Garganey, Osprey, White Wagtail and Northern Wheatear all making an appearance during the period. Despite this, some of our long-staying winter visitors remained, clearly waiting to choose their moment for migration.

The wintering adult Whooper Swan was still present at Sywell CP on 22nd and the Eurasian White-fronted Goose stayed put with Greylags at Pitsford Res all week, while the first Garganeys appeared on 21st – a male and female at Summer Leys LNR – but they had promptly moved on by the following day. Three Red-crested Pochards were still at Thrapston GP on 19th and a solitary drake remained at Earls Barton GP all week, as did the long-staying female Scaup at Stanwick GP and the Long-tailed Duck at Stanford Res, where the water level continues to drop nicely.

Low Water at Stanford Res, 18th March 2017 (Mike Alibone)

Just one wintering Great White Egret lingered at Summer Leys until 21st while Pitsford’s two rare grebes, Slavonian and Red-necked, remained until at least 20th. Aside from belated news of a male Hen Harrier on the edge of the Rowley Estate, north of Croughton on 13th, the only scarce raptor of the week was the first migrant Osprey, over Little Irchester, on 20th.

Sporting an array of coloured bling, an Avocet pitched up at Summer Leys on 24th and remained throughout the day but, like the Garganeys there before it, it had gone by the following day – well, it is spring, after all …

Colour-ringed Avocet, Summer Leys LNR, 24th March 2017 (Bob Bullock)
Colour-ringed Avocet, Summer Leys LNR, 24th March 2017 (Bob Bullock)

More Black-tailed Godwits duly piled in, with the 18th seeing one at Stanford Res and thirteen over Summer Leys, Ditchford GP hosting two on 20th and the 23rd producing one at Summer Leys and three at Stanwick GP. Jack Snipes continued to be seen at Hollowell Res, where two were still present on 24th.

With the end of March nigh, most wintering gulls have all but melted away and a lingering first-winter Caspian Gull, at Hollowell Res on 18th, may well prove to be the last of the season as it makes way for the migrants, one of which was a second-winter Mediterranean Gull at Stanford Res on the same date. Four days later, on 22nd, four Little Gulls visited Daventry CP and at least seven were at Summer Leys, followed by six at Boddington Res briefly the following day.

Waxwings clinging to the remnants of winter included approximately fifteen in Little Billing on 21st and one in Brackley three days later, on 24th but, pushing north out of Africa came the first of the summer’s Northern Wheatears – a male at Clifford Hill GP on 19th-20th and the first migrant White Wagtails arrived, including singles at Pitsford Res on 21st and 23rd and at Hollowell Res on 24th.

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