Rarity Round-up 25th to 31st March 2017

Spring ramped up this week, local temperatures topping 20ºC as winds turned southerly. With winter well and truly on the retreat, more summer birds arrived, including firsts of Common Tern, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin and Yellow Wagtail – all between 28th and 31st. Apart from a couple of obstinate ducks and a grebe, this week also saw a significant clear-out of winter visitors.

The Pitsford White-fronted Goose lingered into the early part of the week, still present with Greylags on 25th. The drake Red-crested Pochard remained at Earls Barton GP until 28th and three were still at Thrapston GP on 30th, while both the long-staying female Scaup at Stanwick GP and – aside from one reported at Pitsford on 31st – the Long-tailed Duck at Stanford Res (the latter chalking up its three-month anniversary this week) were present all week. The same goes for Pitsford’s Slavonian Grebe, although the Red-necked Grebe appears to have ended its stay there, having not been seen since 20th.

Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Pitsford Res, 25th March 2017 (Jacob Spinks)

Five more Ospreys came through – a green colour-ringed female ‘5N’ from the Rutland Water scheme at Pitsford Res on 25th, two over Welford on 26th and singles over Daventry CP and another at Pitsford Res on 30th.

Female Osprey, Pitsford Res, 25th March 2017 (Jacob Spinks)
Male Osprey, Pitsford Res, 30th March 2017 (Matthew Rivers). Diffuse, almost absent breast band and clean underwing coverts indicate this as a male.

Four Ruffs – less common in spring than in autumn – were at Stanwick GP on 26th and they were the only waders of note, despite the beckoning mud of Stanford.Last week’s run of Little Gulls continued, with 27th producing two adults at both Ditchford GP and Summer Leys LNR, plus a single adult at Pitsford Res, while a first-summer appeared at Stanwick GP the following day and further singles were at Pitsford Res and Summer Leys LNR on 31st.

Adult Little Gull, Pitsford Res, 27th March 2017 (Martin Swannell)
First-summer Little Gull, Stanwick GP, 29th March (Bob Bullock)
First-summer Little Gull, Stanwick GP, 29th March (Bob Bullock)

Stanwick also hosted a first-summer Caspian Gull on 26th followed by a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull the next day. Part of a series of national inland records, a Sandwich Tern flew through at Pitsford Res on the last day of the month.

The show wasn’t quite over as far as Waxwings were concerned and migrant flocks lingered briefly at Hardingstone, where there were twelve on 26th, Eastfield Park (Northampton), where there were at least thirty on 27th, Rothwell, where there were four also on 27th, Castlethorpe, where there were at least five on 29th, and Brackley, which held a singleton from 26th to 28th. Two more White Wagtails appeared – one at Harrington AF on 25th and one, briefly, at Stanford Res on the same date. There is much to look forward to over the coming weeks …

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