Rarity Round-up 1st to 7th July 2017

A largely dry week, during which temperatures nudged 30ºC under the influence of a light south-westerly airstream, saw the continued arrival southbound passage waders, the discovery of an immense tern and the surprise rediscovery of breeding Mediterranean Gulls.

A drake Red-crested Pochard visited Summer Leys LNR on 4th, with presumably the same bird relocating to Stanwick GP the following day, while the metal-ringed, escaped female Bufflehead was still present at Clifford Hill GP on 1st. Rare herons were limited to last week’s Bittern again at Summer Leys on 7th.

A female Honey Buzzard was an unexpected bonus for one observer as it drifted south-west over Sywell on 2nd, while there were reports of three Ospreys this week with two on 2nd, including one at Pitsford Res and one at Welford Res. Interestingly enough, the latter, a male, was ringed and proved to be a different individual to either of the two regularly visiting Stanford and Welford Reservoirs which were highlighted in last week’s feature.

Male Osprey, Welford Res, 2nd July 2017 (Douglas McFarlane)

The third was watched flying south-west over Thrapston GP on 3rd.The flow of southbound Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits continued with singles at Stanford Res on 1st, 2nd and 6th, three at Thrapston GP on 3rd, two at Pitsford Res on 4th with three there the following day and one on 7th, two at Stanwick GP plus six at Summer Leys on 5th and one again at Stanwick on 7th.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Stanford Res, 6th July 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

Local birders were caught completely off guard by the totally unexpected arrival of Northamptonshire’s fifth Caspian Tern, a smart adult, located at Summer Leys on 1st.  This dagger-billed colossus pitched down on ‘The Slips’ and was viewable from the Screen Hide for 80 minutes, before disappearing off down the Nene Valley, only to return again 90 minutes later – this time for 40 minutes – before heading off west. Clifford Hill GP was the next stop, where it was on view for nearly 3 hours in the early evening, after which it flew high west toward the sunset and was gone. It bore a red ring on its left leg, which enabled it to be confidently identified as the individual that had been frequenting the National Wetlands Centre, Carmarthenshire until 29th June. After leaving Northants, it was located briefly the following day at Chew Valley Lake, Somerset, before returning bizarrely to the Wetlands Centre in Carmarthenshire on 3rd. But this is what Caspian Terns do! Proof, if ever there was, that Caspian Terns are really quite mad …

Caspian Tern, Summer Leys LNR, 1st July 2017 (Mike Alibone)

Another happy event was the surprise rediscovery of the breeding Mediterranean Gulls at Stanwick GP on 3rd. After a ‘missing, presumed dead’ status had been pronounced last month, there they were – bold as brass – in the middle of the Black-headed Gull colony again this week, the adults feeding two well-grown young. The local Lesser Black-backs are off the hook … for now. Elsewhere, single adults were seen at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows reserve on 2nd and hawking insects over Daventry on 5th, again on 6th and one on 7th, while four adults visited the scrape at Summer Leys briefly on 3rd. July is the month when Yellow-legged Gull numbers begin to build and after one at Stanwick on 3rd, four were present there on 5th plus seven on 7th, four were at Pitsford Res and one at Daventry CP on 5th and a different individual visited the latter site the following day.

The male Common Redstart was still at Clifford Hill GP on 1st, otherwise the week was light in terms of migrant passerines.

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