Rarity Round-up 29th July to 4th August 2017

The unsettled weather continued throughout the week – the product of a series of Atlantic lows which brought largely south-westerly winds and intermittent rain. The month of August got off to a tremendous start from day one, with the discovery of an adult Baird’s Sandpiper – the third for Northants and the first for more than twenty years – at Stanford Reservoir. After this, everything else seemed incidental …

The two juvenile Garganeys at Pitsford Res remained in Scaldwell Bay until at least 1st, while last week’s Great White Egret appeared settled there between 30th and 2nd and an Osprey visited on 1st. Another Osprey, a male, was seen at Hollowell Res on consecutive evenings of 31st and 1st – at around 18.30 on both occasions – while the first Marsh Harrier of the autumn arrived on cue at Summer Leys LNR on 2nd. Well, it is August …

Osprey, Hollowell Res, 31st July 2017 (Martin Swannell)


Two double-figure flocks of Whimbrels, eighteen and nineteen, flew south, non-stop, over Pitsford Res on 29th and 31st respectively and this locality and Stanford Res between them produced all this week’s Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits. Pitsford held seven on 30th and 3rd, one on 1st and six on 2nd, while Stanford produced six on 30th, ten on 2nd, three on 3rd and eleven on 4th.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits, Stanford Res, 4th August 2017 (Chris Hubbard)
Turnstone, Stanford Res, 29th July 2017 (Chris Hubbard)
Adult Baird’s Sandpiper, Stanford Res, 1st August 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

The latter locality also delivered two Turnstones, one on 29th-30th and the other, a flythrough, on 2nd. This week saw another autumn Sanderling – this time at Daventry CP, all day on 2nd but undoubtedly what may yet prove to be the autumn’s rarest visitor, an adult Baird’s Sandpiper, was found at Stanford on the evening of 1st. Frustratingly skittish, it was up and away within a few minutes of its discovery, much to the chagrin of local birders, many of whom were left contemplating the prospect of a twenty-year wait for the next one. Lacking in limelight, Summer Leys rustled up a short-staying Wood Sandpiper on the evening of 30th but this locality’s track record for delivering the goods in autumn is far from enviable.

Back to the reservoirs, then, and Daventry CP produced two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls on 29th and one the next day, while Pitsford held an adult on 1st and a juvenile on 3rd. Master gullers also identified a fourth-summer Caspian Gull at Daventry CP on 1st, with a juvenile and a third-summer there on 2nd and a juvenile and third-summer were also at Stanwick GP on 1st along with thirty-seven Yellow-legged Gulls – a marked return to the form of previous weeks after last week’s poor showing there. Smaller numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls included two at Pitsford Res on 30th and 3rd and three at Daventry CP on 1st with eight there on 2nd.

Juvenile Caspian Gull, Daventry CP, 2nd August 2017 (Gary Pullan)

Passerine migrants were, as expected, low in numbers. Two Common Redstarts were north of Braunston on 30th, a Northern Wheatear visited Pitsford Res on 31st and a Whinchat was there the following day.

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