Rarity Round-up, 2nd to 8th September 2017

The weather turned rather more unsettled during this first week of September and there was a distinct southerly bias to the wind direction during the first half. Unfortunately, this originated from North Atlantic lows rather than Eastern European highs which, no doubt, would have been more productive from a migrational perspective.

Up to two Garganeys remained at Pitsford Res until at least 5th, with a belated report of two Common Scoters, including an adult drake, in Scaldwell Bay there on 1st September. Pitsford also hung on to at least one of its two Great White Egrets throughout the week. In addition to the now expected Osprey sightings in the north of the county at Stanford Res and nearby Welford Res, where singles were seen on 2nd, a showy – though wide-ranging – juvenile was discovered on 4th at Fawsley Park Lakes, remaining in the vicinity until the week’s end.

Juvenile Osprey, Fawsley Park, 5th September 2017 (Ian Dobson)
Juvenile Osprey, Fawsley Park, 6th September 2017 (Ken Prouse)

The only other notable raptor was a Marsh Harrier which visited Stanford Res on 7th and again on 8th, although it had probably been in the area since 1st.

Juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits, Stanford Res, 8th September 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

Against a rather thin backcloth of commoner waders, Black-tailed Godwits continued to move through in small numbers. One was at Stanford from 2nd to 6th, with four present there on 8th and one was at Pitsford from 3rd to 8th, with two present on 4th. A juvenile Spotted Redshank at the latter locality, from 4th until the week’s end, was only the second this year, in keeping with this species’ current scarce status in the county. Long gone are the days – and we’re talking ‘70s/’80s – when double-figure flocks were present for weeks at a time on the late autumn mud at Pitsford, when low water levels like this year’s were an annual event.

Juvenile Spotted Redshank, Pitsford Res, 4th September 2017 (Stuart Mundy)
Juvenile Spotted Redshank, Pitsford Res, 4th September 2017 (Stuart Mundy)

Pitsford produced the only tern of the week, a Black Tern, on 3rd. It didn’t linger. Surprisingly few Mediterranean Gulls – normally a regular feature of early autumn – have been reported so far this year and just two first-winters on Stanwick’s Visitor Centre Lake on 7th-8th were the only ones during the period. Which brings us neatly to potential ‘bird of the week’.

Putative adult Azores Gull, Stanwick GP, 8th September 2017 (Steve Fisher)

For just a few minutes on the morning of the 8th, this same lake held a putative Azores Gull. This bird did not have a full winter hood and so did not readily resemble the returning adult from 2013, 2014 and 2015, accepted as the second British record by BBRC. It is said that the extent of the winter head streaking can vary from year to year in the same individual, so is it this returning adult or a lookalike Yellow-legged Gull?

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 7th September 2017 (Steve Fisher)

Talking of which, there were seven at Stanwick on 4th and 7th and smaller numbers elsewhere, including six at Pitsford on 5th and between one and three at Hollowell and Boddington Reservoirs and Daventry CP. Stanwick, Daventry and Hollowell also produced single Caspian Gulls, with first-winters on 4th and 7th and an adult on 8th, respectively.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 4th September 2017 (Steve Fisher)

The autumn run of Common Redstarts continued, much to the delight of the ringing fraternity, with the Stanford Ringing Group trapping one on 2nd and two more on 7th, with another seen there on 5th. Harrington AF ringers trapped one on 4th, one was seen there on 7th and another was found at Pitsford Res on 2nd.

Whinchat, Sywell CP, 5th September 2017 (Alan Francis)
Whinchat, Stanford Res, 4th September 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

More Whinchats arrived, with Harrington AF producing up to three on 2nd-3rd, Stanford held two between 5th and 8th, Pitsford produced up to two between 6th and 8th, Sywell CP two on 5th, while one was near Bugbrooke on 4th. Like last week, just one Tree Pipit was found at Harrington AF on 2nd.

It’s still early in the autumn. We need some migrational AWC …

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