Rarity Round-up, 11th to 17th November 2017

After a wet start, this week’s weather was predominantly dry and cold, with a north to north-westerly airstream keeping temperatures relatively low. Visible passerine migration continued and again included significant numbers of Hawfinches at various localities across the county. Further news on the Stanford Dusky Warbler also emerged this week …

It is panning out to be the best autumn locally for Whooper Swans for many years, with this week’s arrivals comprising seven – four adults and three juveniles – at Stanwick GP on 11th and a juvenile at Hollowell Res on 15th, later moving to nearby Ravensthorpe Res on 17th.

Whooper Swans, Stanwick GP, 11th November 2017 (Adrian Borley). Four of seven which arrived at this site on the above date.
Juvenile Whooper Swan, Ravensthorpe Res, 17th November 2017 (Gary Pullan)

The long-staying juvenile Pink-footed Goose remained at Stanwick GP all week, the same locality hanging on to is four Red-crested Pochards until at least 12th, when two were also still at Stanford Res. Just one – a drake – remained at Pitsford Res on 15th-16th, where up to five Scaup remained throughout the period, while one of these, or another, visited nearby Sywell CP from 14th to 16th.

Great White Egret counts held steady, with site maxima including five at Pitsford, four at Stanwick and two at Ravensthorpe – all on 17th – while this week’s raptors included a male Hen Harrier between Harrington AF and the Brampton Valley on 12th and single male Merlins at Stanford Res on 11th, Thenford on 13th and Newton Bromswold on 16th.

It’s still a little early for northern white-winged gulls and the only scarce larids this week were a first-winter Mediterranean Gull at Stanwick on 13th, a Yellow-legged Gull at Pitsford on 11th-12 and two and six in the roost at Boddington Res on 12th and 13th respectively. Caspian Gulls were at three localities, including one at Pitsford on 11th, two at Hollowell on 11th and 14th with one there on 15th and one in the roost at Boddington on 13th.

Apart from Hawfinches, scarce passerines were poorly represented but the appearance of a back garden Firecrest in Little Billing on 11th was the highlight of the weekend for one lucky observer. So, back to Hawfinches, then. Although predominantly fly-overs, two localities at opposite ends of the county – one in the far north, the other in the extreme south – stood out as the most reliable places to see them ‘on the ground’. These are Thenford churchyard and environs, at which there were two on 11th, one on 12th, six on 13th and three on 17th, and Blatherwycke churchyard, where up to two were seen on 11th, 14th and 16th and believed to be commuting to nearby Bulwick churchyard, where they have been seen on three separate occasions. Elsewhere, birds in transit included one over Pitsford Res and seven over Ditchford GP on 11th, one over Ravensthorpe Res on 12th, one over Hanging Houghton, thirteen at East Carlton CP and two at Wakerley Great Wood on 13th, three over Daventry CP and four at Wicken on 14th, two over Borough Hill, five over Sywell CP and three at Harrington AF on 15th and, on 16th, two at Harrington AF, three over Earls Barton and one over Upper Harlestone. Hopefully we are in for a good winter with this charismatic crusher of fruits and seeds …

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