Rarity Round-up, 10th to 16th March 2018

Little Ringed Plover, Priors Hall, Corby, 11th March 2018 (James Underwood)

A predominantly southerly airstream from west coast Europe helped not only to lift temperatures but also undoubtedly gave a welcome boost to northward migration for our earliest summer visitors. This week saw the arrival of Osprey, Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martins, as well as some scarce migrants and the visible movement of winter visitors, including wildfowl and thrushes, beginning their departure.

In fact, there was not much to write home about when it came to wildfowl. The three Scaup remained on the main lake at Stanwick GP until 11th and a ‘redhead’ Smew spent three days, from 10th to 12th, on Clifford Hill GP’s Deep Water Lake before moving on.

Smew, Clifford Hill GP, 12th March 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Less willing to budge, the Slavonian Grebe remained all week in the vicinity of Pintail Bay at Pitsford Res, while Great White Egrets also seemed in no hurry to move from the usual sites in the Nene Valley, which again included Ditchford GP, Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR (up to four), Stanwick GP (two) and Thrapston GP (two). Mercifully, on rare occasions, not all things big and white in the Nene Valley are the latter species and one such bird at Stanwick, on 11th, proved to be a nice adult Spoonbill. Arriving in the early evening, it stayed for just forty minutes before heading off west at dusk. This is the 36th county record and only the second to be recorded in March, after one at Ditchford GP in 1980.

After five weeks without a mention, raptors were back on the agenda this week with a ‘cream-crown’ Marsh Harrier flying west at Earls Barton GP on 16th and the first migrant Osprey of the year heading east over Billing GP/Ecton SF three days earlier, on 13th. More will surely follow in the not too distant future.

Hot on the heels of last week’s Avocet, at Summer Leys, came another on 13th – again in the Nene Valley – at Clifford Hill GP. A Black-tailed Godwit flying east at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR on 16th may have been the same as that reported sporadically at adjacent Stanwick GP over the past few weeks. The only other wader of note was a Jack Snipe at Hollowell Res on 11th.

March has produced a fair proportion of our Kittiwakes in the past and this week saw a notable overland movement, which resulted in an adult at Daventry CP on 13th and twelve at Pitsford Res on 16th, none of which lingered. Following last week’s trickle of Mediterranean Gulls at Boddington Res, another adult was found in the roost there on 10th, one was in the Pitsford roost on 13th, an adult remained at Stanwick between 13th and 16th and a first-winter visited Clifford Hill GP on 12th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Pitsford Res 13th March 2018 (Jacob Spinks)

Numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls remained low, with two first-winters at Pitsford Res on 11th and an adult at Stanwick on the same date while, back at Pitsford, a first-winter was in the roost on 14th. Things were looking up as the same roost attracted a juvenile Iceland Gull on 13th – surprisingly the first ‘white-winged’ gull to be found here for many years. Back in the day, when Brixworth had a landfill instead of a Mercedes commercial centre, they were encountered rather more frequently in the roost. Meanwhile, Hollowell Res grabbed the lion’s share of Caspian Gulls this week, producing a second-winter on 11th, an adult, a second-winter and a first-winter on 13th, with the second-winter remaining until the following day. Elsewhere, single second-winters were found at both Pitsford Res and Rushton Landfill on 15th.

There was only one Hawfinch this week, along the road to Irchester CP on 14th. Perhaps this is the last to be seen in what can only be described as the most fantastic winter ever for this species in the UK, probably an event unlikely to be repeated.

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