Rarity Round-up, 28th July to 10th August 2018

With local temperatures hitting 30°C, this two-week period saw the heat waver before coming to an abrupt end during the last two days. It was back to sweeping Atlantic low pressure systems, average temperatures and heavy showers setting in on 10th, creating a truly autumnal atmosphere. Among the more common migrants, there were a few surprises – not least of which was Northamptonshire’s fourth-ever Marsh Warbler.

Three Garganeys appeared during the latter half of the period, comprising singles at Pitsford Res on 3rd, Hollowell Res on 7th and Stanwick GP on 8th and 10th, while the only other wildfowl were five Red-crested Pochards still at the first of these localities on 3rd. A Bittern at Stortons GP on 5th was, at first sight, surprising, although this species is now being seen more frequently outside of the traditional winter period as the UK population continues to grow. Also doing well, Great White Egret totals increased by 150% as the two long-stayers at Thrapston GP became three on 8th and further singles were at Stanwick GP on 28th-31st and presumably the same again on 8th-10th, while another was at Daventry CP from 7th to 10th.

Great White Egret, Daventry CP, 7th August 2018 (Gary Pullan)
Great White Egret, Stanwick GP, 8th August 2018 (Steve Fisher)

Three localities produced Ospreys. Singles visited Stanford Res on 31st and 6th, Hollowell Res on 5th, with two there on 8th, and Thrapston GP on 4th-5th, with three there on 9th. Thrapston also produced a Marsh Harrier on 28th and further singles were subsequently seen at Summer Leys LNR on 1st and at Priors Hall, Corby on 5th.

In stark contrast to the large flock recorded at Stanwick on 27th July, the only Whimbrel during the period was one which stayed briefly at Hollowell Res on the evening of 4th.  Black-tailed Godwits, too, were fewer in numbers with singles at Stanwick on 30th-31st and 10th, although three were present there on 9th. Further singles were at Ditchford GP on 3rd (followed by two there on 7th), Stanford Res on 4th, Hollowell Res on 5th and 8th, Naseby Res on 5th, while two were at Thrapston GP on 8th-9th and four adults – one with a series of colour rings – visited Daventry CP on 9th. The only other notable wader was a Turnstone at Thrapston GP on 3rd-4th.

Black-tailed Godwit, Stanford Res, 4th August 2018 (Chris Hubbard)

The first Black Tern of the autumn was found at Clifford Hill GP on 28th but gulls were poorly represented over the period. Hollowell Res produced an adult Caspian Gull on 5th and a juvenile visited Daventry CP on 9th-10th but there were no large counts of Yellow-legged Gulls. Singles of the latter species were at Thrapston GP on 3rd-4th and Hollowell Res on 7th-8th, while four were at Stanwick GP on 4th and at least four were at Daventry CP on 7th and 9th, with 5 there on 10th.

Passerines were certainly well represented in quality, if not quantity, during the period. A Wryneck was discovered ‘anting’ along the track approaching Foxhill Farm, just south of Daventry, on 4th. Shortly after its discovery, it appeared to move off to an adjacent woodland and was not seen subsequently. This follows a spring record at Thrapston GP so two of these amazingly-marked little ‘woodpeckers’ in one year is excellent.

Marsh Warbler, Stanford Res, 9th August 2018 (Chris Hubbard)

Outshining them in rarity but not in character, was the county’s fourth-ever Marsh Warbler – and the first record for twenty years – trapped, ringed and released at Stanford Res on 9th.

Juvenile Whinchat, Stanford Res, 6th August 2018 (Mick Townsend)

Other than that, a juvenile Whinchat was also trapped at Stanford Res on 6th and a Northern Wheatear was found at Harrington AF on 4th.

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