Rarity Round-up, 25th to 31st August

Apart from a prolonged spell of rain on 26th, the weather remained largely dry and undramatic, with a westerly bias to the wind and a wave of warm air pushing up from the continent at the week’s end. Waders were again at a low ebb, Ospreys were widespread and then there was the curious case of a roadrunner …

In the absence of any other wildfowl – save three Pintails at Pitsford Res – Garganeys were this week’s ducks deluxe, with one at Hollowell Res on 28th and the other hanging on in there at Stanwick GP until at least 29th. The latter site also held on to its mobile Great White Egret and two were there on 29th, while up to two were still present on Thrapston GP’s Titchmarsh LNR throughout the period. Some interchange between these two sites is highly likely.

Ospreys just keep coming. Singles were recorded from seven localities – one up on the last review period – these including Hollowell Res and Pitsford Res on 25th, Thrapston GP on 27th with a juvenile south over Daventry CP and then south over Fawsley Park Lake 25 minutes later on the same date (great tracking!) and at Ditchford GP and over Borough Hill on 31st.

Which brings us on to the bizarre tale of a small, spotty bird seen scuttling across the A428, just west of Clifford Hill GP, early in the morning on 29th. The county’s first Spotted Crake since Stanwick in August 2012 narrowly avoided an untimely end under the wheels of the observer’s vehicle but it was seen well enough to identify – spots an’ all – before it disappeared into Hardingstone Dyke on the south side of the road. Has it been looked for since? You have to go back to the last century for records prior to the Stanwick bird so they’re not that easy to come by locally. The closing hours of daylight may pay dividends for the keen optimist hoping for a dalliance at dusk …

Juvenile male Ruff, Hollowell Res, 27th August 2018 (Mike Alibone)

The dearth of waders continued, with Hollowell producing the only waders of note – a Ruff on 27th and two short-staying Spotted Redshanks two days later, on 29th. The latter date produced both of this week’s Mediterranean Gulls – evening juveniles at Boddington Res and Ringstead GP, while single-figure counts of Yellow-legged Gulls came from Daventry CP, Hollowell Res, Pitsford Res and Wicksteed Park Lake, although twenty-one were counted at Stanwick on 30th.

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull, Boddington Res, 29th August 2018 (Gary Pullan)

Yellow-legged Gull, Wicksteed Park Lake, 27th August 2018 (Alan Francis)

On the passerine front, just two Common Redstarts were found this week, comprising one at Borough Hill on 28th and a juvenile male trapped and ringed at Stanford Res on 31st. More Whinchats appeared, with singles at Welford Quarry on 25th, Borough Hill on 28th and Chelveston AF on 30th and two were near Kettering at Wicksteed Water Meadows on 28th-30th. An arrival of Northern Wheatears saw thinly-scattered singles at Harrington AF on 25th, Pitsford Res on 28th, Alderton and Chelveston AF – both on 30th – and two were at Orlingbury on 29th.

Northern Wheatear, Alderton, 30th August 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Migrant Tree Pipits continued to be found, with 25th producing flyover singles at Croughton Quarry and Naseby Res and one ‘on the ground’ at Welford Res, followed by two at Borough Hill on 28th.

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