Rarity Round-up, 22nd to 28th September 2018

Apart from a period of persistent rain on 23rd, local weather remained dry and mainly sunny. South or south-westerly winds from 25th raised temperatures to a peak of 23ºC on 27th, after which northerlies caused the temperature to fall to a maximum of 14°C at the week’s end, on 28th. After producing a Grey Phalarope at the end of last week, Daventry Country Park remained firmly in the spotlight, positioning itself as ‘locality most likely to deliver’ … and it did.

Following a general coastal influx during the month, the second Pink-footed Goose of the autumn (or the first relocating) was found with Greylags at Summer Leys LNR on 24th, while the only other wildfowl of note was the juvenile Garganey still present at Pitsford Res on 22nd. On 24th, a juvenile Gannet was reported flying over Clifford Hill GP and it, or another, was subsequently reported flying low north-west over the road and fields between Church Brampton and Holdenby later in the day, at 16.00. Meanwhile, single Great White Egrets were seen at six locations, which included Stanford Res on 22nd, Pitsford Res on 23rd and 28th, Thrapston GP on 24th and 27th, Summer Leys and Daventry CP on 25th and Ravensthorpe Res on 28th.

On the raptor front, Thrapston GP again produced a Marsh Harrier on 24th and, like last week, just one Osprey was seen – this time at Stanwick GP, where it was observed carrying a fish on 27th. Bird, or birds, of the week, however, were the five Common Cranes watched circling above Daventry CP for fifteen minutes, late in the morning on 25th. About the twenty-third record for the county, it was unusual as ‘flocks’ are scarce, most previous records having been of ones and twos.

Common Cranes, Daventry CP, 25th September 2018 (Gary Pullan). Three of five adults circling the site before all five headed south.

Even more interesting, however, is the fact that this particular flock has history. All five were unringed adults which had spent the summer in north-east Scotland, where there is a small breeding population. These five had spent much of their time around Loch of Strathbeg and they were last seen on Sunday, 23rd. They subsequently flew south over Saltholme Pools, Teeside the following day before their arrival at Daventry CP at 10.45 on 25th. Continuing their journey south, they were tracked over Knap Hill, Wiltshire at 13.00 and then east over Pennington, Hampshire at 19.00. They were then found at nearby Lymington the following morning, before flying south-east and then finally flying out to sea, south, over St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight. Who needs satellite tags?!

Daventry Common Cranes presumed migration route, 23rd to 26th September 2018. Background image of the Daventry birds by Gary Pullan.

Back to the 25th and Daventry where, on the ground, a Little Stint was found and the Grey Phalarope was still present. The phalarope had departed by the following day but the stint remained until 27th. Another juvenile Grey Phalarope was discovered off the dam at Pitsford Res mid-afternoon on 23rd. It remained by the dam until late afternoon the following day, after which it became more mobile and was last seen off the northern shoreline, east of Pintail Bay on 25th.

Juvenile Grey Phalarope, Daventry CP, 24th September 2018 (Gary Pullan)

Juvenile Grey Phalarope, Daventry CP, 23rd September 2018 (Ken Prouse)

Juvenile Grey Phalarope, Pitsford Res, 24th September 2018 (Doug Goddard)

Pitsford’s long-staying juvenile Black Tern remained throughout the week and another juvenile visited Clifford Hill GP, briefly, on 22nd and a first-winter Caspian Gull was found at Daventry CP on 23rd. The usual sprinkling of Yellow-legged Gulls included singles at Ravensthorpe Res on 22nd, 24th and 28th, Pitsford Res on 23rd, 26th and 27th and Thrapston GP on 24th with two there on 28th.

Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 23rd September 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 23rd September 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Yellow-legged Gull, Ravensthorpe Res, 24th September 2018 (Paul Crotty)

Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 26th September 2018 (Alan Coles)

Three were at Stanwick GP on 23rd, including one with a partial hood, closely resembling the individual muted as an Azorean Gull candidate which was present at this site on 4th October 2017.

Many thanks to Gary Pullan for Common Crane movement information.

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