Rarity Round-up, 16th to 22nd February 2019

The spring-like weather continued, remaining dry, with southerly winds again bringing warm air up from well beyond south-west Europe and local temperatures hitting a balmy 15°C on 21st and 22nd. Notable birds during the period were a likely Glossy Ibis and a new Cattle Egret, while nearly all of last week’s scarce winter visitors remained in place.

At Thrapston GP, the first-winter Whooper Swan and the three Pink-footed Geese were still present throughout and the two Pinkfeet, mobile around Stanford Res and nearby Stanford Hall, remained all week. Surprisingly, there were no Red-crested Pochards reported from Pitsford Res and the only ones on show were three on Mary’s Lake, at Earls Barton GP, until at least 21st while, across the lane at Summer Leys, the itinerant drake Ring-necked Duck was seen again for one day only, on 16th. The other drake, at Pitsford, went unreported this week for the first time since its arrival in late November last year.

However, at least one juvenile Great Northern Diver remained at Pitsford throughout but Great Egrets were limited there to just two on 19th. Of the other regular sites for this species, Thrapston and Summer Leys scored joint highest with five on 20th and 22nd respectively, while singles were at Cransley Res, Ditchford GP/Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows, Ravensthorpe Res and Stanford Res. Not entirely unexpected in these days of Bubulcus aplenty was the second Cattle Egret of 2019, discovered ‘somewhere in the Nene Valley’ on 21st, the location being withheld to avoid disturbance in a sensitive area. Odds on there will be quite a few more discovered as we move deeper into 2019.

Cattle Egret, Northamptonshire Nene Valley (location withheld), 21st February 2019 (Linda Summerfield)

Cattle Egret, Northamptonshire Nene Valley (location withheld), 21st February 2019 (Linda Summerfield)

Cattle Egret, Northamptonshire Nene Valley (location withheld), 21st February 2019 (Linda Summerfield)

Intriguing bird of the week award, however, goes to the ibis sp., which was seen from the window of a moving car, as it flew south between Moulton and Overstone on the morning of 16th. Although the observer exercised caution and refrained from going all out glossy, it appears unlikely to have been anything else – particularly with ‘new’ Glossy Ibises turning up this week in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcestershire.

Meanwhile, both of last week’s Hen Harriers continued to be seen – the Stanford Res individual until 18th and the one at Neville’s Lodge until 21st, while Stanford also featured a Merlin on 16th, as did Blueberry Farm on the same date.

Juvenile female Hen Harrier, Stanford Res, 18th February 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Juvenile female Hen Harrier, Neville’s Lodge, Finedon, 21st February 2019 (Martin Swannell)

Juvenile female Hen Harrier, Neville’s Lodge, Finedon, 21st February 2019 (Ricky Sinfield)

Hollowell Res again produced the only notable wader of the week – this time a Jack Snipe on 16th. Two days later, on 18th, single adult Mediterranean Gulls appeared in the roosts at Boddington Res (and again there on 22nd) and Stanford Res and a first-winter Iceland Gull made a sortie over the dam at the latter site, before disappearing, on 16th. The only other scarce gulls – an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a second-winter Caspian Gull – were also seen on 16th, again at Hollowell Res.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Boddington Res, 22nd February 2019 (Mike Alibone)

Just one Short-eared Owl was to be found around Neville’s Lodge, just prior to dusk, on 16 and 17th, while the Great Grey Shrike became more elusive but continued to be seen

Great Grey Shrike, Blueberry Farm area, 17th February 2019 (Martin Swannell)

Great Grey Shrike, Blueberry Farm area, 17th February 2019 (Martin Swannell)

throughout the period near to Blueberry Farm, where only one Corn Bunting was reported on 19th.

Female Crossbill, Irchester CP, 21st February 2019 (Alan Coles)

Again this week, up to eight Crossbills were present almost daily at Irchester CP until at least 21st.

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