Rarity Round-up, 9th to 15th March 2019

A succession of low-pressure systems, scudding rapidly across the North Atlantic, brought intermittent gales and rain on predominantly north-westerly winds. A fallout from this was the year’s first Kittiwake – one of a series of inland records during the period.

At Thrapston GP, the first-winter Whooper Swan was still present as the week came to a close and the three Pink-footed Geese were still on site on 11th, although only one could be found there on 15th. At Stanford Res, the two Pink-feet remained until at least 14th, while a Barnacle Goose, along with a drake Red-crested Pochard, at Clifford Hill GP on 9th, unsurprisingly elicited little interest.

Pink-footed Geese, Stanford Res, 15th March 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Pitsford’s two juvenile Great Northern Divers were hunkered down well north of the dam all week and Great Egret numbers rallied a little against last week’s low, with maxima of four at Summer Leys, three at both Stanford Res and Thrapston GP and singles at Ditchford GP, Foxholes Fisheries (Crick) and Stanwick GP. An unconfirmed report of a Bittern from Summer Leys’ Pioneer Hide on 14th remained just that, with no sightings the following day.

In the raptor zone, a male Merlin was again in the Blueberry Farm area on 10th-11th and the Hollowell Res Jack Snipe was the only wader of note this week.

Kittiwake, Stanford Reservoir, 10th March 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

From a gulling perspective, it’s hard to see Stanford Res as anything more than playing second fiddle to Draycote, just over the border in Warwickshire but it came to the rescue to provide the best selection of this week’s larids in the form of an adult Kittiwake, for just a few minutes on the morning of 10th and the second-winter Iceland Gull from nearby Shawell Landfill (Leicestershire) again on 14th. A second-winter Yellow-legged Gull visited Pitsford on 12th but that was about it …

Just one Short-eared Owl showed during the period at the regular location of Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) on 11th and after a couple of weeks of radio silence, the Great Grey Shrike was reported again in the Blueberry Farm area on 11th and 15th. The only passerine migrants discovered during this week’s turbulent weather were two early White Wagtails at Hollowell on 9th. Hopefully, next week’s forecast of calmer conditions will open up the gates for more summer visitors with Garganey, Osprey and Northern Wheatear as odds-on favourites for arrivals over the forthcoming seven days.

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