Rarity Round-up, 30th March to 5th April 2019

Despite a warm start on day one, temperatures subsequently plummeted as the winds quickly swung northerly, remaining so for much of the week. Hail and snow were notable features of 3rd, before the wind did a one-eighty at the end of the period and more welcome south-easterlies helped lift temperatures and spirits by producing a last-minute flush of Little Gulls.

Summer visitors recorded arriving for the first time during the past week include:
30th March – Common Sandpiper at Pitsford Res & Yellow Wagtail at Hollowell Res
2nd April – Common Tern at Daventry CP and Willow Warbler at Summer Leys LNR
3rd April – Sedge Warbler at Earls Barton GP
4th April – House Martin at Stanford Res
5th April – Common Redstart, Moulton & Grasshopper Warbler, Summer Leys LNR

Hanging on in there, the first-winter Whooper Swan and the three Pink-footed Geese were still at large at Thrapston GP on 3rd and 4th respectively, while last week’s drake Garganey (or another) was at Summer Leys LNR from 1st to 5th, being joined by a second drake on 4th. Last week’s drake Red-crested Pochard was still at Pitsford Res on 3rd.

Great Egret, Stanford Res, 30th March 2019 (Matt Jackson)

Great Egret numbers continued to dwindle. No more than two were reported at each of Stanford Res, Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP and Thrapston and last week’s Cattle Egret remained at Ditchford GP’s Delta Lake until at least 30th.

As we emerge from what has already been acknowledged as a good winter locally for Hen Harriers, another ‘ringtail’ was seen in flight between Stoke Albany and Desborough AF on 4th.Northbound Ospreys continued to move through, including singles over the A43 near Bulwick on 30th, at Pitsford Res on 1st and at Hollowell Res on 3rd and 4th. The Pitsford individual was a male, which had been ringed (‘03’) at Rutland Water in a previous year and was paired with a female there last year. At the time ‘03’ reached Pitsford, the female had already arrived at Rutland and paired up with a different male and by 3rd, ‘03’ still had not appeared back at ‘his’ nest …

Osprey, Pitsford Res, 1st April 2019 (Matthew Rivers). Male ’03’ from Rutland Water.

This week’s waders were limited to three – maybe four – Black-tailed Godwits at Summer Leys on 30th, with one remaining until the following day. Always well-received and a delight to watch, arguably the most popular new arrivals this week were the adult Little Gulls appearing at the eleventh hour, on 5th. No doubt aided and abetted by the strong south-easterly airstream, these included singles at Daventry CP, Stanford Res and Summer Leys, while two were found at Hollowell.

Adult Little Gulls, 5th April 2019. Left, Daventry CP (Gary Pullan), right, Stanford Res (Chris Hubbard)

Also never to be sniffed at, summer-plumaged adults of the ‘big version’, Mediterranean Gull, were at Summer Leys on 30th and two visited Stanwick on 31st and 5th, while a second-summer was seen at Pitsford on 30th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 30th March 2019 (Ricky Sinfield)

Two Short-eared Owls this week comprised a fly-by at Blueberry Farm (Maidwell) and one still at Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) on 1st, while the long-staying Great Grey Shrike remained at the first of these two localities throughout the period.

Great Grey Shrike, Hanging Houghton, 1st April 2019 (Alan Coles)
Great Grey Shrike, Hanging Houghton, 1st April 2019 (Matthew Rivers)

Over at Wicksteed Park, Kettering, a ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw was seen on 2nd and the first Common Redstart of the spring – a male – was found at Moulton on 5th.

‘Nordic’ Jackdaw, Kettering, 2nd April 2016 (Alan Francis)

More Northern Wheatears appeared this week, with singles at Harrington AF and Kingsthorpe Meadows LNR (Northampton) on 31st and one again at Clifford Hill GP on 5th but still thin on the ground, a White Wagtail appeared at Hollowell Res on 4th.

Male Crossbill, Wakerley Great Wood, 31st March 2019 (James Underwood)

In the far north of the county, two Crossbills – a male and female – were still at Wakerley Great Wood on 31st.


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