Rarity Round-up, 27th April to 3rd May 2019

Last week’s prolonged easterly airstream unfortunately broke down and gave way to winds from a westerly quarter, ultimately turning northerly at the week’s end. As a result, and in stark contrast to the last review period, passage migrants took a tumble in numbers, the heady flow of godwits and Little Gulls dried up and there was only one ‘first-time’ summer visitor reported.

Summer visitors recorded arriving for the first time during the past week include:
3rd May – Whinchat, Duston (Northampton)

Making it into May, the first-summer Whooper Swan was still footloose at Thrapston GP on 2nd. This species does not form pair bonds until two years old, so it’s clearly in no rush to go anywhere … just yet. Also at the same site, at least two of the three Pink-footed Geese were still with the Greylag flock on 30th. The county’s only  Garganey to date this year was the pair at Summer Leys, where they appeared settled until 30th, at least.

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 30th April 2019 (Adrian Leybourne)

Not even the slightest hint of adrenaline was associated with the finding of a Bufflehead at Clifford Hill GP on 2nd. Yes, after almost a year’s absence, ‘Buffy’ was back. Since her initial discovery, at Clifford Hill GP in June 2017, this itchy-footed, attention-seeking female on the run from captivity has been doing her level best to tease birders the length and breadth of the country. Spring 2019 alone has seen her visiting Baston, Lincolnshire (30th March), Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire (2nd-13th April), Potteric Carr, South Yorkshire (18th April), Ouse Washes again (19th April), Hanningfield Reservoir, Essex (21st April), Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire (23rd April) and Fairburn Ings, West Yorkshire (27th-29th April).* Quite an amazing series of movements – assuming just one bird is involved.

Just three Great Egrets were present in the county this week, this total comprising singles at Daventry CP on 27th, Thrapston GP on 30th and Stanford Res on 1st. Following the recent good winter locally, another Hen Harrier, a ‘ringtail’, was seen at Polebrook AF on 29th but more commonly encountered nowadays are Ospreys, singles of which were seen at Pitsford Res on 28th and 29th, Hollowell Res on 30th, Daventry CP and Foxholes Fisheries (Crick) on 1st and Thrapston GP on 2nd and 3rd. Continued successful breeding, resulting in a growing population over the border at nearby Rutland Water, has led to a diaspora, with a number of pairs now having become established in the region around, but away from, Rutland. In this respect, we can look forward to this unique and magnificent raptor being more frequently encountered locally with every passing year.

Waders this week were in short supply. Whimbrel numbers nudged three, with singles over Boddington Res and at Summer Leys on 27th and again at the latter locality on 30th. We scraped just one Black-tailed Godwit – at Ditchford GP on 27th – while Summer Leys produced the only Bar-tailed Godwits, with singles there on 27th, 2nd and 3rd.

The trickle of Arctic Terns continued this week, most occurring on 27th, upon which twos were at Clifford Hill GP, Hollowell Res and Stanford Res, one was at Pitsford Res and up to eighteen were at Boddington Res. Stanford produced a loner on 30th and two were at Pitsford on 3rd. Meanwhile, the locally roving pair of adult Mediterranean Gulls cruised east over Summer Leys on 28th.

Passerine passage enjoyed a bit of a revival compared to last week’s low numbers and rather narrow species mix. This week’s star attraction arrived in the shape of two rather classy female Ring Ouzels, which graced Newnham Hill on 30th, following one there on the previous day and one remaining until 2nd.

Ring Ouzels, Newnham Hill, 30th April 2019 (Mike Alibone)

A ‘female-type’ Black Redstart was reported from St Peter’s Church at Deene on 28th. Said to have been present for several days, it was nowhere to be seen on 29th. A Common Redstart was at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 27th and single Northern Wheatears were Summer Leys on 28th, Harrington AF on 29th-30th and at Moulton on 30th and a male Whinchat was found at Duston (Northampton) on 3rd.

Female Northern Wheatear, Moulton, 30th April 2019 (Darryl Sutcliffe)

The rather smart ‘Channel’ Wagtail at Stanford Res lingered into the new week but wasn’t seen again after 27th, while the number of White Wagtails totaled just two, at Hollowell Res on 27th and at Summer Leys on 3rd.

* information courtesy of Josh Jones (BirdGuides)

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