Rarity Round-up, 11th to 17th May 2019

A fine, dry week saw the pace of migration slow somewhat, although winds in the latter half were a keen north-easterly, turning to a strengthening easterly at the very end of the period. With all the summer visitors now in, speculation is running high on what might be found over the forthcoming two weeks.

Apart from a few thinly scattered Wigeon, the last vestiges of winter wildfowl remained in the shape of the first-summer Whooper Swan, still present at Thrapston GP until at least 12th, while the escaped female Bufflehead was seen again at Clifford Hill GP on 14th.

With singles at Thrapston on 12th-13th and one at Stanford Res on 16th, this week’s two Great Egrets doubled last week’s total but they generated little interest when compared with the reappearance of the Cattle Egret, back at the far north end of Stanwick GP from 12th until at least 14th. Assuming this is the same individual, which was last seen there on 23rd April, where has it been during the intervening period?

Away from the Nene Valley, roaming Ospreys continued to be reported, including singles at Stanford Res on 12th and at Hollowell Res on 13th and 16th-17th. Otherwise, it was a week of little action on the raptor front.

Male Ruff, Summer Leys LNR, 15th May 2019 (John Moon)
Male Ruff, Summer Leys LNR, 15th May 2019 (John Moon)

This was not the case with waders, however. With most of the occurrences in the Nene Valley, Summer Leys LNR produced two fabulously flamboyant male Ruffs from 14th until 16th with, following last week’s run, another Grey Plover there on the latter date. The week’s only Whimbrel was reported from Ravensthorpe Res on 11th while, back in the valley, two Bar-tailed Godwits were found at Clifford Hill GP on 14th, being joined there by a third the following day.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clifford Hill GP, 15th May 2019 (Doug Goddard). Two of three present on this date.

Hollowell Res subsequently produced only the third Sanderling of the year so far, with one on Guilsborough Bay Point on 17th. Back at Summer Leys, following two Wood Sandpipers on the scrape last week, another turned up on 15th and two were present the next day, these figures being mirrored there by Greenshanks on the same dates. Five Greenshanks were at Ravensthorpe Res on 15th, followed by three more at nearby Hollowell two days later, on 17th.

After last week’s ‘big passage’, events this week were less dramatic when it came to Black Terns moving through the county. The 11th saw singles at Thrapston GP and Stanford Res, followed by three at the latter locality on 12th, two at Pitsford Res on 16th, with two also at Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP on the same date and two at Stanwick the next day.

Female Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone)

In terms of numbers, passerines were poorly represented over the past seven days. The Clifford Hill Northern Wheatears – looking very much like the ‘Greenlanders’ they surely are – had increased to at least five on 11th but had fallen back to two by 14th, while another two were found at Park Farm, Wellingborough on 11th.

Female Blue-headed Wagtail, Summer Leys LNR, 17th May 2019 (Mike Alibone)

A female presumed Blue-headed Wagtail appeared on the scrape at Summer Leys on 17th, although nothing about its appearance ruled out Grey-headed Wagtail but then, with flava wagtails, there is always that nagging complication of intergrades … Two Crossbills were mobile around Hanging Houghton on the last day of the period, apart from which, things were quiet.

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