Rarity Round-up, 20th to 26th July 2019

Sandwiched between an unusual kink in the North Atlantic Jetstream and a high pressure system to the east, winds for the majority of the week emanated from North Africa and the UK enjoyed its potentially hottest day on record, on 25th, when Northampton hit a sweltering 36°C. Although it appeared to have little local influence on migrants, it no doubt contributed significantly to the continued evaporation at local reservoirs, exposing more muddy margins for waders, ahead of the slowly unfolding autumn passage.

But it was already déjà vu in many respects, with not a great deal of change to the birdscape this week. Still enjoying the company of local Canada Geese, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Hollowell Res, while an eclipse drake Garganey, which arrived at Stanford Res on 23rd, was still present at the week’s end. Pitsford’s two drake Red-crested Pochards once again became three on 24th and another drake was found at Ringstead GP on 21st, remaining there also until 24th.

Eclipse drake Garganey, Stanford Res, 23rd July 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Cattle Egrets maintained their prominence in the Nene Valley, the trio of adults undertaking multiple commutes daily between their highly favoured herd of cows at Stanwick GP and their nest – this week proven to contain four juveniles – at nearby Ringstead GP. Somewhat overshadowed (and rightly so), two Great Egrets were at Pitsford Res on 23rd, with at least one still present the following day.

Cattle Egret, Stanwick 24th July 2019 (Steve Fisher)

Now mucking in with free-range chickens in a large country garden in north Northants, last week’s Sacred Ibis was said to be enjoying domestic hens’ food, cream crackers, toast and sea sticks – the latter sourced from Heron Foods, no less! Despite the laudable efforts made by the landowner to locate the collection it has clearly escaped from, none of the many contacted has stepped forward to reclaim it. Still present at the week’s end, it looks like it will be around for some time to come but for anyone with this species on his or her bucket list, the nearest truly wild population is in Mauritania.

Sacred Ibis, private site, north Northants, 24th July 2019 (Dot Crowe)

With no records last week, single Ospreys put in brief appearances at Hollowell on 21st-22nd and Pitsford on 22nd.

Set against a backcloth of small numbers of commoner species, wader passage ebbed somewhat during the period, with just two Black-tailed Godwits visiting Stanwick on 23rd and a Greenshank at Stanford Res on 26th.

Meanwhile, as is usual for late summer, numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls began to increase, with up to five at Pitsford and ones and twos regularly at Hollowell, Ravensthorpe and Stanwick.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 20th July 2019 (Mike Alibone)

Passerines of note this week again featured Common Redstarts, with two at Harrington AF on 24th-26th plus one in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 25th and a female Common Crossbill at Ravensthorpe on 26th.

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