Rarity Round-up, 17th to 23rd August 2019

With the Atlantic jetstream further north this week, the weather remained largely dry, bright and breezy, on the back of a predominantly west to south-westerly airflow. Topping the bill was a ‘wrecked’ Shag in Weedon, otherwise it was business as usual …

As wildfowl are still a little thin on the ground at present, the first-summer female Ruddy Shelduck continued to keep things afloat at Hollowell Res, as did Stanford’s eclipse drake Garganey, now into its fifth week on site. At least one Red-crested Pochard remained at Pitsford Res until 19th.

A juvenile Shag picked up on the outskirts of Weedon on 20th was a bizarre find indeed as this species is not prone to becoming grounded inland like other birds more traditionally associated with a maritime environment. Said to have been in good physical condition, it was thought to be diseased and was taken into professional care, with the aim of recovery prior to its release in the near future.

Juvenile Shag, in captivity, Weedon, 21st August 2019 (Gary Pullan)

Cattle Egrets continued to be seen daily at Stanwick GP with, as last week, the maximum being six – three adults, three juveniles – on 18th. Moving up the rare egret size scale, single Great Egrets were again on the scrape at Summer Leys from 18th-23rd and at Pitsford Res on 19th.

Great Egret, Pitsford Res, 19th August 2019 (Alan Coles)

Pitsford was also one of only two sites to yield Ospreys this week, with two there on 18th followed by singles on 20th and 22nd, while singles were at Hollowell on 17th and 23rd. Pitsford also produced another Marsh Harrier – a juvenile on 18th.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier, Pitsford Res, 18th August 2019 (Duncan Cookson)

Five species of waders this week was less than impressive, as were their low numbers. In this respect, a solitary Whimbrel flew south at Daventry CP on 19th and single Black-tailed Godwits were found at Summer Leys on 18th, Ravensthorpe Res on 19th and Clifford Hill GP on 22nd. The Thrapston Turnstone hung on until 18th, a Greenshank visited Summer Leys on 22nd and five were at Hollowell res on 23rd.

Second calendar year Caspian Gull, Ravensthorpe Res, 19th August 2019 (John Moon)

Gulls, too, were lower in numbers.  Again, the only two Caspian Gulls this week were a second calendar year at Ravensthorpe Res on 19th and a juvenile at Daventry CP the following day. Similarly, there were only low, single-figure counts of Yellow-legged Gulls, comprising one at Hollowell on 17th, two at Daventry on 19th, three at Ravensthorpe on 21st with one on 23rd and one at Hollowell Res on 23rd.

Tree Pipit, Stanford Res, 20th August 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Tree Pipit, Stanford Res, 22nd August 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

On the passerine front, it’s been a great week for Tree Pipits, with the lion’s share at Stanford Res, where one was trapped and ringed on 20th, two flew over and one was on the deck there on 21st and another was present the following day. Elsewhere, one was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 22nd and two were on Borough Hill on 23rd. Common Redstarts were down a little on last week’s total but a first-winter male was again at Denton Wood on 17th, two were at Fawsley Park on 18th and singles were at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell on 18th and 22nd.

First-winter male Common Redstart, Denton Wood, 17th August 2019 (Steve Brayshaw)

Whinchats, to, were also a little more in evidence, with up to four at Blueberry Farm between 18th and 22nd and singles at Borough Hill on 19th and Stanford Res on 21st. By contrast, only one Northern Wheatear was found – this being near Chapel Brampton on 21st-23rd, while four Crossbills were reported in the Brampton Valley on 22nd.

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