Rarity Round-up, 31st August to 6th September 2019

Temperatures fell as the prevailing Atlantic airflow re-established itself, delivering brisk, breezy and mainly dry conditions on the back of variable northerly to south-westerly winds. Local birding survived on the remnants of last week’s migrant rush, the usual long-stayers were still in place, with the popular well-watched sites continuing to produce small numbers of new birds.

At Hollowell Res the female Ruddy Shelduck remained until at least 3rd, while single Garganeys at Pitsford Res on 31st and at Summer Leys LNR on 3rd were both new in.  Unusually scarce so far this autumn, a single drake Red-crested Pochard at Clifford Hill GP on 5th was the only one of its kind in the county this week.

Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd September 2019 (Alan Coles)

For those still following the Quail trail, it may not yet have gone completely cold, as one was flushed from setaside on the northern edge of Orlingbury on 1st. There are October records from at least one previous year …

Up to six Cattle Egrets remained at Stanwick GP throughout and Great Egrets became marginally more widespread with, in addition to the two at Summer Leys LNR and one at Pitsford Res, on and off, new birds at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows LNR on 3rd and at Wicksteed Water Meadows, Kettering on the same date.

And so to the mysterious case of the Night Heron, which was reported from two sites in close proximity at Ditchford GP. Specific grid locations emerged from the ether on 31st and whys and wherefores notwithstanding, locals looked there but the willows were bare – if they ever held fruit in the first place.

Nothing so mysterious about a Black-necked Grebe at Pitsford Res on 1st – remarkably, again, only a one-day bird, or so it would seem.

On the raptor front, a Marsh Harrier flew east over Stanwick’s Visitor Centre on 5th but the number of Ospreys dwindled again to singles at Hollowell, Pitsford and Thrapston on 31st, the latter site hanging on to its bird until the next day.

A poor showing for waders this week saw just one adult Black-tailed Godwit at Summer Leys on 3rd-4th and up to three Greenshanks at Hollowell between 31st and 3rd, plus one at Summer Leys all week and two at Boddington Res on 6th.

Adult Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd September 2019 (Alan Coles)
Greenshank, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd September 2019 (Alan Coles)

For the second week running, a juvenile Little Tern made its way to the county, appearing at Stanwick GP early in the morning of 2nd. Aside from that, a juvenile Arctic Tern at Pitsford on the same date was noteworthy. Pitsford also attracted a juvenile Little Gull for the best part of the week, between 31st and 5th. Again, just one Mediterranean Gull was found – this time a first-winter – at Boddington on 2nd, while a juvenile Caspian Gull appeared at Stanwick on 1st.

First-winter Mediterranean Gull, Boddington Res, 2nd September 2019 (Mike Pollard)

Single adult Yellow-legged Gulls were at Ravensthorpe on 31st, Stanwick on 1st, Hollowell on 1st and 3rd and at Pitsford on 5th but seventeen were counted at Stanwick on 6th.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Stanwick GP, 6th September 2019 (Steve Fisher)

The flood of passerines last week had abated somewhat by the end of the period but Common Redstarts continued to appear in higher than average numbers. Stanford held two on 31st and one was trapped there on 3rd. The last day of August also produced singles near Lamport and at Pitsford and two at Twywell, while the following day saw singles at Harrington AF and Hollowell and three at Fawsley Park. On 3rd, there were four near Walgrave and two at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell – the latter having dropped to one by 5th, on which date there were up to two at Harrington and singles at Wollaston and Fleetland Farm (Duston), Northampton.

Adult female Common Redstart, Stanford Res, 3rd September 2019 (Dawn Sheffield)

Numbers of Whinchats were also still much in evidence, with five at Wollaston on 31st and 5th, up to three were in the Brampton Valley at Blueberry Farm between 1st and 5th, three were at Neville’s Lodge, Finedon on 2nd, singles were at Harrington and Pitsford on 5th and three were at Fleetland Farm on the same date. Northern Wheatears were, however, less abundant with only singles at Fawsley Park on 1st, Harrington on 1st-3rd, Blueberry Farm on 2nd and near East Haddon on 5th.

Pied Flycatcher, Barnwell CP, 1st September 2019 (John Hunt)

Another Pied Flycatcher discovered at Barnwell CP on 31st remained until the following day, continuing this species’ record run so far this autumn. Back at Blueberry Farm, a Corn Bunting on 3rd was the first record in the county since the last winter period.

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