Rarity Round-up, 28th September to 4th October 2019

At the beginning of the period, things augured well for the end of the week, as ex-Hurricane Lorenzo looked set to deposit a scattering of inland seabirds. Unfortunately, by the time it reached the UK, it was full out of puff and brought only disappointment. As soon as September clicked into October, however, day one of the ‘magic month’ produced the first local Redwings of the autumn. Apart from that, Slavonian Grebe, Spoonbill and Spotted Redshank stole the show.

Another autumn ‘first’ appeared in the shape of six Pink-footed Geese over the Brampton Valley on 4th and Ruddy Shelducks were seen at Stanford Res and Pitsford Res on 28th and 29th respectively. A Garganey appeared briefly at Summer Leys LNR on 3rd and further up the valley, a drake Red-crested Pochard was on show at Clifford Hill GP from 28th to 2nd.

Drake Red-crested Pochard, Clifford Hill GP, 30th September 2019 (Bob Bullock)

The two Slavonian Grebes – believed to be just ‘one-day’ birds at Clifford Hill on 16th – were seen there again from 28th until 30th, with only one present on 3rd. Surprisingly easy to overlook, clearly they had been there all the time throughout the intervening period. In a bizarre turn of events, one was picked up dead below a Peregrine roost site in Kettering on 3rd, leading to speculation that it may have been from Clifford Hill.

Slavonian Grebe, found dead, Kettering 3rd October 2019 (Bob Bullock)

A Spoonbill – only the third for the county this year – flew high north over Stanford Res on 28th, while on the Cattle Egret trail, the Stanwick six were seen on 2nd and 4th. Single Great Egrets were seen, on and off, at Pitsford, Summer Leys and Thrapston GP throughout the week.

Raptors at large this week were Ospreys at Thrapston GP on 30th and 2nd and a Marsh Harrier in the Brampton Valley on 29th.

Last week’s juvenile Little Stint remained at Boddington Res until 1st, while the fifth Spotted Redshank of the autumn was discovered at Ditchford GP’s Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows on 3rd, remaining there the following morning before quickly relocating to nearby Stanwick. Pitsford was again the favoured locality for Greenshanks, with two still on the dam on 29th, at least one of which remained until 4th.

Greenshank, Pitsford Res, 29th September 2019 (Mike Alibone)

A first-winter Little Gull flew through Boddington Res on 4th, a second-winter Mediterranean Gull was again at Pitsford on 29th and single-figure numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were also at this locality, Thrapston, and Stanwick, with the maximum count of four at the latter site on 4th.

The first Short-eared Owl of the autumn-winter period was found at Harrington AF on 30th and what is almost certainly the last ‘Common’ Swift was seen flying north over Corby on 2nd. Interestingly, however, the observer did not identify it to species and so it should really be relegated to swift sp., as October is normally the month of the year reserved exclusively for those seriously rare Apus boys … Although the last Hobbies are now passing through, another master of the skies was present at Harrington AF on 3rd, when the third Merlin of the autumn was watched chasing Meadow Pipits there.

Harrington was also the venue for what may well turn out to be the last Common Redstart of the year, with one there on 30th. Two were also present at Borough Hill on 28th. Significantly more Whinchats coming through compared to last week included up to two at Clifford Hill and Borough Hill between 28th and 30th and the same number in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton between 29th and 4th.

Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 30th September 2019 (Mike Alibone)

Stonechats continued to arrive in numbers, with Brampton Valley, Clifford Hill, Harrington, Neville’s Lodge (Finedon), Pitsford Res and Stanford Res producing up to two and Borough Hill between eight and ten on 30th. Northern Wheatears were down to singles at both Borough Hill and Clifford Hill on 28th and Pitsford Res on 4th.

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 4th October 2019 (Richard How)

Following last week’s Rock Pipit at Daventry CP, one was at Pitsford on 30th and another at Stanwick on 4th and to round off, fifteen Crossbills flew north-west over Borough Hill on 30th.

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