Rarity Round-up, 5th-11th October 2019

An unsettled week with a strong, predominantly westerly airflow saw a couple of potentially weather-related arrivals in the respective shapes of Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Gannet, amid more winter thrushes and the autumn’s first Bramblings.

At least some reward for a seemingly endless succession of early morning visits by one observer to Stanwick GP appeared in the form of a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the Main Lake there, albeit briefly, on 6th. Further down the valley, at Thrapston GP, there was speculation that the adult Whooper Swan there on 7th-8th was last winter’s ‘ugly duckling’ all grown up and back for the winter. Let’s see if it stays. Meanwhile, in the north of the county, the roving Ruddy Shelducks were still making sporadic appearances – the drake at Stanford Res on 8th and the female returning to Hollowell Res on 10th.

Drake Ruddy Shelduck, Stanford Res, 8th October 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Up to six Cattle Egrets remained at Stanwick until at least 10th, the same site being visited by a Great Egret on 5th and again on 10th. Great Egrets were also at Ditchford GP on 5th, Stanford on 6th and 8th, Thrapston on 6th-7th, Pitsford Res on 7th and 9th and Summer Leys LNR on 9th-10th. Two were also at the latter locality on 5th and 7th and at Pitsford on 5th and 6th, while three visited Stanford on 11th.

It would have been surprising if we hadn’t had at least one seabird in the county over the past couple of weeks, so the juvenile Gannet found grounded at Gretton Weir on 8th was not entirely unexpected, even if the locality in which it occurred was. Discovered shortly before midday, it had disappeared when the observer returned later in the day. September is the peak month in Northants but early October has also produced numerous records.

Juvenile Gannet, Gretton, 8th October 2019 (Harriet Crawford)

And by the time we hit October it’s usually all over for the waders – this year so far proving to be no exception. A Ruff at Stanwick on 6th and the two Greenshanks remaining at Pitsford until the same date constituted this week’s meagre tally.

Conversely, Mediterranean Gull was well represented by a mix of ages, primarily at the Pitsford gull roost, where two first-winters and a second-winter were present on 5th, single second-winters on 6th and 8th, an adult and three first-winters on 7th and an adult on 10th. Elsewhere, a first-winter was at Panattoni Park (Northampton) on 7th and the gull roost at Boddington Res produced an adult on 10th, as well as an adult hybrid Mediterranean Gull x Black-headed Gull on 8th.

Mediterranean Gull x Black-headed Gull, Boddington Res, 8th October 2019 (Gary Pullan)

Hollowell Res produced the only Caspian Gull of the week, a first-winter on 10th, while the maximum count of Yellow-legged Gulls was ten in the roost at Pitsford on 5th and single-figure counts came from Boddington and Hollowell. A juvenile Arctic Tern, typically late, was found at the latter locality on 10th.

Passerine migrants were unsurprisingly on the wane this week although, in the wake of hundreds of recent east coast records, a Yellow-browed Warbler was reported in flight in a Duston (Northampton) garden on 7th. Common Redstarts hung on with one in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton on 5th, while Stonechats were seen in ones

Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 8th October 2019 (Mike Alibone)
Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 10th October 2019 (Martin Swannell)

and twos at Brampton Valley, Harrington AF, Panattoni Park and Pitsford, although four were at Hollowell on 10th. Northern Wheatears were still represented by singles at Panattoni Park on 5th-6th, Harrington on 6th and Pitsford from 6th to 10th.

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