Rarity Round-up, 2nd to 8th November 2019

An unsettled week with a variable wind direction, sporadic heavy showers, low cloud and drizzle. Against a backcloth of visible passerine migration, a Siberian Chiffchaff at Stanford Reservoir was arguably the week’s highlight.

This week’s wintering wildfowl numbers were on the up but unevenly distributed with, for example, Pitsford Res and Summer Leys LNR holding relatively good numbers, while in stark contrast the reservoirs at Ravensthorpe and Hollowell barely mustered a handful of common ducks between them. The adult Whooper Swan remained on Thrapston GP’s Town Lake and six flew north over Stanford Res on 8th, the latter site seeing the reappearance of the drake Ruddy Shelduck for one day only, on 6th, although the more regularly encountered female in the Hollowell/Ravensthorpe area failed to materialise this week.

Drake Ruddy Shelduck, Stanford Res, 6th November 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Up to four Red-crested Pochards continued to favour the northern section of Pitsford Res, three visited Stanford on 3rd and the Clifford Hill GP drake was still present on 7th.

Drake Red-crested Pochard, Clifford Hill GP, 7th November 2019 (Mike Alibone)

In the west of the county, at Daventry CP, an adult female and juvenile drake Greater Scaup were present on 4th-5th, the juvenile remaining until 7th, while the Summer Leys ‘redhead’ Smew remained on 2nd and then went missing before its reappearance there on 7th-8th.

Also at Summer Leys, what was presumably last week’s Bittern was again seen briefly in flight on 8th and further down the Nene Valley, at Stanwick GP, the five Cattle Egrets materialised once more on 4th. Stanwick again produced the week’s highest count of Great Egrets with three on 6th, while two were seen at both Pitsford and Thrapston and singles were at  Ditchford GP, Stanford, Summer Leys and Maidwell.

Last week’s Marsh Harrier reappeared at Stanford Res on 3rd, another flew west over Summer Leys’ scrape on 8th and for the second week running, a Jack Snipe at Hollowell on 7th was again the period’s only notable wader.

Just three Mediterranean Gulls included the Pitsford adult on 2nd, 4th-5th and 8th, a second-winter in the gull roost at Boddington Res on 5th and another adult in the roost at Stanford on 5th and 7th-8th. A third-winter Caspian Gull visited Daventry CP on 5th and a thin scattering of Yellow-legged Gulls included a third-winter and the usual one or two adults at Pitsford, single adults at Stanford on 3rd and Daventry on 5th and three adults in the roost at Boddington, also on 5th.

With numerous migrant ‘shorties’ recently logged ‘in-off’ on the east coast, more Short-eared Owls were found this week, with at least two at DIRFT 3 on 6th and one at the more traditional wintering site of Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) on the same date, followed by two there the following evening.

Short-eared Owl, DIRFT 3, 6th November 2019 (Mike Alibone)

The lengthy North Sea crossings between Norway, Britain and Eire made by a satellite-tagged individual over two years, documented here, outlines just what an amazing traveller this species can be. One of last week’s Merlins was again at Harrington AF on 4th and 8th.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Stanford Res, 6th November 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Another scarce late autumn migrant coming through on the east coast at present is Siberian Chiffchaff, one of which was trapped and ringed at Stanford on 6th. Hopefully one or two will be discovered locally as winter progresses. The Stanford ringers also trapped a very late Willow Warbler on the same date. This is probably the latest recorded in autumn in the county, notwithstanding three seen in December 1974, at Pitsford Res (2 on 15th) and Duston (one on 20th) which were considered to have been wintering.

Stonechat, Thrapston GP, 4th November 2019 (Nick Parker)

Lastly, Stonechats continued to be seen in ones and twos at DIRFT 3, Pitsford, Summer Leys and Thrapston, while four were at Hollowell on 7th.

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