Rarity Round-up, 8th to 14th February 2020

For those who like their isobars squeezed, then this was the week. It was time to batten down the Nuthatches as Storm Ciara felled trees indiscriminately across the county, during the strongest winds experienced for seven years. There was, however, little change to the birding scene.

Nine Pink-footed Geese, which had been residing on the Leicestershire side of Stanford Res on 7th, entered Northamptonshire airspace the following day, when they flew over the reservoir toward Stanford Hall. There they stayed throughout the week – on the ‘wrong’ side of the Avon – until 14th, when they ventured, albeit briefly, across the border to the water-logged fields around the Percy Pilcher Monument.

Pink-footed Geese, Stanford Res, 7th February 2020 (Chris Hubbard). Part of a gaggle of nine which flew over the reservoir toward Stanford on Avon on 8th.
Pink-footed Geese, Stanford on Avon, 14th February 2020 (Chris Hubbard).

The only other wildfowl of note were the two first-winter drake Greater Scaups, which remained at Clifford Hill GP until at least 8th.

Great Egrets were found at eight localities this week, with a maximum of three at both Stanwick GP and Thrapston GP.

From one white bird to another (well, almost) as this week’s Mediterranean Gulls – both adults – were seen at both Daventry CP and Stanford on 14th, while the third-winter Glaucous Gull, found in the roost at Stanford on 7th, did the decent thing and lingered there throughout most of the following morning.

Third-winter Glaucous Gull, Stanford Res, 8th February 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Third-winter Glaucous Gull, Stanford Res, 8th February 2020 (Stuart Mundy)

It failed to return to the roost in the evening, during which a near-adult Caspian Gull provided a consolational ‘by-catch’ for a small handful of hopeful observers. Further Caspians were a fourth-winter at Pitsford Res on the same day and an adult at Hollowell Res on 8th-9th. An adult Yellow-legged Gull visited at Daventry on 10th and two – an adult and a second-winter – were in the roost at Boddington Res on 11th. Waders on parade this week were limited to just three Jack Snipes at Hollowell on 14th.

Short-eared Owls were reported from three of last week’s localities, with Borough Hill again producing a performing trio on 12th, while singles remained at Harrington AF until at least 11th and Stanford until 13th. Back up at the field with the Percy Pilcher Monument, a Nordic Jackdaw (or one showing characteristics thereof) within a large corvid flock on 11th provided an interesting distraction but hardly constituted a monumental find.

Oundle’s Black Redstart continued to pose on St Peter’s Church on 8th but there were no subsequent reports, although it did roam to nearby dwellings and proved to be elusive.

Black Redstart, Oundle, 8th February 2020 (Ant Hall)

Stonechats were recorded at five sites, which included Hollowell, Pitsford, Stanford, Thrapston and Wicksteed Water Meadows (Kettering), with a maximum of four at Pitsford on 14th.

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