Rarity Round-up, 7th to 13th March 2020

Against the continuing blustery – though relatively mild – conditions, the wheels of spring continued to turn this week, albeit slowly, with the arrival of the first Sand Martin on 7th.  Beyond that, there were few surprises.

Although they have no doubt been there since the early part of the year, the two first-winter drake Scaups at Clifford Hill GP were back in the news this week, having moulted into their adult finery. They remained until at least 11th. Meanwhile, the female had returned to Stanwick GP on 8th, after last week’s visit to nearby Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR.

Greater Scaup, Clifford Hill GP, 8th March 2020 (Mark Williams)
Greater Scaup, Clifford Hill GP, 8th March 2020 (Mark Williams)

Pleasingly, the Cattle Egrets mobile in the same area had regrouped, the famous five now all back together around Stanwick’s Roadside Lake, remaining there throughout the week. With some now sporting exquisite summer plumage, as well as having undergone a change in bare part colour, Great Egrets maintained their presence in the county, being logged at ten localities, with a maximum of three at Thrapston GP on 8th.

Great Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 13th March 2020 (Mark Tyrrell)

While a total absence of rare and scarce gulls this week may be welcome news to some, there was little to fill the gap, save the flock of ten Ruffs which dropped into Summer Leys unexpectedly for just thirty minutes on 7th and up to two Jack Snipes at Hollowell Res between 10th and 13th.

Short-eared Owl, Stanford Res, 8th March 2020 (Dan March)

Old faithfuls remaining from weeks gone by included one of Stanford’s Short-eared Owls, which was still performing well on 8th and the Siberian Chiffchaff along the outflow stream that is home to a high concentration of Chironomids at Ecton SF on 10th.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 10th March 2020 (Mike Alibone)

Remaining Stonechats is a sure sign that winter is still not quite over and done, so seven sites supporting between one and three birds apiece means there is a way to go yet. Winter 2019-20 has proven to be a good year for them.

Stonechat, Pitsford Res, 12th March 2020 (Tony Stanford)

But one species which we are now seeing in lower numbers of late is Water Pipit, one of which was located at the county’s previously foremost wintering site, Ditchford GP, on 13th. This, so far, is the only one to have been found in the county this winter.

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