Rarity Round-up, 18th to 24th July 2020

The persisting westerly airstream continued to deliver light winds with occasional showers in the early part of the period, appearing to have little influence on birds turning up locally. Spoonbills and Crossbills were flavours of the week.

Languishing in infamy, the female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Hollowell Res throughout and, at Pitsford Res, two Red-crested Pochards reappearing on 19th had become four by 23rd.

Just the one of two long-staying juvenile Black-necked Grebes on the main lake at Summer Leys narrowly made it into the week, being seen on 18th but not subsequently.

Last week’s Spoonbill, seen in fading light at Earls Barton GP’s Hardwater Lake on 17th, materialised the following morning on Summer Leys’ scrape, where it performed well for all comers until its departure, just prior to midday. On 20th, it, or another, was found just before dusk – again at Hardwater Lake. One was also seen circling high above Pitsford Res, before drifting west, on 23rd.

Adult Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 18th July 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Adult Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 18th July 2020 (Bob Bullock)
Adult Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 18th July 2020 (Dan Beaman)
Adult Spoonbill, Summer Leys LNR, 18th July 2020 (Dan Beaman)

Eliciting far less excitement these days, Cattle Egrets continued to be seen at Stanwick, where there were four on 18th and three on 24th. Given their presence in the county over the last two years, it would be tempting to change their status from ‘vagrant’ to ‘scarce resident’. Meanwhile, aside from singles at Hollowell on 19th and over Oundle Marina the following day, the focus for Great Egrets this week was the Earls Barton/Summer Leys complex, where up to three were seen, on and off, throughout.

Great Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 20th July 2020 (Ady Leybourne)

On the raptor front, Ospreys bounced back with Hollowell producing three different individuals, including female ‘30’ from Rutland Water, all on 22nd. Two were at Pitsford on 23rd and singles were seen at Hollowell on 19th and 23rd, Thrapston GP on 21st and over Harrington AF on 22nd. Marsh Harriers were seen briefly at Stanford Res on 19th, Earls Barton on 22nd and Summer Leys on 24th.

Female Osprey, Hollowell Res, 22nd July 2020 (Jon Cook)
Juvenile Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 24th July 2020 (Ady Leybourne)

Waders continued to trickle through, Stanford Res holding on to the best, with a Wood Sandpiper there briefly on 19th and two Whimbrels over on 23rd, while Black-tailed Godwits were limited to thirteen at Stanwick on 19th and the same number at Summer Ley the following day, when four were also seen over at Pitsford.

Third-summer Yellow-legged Gull, Pitsford Res, 23rd July 2020 (Mike Alibone)
Second- or third-summer Caspian Gull, Stanwick GP, 24th July 2020 (Steve Fisher)

Stanwick became the focus for gulls this week, with three Mediterranean Gulls (two adults and a first-summer) on 18th and three juveniles on 24th, plus a second/third-summer Caspian Gull on 23rd-24th. The late summer build-up of Yellow-legged Gulls now underway there, included at least twenty-two on 23rd. Elsewhere, single Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hollowell on 19th and at Pitsford on 18th-19th, with two there on 20th and three on 23rd.

Juvenile Black Redstart, ‘North Northamptonshire’, 17th July 2020 (Matt Jackson)

Belated news of a juvenile Black Redstart at a ‘private site’ (the latter-day euphemism for ‘site withheld’) in north Northamptonshire on 17th was an unusual July record, to say the least and local breeding not ruled out. Common Redstarts, however, were still very much in evidence, with the long-staying male at Harrington AF all week, a female or juvenile there on 20th-21st and another female/juvenile at Twywell Hills & Dales on 23rd. The autumn’s first Whinchat, a juvenile, appeared at Stanford on 20th, with a juvenile Stonechat there on the same date but it was Crossbills which dominated the passerine division this week as the national influx continued. Wakerley Great Wood saw the greatest numbers, which included at least forty on 18th and up to ten on 21st, while Bucknell Wood held twenty-one on 18th, at least ten on 20th and four on 21st.

Crossbills, Wakerley Great Wood, 21st July 2020 (Mike Alibone)

Juvenile Crossbill, Wakerley Great Wood, 18th July 2020 (James Underwood)

On the latter date, four or five were at Pitsford Res and fly-over singles were seen near Harry’s Park Wood on 18th, Eastfield Park (Wellingborough) on 22nd and East Hunsbury (Northampton) on 24th.

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