Rarity Round-up, 1st to 7th August 2020

A drier period than the last but rising temperatures throughout mirrored the previous week’s, peaking locally at 32°C on the last day, as a blast of hot southerlies reached us from deep within the continent. Perhaps associated with this, another Spoonbill put in a brief appearance for the third week running.

Escape, feral or just a malingering, would-be migrant, a Pink-footed Goose appeared at Hollowell Res on 6th – one of two days when the site’s female Ruddy Shelduck had chosen to visit nearby Ravensthorpe Res. Once again, the only other noteworthy wildfowl during the period were Red-crested Pochards, Pitsford Res producing one on 1st, six on 4th and two on 6th.

And if Spoonbills were considered difficult to catch up with locally, then they still are, with this week’s itinerant bird putting in a twilight appearance at Earls Barton GP’s Hardwater Lake before moving quickly to Summer Leys LNR and then, reportedly, back to Hardwater lake to roost. Needless to say, by dawn’s early light, it had done a bunk …  Keeping a low profile this week, Cattle Egrets were seen on one date only, with three at Stanwick GP on 4th.

Adult Spoonbill, Earls Barton GP, 4th August 2020 (Ricky Sinfield)

Great Egrets became a little more widespread, Summer Leys/Earls Barton GP claiming the lion’s share of four throughout the period while, on 2nd, one visited Daventry CP and was subsequently seen in flight, east, over nearby Borough Hill and at least one remained at Blatherwycke Lake.

In stark contrast to last week, the only Ospreys were singles at Stanford Res on 6th and 7th, while last week’s juvenile Marsh Harriers at Summer Leys and Pitsford were last seen on 1st and 4th, respectively.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier, Summer Leys LNR, 1st August 2020 (Ricky Sinfield)

Notable waders remained low in numbers, with two Black-tailed Godwits putting in a brief appearance at Summer Leys on 1st and two visiting Hollowell on 4th. But where are all the Greenshanks we normally see from July onwards? Just one lingered at Summer Leys from 3rd to 5th before transferring to nearby Hardwater Lake on 6th-7th.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits, Hollowell Res, 4th August 2020 (Mike Alibone)
Greenshank, Earls Barton GP, 6th August 2020 (Leslie Fox)

A second-summer Little Gull spent some time at Daventry CP on 7th but it was large, white-headed gulls which, as usual, predominated with a first-summer Caspian Gull at Daventry CP on 7th and a second-summer Hollowell from 4th until the week’s end. This latter individual appears likely to be a male on account of its rather hefty build and large bill size but have some Yellow-legged Gull genes crept in somewhere from a past generation? Talking of which, at least one adult was at Pitsford from 4th to 6th and two adults plus two juveniles were at Daventry CP on 7th.

Second-summer Caspian Gull, Hollowel Res, 6th August 2020 (John Moon)

Passerine migration picked up a little, with Common Redstarts trapped and ringed at Harrington AF on 1st and Stanford Res on 4th and further singles at both Summer Leys and Gretton on 3rd. Like last week, just one Whinchat was found – this one at Chelveston AF on 7th and the autumn’s second Northern Wheatear was at Pitsford on 4th.

Male Common Redstart, Summer Leys LNR, 3rd August 2020 (Clive Bowley)
Male Common Redstart, Stanford Res, 4th August 2020 (Chris Hubbard)
Northern Wheatear, Pitsford Res, 4th August 2020 (David Arden)

Bucknell Wood hung on to at least twenty Crossbills throughout the week, twos were seen flying over Hollowell and Brackley on 1st and 2nd respectively and one was at Pitsford on 4th but the rarest passerine so far – a Corn Bunting – was found at Chelveston AF on 7th. There appear to have been no other records of this once common farmland species in the county this year …

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