Rarity Round-up, 5th to 11th May 2018

In a week when the most exciting thing was the weather – a record early May bank holiday temperature of 25°C locally – birding fell flat in comparison to the previous seven days. The clear skies, lack of rainfall and an uplift in temperature, caused by a high pressure system importing warm air from south-east Europe, provided conditions conducive to non-stop migration, with few birds deciding to make landfall.

Most of this week’s action came from the Nene Valley, where the only Garganey during the period was a drake at Stanwick GP on 9th-10th and looking like a non-breeding, first-summer bird, the mobile Great White Egret was again at Summer Leys LNR on 5th and 7th.

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 7th May 2018 (Ricky Sinfield)

Further down the valley, an Osprey was fishing at Thrapston GP’s Elinor Trout Lake on 6th and 8th and singles visited Hollowell Res on 7th and Pitsford Res on 11th.

Osprey, Thrapston GP, 8th May 2018 (Alan Francis)

Osprey, Pitsford Res, 11th May 2018 (Martin Swannell)

Following the high count of Black-tailed Godwits at Clifford Hill GP last week, numbers crashed to just two at Summer Leys on 5th, the latter site attracting four Wood Sandpipers on 6th, with two remaining the following day, while a Ruff was present there on 8th-9th. Clifford Hill, meanwhile, produced the second Sanderling of the spring with a one-day bird on 7th.

Narrowly making it on to the list this week was Arctic Tern, with singles flying west at Clifford Hill GP on 10th and at Pitsford Res the following day. A first-summer Little Gull lingered on Gull Island at Summer Leys on 5th and two adult Mediterranean Gulls again visited Stanwick on 7th, with one still there on 9th, while a first-summer Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were at Daventry CP on 11th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Stanwick GP, 7th May 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Passerine migrants were in short supply, with Northern Wheatear standing out as the only noteworthy species in this group. Clifford Hill GP was still the top venue at which last week’s double-figure collection of ‘Greenlanders’ fell to seven on 5th, two on 6th and one on 7th.

Male Greenland Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 6th May 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Elsewhere, up to three were at Chelveston AF on 5th-6th and singles were found at Polebrook AF and Summer Leys on 5th, in Kingsthorpe (Northampton) on 6th and near Horton on 7th.

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Rarity Round-up, 28th April to 4th May 2018

The spring’s unseasonally bitter weather continued into this week with the first two days of the period being largely wet with strong, cold, north-easterly winds making the daytime temperatures feel lower than the 6°C they actually were. Birders resorted to wearing gloves which, on the penultimate day of April, must have been a ‘first’ for many. Northants escaped the heavy rain and gales experienced by East Anglia and the south-east on the final day of the month, after which winds turned westerly and calmer, drier weather ensued, with temperatures up to the seasonal norm. The effect on migration was pronounced, with a number of grounded waders on 28th, as well as large concentrations of hirundines, followed by a big push of Arctic Terns through the county on 2nd.

Last week’s Summer Leys Garganey duo remained throughout the period and another drake was found at Thrapston GP on 3rd, while the male and female Red-crested Pochards were still at Kislingbury GP on 30th.

Female Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 29th April 2018 (Alan Coles)

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 30th April 2018 (Martin Swannell)

Single Great White Egrets were seen at Clifford Hill GP on 28th-29th, Earls Barton GP and Summer Leys on 29th and Billing GP on 30th, although all records could conceivably relate to just one Nene Valley wanderer.

Great White Egret, Clifford Hill GP, 28th April 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Great White Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 29th April 2018 (Chris Donohoe)

At Pitsford Res, the summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe discovered last week on 24th, remained until 3rd, frequently showing very well off the gorse bushes south of the causeway.

Black-necked Grebe, Pitsford Res, 29th April 2018 (Angus Molyneux)

Black-necked Grebe, Pitsford Res, 29th April 2018 (Angus Molyneux)

On the raptor front, there was a notable arrival of Hobbies this week, while single Ospreys were seen flying north between Barnwell CP and Oundle on 1st and at Hollowell Res on the same date. ‘Bird of the week’, however, was the Common Crane which flew high south-west over Wadenhoe during the afternoon of 3rd. This is approximately the 24th record for Northamptonshire.

Common Crane, Wadenhoe, 3rd May 2018 (Alan Francis)

Common Crane, Wadenhoe, 3rd May 2018 (Alan Francis)

On 28th, after two Whimbrels in flight over Thrapston GP, birders this week were given a taste of more of those eagerly awaited spring passage waders. A Bar-tailed Godwit flew east at Summer Leys and sixty-three Black-tailed Godwits made landfall at Clifford Hill GP during the adverse weather conditions on that date.

Black-tailed Godwits, Clifford Hill GP, 28th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Black-tailed Godwits, Clifford Hill GP, 28th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Black-tailed Godwits, Clifford Hill GP, 28th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Black-tailed Godwit, Summer Leys LNR, 29th April 2018 (Ricky Sinfield)

Three more visited Summer Leys on the following day and another stayed there for three days on 2nd-4th. Clifford Hill GP also attracted a Turnstone on 28th, while a Sanderling on the dam at Pitsford Res on 2nd was a classic early May visitor.

Turnstone, Clifford Hill GP, 28th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Sanderling, Pitsford Res, 2nd May 2018 (Doug Goddard)

Some short-lived, adverse weather on 2nd produced dramatic numbers of Arctic Terns, with flocks of at least eighty-four at Clifford Hill GP, eighty at Pitsford Res and fifty-five at Hollowell Res. In the run up to this, smaller numbers included at least four at Clifford Hill GP on 28th, with sixteen there the following day; Pitsford had singles on 28th and 29th, eight on 30th and six on 1st; Hollowell produced one on 28th, when there were also two at Boddington Res; eleven visited Stanford Res on 29th, when there was also one at Stanwick, while he following day saw at least nine at Earls Barton GP and one at Daventry CP. Somewhat overshadowed by the above, the two mobile adult Mediterranean Gulls again visited Summer Leys on 29th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 29th April 2018 (Alan Coles)

The most unexpected bird of the week was the Wryneck discovered on the northern side of Thrapston GP during the last couple of hours of daylight on 4th, although it remained elusive in cover for most of the time. Almost annual, this species is recorded less frequently in spring than in autumn, so this was a nice find and a treat for the handful of birders who quickly managed to connect with it. The old railway track on the southern side of the same site produced a singing male Firecrest on 28th.

Wryneck, Thrapston GP, 4th May 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Chats and their ilk featured more weightily this week, although Common Redstarts were still unusually thin on the ground. Three, all males, included one-day birds at Harrington AF on 28th, Earls Barton GP on 2nd and Daventry CP on 3rd. Following the first last week, Whinchats appeared at two localities, with Clifford Hill GP producing one, possibly two, between 1st and 4th, while another was found near Long Buckby on the latter date and a rather late Stonechat was discovered near Cotterstock on 3rd.

Female Whinchat, Clifford Hill GP, 1st May 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Larger numbers of Northern Wheatears turned up this week with many, if not all, showing characteristics of the Greenland race leucorhoa (‘Greenland Wheatear’) which predominates in May. Singles were at Barnwell on 29th, Pitsford Res on 29th-30th and Summer Leys on 2nd, four were at Clifford Hill GP on 30th, two at Upper Benefield on 1st and two at Earls Barton GP on 3rd, nine were near Long Buckby on 4th and Clifford Hill GP enjoyed a run of up to twelve between 1st and 4th and four were at Fawsley Park on 3rd.

Female Greenland Wheatear, Hemington, 4th May 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Female Greenland Wheatear, Hemington, 4th May 2018 (Mike Alibone)

White Wagtail, Pitsford Res, 28th April 2018 (Richard How)

A male ‘Channel’ Wagtail (Blue-headed x Yellow hybrid) was found alongside Barnwell Brook, south of Barnwell on 29th and Clifford Hill GP produced the lion’s share of White Wagtails, with singles on 28th and 3rd and at least ten on 1st, while another was at Pitsford Res on 28th.

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Rarity Round-up, 21st to 27th April 2018

The uber spring-like temperatures from the end of last week tailed off after the first two days of the period as the Atlantic jetstream moved north, allowing a predominantly westerly airflow to bring more blustery, showery conditions throughout the remaining days. The only on cue summer visitors new in during the period were Common Swifts from 22nd, while a White Stork caused a stir in the Nene Valley on 21st.

In addition to the two which remained at Lower Barnwell floods until 23rd, more Garganeys appeared this week, with 24th seeing the arrival of a drake at Boddington Res and two at Summer Leys LNR, which were still present on 27th, when they were joined by a third. Another drake was found at Thrapston GP on 26th before being joined by a female there the following day. The only other wildfowl of note were the male and female Red-crested Pochard still at Kislingbury GP until at least 24th.

Drake Garganey, Summer Leys LNR, 26th April 2018 (Chris Donohoe)

Great White Egrets remained very much in evidence. One continued to be seen intermittently at Summer Leys up to 23rd, two reappeared on Lower Barnwell Floods on 22nd, with at least one remaining until 25th, singles were at Clifford Hill GP on 22nd and in flight, north, over Pitsford Res on 25th, while two flew west over Billing Aquadrome the following day. This week’s star of the Nene Valley was …

Another fine, summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe was discovered this week – this time at Pitsford Res, where it was present south of the causeway on 24th-25th and after a scattering of Ospreys last week, a single ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier flying east at Borough Hill on 25th was the only notable raptor during the period.

Waders were similarly lacking in numbers, with just three Whimbrels – one north over Hollowell Res on 24th and two at Summer Leys on 27th – and two Wood Sandpipers at Summer Leys on 26th, one of which remained the following day, when a Greenshank was also present there. All of these were set against a backcloth of small numbers of commoner migrant waders, including Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin.

The thin sprinkling of Arctic Terns this week comprised three at Pitsford Res on 22nd and two there on 25th-26th, one at Hollowell Res on 23rd, followed by two on 26th and approximately fifteen there the following evening, at least two at Clifford Hill GP on 23rd, two at Daventry CP on 25th with one there on 27th and two at Summer Leys on the same date.

Adult Kittiwake, Thrapston GP, 22nd April 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Adult Kittiwake, Thrapston GP, 22nd April 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Sometimes appearing moribund but clearly able to fly, the adult Kittiwake at Thrapston GP remained until 22nd, after which it could not be found. A three-day stay at one locality is extremely unusual, if not unprecedented, and this individual may well be the last record for the spring. The two adult Mediterranean Gulls, previously seen at Stanwick, visited Summer Leys on 24th with one of these remaining there the following day.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Summer Leys LNR, 24th April 2018 (Ricky Sinfield)

Three Ring Ouzels were reported in hedgerows and rape fields, south-east of Farthingstone on 21st and the first migrant Whinchat of the spring turned up at Boddington Res on 24th, while Northern Wheatears continued to trickle through, with Clifford Hill GP again producing the maximum count of eight on 22nd. Elsewhere, two were at Borough Hill and singles at Newnham Hill and Bugbrooke on 21st, two were at Wappenham and five at Borough Hill on 22nd and three were between Shutlanger and Alderton on 26th. A male Greenland Wheatear was at Ringstead Grange Quarry on 22nd. Lastly, a Tree Pipit was found at Borough Hill on 21st and it, or another, was present there the following day and a White Wagtail – unusually scarce this spring – was at Summer Leys on 27th.

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Rarity Round-up, 14th to 20th April 2018

In contrast to last week’s wet and murky conditions, this week was largely dry with a persistent south to south-westerly airstream raising temperatures to a local peak of 26°C on 19th. Summer visitors new in during the period were Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat on 14th, Garden Warbler on 15th, Nightingale on 17th and Reed Warbler on 18th.

After last week’s handful of records, another Dark-bellied Brent Goose was found at Stanwick GP on 17th and more Garganey appeared, with two at Clifford Hill GP on 14th and up to four on Lower Barnwell floods between 16th and 20th. Diving ducks continued to put on a good showing, which included the male and female Red-crested Pochard still at Kislingbury GP until at least 16th, a Scaup at Pitsford Res on the same date and Common Scoters still turning up, with 14th producing two at Pitsford Res, a drake at Summer Leys LNR and one flying over Duston, as well as the two females from last week remaining at Clifford Hill GP until 15th.

Female Common Scoters, Clifford Hill GP, 15th April 2018 (Doug Goddard)

Drake Common Scoter, Summer Leys, LNR, 14th April 2018 (Doug Goddard)

Apart from the one frequenting the River Nene adjacent to Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR until 20th, Great White Egrets were either mobile or transient and included singles at Thrapston GP on 14th, over Clifford Hill GP on 15th, Ditchford GP on 16th, Stanwick GP on 17th and Stanford Res on 20th, while two paid a five-minute visit to Lower Barnwell floods before flying north-west on 15th. The star of the Nene Valley, making an exclusive appearance for one day only, was a summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe at Stanwick on 14th.

Raptors were limited to a single Marsh Harrier flying south-west at Stanwick GP on 14th and single – now only to be expected – Ospreys at Thrapston GP on 14th, 16th and 20th, over the A508 at Hanging Houghton on 15th, Hollowell Res on 16th, Pitsford Res on 19th and Ringstead GP on 20th, plus two at Harringworth Lodge Lake on 14th.

Osprey, Ringstead GP, 20th April 2018 (Mark Tyrrell)

Osprey, Ringstead GP, 20th April 2018 (Mark Tyrrell)

Totally unexpected, however, was the Stone Curlew which flew over the A45 at Upton (Northampton) on the evening of 19th and appeared to land somewhere near Upton Lodge Farm. Subsequent searches in the immediate area uncovered nothing, although suitable habitat there is limited. This will be only the sixteenth county record and the first since 2014, if accepted. Following a belated report of an Avocet at Summer Leys on 13th, two were there the next day, remaining throughout the morning.

Avocets, Summer Leys LNR, 14th April 2018 (Doug Goddard)

Avocet, Summer Leys LNR, 14th April 2018 (Doug Goddard)

The first spring Whimbrel flew east over Clifford Hill GP on 19th and another was there the following day, the same site producing five Black-tailed Godwits on 14th. Stanford Res again produced a Greenshank on 15th – the third of the spring at this site – while one was seen at Summer Leys, two days later, on 17th.

The first Black Tern of the spring appeared at Ditchford GP on 19th, followed by an Arctic Tern there on 20th while, on the same date, single Arctic Terns were found at Earls Barton GP and Thrapston GP, two were at Clifford Hill GP and four visited Daventry CP.

Arctic Tern, Earls Barton GP, 20th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Arctic Tern, Earls Barton GP, 20th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Three more Kittiwakes – all adults and all at Thrapston GP – extended the species’ outstanding run this spring and included one on 18th and two on 20th, while Little Gulls appeared at four localities, with Clifford Hill GP producing the lion’s share of six on 15th, three on 16th, two on 17th and one on 19th. Two were also at Summer Leys on 19th and singles visited Stanwick GP on 14th and Daventry CP on 17th and 20th.

Adult Kittiwake, Thrapston GP, 20th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Little Gulls, Clifford Hill GP, 15th April 2018 (Martin Swannell)

Little Gulls, Clifford Hill GP, 15th April 2018 (Martin Swannell)

First-summer Little Gull, Clifford Hill GP, 16th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were at Stanwick on 14th while the only big gull of the week was an adult Yellow-legged Gull at Daventry CP on 17th.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Stanwick GP, 13th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

After last week’s two single-observer Ring Ouzels, one finally gave itself up to the masses (or at least to most of those who wanted to see it), although not without a fight. Found at Clifford Hill GP on 16th, it went missing for the whole of the following day, before reappearing in the same favoured spot on the evening of 17th and then playing hide-and-seek on 18th.

Female Ring Ouzel, Clifford Hill GP, 18th April 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Again, just one Common Redstart was seen this week – a female between Scaldwell and Pitsford Res on 16th-17th but there were much better numbers of Northern Wheatears, with Clifford Hill GP producing the maximum count of ten on 18th, plus six on 14th, two on 16th-17th and one on 19th. Elsewhere, singles were at Harrington AF on 14th, Kislingbury Meadows on 16th, Preston Deanery on 17th, Earls Barton GP on 18th and Hartwell on 20th. Finally, a lone, singing male Corn Bunting was between Deenethorpe and Upper Benefield on 19th.

This individual was singing like a Yellowhammer and BWP states that isolated males, which mix regularly with Yellowhammers, away from other Corn Buntings, pick up and sing a Yellowhammer-type song. This is a sad state of affairs and just goes to show how low the Corn Bunting population has fallen locally

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Rarity Round-up, 7th to 13th April 2018

Although this week’s winds were largely migrant-friendly south to south-easterlies, the overcast, wet and murky conditions, which ensued throughout the period, were not and left many migrants temporarily grounded. Among these, a ‘mini-invasion’ of northbound Common Scoters marked the week, while summer visitors new in were Common Sandpiper and Sedge Warbler on 8th, Cuckoo and Grasshopper Warbler on 9th and Hobby on 13th.

After a recent dearth of wildfowl, things changed dramatically this week. Keeping a generally low profile, the Stanwick Pink-footed Goose was still associating with Greylags there on 8th and the same site also hosted a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on 13th after one had flown south-west there two days previously, on 11th. Seven Dark-bellied Brents also made landfall during the drizzle at Clifford Hill GP on 12th.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Clifford Hill GP, 12th April 2018 (Terry O’dell). Four of seven present.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Stanwick GP, 13th April 2018 (Adrian Borley)

Back at Stanwick, a drake Garganey was located on 13th and is still only the second record, so far, this spring. Diving ducks were well-represented during the period, with a drake Red-crested Pochard at Stanford Res on 9th, followed by a male and female at Kislingbury GP on 11th but more interesting was the report of a female Ring-necked Duck, south of the causeway at Pitsford Res, on 11th. Despite subsequent searching, it was not relocated, although a female Scaup was discovered there during the process.

Drake Garganey, Stanwick GP, 13th April 2018 (Adrian Borley)

In all this duckin’ n divin’ the week belonged to Common Scoters, which continued to come through in what seems likely to be an unprecedented local ‘spring of scoters’ – perhaps giving rise to a new collective noun for the species. Six – including four drakes – were at Daventry CP on 9th, followed by four more (two drakes) there on 11th. Two also visited Boddington Res on 9th, two drakes were at Pitsford Res on 10th-11th, three (one drake) lingered at Clifford Hill GP from 10th to 13th and a drake was at Hollowell Res on 11th. Interestingly, nine different groups of Common Scoters were sound recorded on nocturnal migration north over one locality in neighbouring Bedfordshire in the early hours of 9th.

Localities visited by Common Scoters in Northamptonshire Spring 2018

Common Scoters, Daventry CP, 9th April 2018 (Gary Pullan)

Common Scoters, Clifford Hill GP, 10th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Apart from two flying east along the Nene Valley on 8th, just one Great White Egret remained in the vicinity of Hardwater Lake and the weir at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR until 13th.

Single Ospreys were seen at six localities during the period, these comprising Pitsford Res on 7th, Hollowell Res, Stanford Res and Thrapston GP on 8th, Ravensthorpe Res on 9th and Welford/Sulby Res on 13th. There were no reports of any other scarce raptors this week.

Wader passage begins to ramp up from hereon but, apart from a Knot at Stanwick GP on 8th, there was little change to last week’s line up, with a Black-tailed Godwit at the aforementioned Stanwick on 7th-8th, followed by another there on 13th and one on floodwater near Oundle on 9th. Stanford Res notched up its second Greenshank of the spring, with one on 8th and a Jack Snipe remained at Hollowell Res on 7th.

Black-tailed Godwit, Stanwick GP, 13th April 2018 (Adrian Borley)

April wouldn’t be complete without a Sandwich Tern, so the one which completed a couple of laps of Stanford Res on 8th, before swiftly moving on, was right on cue. Hopefully more will follow. The year’s first Arctic Tern was found at Clifford Hill GP also on 8th, quickly followed by another at Earls Barton GP on the same date and another at Daventry CP on 11th. For the first time this year there were no reports of scarce ‘large’ gulls during the period, although arguably more attractive – and a lot easier to identify – Little Gulls appeared at a couple of localities, with Ditchford GP hosting two adults on 10th and Daventry CP producing three adults the following day.

Adult Little Gull, Ditchford GP, April 2018 (Tony Vials)

Kittiwake is another species which has enjoyed a remarkable series of records so far this spring. The run continued with single adults at both Daventry CP and Stanwick on 8th, with the latter site producing another flying east on 9th followed by one on floodwater at Oundle minutes later, leading to speculation it may have been the same individual.

Adult Kittiwakes, 9th April 2018. Left, Stanwick GP (Steve Fisher), right, Oundle (James Underwood)

The pick of the passerines this week were single Ring Ouzels reported from Chelveston AF on 8th and another in the Brampton Valley, near Chapel Brampton, the following day. Just prior to these two arriving, birders hunting for this species at the traditional site of Newnham Hill on 6th failed to locate any but were amply rewarded with the discovery of a Black Redstart by way of compensation.

Black Redstart, Newnham Hill, 6th April 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Staying in the west of the county, a Common Redstart was found at Boddington Res on 10th and a Northern Wheatear put in an appearance at Borough Hill on 7th. The east, however, produced the only White Wagtails which included two near floods at Oundle on 9th and one near Barnwell on 11th. At least one Hawfinch hanging on at Cottesbrooke this week, on 8th, may well be the last of an outstanding winter’s run for this species. Probably.

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Retrospective rubicola?

Stonechat is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Northamptonshire, also having bred on a handful of occasions. Although they are popular photographic subjects, the vast majority of these birds vary little in appearance, present no identification problems and rarely attract scrutiny as a result. Some, however, stand out as being obviously different and one such individual, found by Gary Pullan, was present briefly at Daventry Country Park last month. Gary has kindly provided details.

A male Stonechat was extremely obliging on the dam at Daventry CP on the morning of the 12th March. This bird was striking for two reasons, firstly, it is a genuinely scarce bird at this site and secondly, it showed an extensive white rump.

Possible ‘Continental Stonechat’, Daventry CP, 12th March 2018

I suspected it may be a ‘rubicola-type’ bird, sometimes known as ‘Continental Stonechat’, the race which occurs in continental Europe but variabilities within our own race hibernans can blur the picture and make it difficult to be 100% positive.

This individual showed a vivid white, and mostly unstreaked, rump which can be seen in the poor phonescoped images. In flight this was very striking and when first glimpsed at distance, alarm bells rang and the thought of Siberian Stonechat briefly entered my head.

It is clearly not Siberian but supporting features that it may very well be rubicola are the large, white collar patches, the tone of the upperparts which lacked the deep rufescent tones, appearing quite grey-brown and the underwing appearing quite dark grey.

The weather conditions could also be a subjective supporting factor in its occurrence as we had just experienced our first, and most extreme, visit from the so-called ‘Beast from the East’. Unfortunately, the scrub the bird was frequenting was being cleared that very day and for that reason, it didn’t linger. 

The two Stonechat races (or ‘forms’) intergrade on the near-continent (BWP) and it has been suggested that there is a cline of darker plumage to the north-west and brighter plumage to the south-east and that hibernans is possibly invalid.

‘Continental Stonechat’ rubicola is not officially on the British List. However, rubicola-like birds are recorded regularly in south-east England and occasionally elsewhere in Britain and birds with this appearance also form part of the breeding population in the south-east. It is therefore possible that rubicola is frequent in Britain or that the intergrade zone on the near-continent actually includes south-east England as well (BBRC).

This is the second record of a Stonechat ‘showing characteristics’ of rubicola in Northants. The first – also found by Gary – was at Boddington Reservoir on 2nd May 2013.



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Rarity Round-up, 31st March to 6th April 2018

Last week’s downpours morphed into a weekend deluge, creating widespread flooding which was most evident in the Nene Valley. Water levels there rose dramatically, creating additional – though short-lived – marshland habitats and engulfing well established islands at several wetland localities. As the floods drained slowly away, the end of the week saw a return toward normal water levels and temperatures rose as a southerly wind predominated. Summer visitors new in were House Martin and Yellow Wagtail on 3rd and Willow Warbler on 5th.

A Pink-footed Goose was discovered with Greylags at Clifford Hill GP on 31st but it had departed by the following day. The bill pattern and lack of white feathers at the bill base confirmed it was not the bird which has remained throughout the winter in the vicinity of Stanwick GP, where it was seen again on 6th.

Pink-footed Goose, Clifford Hill GP, 31st March 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Pink-footed Goose, Clifford Hill GP, 31st March 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Also in the Nene Valley, single Great White Egrets were seen at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR on 31st, 2nd and 6th, at Ditchford GP on 1st and at Stanwick GP on 6th. Again, a considerable difference in bare part colouration confirmed the presence of at least two different individuals.

Two more Ospreys this week – both on 2nd – included one around Ravensthorpe Res and one over the A43 between Broughton and Cransley. More will surely follow but there was a notable absence of other raptors during the period.

On the wader front, an early Bar-tailed Godwit flew east at Stanwick GP on 2nd and two Black-tailed Godwits visited Summer Leys LNR on 5th, a Greenshank – an uncommon spring migrant – visited Stanford Res on 5th and a Jack Snipe remained at Hollowell Res on 1st.

Greenshank, Stanford Res, 3rd April 2018 (Chris Hubbard)

Eleven Little Gulls flew east through Clifford Hill GP on 2nd but a first-winter Kittiwake, discovered in Pitsford’s Pintail Bay on the same date, was unfortunately found dead there the next day.

First-winter Kittiwake, Pitsford Res, 2nd April 2018 (Richard How)

Last week’s total of Mediterranean Gulls was doubled this week, with two being seen – one at Stanwick GP on 3rd and the other at Daventry CP the following day; both were adults. Larger larids included two Yellow-legged Gulls at Daventry CP on 4th, a second-winter Caspian Gull at Hollowell Res on 1st, followed by a first-winter there, two days later, on 3rd.

Male Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 31st March 2018 (Bob Bullock)

Passerine migrants continued this week with two more Northern Wheatears at Clifford Hill GP on 31st and three near Brackley on 2nd, while the same Brackley locality produced two White Wagtails on 2nd-3rd and another was found at Thrapston GP on 6th. Hawfinches lingered into April with two at Dallington Cemetery, Northampton on 31st and four or five still at Thenford Churchyard on the same date, while Polebrook AF produced one on 5th. Last week’s Corn Bunting again visited private feeding stations in Hinton on 2nd and adjacent Woodford Halse on 4th.

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