Rarity Round-up 10th to 16th December 2016

Under the influence of an Atlantic airstream, the mild and frequently wet weather continued throughout the week, pegging daytime temperatures in the low teens. Few new birds were discovered and perhaps the biggest surprise was an unseasonal Turnstone for one day at Stanwick GP.

The Sywell CP Whooper Swan remained all week and the only other wildfowl of note were a female Red-crested Pochard at Ravensthorpe Res on 10th and two drake Smew at Pitsford on 11th.

Whooper Swan, Sywell CP, 14th December 2016 (Alan Francis)

On the same date, one of two Bitterns was again seen at Stanwick GP, while the three Great White Egrets remained on show at Ravensthorpe Res all week, two were at Pitsford Res on 11th and one visited Summer Leys on 14th and 16th. In the north-east of the county, at Thrapston GP, a Slavonian Grebe was (re?)discovered on Aldwincle Lake on the morning of 11th but had promptly disappeared by the afternoon.

Becoming more erratic in its appearances, the wintering juvenile male Hen Harrier was again seen at Stanford Res on 14th, although the lack of reports probably relates to a lower level of observer coverage and diminishing interest following its initial discovery in November.

On the wader front, a Turnstone arrived at Stanwick GP on 11th but had departed by the next day. This is a most unusual time of the year for this species to occur, the peak months being May and August. Aside from this, single Jack Snipe were found at both Ditchford GP and Stanford Res on 10th.

There was little change from last week in the numbers of scarce gulls being found. A second-winter Mediterranean Gull visited Daventry CP on 11th and 15th and a first-winter Caspian Gull was at Pitsford Res on 11th and 13th, with an adult there on 14th and another adult at Hollowell Res on 13th.

Male Bearded Tit, Stanwick GP, 14th December (Geof Douglas)

Finedon continued to hold at least one Short-eared Owl in the Neville’s Lodge area on 11th-12th but the only other one this week was in the Brampton Valley on 14th. The male Bearded Tit remained throughout the period along the causeway at Stanwick GP’s A45 Lay-by Pit but a Siberian Chiffchaff, calling and showing well near the Bird Club Hide at Pitsford Res on 11th, was new.

Male Crossbill, Fineshade Wood, 11th December 2016 (Martin Dove)

Male Crossbill, Fineshade Wood, 13th December 2016 (Roger Eads)

Lastly, Crossbills can be a bit hit and miss to catch up with in the county but Fineshade Wood’s Wildlife Hide was the place to be to see a showy male present from 10th to 13th, being joined by a female there on 11th.