Rarity Round-up 7th to 13th January 2017

A mild start to the week even inspired some to go birding without a coat on 8th but the relatively warm blip, brought by light south to south-westerlies, quickly gave way to cooler, wetter conditions the following day. By mid-week, the wind had swung to the west before becoming north-westerly, and eventually northerly, by the week’s end. The change in direction saw daytime temperatures fall to just above freezing and the county experienced its first snow showers on 12th and 13th. The weather evidently had little influence on the arrival of Northamptonshire’s sixth-ever Cattle Egret, which was part of a national invasion, while Waxwings continued to be discovered and proved to be as popular as ever.

The ‘roll up and see’ adult Whooper Swan, now into the sixth week of its stay, remained at Sywell CP throughout, while the twenty-three Eurasian White-fronted Geese remained in the vicinity of Summer Leys LNR/Great Doddington, until at least 10th. Four White-fronts also visited Pitsford Res briefly on 11th. Small numbers of Red-crested Pochards included a drake at Stanford Res on 7th, a female at Pitsford Res on 8th and two at Ditchford GP on 11th, while the drake Scaup returned to, and remained on, the large lake east of Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP from 8th until the end of the week and the female was also still on the main lake at Stanwick GP on 13th.

Drake Scaup, Earls Barton GP, 11th January 2017 (Bob Bullock)

The only Smew reported this week was a drake on the large lake between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough at Ditchford GP on 11th.

The highlight of the week materialised in the form of Northamptonshire’s sixth-ever Cattle Egret which, alas, remained for only one day near Dunkley’s old restaurant at Whiston on 7th. Part of a national invasion exceeding one hundred individuals, it was not entirely unexpected.

Cattle Egret, Whiston, 7th January 2017 (Bob Bullock)

From the exciting to the more mundane, up to three Great White Egrets remained at Ravensthorpe Res, numbers between one and three were at Pitsford Res and one was again at Summer Leys all week. Also making it into the new week was the Pitsford Res Slavonian Grebe, which was still present around the dam/sailing club/Pintail Bay area until at least 11th.

Great White Egrets, Ravensthorpe Res, January 2017 (Bob Bullock)

The scarcest waders of the week were Jack Snipe, with two at Barnes Meadow LNR, Northampton between 7th and 12th and one at Ditchford GP on 11th. Similarly uncommon gulls during the period were restricted to the third-winter Mediterranean Gull at Daventry CP again on 12th, two Caspian Gulls (adult and first-winter) near Rushton on 8th and an adult at Daventry CP the following day. In a period during which considerable numbers of northern ‘white-winged’ gulls have appeared in the UK it is disappointing that we have not yet had one in Northants!

Short-eared Owl, Neville’s Lodge, Finedon, January 2017 (Simon Wantling

Two Short-eared Owls were still present at Neville’s Lodge, near Finedon on 8th and one near Summer Leys on 13th, while the flow of Waxwings into the county continued, with the three at Woodford Halse increasing to seven on 7th, three appearing at Sywell on 8th, eight in Bulwick on 10th and twenty-four in Kettering between 11th and 13th, while two Crossbills were still in Fineshade Wood on 10th.

Waxwing, Kettering, 13th January 2017 (Mark Tyrrell)

Waxwing, Kettering, 11th January 2017 (Paul Bolton)

Waxwing, Kettering, 11th January 2017 (Alan Francis)

Waxwings, Kettering, 13th January 2017 (Geof Douglas). A nice comparison between adult male (left) and first-winter male.