Rarity Round-up 14th to 20th January 2017

The northerly wind, which brought lower temperatures at the end of last week, shifted back westerly for the first half of the period, bringing overcast and wet conditions before high pressure delivered colder, drier weather on the back of an easterly airflow from the continent. There were no major surprises, however, and Waxwings remained firmly in the limelight at the very beginning of the week.

Predictably, the adult Whooper Swan remained at Sywell CP until at least 17th but a herd of fifteen flying up the Nene Valley between Elton and Fotheringhay on 19th was more unusual in terms of the number involved.

Whooper Swan, Sywell CP, 17th January 2017 (Alan Francis)

At least eleven Eurasian White-fronted Geese were still with Greylags below Great Doddington on 17th, while a juvenile was reported at Kislingbury GP on the same date. Oddball of the week was a female Wood Duck on the Nene at Wellingborough Embankment on 15th. Although mooted as a potential vagrant, this one must surely have been a fence-jumper at some previous point in time.

Female Wood Duck, Wellingborough Embankment, 15th January 2017 (Paul Gosling)

Just two Red-crested Pochards were at Pitsford Res on 17th, with one remaining to 20th and both Scaups remained on station all week on the large lake east of Mary’s Lake at Earls Barton GP and on the main lake at Stanwick GP.

Red-crested Pochards, Pitsford Res, 17th January 2017 (Doug Goddard)

Red-crested Pochard, Pitsford Res, 21st January 2017 (Clive Bowley)

The Long-tailed Duck – apparently unreported last week – was still at Stanford Res, by the reedbed on the northern bank, at the week’s end, while a ‘redhead’ Smew was seen there again on 14th. The drake Smew from last week remained on the large lake between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough at Ditchford GP until 14th.

Long-tailed Duck, Stanford Res, January 2017 (Bob Bullock)

The usual fixtures and fittings included three Great White Egrets still at Ravensthorpe Res on 17th, apparently dwindling to one there by 20th, up to two were still at Pitsford Res to 17th and one was at Summer Leys all week, with two there on 19th. Two species of harrier were notched up during the period, both on 15th, beginning with with a male Marsh Harrier at Stanford Res and followed by a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier at Polebrook AF, which was also reported at nearby Lutton on 12th. The 15th also saw an unconfirmed report of a Black-tailed Godwit at Summer Leys.

Caspian Gulls came to the fore this week. On 14th they were found at no less than five different localities, which may actually constitute a local ‘day record’. On this date, there were three (two adults and a first-winter) at Rushton Landfill, a first-winter near Chacombe and single adults at Hollowell Res (remaining all week), Pitsford Res and Stanford Res. The following day saw three adults at Rushton Landfill and an adult plus a first-winter in the gull roost at Pitsford and subsequent to this, near Chacombe, a second-winter on 18th and an adult the following day. The number of Yellow-legged Gulls looked poor by comparison, with an adult and a second-winter near Chacombe on 14th – the second-winter remaining on 19th, a first-winter in the Pitsford roost on 14th and two there the following day and a first-winter at Rushton Landfill also on 14th.

Short-eared Owl, Neville’s Lodge, Finedon, 18th January 2017 (Doug Goddard). One of four long-staying individuals wintering in this area.

Four Short-eared Owls remained at Neville’s Lodge, near Finedon until at least 18th, while Waxwings continued to prove a popular draw in downtown Kettering, where twenty-seven entertained observers (and bemused shoppers) around the Sainsbury’s/Pets At Home/School Lane area on 14th, the flock subsequently moving to St Mary’s Road the following day.

Waxwing, Kettering, 14th January 2017 (Mike Alibone)

Waxwing, Kettering, 14th January 2017 (Stuart Mundy)

Following this, six or seven were feeding on apples in a Great Billing Garden on 18th and approximately twenty were in the Boothville area of Northampton briefly on 20th.

Stonechat, Blueberry Farm, Maidwell, 20th January 2017 (Martin Swannell). A maximum site count of six came from Hollowell Res during the week.