Rarity Round-up, 2nd 8th December 2017

A largely dry week, dominated in the first six days by north-westerly to south-westerly winds, culminated in a strong northerly airflow and plummeting temperatures on the last day. Highlights included a lingering Great Northern Diver, the first Smew of the winter and Snow Bunting.

Remaining all week, the juvenile Whooper Swan was ensconced at Ravensthorpe Res, as was Stanwick GP’s juvenile Pink-footed Goose and the female Scaup at Sywell CP. The Ravensthorpe Scaup put in one of its sporadic appearances on 2nd and four more, all females or first-winters, were found at Stanwick GP on 8th, while the first Smew of the winter – inevitably a ‘readhead’ – was north of the causeway at Pitsford, between 4th and 6th.

The juvenile Great Northern Diver remained at Hollowell Res all week, continuing to favour the area around the dam.

Six localities produced Great White Egrets, with site maxima comprising threes at Pitsford, Ravensthorpe and Stanwick, and singles at Ditchford GP, Summer Leys and Thrapston GP. An unconfirmed report of two Common Cranes south of Potterspury on 7th remained exactly that, with negative reports from the area the following day.

Great White Egret, Stanwick GP, 8th December 2017 (Steve Fisher)

This week’s one and only star wader was … a Jack Snipe at Stanford Res on 7th. Yellow-legged Gulls remained thin on the ground, with single adults at Boddington Res on 2nd and Ravensthorpe on 8th, again being outnumbered by Caspian Gulls, which included single adults at Rushton Landfill on 2nd, Pitsford on 7th and Hollowell all week, plus an adult and a third-winter at Sulby Res on 2nd and a third-winter – along with a first-winter Mediterranean Gull – in the roost at Boddington on the same date.

No longer in vogue, a ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw was present with the large corvid flock in fields on the approach to Fineshade Wood on 2nd, while Hawfinches were much diminished in numbers in comparison to previous weeks. On 3rd, one was at East Carlton CP and two were still at the traditional site of Blatherwycke Churchyard, followed the next day by one at Pitsford Res and another was photographed at Cottesbrooke on 8th. Single Snow Buntings – or perhaps the same one – were seen in flight, west-southwest over Pitsford Res on 4th and in the Brampton Valley two days later, on 6th.

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