Rarity Round-up, 13th-19th January 2018

Remaining largely dry and, apart from south-easterly winds over the first two days, the remainder of the period was dominated by west-south-westerly winds, reaching gale force overnight on 17th/18th, during which gusts of up to 105 mph were recorded locally. Unsurprisingly for mid-January, the established long-staying winter visitors stayed put and Northamptonshire birding offered little more than slim pickings in terms of new arrivals.

So, this week’s ball and chain birds predictably included the juvenile Whooper Swan at Ravensthorpe Res and the female Scaup at Sywell CP, while the fidgety drake Smew at Ditchford GP returned to Higham Lake but continued to remain elusive.

Female Scaup, Sywell CP, 16th January 2018 (Leslie Fox)

Continuing their winter tour, the average white band of Great Egrets played it out at Ditchford GP, Earls Barton GP, Ravensthorpe Res and Summer Leys LNR – the latter the only locality to hold more than one individual. For the first time in weeks, none was reported at Pitsford Res, where a small grebe off the yacht club, initially identified and reported as a Black-necked on 19th, later proved to be a Slavonian Grebe.

In a dearth of raptors, a Merlin at Pineham (Northampton) on 13th managed to stave off a total absence for the period, while the same date also produced the week’s only notable wader, Jack Snipe, with singles at Barnes Meadow (Northampton), Welford Quarry and two at Hollowell Res.

On the Larid front, three Yellow-legged Gulls were at Ravensthorpe Res on 13th and one was there on 15th, while another visited Pitsford Res on 13th but the only Caspian Gull reported this week was the wintering adult at Hollowell on 13th.

Apart from a flyalong Short-eared Owl at Ditchford GP on 19th, the remainder of the week’s quota belongs to Hawfinches, although none was reported from any new sites. Cottesbrooke remained the firm favourite with observers, with up to three there until at least 17th, Thenford Churchyard retained the same number until at least 19th and one was at East Carlton CP on 14th.

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