Rarity Round-up, 20th-26th January 2018

Encompassing a mixed bag of weather conditions, the week kicked off miserably with wet and windy conditions depositing a light covering of snow during the first two days. A subsequent dry and calm period was short-lived, as the tail-end of Storm Georgina produced rain on the back of south-westerly winds, gusting to 50-60 mph locally, mid-week before a mild and settled spell set in at the week’s end. Unsurprisingly, there was little change on the birding scene and, if there were any new arrivals, they did a grand job of evading detection …

Ravensthorpe Res received a little less coverage than is usual but the juvenile Whooper Swan remained in residence until at least 23rd. After missing a week, the Pink-footed Goose made a last-minute reappearance at Stanwick GP on 26th, when it was found feeding there with a flock of forty-four Barnacle Geese, first seen flying south-west over the site two days previously, on 24th.

Barnacle Geese, Stanwick GP, 25th January 2018 (Steve Fisher). Part of a flock of forty-four birds.

Barnacle Geese, Stanwick GP, 25th January 2018 (Steve Fisher). Part of a flock of forty-four birds.

On the same date, this flock – or part of it – was also seen in flight further up the Nene Valley over White Mills Marina/Earls Barton GP. This the largest flock of Barnacle Geese in the county in recent history and, while there is always the outside chance they could be wild, an offshoot of the four hundred or so feral birds resident in neighbouring Bedfordshire seems a much more likely point of origin.  Meanwhile, the female Scaup remained off the dam at Sywell CP all week and the itinerant drake Smew at Ditchford GP revisited Wilson’s Pits for one day only, on 20th.

Drake Smew, Ditchford GP, 20th January 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Drake Smew, Ditchford GP, 20th January 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Numbers of Great White Egrets remained low, with singles at Pitsford Res and Ravensthorpe Res, two at Stanwick and up to three at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys LNR, while Pitsford’s Slavonian Grebe remained on station off Yacht Bay all week.

Slavonian Grebe, Pitsford Res, 23rd January 2018 (Mike Alibone)

Once again, Merlin was the only reported raptor of note and this week’s were both in the south-west of the county, where singles were near Sulgrave on 21st and at Hinton-in-the-Hedges on 23rd. On the wader front, the Stanwick Black-tailed Godwit reappeared there on 25th-26th and the period’s only Jack Snipe was at Hollowell Res on 20th, while the wintering adult Caspian Gull remained at the latter site on the same date and two were in the gull roost at Pitsford on 25th. Meanwhile, up to four Hawfinches were still showing at the much favour’d site of Cottesbrooke to the week’s end, when 26th also produced one with Bullfinches behind the feeding station at Summer Leys and a whopping twenty-plus in trees above Church Cottages at Thenford.

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