Rarity Round-up, 14th to 20th December 2019

A mixed bag of weather included strong westerly winds, sunshine, heavy rain, fog and a range of temperatures culminating in an unseasonally mild 13°C, as a result of southerly winds at the week’s end. New in, a couple of Velvet Scoters provided the week’s highlight, while the long-staying Great Grey Shrike remained as obliging as ever.

Now present since early October and looking set to see in the New Year, the adult Whooper Swan was still at Thrapston GP on 14th, while the female Ruddy Shelduck remained at Ravensthorpe Res on the same date, before moving to nearby Hollowell Res the following day.

Female Ruddy Shelduck, Hollowell Res, 15th December 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

At Summer Leys LNR, the drake Red-crested Pochard was still present on 18th and the ‘redhead’ Smew remained until at least 14th. Moving into the latter part of December often sees the arrival of more of these attractive sawbills and with the discovery, on 18th, of a drake at Pitsford Res and a ‘redhead’ at Hardingstone GP, this year is proving to be no exception. The week’s highlight, however, was two first-winter Velvet Scoters riding the waves at Hollowell between 14th and 18th. Hot on the heels of last year’s popular eight at Thrapston GP, this is the 22nd record for Northants.

First-winter Velvet Scoters, Hollowell Res, 14th December 2019 (Mike Alibone)

First-winter Velvet Scoters, Hollowell Res, 15th December 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Hollowell also produced a Great Egret between 15th and 18th, while the usual singles were at Ditchford GP, Pitsford Res/Brixworth CP, Stanford Res, Stanwick GP, Summer Leys and Thrapston.

Great Egret, Summer Leys LNR, 18th December 2019 (Paul Crotty)

Last week’s five Ruffs remained at Summer Leys until 14th and the paucity of winter gulls continued, with a third-winter Yellow-legged Gull at Pitsford on 14th and two adults plus a first-winter in the roost at Boddington Res on 18th.

Also in the west of the county, the DIRFT 3 Great Grey Shrike continued to attract admirers until at least 16th, while Stonechats remained at Pitsford, Hollowell, Stanford and Wicksteed Park (Kettering), with a maximum of four at the first of these sites.

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