Rarity Round-up, 21st to 27th December 2019

The week kicked off with the winter solstice, the 24-hour period with the fewest daylight hours of the year. Not that there was anything new to be missed during this year’s shortest day and, despite being the holiday season, birding activities across both county and country were understandably curtailed by mid-week festive celebrations. Wildfowl took centre stage during the period, although Cattle Egrets made a welcome return after a prolonged absence.

Stanford Res once again worked its magic, producing only the second record of Bewick’s Swan for the year when two adults arrived on 27th. Unfortunately, they remained for only twenty minutes – an even shorter period of time than the nine which were present there during the afternoon of 24th November.

Adult Bewick’s Swans, Stanford Res, 27th December 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

Just down the road, the female Ruddy Shelduck was at Ravensthorpe Res on 22nd but there were no subsequent reports. Ravensthorpe also provided a short-term break, on 21st, for  the drake Smew found last week at Pitsford Res but it was back at Pitsford on 22nd-23rd. Also on 21st, the ‘redhead’ Smew was still at Hardingstone GP, as was the ‘redhead’ at Summer Leys LNR.

‘redhead’ Smew, Summer Leys LNR, 21st December 2019 (Ricky Sinfield)
Drake Smew, Pitsford Res, 23rd December 2019 (Doug Goddard)

The week’s main attraction, however, was the continued presence of the two Velvet Scoters at Hollowell Res throughout the period, providing a Christmas bonus for some on 25th.

First-winter Velvet Scoters, Hollowell Res, 23rd December 2019 (Bob Bullock)

Hollowell also hung on to its Great Egret throughout, while singles continued to be seen at Earls Barton GP/Summer Leys, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res and Thrapston GP, with two at Stanwick GP on 27th and three leaving a roost on Wilson’s Pits at Ditchford GP, along with a Cattle Egret, on 23rd. Four Cattle Egrets were subsequently found further west, between Ditchford’s Watersports Pit and the River Nene on 27th. These are the first records since 24th November and together suggest that this species is still very much at large in the Nene Valley.

Great Egret, Stanford Res, 22nd December 2019 (Chris Hubbard)

This winter has yet to deliver a white-winged gull from the north but it’s still early days and an adult Mediterranean Gull at Boddington Res on 27th didn’t quite cut the mustard in this respect. Also at Boddington on 27th were three adult Yellow-legged Gulls, while the only other record of this species came from Pitsford on 22nd.

This week’s Stonechats were singles at Boddington, Stanford and Thrapston, while two were at Earls Barton GP on 25th and three were still at Hollowell on 21st.

Male Stonechat, Pitsford Res, 23rd December 2019 (Doug Goddard)

The next round-up will take us into a new decade, so I would like to take the opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed news, information and images to this weekly summary, as well to the Latest Reports page. Happy New Year and here’s looking forward to a great, bird-filled 2020!

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