Rarity Round-up, 18th to 24th January 2020

With the country sitting underneath a slow-moving area of high pressure for the majority of the week, the weather delivered its own rarity in the form of overnight frost during the first four days. Otherwise, generally mild weather ensued and the range of birds on offer was distinctly narrow – nevertheless new discoveries were made as the week progressed …

The female Ruddy Shelduck, again at Hollowell Res on 18th and 24th, was the closest thing approaching a dapper dabbler this week, while rather more demure divers in the form of Greater Scaup were the first-winter female at Daventry CP all week and the female back at Stanwick GP from 20th to 24th.

First-winter female Greater Scaup, Daventry CP, 18th January 2020 (Angus Molyneux)

Great Egrets remained faithful to Daventry, Ditchford GP, Hollowell, Pitsford Res, Stanford Res, Stanwick and Summer Leys LNR/Earls Barton GP, with a maximum of three at Stanwick on 20th and the same number at Summer Leys on 24th. Summer Leys also produced the first Black-tailed Godwits of the New Year, with two there on 23rd, while three Jack Snipe at Hollowell on 18th and two on 24th ensured this species remained firmly on the radar this week. Hollowell also produced the only rare larid of the week, an adult Caspian Gull on 24th.

Short-eared Owls extended their presence to four localities, kicking off with up to three at Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) between 18th and 24th, one still at Harrington AF between 19th and 23rd, up to two still over setaside east of Stanford Res between 21st and 24th and three at Borough Hill on 21st.

Short-eared Owl, Neville’s Lodge, Finedon, 20th January 2020 (John Moon)
Short-eared Owl, Stanford Res, 21st January 2020 (Chris Hubbard)

Down in the Nene Valley, at Ecton SF, the Siberian Chiffchaff remained throughout the period, being joined there by a second individual on 19th. This new bird was what is often described as a classic ‘Mackintosh-buff’ colour and on close examination it was readily distinguishable from the original bird first discovered on 7th. Twelve Common Chiffchaffs were also present on 20th-21st.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 19th January 2020 (Alan Coles). The original bird number 1.
Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 19th January 2020 (Bob Bullock). The original bird number 1.
Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 19th January 2020 (Bob Bullock). Bird number 2 – ‘Mackintosh-buff’ and a different individual to the one in the previous two images.
Siberian Chiffchaff, Ecton SF, 19th January 2020 (Bob Bullock). Bird number 2.

Meanwhile, Stonechats were recorded at five sites, which included DIRFT 3, Hollowell, Pitsford, Stanford and Wicksteed Water Meadows (Kettering), with a maximum of five at Pitsford on 21st. Now, the Siberian version of this species would be a most welcome addition to the county list …

Stonechat, Hollowell Res, 18th January 2020 (Martin Swannell)

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