13 Dec 17

The Flash

No ‘formal’ visit to The Flash to count anything. During my quick stop-off a few photos. Here the resident Mute Swans display their rings: the cob Yellow 52F; the pen Blue 7HJJ. That isn’t a dead animal between them – it is an old tree-stump.

Ice gives better reflections than water – even assuming Canada Geese could walk on water.

And again.

And a duo.

It is the Coot that is (slightly) interesting here: must be from a late brood as the white shield is still much less extensive than on an adult. It is not possible to be certain about the precise tone of the body in the poor winter light: however it looks greyer than on a full adult.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 ‘Nelson's Gull' but also colloquially ‘Viking Gull
3 Yellow-legged Gulls
1 Little Grebe
2 Siskins
4 Gadwall 
2 Teal 
4 Pochard 
87 Tufted Duck
3 Goosander 
236 Coots
1 Snipe
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
45 Redwings
(Ed Wilson/JW Reeves)

Priorslee Lake
Ring-billed Gull hybrid
1800 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
500 Black-headed Gulls
100 Herring Gulls
2 Yellow-legged Gull
6 Greater Black-backed Gulls
1 Common Gull
1 Little Grebe
3 Redwings
1 Teal
9 Pochard.
40 Tufted Ducks
1 Water Rail
c.170 Coots
3 Redwings
c.300 Jackdaws
(Ed Wilson / Tom Lowe)

Priorslee Lake
2 Goldeneye
2 Sky Larks
c.25 Redwing
c.8 Fieldfare
12 Bullfinches
c.30 Siskins
1 Redpoll
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Little Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
4 Great Crested Grebes
31 Swans
2 Greylag
33 Pochard
1 Willow Tit
c.35 Goldfinches
3 Siskins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe
26 Pochard
44 Tufted Ducks
73 Coots
7 Lapwings
>1500 Black-headed Gulls
>1300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
38 Herring Gulls
1 adult Yellow-legged Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
24 Robins
13 Blackbirds
5 Fieldfares
11 Redwings
1 Willow Tit
132 Jackdaws
7 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Water Rail
c.1500 Black-headed Gulls
2 Little Grebes
5 Great Crested Grebes
13 Pochard
40 Tufted Duck
235 Coot
270 Jackdaws
154 Rooks
2 Redpoll
5 Siskins
12 Pied Wagtails
2 Redwings
10 Fieldfares
21 Reed Buntings
13 Greenfinches
(Ed Wilson)

12 Dec 17

Priorslee: The Flash and the Lake

-4.5°C > -1.5°C: A fine, crisp and cold start; clouding at high level from the W. Lying snow. Almost calm. Very good visibility

Sunrise: 08:12 GMT

With -12°C at 06:00 I decided to leave it a while

Priorslee Lake: 12:00 – 13:40

(158th visit of the year)

>90% ice with two patches of open water: one along the sheltered N side; the other in the centre where the water is deepest

Notes from today:
- now 5 additional adult Mute Swans. Yesterday’s 4 and another. The residents were happy in their patch of open water and left the others alone to crash about in the mushy ice near the dam
- yesterday’s Wigeon gone: two drake Teal instead
- Gadwall numbers much reduced
- the Cormorant was a juvenile. Perhaps it had never encountered ice before: it made a spectacular crash-landing with wings akimbo and beak scraping along the ice
- 2 Kingfishers together flushed out of the Wesley Brook: disappeared towards The Flash but they were not there
- very little overhead: the party of Greenfinches is unusual these days
- nothing on the lamps again

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 26 Greylag Geese (1 group, outbound)
- 17 Canada Geese (2 groups, outbound)
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 Buzzard
- 1 Kestrel (female)
- 4 Fieldfares
- 14 Greenfinches

No roosts counts.

The counts from the lake area
NB: all counts, especially of Canada Geese, Tufted Duck and Coots are ‘best effort’: a mass of swirling bodies at times made accurate counts almost impossible
- 7 + 3 Mute Swans
- c.60 Canada Geese
- 5 (3♂) Gadwall
- 2 (2♂) Teal
- 34 (19♂) Mallard
- 12 (9♂) Pochard
- 74 (40♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Cormorant
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 Little Grebe
- 4 Great Crested Grebes
- 6 Moorhens
- c.190 Coots
- 41 Black-headed Gulls
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

One of the two open water areas with Canada Geese, Mallard, Tufted Ducks and Coots all obvious.

The reason the numbers of Canada Geese and Coots was hard to obtain with complete accuracy: these birds were all chasing around.

A reflective Mute Swan.

So now I can read the ring: I assume this is one of the additional Mute Swans that was present yesterday.

Two drake Teal asleep in the foreground. A Little Grebe in the middle of the open water.

“Who me?”. This immature Cormorant had a spectacular crash-landing when it failed to notice it was ice. Not sure why it is standing on one foot – not something I can recall Cormorants doing normally.

The Coots set off across the ice between the two open areas: the one on the left coming to grief.

A better idea: use the wings to add stability.

A male Blackbird in the snow – not much snow in view sadly.

Does not seem to be too many butterflies on this Buddleia and I doubt there will be for a while.

Where the low winter sun cannot reach the snow was frozen hard on to the vegetation and it looked much like yesterday – stunning.

The rocks on the dam-face look quite benign with their contours rounded.

Where the sun reached yesterday most of the snow fell off the vegetation. The overnight hard-frost then added this rime ice to the reeds ...

... and here to a bulrush ...

... and rime ice on these blackberry leaves ...

... even the snow has rime ice ...

... and even the bare seed-heads of the Common Hogweed umbels have lost their snow and are also frosted.

(Ed Wilson)

The Flash: 11:00 – 11:45 // 13:55 – 14:30

(110th visit of the year)

Just one patch of open water
Several trees on the island look as if they might fall under the weight of snow, further reducing the cover on the fast-eroding island

Notes from here
- could not find the Mute Swan cygnet
- hard to be certain about numbers of Canada Geese: there certainly were 41 when I first arrived. Many of these flew off. Later two parties flew in which may or may not have been some of the same birds
- c.40 Tufted Duck came from the W (the lake?), circled a few times, concluded there was nowhere to go and left to the W again
- 2 Collared Doves strutting about on the ice – not seen any of these here for a couple of weeks
- 1 Skylark flew over again
- a few Redwings in the trees – mainly singles
- a party of 15 Goldfinches in the Alders

Birds noted flying over
- 3 Greylag Geese
- >40 Tufted Ducks (see notes)
- 1 Buzzard
- 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Jackdaw
- 1 Skylark again

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 37 Greylag Geese
- >41 Canada Geese (see notes)
- 1 white feral goose as usual
- 41 (27♂) Mallard
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 9 Moorhens
- 16 Coots
- 70 Black-headed Gulls
- 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

A miscellany here. The head of a Canada Goose just makes it on the left, all the other geese being Greylags. Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls abound. Asleep and not at all obvious are two Great Crested Grebes, close to being ice-bound.

Some of the group of Tufted Ducks that came and inspected the water – and then flew off. On some of the drakes we can see the ‘tufts’ blowing in the wind. Note too the spread tail of one bird – no doubt to help it avoid an aerial collision with a neighbour.

Not sure what this Moorhen has found on the ice – looks as if it being sick, which I am sure it wasn’t. The nails on the toes look useful for coping with the ice.

Not everyday you can see the red mark on the legs of this species. Not sure I realised the legs were patterned yellow and grey.

How come Black-headed Gulls can stand on the ice (must reread the book “Why do Penguins Feet not Freeze”).

May need the wings to help with the balance.

Standing on one leg to halve the heat-loss is clever – IF you can keep your balance.


Strutting across the patterns in the ice.

Nothing like a bathe in some icy water. Perhaps they come from Finland: but where is the sauna?

Two Collared Doves strut around on the ice.

What we need for the Christmas card: a Robin in the snow.

I’ve tried for several days to find a Robin in the snow. Rather like No.11 buses you find one and ...

Some of the island vegetation collapsing under the snow.

And from the other side.

Some snow vistas from The Flash: this along the west side.

And through the wooded area in the north west.

The icy sheen of the lake, looking south as cloud begins to encroach from the west.

Picnic anyone?

Looking up what I know as squirrel alley. We see another branch has been broken off under the weight of snow.

I’m on the news! Since this helicopter is kept at Redhill in Surrey there must have been a good story in our weather. As I don’t have a television I have no idea what they might have been after.

Even stranger this Norwegian-registered Super Puma helicopter is painted in the colours of the Icelandic Coast Guard. What was that searching for at Priorslee? Polar Bears? (I know Polar Bears don’t occur in Iceland: don’t be so fussy).
(Ed Wilson)

Between The Flash and the lake

I then walked to the lake (and back). Another Robin in the snow.

And a Great Tit also in the snow.

Anything a Robin can do ... this male Bullfinch also vies to be on a Christmas card.

“Why can’t I be on a card?” A male Chaffinch is not quite so colourful.

“I’m best and I’m traditional: me first”

(Ed Wilson)

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
2 Scaup (imm/fem)
4  Pochard
2 Teal
2 Goosanders
101 Tufted Duck
Adult Yellow-legged Gull
c.478 Lesser Black-backed
c30 Herring
c.5 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 Water Rail 
245 Coots
18 Fieldfare
201 Redwings
2 Siskins
(Ed Wilson/Gary Crowder)

Priorslee Lake
1 Yellow-legged Gull.
Great Black-backed Gull
2 Gadwall
2 Teal
45 Tufted Ducks
1 Goosander
10 Redwings
2 Fieldfares
(Ed Wilson/Martin Grant)

Priorslee Lake
2 Yellow-legged Gulls
c300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
11 Great Black-backed Gulls
(Tom Lowe)

Priorslee Lake
Black-necked Grebe
Little Grebe
36 Swans
29 Pochard
79 Tufted Ducks
1 Water Rail
277 Coots
5 Redwings
(Ed Wilson/John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
2 Yellow-legged Gull
7 Great Black-backed Gull
4 Gadwall
45 Golden Plover
( John Isherwood) 

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe
5 Cormorants
25 Pochard
44 Tufted Ducks
72 Coots
>2000 Black-headed Gulls
228 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
15 Herring Gulls
25 Robins
16 Blackbirds
31 Fieldfares
5 Redwings
278 Jackdaws
105 Rooks
32 Starlings
7 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Water Rail
2 Little Grebes
7 Great Crested Grebes
16 Pochard
54 Tufted Duck
244 Coot
262 Jackdaws
285 Rooks
1 Redpoll
24 Siskins
21 Pied Wagtails
2 Grey Wagtails
8 Redwings
15 Fieldfares
13 Reed Buntings
13 Robins
19 Blackbirds
1 Willow Tit
14 Greenfinches
(Ed Wilson)

11 Dec 17

Priorslee Lake

-5.0°C > -3.0°C: Remaining cloud clearing to SE; fine, crisp and cold. Lying snow. Moderate NW breeze. Good visibility

Sunrise: 08:11 GMT

Not the weather for an early start!

Priorslee Lake: 09:12 – 11:22

(157th visit of the year)

c.10% ice in sheltered NW areas. Sky had cleared late in night and the very cold temperatures were quite recent. Open water kept moving by the wind

Best bird today was another duck Goldeneye. The 3rd Goldeneye – 1 drake, 2 ducks – this winter for me here: a bird I do not see here every year

Notes from today:
- 4 additional adult Mute Swans again today. They did not want to leave
- 32 Canada Geese flew in. Swans were too busy to care. A party of 11 flew towards The Flash
- pair of Wigeon new in
- did not see the ‘spare’ drake Gadwall today but rather chilly on the dam to do complete scans – hence no Coot count
- Tufted Duck count also ‘best effort’ as they dived and moved around to avoid the battling swans
- not entirely sure how many Cormorants there were today. Did not see any fishing in the water. 2 appeared to be leaving. Then 4, and eventually 6, more all on similar path that could have come from Bayliss Pools alongside the M54. Certainly the party of 26 that flew over a few minutes later came from that way. Several later singles may have peeled off from these groups. I reckon at least 34 birds
- a female Kestrel flew W over the dam: my first record of this species here since 17 October
- not surprisingly there were no moths on the lamps

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 11 Canada Geese (1 group, inbound)
- >32 Cormorants (see notes)
- 1 Sparrowhawk (male)
- 2 Buzzards
- 1 Kestrel (female)
- 7 Black-headed Gulls
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 56 Wood Pigeons only
- 1 Fieldfare
- 2 Redwings
- 1 Linnet
- 1 Lesser Redpoll

Started too late to see birds leaving roosts around the lake:

The counts from the lake area
- 6 + 3 Mute Swans again (see notes)
- 32 Canada Geese
- 2 (1♂) Eurasian Wigeon
- 10 (5♂) Gadwall
- 23 (13♂) Mallard
- 9 (8♂) Pochard
- 62 (33♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 (0♂) Goldeneye
- 2+ Cormorants (see notes)
- 4 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Moorhen only
- [Coots not counted]
- 46 Black-headed Gulls
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Oh dear: six adult Mute Swans does not make for a peaceful morning.

The residents had work to do: the cob on the warpath again.

Here the pair work together.

Two try to escape: the bird on the right has a dull bill suggesting it is the younger bird. Talk about low flying!

Anchors out!

Here two adults look a bit amorous and clearly have the interest of the cygnets.

But they were not the parents and the resident cob was not happy with his children getting sex education.

It can get quite serious with more than just threats.

The bird on the right has an orange Darvic ring (not readable) so it was not ringed in Shropshire.

They always look surprised, though it probably was: a duck Goldeneye – wonder why it is called that?
A very distinctive head profile.

A study in black and white (with a bit of grey and blue).

Here is a little Goldcrest trying to find some parts not covered in snow where it can look for small insects and eggs. Sadly not sharp – they do move about a lot – but we see red on the crown, so the bird was clearly excited and had raised its crown feathers to expose the red bases.

These little sprites spend a lot of time hover-feeding, as here.

The crown feathers are still raised here.

A Blue Tit also at work trying to find food.

Taking a breather to check for danger perhaps.

A perky little Wren will be struggling to find food.

Well: a lot more snow and some more pictures will not go amiss of what has, recently, been a very rare occurrence. Branches bending under the weight of snow make the N-side path barely passable.

And the bulrushes are even more horizontal than they were.

Another north side view.

And the north west area.

Again with the blue sky behind.

Not often you see reeds with snow on them.

The Wesley Brook bridge: not my feet marks.

Real Christmas Card scene.

Can’t think of anything original to say!

Looking across to the northwest area.

And across to the north. Note how the taller trees have caught the wind and the snow has been blown off.

The south east area.

(Ed Wilson)


Thank you to Mark Williams for the following photos.

Down at the sailing lake today I saw 2 Kingfishers and managed to get a better photo.

Canada Geese, Mallard and Tufted Duck

Mute Swans fighting.

Mute Swans fighting.

Mute Swans fighting.

Looking across the lake from one of the snow covered fishing pontoons.

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Scaup imm/fem
4 Yellow-legged Gull
(Gary Crowder)

Priorslee Lake
3 Yellow-legged Gull
8 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 duck Gadwall
3 Goosander
4 Teal
1 Wigeon
1 Redshank
8 Pochard.
55 Tufted Ducks 
1 Water Rail
172 Coots.
4 Great Black-backed Gulls . 
36 Redwings
42 Fieldfares
453 Jackdaws
64 Rooks
(John Isherwood/Roger Clay/Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool
35 Mute Swans
1 drake Wigeon
1 duck Goldeneye
2 drake Shoveler
40 Tufted Duck
1 Common Gull
6 Herring Gull
163 Lesser Black-backed Gull
128 Black-headed Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
165 Coot
Lesser Black-backed Gull with a Dark Blue ring with Orange [red] numbers 567. This bird bred in Germany. 
(Martin Grant/Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Adult Caspian Gull
(Tom Lowe)

Priorslee Lake
Black necked Grebe
1 Great Black-backed Gull
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
5 Cormorants
18 Pochard
56 Tufted Ducks
27 Robins
23 Blackbirds
3 Fieldfares
2 Redwings
1 Willow Tit
2 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Water Rail
750 Black-headed Gulls
1000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1 Little Grebes
5 Great Crested Grebes
15 Pochard
27 Tufted Duck
2 Redpolls
25 Siskins
15 Pied Wagtails
2 Redwings
32 Fieldfares
5 Reed Buntings
13 Robins
18 Blackbirds
11 Greenfinches
(Ed Wilson)