26 May 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:55am – 6:05am// 7:00am – 8:25am

6.5°C > 14.0°C. A clear, fresh and calm start with wreathes of mist over the water. Increasing SSE eventually moderate with some cloud bubbling up. Excellent visibility apart from the mist over the water.

Some late news and confirmation that a male Cuckoo was present each evening on 29 and 30 April and 01 May giving some of the evening dog-walkers their first sighting of this species for some years.

Also confirmation that the two cygnets were first noted on lunchtime Monday 19 May.

(57th visit of the year)

One pair of Great Crested Grebes still sheltering at least 2 young on the back of one of the parents: the 3 juveniles from the other pair were in the water allowing both parents to hunt and provide food.
The female Mallard and 8 well-grown ducklings still present.
A pair of Tufted Ducks early: these flew off towards The Flash and were probably seen there. Later these, or just perhaps another pair, were back.
3 broods of Coots.
2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were circling very low over the footpath at the W end: somehow they had seen or smelt the dead Carp that had been retrieved from the lake and well-hidden by dog owners anxious to avoid their charges rolling in the rotting carcase.
c.10 Swifts early but these left by 5:00am: later eventually c.20 arrived and were joined by 2 House Martins.
A Sedge Warbler found singing sporadically in the NW area.
Now at least 4, and just perhaps a fifth, Reed Warblers, all singing from separate areas.
Only 1 Common Whitethroat was singing this morning, still ranging widely.
Juvenile Great and Blue Tits seen.
Starlings with juveniles in tow passing over.
A Green-veined White butterfly
The same Poplar Hawk-moth in the Priorslee Avenue tunnel but in a slightly different place today.
A Fox flushed from the S side was my first at this site this year

4 +5? (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
2 Grey Herons
2 + 2  Swans
4 (2) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
2 (1) Tufted Ducks
2 Moorhens
19 + 13 (3 broods) Coots
2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
>20 Common Swifts
2 House Martin
8 (6) Song Thrushes
1 (1) Sedge Warbler
4? (4?) Reed Warbler
1 (1) Common Whitethroat
1 (1) Garden Warbler
9 (8) Blackcaps
8 (6) Chiffchaffs
Another small corvid roost dispersal: 33 Jackdaws and 16 Rooks.
1 (0) Reed Bunting

a misty start at the lake

It’s still a silly hair-do even if the demands of the young partially hidden on this Great Crested Grebe’s back would make it difficult to find time to visit the hairdresser.

Here’s dad with a nice Perch

“me, me, me: I got here first”! 

Looks as if it is too big for the juvenile who has almost dropped it. Another juvenile just visible trying to join in.

The parents think about helping

“let’s have another go”. Dad retrieves the fish

Now mum has a go – poor fish: I hope it was dead

and has eaten it herself!

The other group of young Great Crested Grebes look for their parents

Let’s go hunting ....

“what do you mean, you failed?”

“ooh! some tasty weed”

Lets all help

This Green-veined White butterfly is drinking nectar from a buttercup sp., showing here as quite dark in contrast to the very white butterfly.

Not sure whether this is a picture-winged fly or a small crane-fly sp. The latter I think. Note the spines on the surface of the leaves.

From this view of admittedly a different individual it does look like a crane-fly sp. But the wings are less clearly marked here.

And this third individual has neatly folded its wings: or is it something else again?

Although not taken at the lake this picture is of a soldier beetle abundant everywhere at the moment and seen at the lake today. It is probably Cantharis livia. An interesting name: Livia was the wife of Caesar who allegedly added powdered Cantharis beetles to the food of the imperial family. It was thought to be an aphrodisiac and she hoped they would then commit indiscretions which she could use to her advantage. Since the active ingredient, cantharidin, also provokes madness and gives rise to blisters this seems a risky strategy. Definitely “don’t try this at home” folks! (er?)

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:15am - 6:50am

(50th visit of the year)

3 over flying Cormorants all seemed to be full adults, though they have lost their breeding white patches.
Two pairs of Tufted Ducks – one perhaps recently in from the lake. The two drakes chased one of the ducks and then chased each other all around the pool.
Still 2 broods of Coots but one brood of 5 and another of 4 whereas I had noted 3 in each brood previously. Both the broods were at least a week old so this cannot be a new brood: odd.
At least 12 Swifts over and towards their usual breeding area towards the church in St. George’s.
4 House Martins over: these seem to be coming from some distance to the E and none seems, so far, to have returned to the main Priorslee estate.

2 Great Crested Grebes
3 Cormorants over
1 + 1 Swans
2 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling Goose
45 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
14 (13) Mallard
Both the all-white and mainly dark feral Mallard-type ducks seen
4 (2) Tufted Ducks
2 Moorhens
12 + 9 (2 broods) Coots
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull over
c.12 Swifts
4 House Martins
1 (1) Song Thrush
3 (2) Blackcap
2 (2) Chiffchaffs

4 young Coot try to get the next meal from their parent

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 8:35am – 9:05am // 9:35am – 9:50am

(23rd visit of the year)

The pairs of Great Crested Grebes that hatched 4 juveniles now seems to have only 3: one bird from the other pair is still sitting on the nest.
The pen Swan is also still on the nest, presumably incubating.
A single brood of 5 Canada Geese goslings.
A single brood of 3 Mallard ducklings.
A drake Tufted Duck flew in from Middle Pool.
5 broods of Coots, some several weeks old and one just hours old.
The Lesser Black-backed Gull with a damaged wing is still here and commuting around the ‘buoys’
A Brown Rat here was my first sighting of this mammal this year.
A Small White butterfly was my first of the year
One of the fishermen who had been present all weekend said the lake was ‘thick with Swifts feeding low over the water’ when the rain was heaviest. But none was present this morning, just a few distant House Martins over the houses.

The counts
4 + 3 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
9 + 5 (1 brood) Canada Geese
4 (3) + 3 (1 brood) Mallard
2 feral Mallard-type ducks
1 (1) Tufted Duck
2 Moorhen
23 + 19 (5 broods) Coots
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
5 House Martins
2 (2) Blackcaps

Another “wide-open and shouting” shot: a Wren without its tail cocked can momentarily be mistaken for a warbler.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 9:10am – 9:30am

(12th visit of the year)

Other notes
The Great Crested Grebe juveniles still growing well.
2 adult Swans again: no sign of them pairing / breeding.
Greylag Geese continue to have a better breeding season than the Canada Geese: no Canada goslings seen.
Some late Tufted Ducks here: one drake flew off and was seen later at Trench Lock.
2 broods of Coots, each rather strangely with just a single parent: the other adults were separately well away and minding their own business.
2 Grey Wagtails seen, suggesting breeding here again.
A distant Raven heard: unexpected date.

The counts
2 + 3 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
20 + 20 (5 broods) Greylag Geese
35 Canada Geese
10 (7) + 3 (1 brood) Mallard
4 feral Mallard-type ducks
4 (1) Tufted Ducks
5 Moorhen
5 + 6 (2 broods) Coots
2 Grey Wagtails
2 (2) Blackcaps
1 (1) Chiffchaff

(Ed Wilson)