27 May 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:35am – 6:20am// 7:15am – 8:35am

11.0°C > 14.0°C. Mainly overcast at medium level, but some breaks later; calm start but moderate N wind later; moderate visibility.

Nothing startling but an absorbing morning.

(58th visit of the year)

The female Mallard and 8 well-grown ducklings still present: the cob Swan took exception to them being too close to his cygnets and chased them away.
Just one of the three broods of Coots that were seen yesterday could be located today.
Small number of gulls over.
>25 Swifts in early build-up but these again left c.5:00am: much later c.15 birds were very high over the dam end – the change of wind direction was probably creating an up-draught over the dam and taking the insects high in the sky.
A single Sand Martin flew through: rather a late date for this species to be arriving.
The Sedge Warbler not heard today.
Despite several attempts to locate others, including ‘pishing’, back to the usual 2 Reed Warblers singing today.
The singing Common Whitethroat joined by a scolding bird – presumably his mate.
Not sure why there were so many singing Blackcaps this morning – 13 is my highest count this year: there were juveniles seen so perhaps between broods more birds are singing? Perhaps with fewer parental duties the birds were more mobile and moving ahead of me as I walked around?
Juvenile Chiffchaffs also noted.
Common Marbled Carpet and White Ermine moths on the only footpath lamp that seems functional at the moment.
2 Silver-ground Carpet moths flushed from the grass.
The same Poplar Hawk-moth still in the Priorslee Avenue tunnel.
My first damsel-/dragon-fly of the year – a single Common Blue Damselfly found.
The first spikes of Early Marsh Orchid just beginning to open.
The Moorhens nesting on the upper pool between the lake and The Flash have young. Both pools are now so overgrown that it is almost impossible to see the birds. Incidentally a few days ago an adult Moorhen on the grass alongside the upper pool did not scamper back to the pool when it saw me but ran the other way and climbed inside the shrubs at the back of the gardens here. Many people don’t realise that Moorhens are very good climbers (and will walk log distances).

4 +5 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
2 Grey Herons
2 + 2 Swans
4 Canada Geese over
4 (2) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
1 Moorhen
18 + 4 (1 brood) Coots
5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls over
3 Herring Gulls over
>40 Common Swifts
1 Sand Martin
7 (7) Song Thrushes
2 (2) Reed Warbler
2 (1) Common Whitethroat
1 (1) Garden Warbler
16 (13) Blackcaps
8 (7) Chiffchaffs
Another small corvid roost dispersal: 18 Jackdaws and 5 Rooks
2 (1) Reed Buntings

A White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) moth. The similar Buff Ermine has, confusingly, a white form but on that species the black-dots are more organised in to a row. Muslin Moth is also similar but has fewer back dots.

A Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) moth. A very variable species but individuals with this orangey band are quite common.

I am no botanist so when I saw these small blue flowers I thought “eye-bright”. Not so as eye-brights have four petals, one of which is hooded. This is ‘just’ a forget-me-not and apparently a Changing Forget-me-not (Myosotis discolor) in which the flowers start yellowish and acquire pink and blue colour later. Only then did I notice a damselfly resting on a grass-stem behind ...

And here is that damselfly – a fine male Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), sadly not all quite sharp due to the rather poor light. My first of this year.

When I see the deep cuts in these petals I always think ‘Ragged Robin’ but, as here, I am usually wrong. This is plain old Red Campion (Silene dioica). Ragged Robin, which is in a different genus – scientific name Lychnis flos-cuculi – is unlikely at the lake: although the surround is very wet in places it is not really boggy which is that species’ preferred habitat.

An Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) just opening.

A different spike with a very different shape though as far as I can see it is just a different Early Marsh Orchid.

The south side of the lake is a blaze of yellow – all buttercups. On the far left the white flowers are Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) which has been abundant this year.

A close-up of one buttercup flower. it is probably Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) but there are 100s of closely-related and very variably members of this genus. The leaves are very bitter and cause blisters which deters most mammals from eating them – just as well as they are poisonous.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:30am – 7:05am

(51st visit of the year)

1 drake Tufted Duck remains here.
Again 2 broods of Coots: 4 from one of the two broods seen yesterday; 2 very new juveniles peeking out from under the adult brooding them on the nest; no sign of the other brood seen yesterday.
2 Pied Wagtails, both males, on the E side grass were my first here for a while.

2 Great Crested Grebes
1 + 1 Swans
2 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling Goose
38 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
7 (7) Mallard
Just the all-white feral Mallard-type ducks seen
1 (1) Tufted Ducks
4 Moorhens
8 + 6 (2 broods) Coots
2 Swifts
5 House Martins
1 (1) Song Thrush
3 (3) Blackcaps
3 (2) Chiffchaffs

(Ed Wilson)