5 Jun 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:22am – 6:05am // 7:05am – 8:55am

8.5°C > 18.5°C. broken medium-level cloud moving away; a few puffy clouds later: feeling fresh in Force 3 W breeze; good visibility.

(65th visit of the year)

Best were the 2 Oystercatchers that called as they flew over going S at 7:05am: my first of the year here. Perhaps failed / non-breeding birds from the flooded fields near Wall Farm?

Almost more unusual were 5 House Sparrows in the Ricoh hedge at the W end. From my recording area I can occasionally hear this species from the gardens in the estate. It is at least 5 years since I have seen birds actually around the lake.

Other notes
Only 3 juvenile Great Crested Grebes: the loss of another is confirmed.
2 drake Tufted Ducks: again did much flying about but never looked like flying out.
A pair of Moorhens with 3 juveniles: adults celebrating by mating again.
In better weather the Coots were motivated to allow their juveniles out of the reeds so a higher count.
3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls over. 2 more stopped to try and feed on the dead Carp sp. floating in the water but there were no lesions in the corpse to allow them access and they flew off. Also a party of 42 large gulls that seemed to come off of Bayliss Pool area: there were both Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls in the group but they flew against the light and I was unable to specifically identify most of them.
7 Swifts did an apparent fly-by at 4:40am but a few minutes later more(?) started to appear over the lake and surrounding trees and eventually there were more that 60 birds, most still present at 8:45am.
1 Swallow and 4 House Martins joined the Swifts after 8:00am.
Feeding family of Nuthatches this morning.
A Treecreeper heard calling was by first since 12 April.
The Lesser Whitethroat was singing along the E side of Castle Farm Way again today.
Corvid passage almost all parties of Jackdaws this morning.
4 Silver-ground Carpet moths flushed
What was likely a Yellow Shell moth flushed but it failed to settle in view to allow confirmation.
1 Speckled Wood butterfly was my first of the year
>100 Common Blue Damselflies; at least 1 Azure Damselfly; and my first Red-eyed Damselfly in Shropshire.
1+ smaller weaker-flying damselfly but as it / they were females identification is likely to be impossible, especially as I was unable to get a photo.

4 +3 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant over
2 Grey Herons
2 + 2 Swans
1 Canada Goose
5 (2) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
2 (2) Tufted Ducks
3 + 3 (1 brood) Moorhens
18 + 12 (4 broods) Coots
2 Oystercatchers over
47 large gulls: 45 of these over
c.60 Common Swifts
1 Swallow
4 House Martins
6 (6) Song Thrushes
7 (5) Reed Warbler
1 (1) Lesser Whitethroat
4 (3) Common Whitethroat
1 (1) Garden Warbler
13 (10) Blackcaps
6 (6) Chiffchaffs
Corvid roost dispersal: 118 Jackdaws and 27 Rooks
5 (4) Reed Buntings

Cloud beginning to break at dawn 

A young Wren – note the yellow at the gape

Not some obscure biplane but 2 drake Tufted Ducks in close formation.

The moment of truth: a damselfly emerges from its exuvia – well I suppose strictly it is emerging from its larval case to leave its exuvia (even more strictly, but rarely used these days, it is leaving its exuvium). It has yet to pump itself up and dry out. It will attain its colour, if it is a male, over several days. Females change colour through muted shades of greys and browns over weeks. At this stage identification is almost impossible – not easy with adults as we will see.

Better light this morning so I can upgrade the photo of a male Common Blue Damselfly.

This seems to be a normal brown female Common Blue Damselfly.

Which might make this a male Common Blue Damselfly yet to acquire the blue colouration. Confused? Me too!

This seems to be a female Azure Damselfly based on the pattern of the stripes on the thorax.

This damselfly seems to be a Red-eyed Damselfly which is a new for me here.

This may just be Cuckoo-spit as produced by a frog-hopper feeding on this plant. To my eyes this example looks more extensive and rather better formed in a cellular structure than usual. It is also several weeks since Cuckoo-spit was first obvious. Searching the web has failed to come up with any other explanation. There are several different species of froghopper and perhaps that is all it is.

Despite Severn-Trent strimming the vegetation on the dam last year we still have a good display of Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber). Note that some plants have pinkish flowers and others are red.

I was moved to take this photo of the 8 Mallard ducklings with their parent to see whether, from a photo, it was yet possible to sex them by bill colour. I failed because I cannot even be certain which is the adult! Counting from the left #2 looks rather like an eclipse drake and #7 like a duck which would mean there are only 7 ducklings. Gulp. Certainly #1, #3 and #5 look like they might become drakes, but ...

Mum decided to give them a flying lesson and here we can see they are almost full-winged and probably only need more practice to fully fledge.

Its must be an effort looking after all your eggs when you have put them all in one basket this size! A female spider sp. struggles to cope.

This stunning looking insect is a scorpion fly, probably Panorpa communis. From this angle you cannot see the way the head is down-turned to form a very obvious and diagnostic ‘beak’. The common name arises from the ability of males to raise their tails, in fact their genitalia, to resemble the sting of a scorpion though these flies are harmless to man.

As flies go this is almost attractive. The nearest I can get from the Collins Guide to Insects of Britain and Northern Europe is Graphomya maculata. but ...

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:15am – 6:55am

(56th visit of the year)

Tuesday’s additional Great Crested Grebe not seen.
Despite the efforts of the council to make all the eggs infertile one late clutch of Canada Geese has eluded them: just 2 goslings.
Able to make a better attempt at a count of the juvenile Coots: but where are all the adult?
Stock Dove flew over – unusual here and my first of the year at this site.

2 Great Crested Grebes
1 + 1 Swans
1 Cackling Goose
87 + 2 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
6 (6) Mallard
Only the white feral Mallard-type duck seen
3 (2) Tufted Ducks
2 Moorhen
5 +12 (3 broods) Coots
4 Common Swifts
6 House Martin
1 (1) Song Thrush
2 (2) Blackcaps
4 (2) Chiffchaffs

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 9:20am – 9:45am

(27th visit of the year)

Not much change again

Only 6 broods of Coots noted.
One of the House Martins calling as if it were a juvenile – early?
1 Speckled Wood butterfly

The counts
3 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant
2 Swans
4 + 5 (1 brood) Canada Geese
1 (1) Mallard
3 Moorhens
25 + >23 (6 broods) Coots
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
3 House Martins
2 (2) Blackcaps
1 (1) Chiffchaff

(Ed Wilson)