13 Jul 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:34am – 5:50am // 6:45am – 7:41am

16.0°C > 14.5°C. initially medium overcast, calm and humid: after 06:00 cloud lowered with drizzle and rain, increasing NW breeze and much fresher / cooler. Good visibility but poor in rain and drizzle.

(74th visit of the year)

Large number of gulls flew in from the Ricoh fields as the rain reached its heaviest: c.35 Black-headed Gulls, c.80 large gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backs with just a few Herring Gulls. Just 3 juvenile Black-headed Gulls. Most of the large gulls were immatures with at least 1 juvenile and 1 adult. Most were in heavy moult and with the rain looked very scruffy.
2 parties of Feral Pigeons over, both comprising 15 birds. Although going in opposite directions these seemed to be different groups as only one group contained an almost all-white bird.
1 Stock Dove circling over the workings on the new school: when this was waste-ground this species was regular there but once work started this species has become scarce.
Usual arrival of Swifts as the bats leave: up to c.30 this morning. All left by 6:00am.
No House Martins again and none seen over the estate: they do not seem to be breeding there this year.
1 Yellowhammer was heard singing to the E, probably only audible because of light Sunday traffic.
At least 4 large bats this morning.
A male Yellow-tail moth on the only operational street light along the Teece Drive extension.
Elephant Hawk-moth still hanging in the foot-tunnel and quite obviously dead: a Tortrix moth on one of the lights in the tunnel.

Counts (in poor conditions)
2 + 2 (? broods) Great Crested Grebes
3 Grey Herons
2 + 1 Swans
18 (?) Mallard
4 Moorhens
No count of Coots
c.35 Black-headed Gulls
c.75 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
c. 5 Herring Gulls
c.30 Common Swifts
3 (3) Song Thrushes
5 (4) Reed Warblers
2 (1) Common Whitethroat
18 (8) Blackcaps
4 (3) Chiffchaffs
Corvid roost dispersal: 112 Jackdaws and 59 Rooks
1 (1) Reed Bunting

A male Yellow-tail moth on a lamp (with a spider sp, creeping up on it!). The males of this species often rest with the tip of the body held vertically and sticking above the tented and folded wings but not here. The black spot at the top of the ‘tent’ is enough to identify both the species and the sex, though the very feathery antenna is a good clue that it is a male.

This small moth is Carcina quercana (sometimes called Long-horned Flat-body). In this shot the ‘long-horns’, the antenna, are not showing and it is the front legs that you can see in front of the head. The pale yellow border to the trailing edge of the wings is sufficient to separate this moth from several very similar Tortrix moths. Photographed in Priorslee Avenue Subway.

An immature Lesser Black-backed Gull in heavy moult. Here we see the 5 inner primaries have regrown and the next 2 are part grown. The outer 3 are yet to be dropped. There is a similar mix of old, new and re-growing feathers in the secondaries. Some of the tail-feathers are also missing.

On the upperwing of this more mature Lesser Black-backed Gull we can see that some of the wing coverts are regrowing, the short feathers leaving the white base to some of the secondaries exposed.

It is a wonder some of these can fly.

A juvenile (hatched this year) Black-headed Gull with a 1st summer bird with some retained brown feathers in the wing, though it developed a full ‘hood’.

This immature Herring Gull is in much the same state of moult as the immature Lesser Black-backed Gull. Note the inner primaries are the pale grey of adults, though the hint of brown at their base suggests this is a 3rd year bird that will probably not acquire full adult winter plumage for another 12 months and full breeding plumage for some 18 months.

Here is a 3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull (dark tip to bill and still much brown in the wings) showing off the new dark grey inner primaries. The dark tail band will be lost when it is fully adult.

Not noted at the time this 3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull has been ringed. Not able to read the ring.

Here is a full adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. The gull behind that looks so large and lanky with a large bill is probably just a large male Lesser Black-backed Gull though the extent of the pale base to the bill is a bit of a worry. I would expect any immature Great Black-backed Gull to have fewer markings on the head but, more importantly, the mantle feather should look more scaly.

This was a distinctly different-looking gull, overall darker than usual with an obvious ‘capped’ appearance. It also looked rather smaller than the Lesser Black-backed Gulls it was with.

Another view.

It was much less worried about my presence that all the other gulls and that provided a clue – juvenile birds can be unafraid of humans if they are raised well-away from human habitation – say a gull roost on a isolated cliff. When it eventually flew the upper wing and tail patterns matched juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 5:55am – 6:35am

(62nd visit of the year)

Further increase in number of Tufted Ducks: at least 5 were ducks but not all birds seen well-enough in poor light conditions to make accurate assessment
A few House Martins as usual: these seem to come from areas to the W and NE of The Flash with none around the immediate estate this year.
Kingfisher heard and then seen: my first at this site this year.
Cinnabar moth on one of the street lamps: my first imago of the year. Another Willow Beauty moth on the same lamp.

2 + 1 Great Crested Grebes
2 Grey Herons
2 Swans
105 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling Goose
232 + 1 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
14 (13) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
1 feral Mallard
29 (?) Tufted Ducks
2 Moorhens
8 + 11 (? broods) Coots
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull over
2 Swifts
2 House Martins
3 (3) Blackcap
3 (2) Chiffchaffs

A Cinnabar moth also on a lamp. This is a species of moth that can often be seen / disturbed during daylight. Often near Ragwort, a species of plant on which the female lays its eggs. The sex of this species cannot be determined without examination of the genitalia.

Isolated in the flash picture here are some rather straggly Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) flowers.

Also isolated in a flash picture is the head of the most common umbellifer species in flower at the moment – (Common) Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium).

(Ed Wilson)