16 Jul 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:27am – 6:05am // 7:10am – 9:02am

11.0°C > 19.5°C. patchy low cloud clearing ahead of more organised cloud. Calm at dawn, but increasing WSW wind. Good visibility.

Worthy of highlighting was:
A Common Teal flushed from the lake.

(76th visit of the year)

Other notes:
Single Common Sandpiper here.
No Whitethroats today.
More family parties of Wrens today.
Family party of Chiffchaffs.
First Goldcrest for some weeks.
Family party of Coal Tits.
Rather few corvids again.
4 bats this morning
Small Skipper, Green-veined White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies.
Ruby Tiger moth on one of the lamps.
Barred Marbles, Shaded Broad-bar and Udea lutealis (Pale Straw Pearl) moths flushed from grass (as well as the usual grass moths).
Single Cinnabar caterpillar found on Ragwort.
Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
The dead Elephant Hawk-moth still hanging in the foot-tunnel: today joined by a Pandemis heparana (Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix), a Riband Wave and 2 Single-dotted Wave moths.

2 + 2 (? broods) Great Crested Grebes
2 Grey Herons
2 + 1 Swans
17 (?) Mallard
5 + 6 (4 broods) Moorhens
27 + 20 (9? broods) Coots
1 Common Sandpiper
34 Black-headed Gulls
8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls: 4 of these over
c.45 Common Swifts
5 (5) Song Thrushes
5 (3) Reed Warblers
11 (9) Blackcaps
8 (3) Chiffchaffs
Corvid roost dispersal: just 76 Jackdaws and 43 Rooks
2 (2) Reed Buntings

Some red sky in the morning.

But soon clouding up.

At this time of year Mallard are moulting around the bill and it looks rather large as a result: could be easily confused with Shoveler as this silhouette shot demonstrates.

This small moth on one of the lamps is Eudonia lacustrata (Little Grey): one of several very similar small ‘grey’ moths.

While this is a Ruby Tiger.

This micro moth on a light in the Priorslee Avenue tunnel  is Pandemis cerasana (Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix), one of a number of similar species whose larvae are pests of fruit trees.

And this was one of the two Single-dotted Wave moths in the tunnel.

Also lurking in the tunnel was this: I think that it is the remains of a Crane Fly sp. after all the body has been eaten by a spider sp. The flash I used has created shadows on the wall and this is why it appears there are so many legs!

Not my sharpest-ever shot but included here as it shows very well the growth of the three new inner primaries of this immature Lesser Black-backed Gull as it moults in to (near?) adult plumage.

This was one of the family party of Chiffchaffs: here I think a juvenile judging by the rather indistinct eye-ring; and the restricted pink on the base of the lower mandible.

When I saw this view of a different bird in the party I was rather confused: the grey crown is more reminiscent of Blackcap. But young Blackcaps have rufous caps: and the bill is to fine and short for a Blackcap and the bill would be grey anyway.

This is a species of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum sp.). I am still learning flowers but think it is Perforate St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) though I am not sure why the petals are curled – it may lack water growing on the rocky dam.

Here is an unopened flower and a ‘clock’ of Goat’s Beard (Tragopogon pratensis). An alternative name is Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, the flowers only opening in the morning sun (and yet to open here). Meadow Salsify is another common name.

This is a hoverfly and my first record of this species (Chrysotoxum bicinctum) which seems to be a wasp mimic. Widespread but never abundant like many hoverflies. It is a most striking insect....

.. from whatever angle you look at it! 

This small moth is Eucosma campoliliana (sometimes Marbled Bell) and a new species for me.

An attractive so-called pictured-wing fly, but can ID it no further than that.

Three for the price of one! This spider seems to have wrapped a Common Blue Damselfly and a large fly. The spider may well be Enoplognatha ovata which is known for tackling prey many times its own size. The female lays its eggs on rolled nettle leaves and the blue-grey cocoon she weaves to protect them is a familiar sight.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:15am – 6:55am

(64th visit of the year)

Worthy of highlighting was:
A puzzle: I heard a brief call that elsewhere I would have said ‘Golden Oriole’. But here? I search in vain and eventually concluded it must have been a Blackbird making a slightly odd fluty call.

3 Canada Geese goslings this morning from a brood not hitherto recorded but at least 1 weeks old: the single gosling seen for the last 2 weeks not noted.
Fewer Tufted Ducks but still a good count for the date.
Highest number of House Martins this year in tight group overhead: could only hear one bird that sounded like a begging juvenile.
No moths this morning.

2 + 1 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
94 Greylag Geese
197 + 3 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
10 (9) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
24 (?) Tufted Ducks
1 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
10 + 11 (? broods) Coots
1 Black-headed Gull
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull over
18 Swifts
18 House Martins
2 (2) Blackcap
3 (1) Chiffchaffs

(Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool: 9:12am – 10:00am // 10:50am – 11:07am

(29th visit of the year)

Best record of the day was the sight of 10 Common Sandpipers lined up on an overhanging dead branch above the pool – not the typical location of  waders with the lack of muddy margins. A bird was also seen around the margins and in flight and was likely an 11th bird. Probably my first-ever wader species at this site – I don't have full historical computerised data for here.

Still 3 broods of Canada Geese. More other geese and some of these seen in flight, so seems the moult is largely complete.
Another influx of Mallard – almost all drakes.
Not all immature Coots can now be positively identified and most gathering in a single group now: at least 16 juveniles.
One of the Black-headed Gulls was a ‘ginger’ juvenile.
The first warm and sometimes sunny visit produced a wealth of insects: 
++Emperor and +++Brown Hawker Dragonflies.
Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
+Small Skipper, +Large White, +Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, ++Comma and +Meadow Brown butterflies.
xx Marble moth.
Many Hogweed Bonking-beetles (assuming it is the same species, Rhagonycha fulva, that occurs on Ragwort).
*Eristalis tenax, *Episyrphus balteatus and *Helophilus pendulus hoverflies.

The counts
4 + 1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
23 + 7 (3 broods) Canada Geese
40 (?) Mallard
3 feral Mallard
2 + 2 (2) Moorhens
67 Coots
*10 (11?) Common Sandpipers
7 Black-headed Gulls
6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (5 over)
1 Swift only
6 House Martins
1 (0) Chiffchaff

This is the hoverfly Helophilus pendulus: a female because the eyes do not meet as they do in male hoverflies.

A particularly fine shot of, probably, Lucilia sericata though there are numerous ‘green bottle flies’ that are hard to identify.

How bizarre: 10, count them, Common Sandpipers sitting on a dead branch overhanging the water at Trench Lock!

This micro moth is probably one of variations of Celypha lacunana (Common Marble) rather than anything more exciting.

An exposure nightmare – this Comma butterfly was sitting on a white Convolvulus flower in the bright sun. The name comes not from the wing indentations but the white mark on the under wing, more prominent in the female. This is a specimen of the paler mid-summer form (f. hutchinsoni) which will produce the darker form that over winters as an adult.

This is probably the long-horn beetle Aromia moschata or Musk Beetle. These beetles are associated with willows and hence often near water. Their common and scientific names refer to the musky secretion they emit as a defence.

I have noted this previously but here is a good example: it is not immediately obvious this is Black-headed Gull retaining, as shown here, much its juvenile plumage. One consistent feature in all plumages is the white leading edge to the forewing.
Somewhat easier on this view. 

An unusual view: this adult Great Crested Grebe was powering along with its head only partly submerged and at that angle it was reduced to waving its legs around trying to get some propulsion. They are really designed for underwater fishing.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 10:05am – 10:56am

(15th visit of the year)

Worthy of highlighting was:
What seemed to be fledged juvenile Little Grebe.

Only a single adult Great Crested Grebe seen again.
Not all the Greylag Geese goslings could be reliably separated.
1 Greylag x Canada Goose new in and particularly noisy: my first here this year.
2 parties of Canada Geese goslings: one party must have been hiding somewhere on my last visit as the goslings were well-grown.
3 Swans again and still no rings read.
1 Mallard duckling was also a well-grown bird.
A few of the Tufted Duck seen last time left, but an additional duck.
Grey Wagtail seen again.
*1 Gatekeeper butterfly.
*1 female Ghost Moth on lamps.
*1 Dark / Grey Dagger moth on lamps.
Only *Blue-tailed Damselflies noted.
*Episyrphus balteatus hoverflies.
*Hogweed Bonking-beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) here as well.

The counts
+1 Little Grebe
1 Great Crested Grebe
3 Swans
30 + 14 (? broods) Greylag Geese
+1 Greylag x Canada Goose
109 + 11 (2 broods) Canada Geese
20 (?) + 1 Mallard
3 feral Mallard-type ducks
7 (5) Tufted Duck
3 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhen
5 + 3 (2 broods) Coots
2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls over
1 (1) Chiffchaff

Here is my 2nd Gatekeeper butterfly of the year. One at Priorslee Lake did not hang around to have its photo taken. This one was slightly more co-operative. Its smaller size separates from Meadow Brown: if in doubt the twin white spots in the forewing dot clinch the ID.

Five petals on the Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea). 

This is either a Dark or a Grey Dagger moth: genitalia examination is needed to separate the adults though the larvae (caterpillars) are very distinct.

This Little Grebe seems to be a fledged (I saw it fly a short distance) juvenile which retains a hint of the neck and face marks that thankfully separate it from any possible other species of grebe that might be wandering post-breeding.

(Ed Wilson)