8 Jul 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:25am – 6:00am // 7:10am – 9:05am

9.5°C > 13.5°C. broken mid-level cloud replaced by low cloud and after 10:00am by heavy showers; calm, then mainly light NW wind; moderate visibility and rather hazy

(72nd visit of the year)

A 4th adult Great Crested Grebe this morning: and one of the juveniles is about independent now.
2 Common Sandpipers on the jetty when I arrived: at least 1 still present at 8:00am when flushed from dam.
38 Black-headed Gulls present when I arrived but all flew off to the Ricoh fields and away.
Small number of large gulls over: a single (near? worn?) adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stopped for a while.
Even more Swifts arrived very early but all gone by 7:00am.
Kingfisher very noisy and flying about.
Not sure what happened to the corvid passage this morning: very few birds.
Just 1 large bat this morning.
My first Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly of the year was seen ovipositing this morning.
Elephant Hawk-moth still resting in the foot-tunnel under Priorslee Avenue. Joined today by my first-ever Shropshire record of Short-cloaked Moth.

4 + 3 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
4 Cormorants
2 (3?) Grey Herons
2 + 1 Swans
19 (?) Mallard
5 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
34 + 23 (10 broods) Coots
2 Common Sandpipers
38 Black-headed Gulls
7 Lesser Black-backed Gull
1 Herring Gull
c.35 Common Swifts
5 (4) Song Thrushes
5 (4) Reed Warblers
1 (0) Common Whitethroat
13 (8) Blackcaps
6 (4) Chiffchaffs
Corvid roost dispersal: 89 Jackdaws and 85 Rooks

It was a fine start again – showers later

A juvenile Great Crested Grebe paddles by at dawn: bill slightly open as it begs for food.

3 of the morning’s Cormorants pass over: 2 show signs of wing-moult.

Another shot of a Common Willowherb flower greeting the rising sun.

A duck Mallard flies off at dawn: the early light not enough for the shutter to freeze the wings though.

A Jay was bouncing around at the lake as well: here we see what is probably a juvenile still growing its new adult feathers with part of the white rump exposed by short wing coverts.

Resting on one of the lit strip-lights in the foot-tunnel under Priorslee Avenue this moth was a challenge to photo – flash the only option and then enlarge somewhat. Turned out to be my first Shropshire record of a Short-cloaked Moth, though it is a common moth (?).

Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) flowers. When photos were taken on colour film one of the tests was how well the film rendered blue tones – Bluebells were the real challenge. I have not seen any articles on the digital equivalent but these look rather bluer than I recall and distinctly blue when compared with illustration in my flower ‘bible’ – “The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe” [Blamey, Grey-Wilson 1989]

This is Smooth Sow-thistle or Milk Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) showing both an open flower and a bud.

Another unknown fly sp., possibly another Empis fly though I cannot find any illustration of species with green eyes.

This is a close-up of the flower-head of what I know as Bistort (Polygonum sp.). Reference to the literature suggests this might be either (regular) Bistort (P. bistorta) or Amphibious Bistort (P. amphibium). I will have to collect a leaf to separate. Common along the S side of the lake and just starting to flower.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull: the old feathers in the lesser and greater coverts suggest this is a 2nd summer bird the very white head indicating that it is yet to start its moult into 3rd winter plumage. The small amount of red on the lower mandible and dark tip to the bill are typical.

This spider sp. is not quite what it appears: spiders usually have 8 eyes (some have only(!) 6) and so the two obvious dark ‘spots’ are in fact the palps. The eyes are on the front of the head and because this seems to be one of the so-called Daddy Long-legged spiders what we have are two groups of 3 eyes very close together with a dark mark in between and not 3 eyes as it appears. I hope you are fascinated, but shows just how amazing nature can be. As to the family: probably Pholcidae; genus: perhaps Pholcus; species: no idea.

The camera has revealed what I could not see ‘live’. It is not quite sharp but this Black-tailed Skimmer was zooming about and ovipositing in the water. As well as the reflection you can see the ring left on the surface where the tail (ovipositor) was briefly dipped to drop an egg.

Another interesting find: a longhorn beetle likely the common Strangalia maculata (the genus contains some 70 species).

A different view of a different specimen on the same umbellifer and here with (at least) 2 other very small beetles.

This damselfly is an Azure Damselfly. The angle shows just what a fantastic pattern exists in the wings of this group of insects . The angle shows just what a fantastic pattern exists in the wings of this group of insects.

And here, with the narrow focus at this magnification showing the head in sharp focus we see all the hairs on the head and thorax. It is the thorax pattern that is the easiest way to separate Common Blue and Azure Damselflies: Common Blue has one stripe, whereas Azure has two (looking like one and a half!, as here).

Some things the camera cannot reveal: A shot of what seemed to be something sitting on / in the surface tension of the water and moving around at speed with an attendant group of insects. We see here what seem to be midges or mosquitoes (and their reflections) attacking something, the reflection of which seems to suggest quite broad wings. But ...

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:10am – 7:00am

(60th visit of the year)

Grey Heron again sitting high in tree on island but flew off.
Number of geese seems to increase daily: counting is not easy with the groups always on the move.
Even more Tufted Ducks, now including two ducks
>15 Swifts swirling high over St Georges church – fledged juveniles joining the parents?
Coal Tits singing at both ends of the water.
3 Treecreepers heard and then seen in different locations around the water.
Song Thrush seen carrying large quantity of moss: building a late nest?Party of 4 Jays: could not identify any as a juvenile.
A different Willow Beauty moth on a street-light.

1 +1 Great Crested Grebes
1 Grey Heron
2 Swans
124 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling Goose
255 + 1 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
14 (13) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
14 (12) Tufted Ducks
1 + 3 (2 broods) Moorhen
12 +11 (? broods) Coots
21 Common Swifts
4 House Martin
3 (2) Song Thrushes
2 (1) Blackcap
5 (4) Chiffchaffs

2 juvenile Moorhens on the grass to the top of The Flash

Noisy party of 4 Jays spent some while jumping around in this tree and also coming to the ground but staying in the long grass. Managed just two clear-shots of one of them.

This is the other shot: no idea what it is attempting to pick up in its bill, but it does show the blue wing flash to good effect.

Another species revealed by flight to be in wing-moult: Grey Heron of course.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 9:15am – 9:45am // 10:25am – 10:30am

(28th visit of the year)

4th adult Great Crested Grebe might have been hidden away on a nest.
Swans apparently failed to breed despite building a nest.
3 broods of Canada Geese: these more or less trapped on the bank as whenever they enter the water to escape passing dog-walkers they are chased by the Swans.
Influx of Mallard – almost all drakes.
One of the parties of Moorhens had a first-brood juvenile helping feed a second-brood juvenile.
Coot count best-effort: some of the juveniles are now almost indistinguishable from adults and other are more or less independent and difficult to ascribe to brood.
One of the Black-headed Gulls was a ‘ginger’ juvenile.
3 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were the only insects of note: had clouded and this sent most in to hiding.

The counts
3 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant
2 Swans
6 + 7 (3 broods) Canada Geese
23 (20) Mallard
4 + 5 (4) Moorhens
45 + 21 (8 broods) Coots
3 Black-headed Gulls
10 Swifts
5 House Martins
1 (1) Blackcap
1 (1) Chiffchaff

Here we see a first-brood Moorhen feeding its second-brood sibling.

The ginger-plumaged juvenile Black-headed Gull at Trench. This looks to have fledged several weeks ago and much of the colour has already abraded as it prepares to moult in to first-winter plumage. Very recently fledged birds (and, of course, nestlings) are very striking birds.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 9:50am – 10:20am

(14th visit of the year)

First visit for over a month and some changes. Goose counts ‘best effort’ as these ran around to get to the handouts and avoid the dog-walkers: apparently no Canada Goslings survived, though there were 2 medium-sized goslings that I could not link to any parents. I think they were Greylags but ...

A fly-over Stock Dove was a new species for me at this site

A single Swift, a party of 4 House Martins and a Kingfisher were all new species for me this year at this site.

Other notes
Only a single adult Great Crested Grebes seen: the young may well have fledged by now and the other adult might sitting again.
3 Swans today: no rings read. Non-breeding birds.
Tufted Duck returned in some force.
Grey Wagtail seen in flight: rather pale so might have been a juvenile but could probably as easily have been a post-breeding adult.

The counts
1 Great Crested Grebe
3 Swans
44 + 18 (? broods) Greylag Geese
120 Canada Geese
16 (13) Mallard
8 feral Mallard-type ducks
10 (9) Tufted Duck
3 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhen
5 + 3 (1 brood) Coots
1 (1) Chiffchaff

(Ed Wilson)