28 Oct 14

Priorslee Lake: 6:01am - 9:01am

11.0°C > 16.0°C:  Mainly clear to start with increasing medium/high cloud from W / NW; moderate S wind dropped somewhat; good visibility.

Best sighting was the Lapwing over the lake: only my 2nd record here this year of this depressingly, and increasingly, uncommon species.

Lots of over flights this morning with Wood Pigeon migration flocks logged. Also Starlings appeared to be on the move. Just a few Redwings and no Fieldfares.

Today’s over flight counts
- c.500 Wood Pigeons over the lake (at least 4 Stock Doves lurking in these groups).
- 4 Sky Larks: 3 over The Flash and 1 over Trench Lock.
- 3 Meadow Pipits: 2 over the lake and 1 over Middle Pool – my first recorded at this site.
- 9 Pied Wagtails over the lake.
- 44 Redwings: 43 over the lake and 1 over The Flash.
- 204 Starlings: 177 over the lake and 25 over Trench Lock.

Also a huge count of corvids over the lake that were still passing in small numbers some 2 hours after the first few.

(118th visit of the year)

Other notes
6 Great Crested Grebes this morning.
3 Gadwall were new: a pair and a single male elsewhere on the lake.
3 drake Pochard were my first of the Autumn here.
Coot numbers continue to build.
c.225 Black-headed Gulls arrived pre-dawn from the Ricoh area: most left and then the presumed same birds commuted to and fro thereafter, also visiting the fields to the E.
Five different small groups of Feral Pigeons, the first group of 2 birds in the pale light at 6:25am.
1 of the Song Thrushes still singing soon after dawn
7 Reed Buntings my largest count of the year: 6 of these seen flying off soon after dawn.
Still a few insects about with wasp sp., bumble bee sp. and several different flies, seen including a Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga carnaria.
6 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
3 (2) Gadwall
16 (9) Mallard
3 (3) Pochard
46 (?) Tufted Duck
7 Moorhen
169 Coots
1 Lapwing over
c.225 Black-headed Gulls
354 Lesser Black-backed Gulls counted: 118 of these stopped off for a while on the water.
4 Herring Gulls noted amongst these: 3 of them stopped off on the water.
Corvid roost dispersal: >950 Jackdaws and 215 Rooks.

The sunrise.

A typical view of a drake Pochard. This species typically feeds at night and appears asleep during much of the day. However it is usually slowing turning and keeping one-eye sleepily looking for danger.

What a stunning bird the drake Gadwall is with all those vermiculations.

The black stern makes the drake Gadwall instantly identifiable even when upended!

On the pair of Gadwall the unrelieved black bill of the drake and the neat orangey edges to the bill of the duck are good identification features.

While some trees have lost many leaves there is very little sign of autumn in the remaining foliage. It is December before trees stand gaunt but this last weekend was ‘the’ period to visit Westonbirt Arboretum for the autumn colours when I last visited some 30 years ago.

Compare this with a shot taken and hour earlier when the yellow morning sun shows the trees in quite a different light.
A late fly takes the sun. With eyes set well apart it resembles a Warble Fly but that should be smaller and is unlikely to be flying at this date. And where are the cattle on which it lays its eggs. This is actually a Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga carnaria.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 9:04am - 9:56am

(99th visit of the year)

Still hard to separate the drake Tufted Ducks: at least 14 today but I suspect more 1st year birds are in fact drakes.

3 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
3 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling-type small Canada Goose
144 Canada Geese
The all-white feral goose
34 (25) Mallard
The all-white feral duck
36 (14?) Tufted Ducks
12 Moorhen
16 Coots
45 Black-headed Gulls
24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, all flying over.

A Sparrowhawk over The Flash.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 10:04am - 10:35am // 11:20am - 11:30am

(43rd visit of the year)

2 1st winter Mute Swan cygnets keeping well out of the way of the adults: both wearing orange Darvic rings (used for birds ringed in Worcestershire) – 45L and 68L (note 45L flew in to Middle Pool later).
Further modest increase in number of Coots.
Kingfisher again
2 Pied Wagtails were my first of the year here!
1 Chiffchaff heard calling: a few years ago one bird spent the whole winter here.
A late hoverfly here – probably Episyrphus balteatus that can be active at any time of the year if warm-enough and nectar can be found.
Also a late bumble bee sp. - probably Bombus pascuorum

The counts
3 Little Grebes
4 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
1 Grey Heron
2 + 2 Swans
52 Canada Geese
12 (7) Mallard
37 (?) Tufted Ducks
10 Moorhens
162 Coots
52 Black-headed Gulls
5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, one of these overhead only
1 Herring Gull

This Kingfisher was lurking under the sallows at Trench Lock. The red on the bill indicates a female. I would expect the white tips to the coverts to indicate a 1st year bird, but I am unsure as I would not expect a 1st year bird to show the red bill. 

Here it is looking about and showing off the stunning azure / cobalt back.

and the other side of the same bird.
This bumble bee sp. was probably warming its flight muscles in the early sun: probably Bombus pascuorum, noted as one of the last bees to disappear in autumn. Northern populations are darker than the foxy red of this fine specimen.

A 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull at Trench Lock: it shows the typical extent of the pale on the bill and some retained 1st summer feathers on the coverts and mantle. 

this is the same bird not flying off but ...
... apparently taking a dive, ending up ...

   ... like this.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 10:40am - 11:15am

(22nd visit of the year)

No juvenile Great Crested Grebes remain.
One of the Worcestershire-ringed Mute Swan cygnets arrived from Trench Lock and got a peck for its pains from one of the usual trio.
Rather fewer Mallard: but some of these were noted on the island and apparently well-fed as they declined to come to the offerings made while I was there. Probably others loafing there as well (and likely where the unseen feral birds were also to be found).
1 Goldcrest: a species new for me at this site this year.

The counts
2 Great Crested Grebes
3 + 1 Swans
74 Canada Geese
19 (9) Mallard
No feral Mallard-type ducks
4 (0) Tufted Duck
10 Moorhen
11 Coots
69 Black-headed Gulls
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

An adult winter-plumaged duck Tufted Duck: a 1st winter bird would show only a hint of a tuft and typically appear paler with more even brown marks along the flanks.

Well you can’t win them all: this was a Tufted Duck!

A 1st winter Black-headed Gull at Trench Middle Pool: will look like this until c. March next year.
Unidentified fungus at Trench Middle Pool.

(Ed Wilson)