30 Oct 14

Priorslee Lake: 6:06am - 9:01am

12.5°C > 15.5°C:  Very mild with low cloud, poor visibility and some light drizzle; started to lift a bit at 08:30 and then some blue patches after 9:00am.

Visibility only improved marginally. Light SE wind.

Best today were
More Wigeon, both at the lake and then Trench.
A 1st year Common Gull at Trench – my first of the year in Shropshire!

Few over flights this morning in poor visibility: most after the cloud lifted and broke.

Today’s over flight counts
- 10 Sky Larks: party of 9 W over The Flash; and one or more heard over Trench
- 1 Meadow Pipit over The Flash
- 5 Pied Wagtails over the lake
- 10 Redwings over the lake
- c.150 Starlings: 118 over the lake (c.40 may have come from a roost); and 36 over Trench (some local birds?)
- >40 Goldfinches but also many of these(?) in the trees around the lake

Another huge count of corvids though difficult to quantify in the poor visibility.

(120th visit of the year)

Other notes
1 Cormorant over
Wigeon seen in flight and surprised to see it wasn't a drake as I thought yesterday’s bird was. The explanation – it was a duck and the drake was elsewhere on the water.
Many more Tufted Duck this morning – somewhat fewer at The Flash would not entirely compensate.
The Coot count was a ‘best estimate’ in the mist and I likely missed many lurking at the edges.
Visited the usual Redwing roost-area pre-dawn: seemed to be unused at the moment.
4 Mistle Thrushes flew S – were these migrants?
Most of the Jackdaws came through in one swirling mass in the very misty conditions and my estimate of c.600 is possibly well understated.
The Rooks drifted through early in numerous small groups, many fewer than current typical numbers.

1 Little Grebe
4 Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant
2 Swans
2 (1) Wigeon
3 (2) Gadwall
13 (7) Mallard
3 (2) Pochard
95 (46?) Tufted Duck
9 Moorhen
137 Coots (weather affected)
c.175 Black-headed Gulls
215 Lesser Black-backed Gulls counted: 132 of these stopped on the water.
7 Herring Gulls noted: just 1 of these stopped on the water.
Corvid roost dispersal: >900 Jackdaws but ‘only’ 66 Rooks

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 9:07am - 9:48am

(101st visit of the year)

5 Great Crested Grebes for certain today: 2 stayed close to the nest-site and were perhaps adults, though they looked just as much like juveniles as the others.
All the geese, apart from 6 Canada Geese and the feral goose flew in.
Yesterday’s Pochard gone.
Huge party of c.350 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew W to the N as the weather cleared
6 fruiting bodies of the Shaggy Ink-cap / Lawyer’s Wig (Coprinus comatus) fungus found at S end.

5 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
18 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling-type small Canada Goose
55 Canada Geese
1 all-white feral goose
41 (27) Mallard
1 all-white feral duck
28 (18) Tufted Ducks
3 Moorhen
14 Coots
66 Black-headed Gulls
c.360 Lesser Black-backed Gulls: 2 of these on the water

Shaggy Ink-cap / Lawyer’s Wig (Coprinus comatus) fungus: looks great when, as here, fresh: soon forms as bell-shaped cap that quickly autodigests to an inky black liquid which has indeed been used as ink. The scientific name component ‘comatus’ does not seem to indicate it has any adverse effect (comatose?) – it is classed as ‘edible’ at this stage and apparently cultivated in China. Try at your own risk, especially as the similar Magpie fungus is poisonous.

And here are two more fruiting bodies of the Shaggy Ink-cap. At this stage they grow very rapidly and you can see the smaller one still has earth on top from its very recent emergence.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 9:56am - 10:26am

(44th visit of the year)

Mute Swan cygnets both gone.
8 of the Canada Geese were passing over towards Middle Pool.
As highlighted 3 Wigeon new in: 2 drakes. My first of the year at this site.
The 1st winter Common Gull also as highlighted: did not stay long-enough for a photo.
A Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) found on roof of my car: wherever it came from it ended up here!

The counts
2 Little Grebes
4 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
1 Grey Heron
2 Swans
42 Canada Geese
3 (2) Wigeon
8 (5) Mallard
29 (12?) Tufted Ducks
9 Moorhens
164 Coots
7 Black-headed Gulls
1 Common Gull
23 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

This on my car roof as I prepared to leave Trench Lock Pool: it seems to be a Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) of the form succinea, also known as the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird – so it was a day early! This Asian species was introduced in to America and Europe to control aphids – all ladybird larvae eat aphids and the larvae of this species does so voraciously. As with all such introductions it has had unwanted side-effects, in this case out-competing with our smaller native species and even eating them, as well as frequently biting humans. In the USA it has been known to contaminate grapes with its pungent body fluids and alter the taste of the wine. It is very variable in colour and number of spots, but I make it 19 here which rules out almost all our native species and is very typical for this species.

I persuaded it to get up and walk about: and yes the brown legs are another ID feature. Here you can see from the white patches why it is also sometimes confused with the Eyed Ladybird.

(Ed Wilson)