3 Nov 14

Priorslee Lake: 6:17am - 9:20am

6.0°C > 7.5°C:  Clearing after more overnight rain; much fresher; light SW wind; very good visibility.

Apart from Wood Pigeons fewer over flights today, possibly after the weekend’s disturbance.

Today’s counts from the lake
- c.2650 Wood Pigeons
- 2 Sky Larks (and 5 over The Flash later)
- 1 Meadow Pipit
- 9 Pied Wagtails
- 27 Fieldfares
- 22 Redwings (with 17 more in trees around the lake)
- 303 Starlings (141 came out of two roosts in the reeds)
- 3 Goldfinches
- 1 Redpoll

(124th visit of the year)

Other notes
Numbers likely affected by the motor boats rushing around the lake yesterday and throwing up bow-waves.
Little Grebe was uncharacteristically often in the centre of the water – different bird?
Gadwall gone.
Drake and 2 duck Pochard flew in (and probably the same birds flew in at The Flash later).
In addition to the parties of Wood Pigeons flying S I logged >100 flying W and some of these individuals or small groups were probably heading to catch-up with migrant parties. Many of the big parties were ‘sucking up’ birds from distant trees to tag along.
An Epirrita sp. (November-type) moth on one of the newly-repaired (after 5 months!) street-lights

1 Little Grebe
2 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
13 (?) Mallard
5 (3) Pochard
56 (31?) Tufted Duck
1 Water Rail
13 Moorhen
174 Coots
c.85 Black-headed Gulls
195 Lesser Black-backed Gulls counted: just 9 of these stopped on the water
1 Herring Gull flew over
Corvid roost dispersal: c.850 Jackdaws and 35 Rooks

By way of a PS: the flock of >50 ducks I logged from the lake on 13 August and which I thought, from a ‘grab-shot’ were Pintail have been re-identified as Goosander. Presumably adults taking this year’s juvenile birds for a flight from their River Severn breeding grounds. Not such a spectacular sighting as I thought, but still a noteworthy record.

As a footnote to yesterday’s flight shots of Tufted Ducks here are two from above showing the clear white wing-bar. Both ducks from the pale at the base of their bills: the wing-pattern of drakes and ducks is identical.

“Rats with bushy tails and good PR”. The Grey Squirrel is a yet another foreign introduction that has gone all wrong, striping bark from trees, eating birds eggs and nestlings and both out-competing and introducing a pox virus that kills our native Red Squirrel. Trouble is they can look rather cute.

So this is not cute? Quite by chance this afternoon I found this Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) on a feeder at the SWT Reserve at Wood Lane. Don’t put feeders so close to the ground.

Come closer! An immature Blackbird (look at the pale edges to the breast and back feathers) stares at the camera. Suspect this will grow up a female – would expect darker plumage in a male at this age. Note too the ‘whiskers’ at the base of the bill. Not sure what the purpose on a Blackbird would be – they are most noticeable on fly-catchers and allies when they may be used to effectively widen the mouth and trap flying insects.

This morning’s November Moth-type Epirrita sp.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 9:24am - 10:17am

(103rd visit of the year)

Another of the trees has fallen from the edge of the island in to the water: the island is slowly diminishing due to both wave action and erosion by the geese climbing in and out.

3 or 6 Great Crested Grebes? 3 loafing at the S end of the island when I arrived. When I had walked the short distance along Derwent Drive to view the other end of the island there were 3 loafing there. Later when I was on the E / SE side and most (but not all) of the lake was visible there only seemed to be 2!  I had assumed the increase was because at least 2 had gone from the lake.
As noted above the 3 Pochard flew in probably from the lake.
Also 45 Tufted Duck flew in, perhaps also from there.
1 Raven over.

6? Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
7 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling-type small Canada Goose
48 Canada Geese
1 all-white feral goose
28 (18) Mallard
1 all-white feral duck
3 (1) Pochard
69 (30?) Tufted Ducks
7 Moorhen
15 Coots
72 Black-headed Gulls
4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls: 1 of these on the water

Here is a ‘normal’ Canada Goose with the small Cackling Goose type. Here you can directly compare both the size and the difference in colour tone and the browner neck and breast of the smaller bird. The bill too is obviously small, though direct comparison not possible in this shot. The races / species involved in the Canada Goose complex is a minefield for wild birds and since the Cackling Goose is wearing a ring and likely from a collection and possibly a hybrid anyway we’ll leave it at that!

Now this really is a Shaggy Ink-cap!

Food is in the offing! A noisy group of Black-headed Gulls prepare to fight for the spoils while Greylag and Canada Geese and Coots paddle in for the feast.

Compare and contrast: in this shot the red legs of the adults stand out from the pinker legs of first-winter birds.

Somebody’s got the spoils and makes off.

Meanwhile every man for himself – there is food in there somewhere.

 “I want some of that” (probably all of it given the chance!)

(Ed Wilson)