16 Dec 14

Priorslee Lake:

Evening Update: 2:29pm - 3:05pm

(149th visit of the year)

A short visit looking from the lay-be. Mainly (a failed) attempt to get Common Gull on my year list for this site.

Many gulls with nothing exceptional found: for the record
c.220 Black-headed Gulls
1 Yellow-legged Gull
>2000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
>300 Herring Gulls
6 Great Black-backed Gull

Morning Report: 7:04am - 9:42am

5.0°C > 6.5°C  Variable cloud clearing later and then high cloud from SW. Light / moderate W wind. Very good visibility.

Very little flying over the lake this morning. Gulls started to arrive in some numbers after c.9:15am with, I estimated, >4000 present when I drove past at c.10:15am. On a later visit numbers were somewhat lower.

(148th visit of the year)

Counts over the lake
- 11 Canada Geese
- 23 Black-headed Gulls
- c.110 large gulls
- 1 Pied Wagtail
- 4 Redwings
- >675 Jackdaws
- 3 Rooks

Birds leaving roosts around the lake
58 Magpies
No Redwing roost count made this morning.

The counts from the water
2 Little Grebes
3 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
6 (3) Gadwall
10 (5) Mallard
1 (1) Pochard
51 (26) Tufted Duck
5 (0) Goosanders
2 Water Rails: 1 seen, 1 heard only
12 Moorhens
187 Coots
118 Black-headed Gulls
c.425 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
72 Herring Gulls
3 Great Black-backed Gull

Other notes
Now 2 Little Grebes in different parts of the lake.
A party of 9 Canada Geese flew outbound: these seemed to return a few minutes later – there was one noticeably small bird in with this group. Perhaps the Cackling Goose-type that has been in the area for about two years.
The 5 brownhead Goosanders came from the W, unusually: then circled for some minutes before landing. They stayed less than 10 minutes and returned W, all before sun-up.
A Woodcock flushed from the grass along the S side pre-dawn.
One, at least, Water Rail calling in NW area: the other bird seen in the ditch in the NE area. First bird I have seen here for three winters. Several small trees have fallen in to the ditch and it is now much harder to view.
Male Great Spotted Woodpecker seen in the same ditch as the Water Rail, scrabbling about on the ground: unusual to see this species on the ground.
Great, Blue and Willow Tit all heard in song this morning – as well as the regular Song Thrush: well it was a mild morning.
Cetti's Warbler still present.
It is perhaps worth noting that many years ago I used to use the first Wren’s song as the cue to start searching for the dispersing Rooks and Jackdaws. At this time of year as the birds were often hard to locate, only illuminated by the street lights. Recently birds start passing some 10 minutes after the first Wren and can fairly easily be seen with natural light. From this I assume that the roosts of this species have moved further away: the birds leave their roost at the same time but take longer to pass overhead.
Another Mottled Umber moth on one of the lamps.

The 5 brownhead Goosanders leaving the lake pre-dawn: a neat and tight formation.

Another sunrise: not too impressive ...

... but looked rather better later.

 Beautiful light over the lake early.

Here we can compare and contrast adult Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls (with 2 Herring Gulls thrown in). The Great Black-backs are clearly significantly larger and their backs are really black (but note that the bird 2nd from the right is likely a Scandinavian race Lesser Black-backed Gull and almost as dark). The Great Black-backs always show white heads, lacking the dark streaking typical of most other large gulls in winter. The large bill is another clue.

This perhaps makes the contrast even more obvious.

Here is a 2nd winter Great Black-backed Gull. Note the large bill, the white head and the rather scaly appearance. These, the largest of our gulls, take at least four years to acquire full adult plumage. A 1st winter bird would have an all-black bill.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 12:23pm - 12:55

(122nd visit of the year)

The counts from the water only
3 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
15 Canada Geese
1 all-white feral goose
24 (16) Mallard
1 all-white feral duck
5 (4) Pochard
23 (11) Tufted Ducks
9 Moorhens
14 Coots
126 Black-headed Gulls
119 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
49 Herring Gulls

*** visit at different time from normal so direct comparisons not necessarily valid  ****
Little Grebe not located – the additional bird at the lake?
3 more drake Pochard new in: birds from the lake?
No Goosanders: fed and gone?
Many more gulls, especially large gulls

Yesterday it was a close-up of a duck Pochard: here is a drake. The red-eye just about keeping watch on what is going on. And wonderful patterning.

But it is evidently hard to stay awake.
A classic shot of a soaring Buzzard with wings and tail fully spread.

And the same Buzzard going places with wings angled. The cere – the waxy, fleshy covering to the base of the upper mandible – looks rather pale here. This indicates this is an immature bird as does the lack of dark band across the tip of the tail (but note in the previous photo the different light hints at more of tail-band).

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2009 and 2011
Priorslee Lake
6 Great Black-backed Gulls (3 Adult, 3rd winter, 2 1st winter)
(John Isherwood)
Black-necked Grebe
(Ed Wilson)