19 Dec 14

Priorslee Lake: 7:03am - 10:03am

5.5°C > 6.5°C  Clearing after overnight rain; a few light showers. Fresh NW wind. Excellent visibility. Very ‘fresh’ feeling.

(151st visit of the year)

Counts of birds flying over the lake (therefore in addition to those on / around lake).
- 3 Mallard
- 1 Tufted Duck
- 184 large gulls
- 5 Feral Pigeons
- 1 Stock Dove
- 4 Pied Wagtails
- 19 Fieldfare
- 16 Redwings
- >850 Jackdaws
- 12 Rooks
- 1 Linnet

Birds leaving roosts around the lake
53 Magpies
4 Redwing (incomplete count)
4 Starlings

The counts from the water
2 Little Grebes
5 Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant, briefly
(1 Grey Heron when I drove past much later)
2 Swans
6 (3) Gadwall
7 (3) Mallard
54 (??) Tufted Duck
1 Water Rail heard only
9 Moorhens
?? Coots
c.180 Black-headed Gulls
54 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
124 Herring Gulls
9 Great Black-backed Gulls

Other notes
No Pochard today.
6 of the Tufted Ducks flew off before dawn: of the 48 remaining 29 were drakes.
Coots not counted: icy blast over dam this morning!
>130 Wood Pigeons in trees to SE of lake, alongside the M54.
Cetti's Warbler still present.
Larger than usual Jackdaw passage this morning: may have been some more Rooks hiding in the parties.
Very small Starling roost last night.
3 different Mottled Umber moths on three different lamps.

Mottled Umber moth is a very variable species: it can look like this ...

... or like this.

The sunrise this morning: behind the Coot – the dark object in the centre foreground – we see the unmistakeable distant silhouette of a Great Crested Grebe.

Up close and personal with a 2nd winter Herring Gull.

Another instructive Herring Gull photo. The white trailing edge along the secondaries looks surprisingly wide here. Also unusual is the very restricted amount of black in the wing tips. I think this is mainly because the wings look more ‘rounded’ than normal and it seems the outer primaries are still being regrown after the moult. This means the white trailing edge is much small than on the secondaries which may be why that looks wider than usual. The lack of black on the wing-tips may also be because this looks like a 3rd or 4th winter bird showing a hint of brown along the leading edge of the wing and dark on the bill – though the latter are rather subjective at this range and angle.

Amazing what you learn when you look properly, as you can with photos. I never realised that the gape of Black-headed Gulls could look as prominent is shown here. But there are other photos on the web that show the same.

A strange one this: clear blue sky and a rainbow – indeed it was raining.

Dismayed that in the latest taxonomic revisions that the BOU (British Ornithologists’ Union) places Cormorant after Swans, Geese and Ducks. To me they look quite prehistoric – as I think this picture shows – and thus would warrant being at the start of the order.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 10:07am - 10:44am

(124th visit of the year)

Very little change from yesterday afternoon – a few more Tufted Ducks and Goosanders.
Male Chaffinch seen apparently feeding on / from Alder cones: cannot recall seeing this behaviour before.

Counts of birds flying over the water (in addition to those on / around the water)
3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
21 Herring Gulls

The counts from the water
1 Little Grebe
4 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
6 Canada Geese
1 all-white feral goose
37 (27) Mallard
1 all-white feral duck
5 (4) Pochard still
43 (21) Tufted Ducks
11 (3) Goosanders
3 Moorhens
13 Coots
117 Black-headed Gulls
3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
5 Herring Gulls

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2009 and 2011
Priorslee Lake
1 adult Yellow legged Gull
5 Great Black-backed Gull (3 Adults, 2 1st winters)
(John Isherwood)
Black necked Grebe
1 Great Black-backed Gull (3rd Winter)
(John Isherwood / Ed Wilson)