7 Dec 14

Priorslee Lake: 7:04am - 10:01am

8.5°C > 7.5°C  Squally showers moving away and then mainly fine with some sun. Gusty fresh / strong WSW wind veered NW as clearance went through and much fresher air arrived. Very good visibility.

(139th visit of the year)

Counts over the lake.
- 5 (1) Goosander
- c.150 large gulls, at least 12 Herring Gulls
- 68 Wood Pigeons (in addition to local movements)
- 2 Pied Wagtails
- 133 Redwings
- 210 Jackdaws
- 10 Rooks
- 8 Ravens
- 1 Redpoll

Birds seen leaving roosts around the lake (in addition to the over flights)
- 12 Redwings

The counts from the water
1 Little Grebe
6 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
6 (3) Gadwall
9 (5) Mallard
5 (4) Pochard
93 (55) Tufted Duck
1 + H Water Rail
13 Moorhens
175 Coots
72 Black-headed Gulls
5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
14 Herring Gulls
1 Great Black-backed Gull

Little Grebe lurking in the reeds.
Cetti's Warbler still present (and as skulking as ever).
2 Goldcrests seen sparring with one with its crest wide open and glowing bright orange in the poor light.
The Jackdaws went over when the squall was at its strongest and used many different flight-paths as small groups battled their way, mainly hedge-hopping and so many were probably missed.
The 8 Ravens flew N in a group apparently untroubled by the wind.
No Starlings seen leaving any roost: the wind was buffeting their usual reed-bed and they may have been forced to move.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 10:11am - 11:17am

(52nd visit of the year)

The Long-tailed Duck again not located despite recent pix on the web.
2 Goldcrests also here.

Count of birds passing over here.
- 1 Pied Wagtail
- 3 Redwings
- 27 Starlings

The counts
4 Little Grebes
4 Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant
2 Swans
9 Canada Geese
11 (7) Mallard
3 feral Mallard-type ducks
47 (20) Tufted Ducks
12 Moorhens
151 Coots
146 Black-headed Gulls
9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
10 Herring Gulls

A Buzzard over Trench Pool. Probably an immature as there is no dark tip to the tail. Note there is a missing feather in the tail and this may be as the bird gradually acquires adult plumage.

Not a shot for the purists: these two all-white ducks appeared at Trench about 2 months ago. Not clear that they are able to fly. Note only the back bird shows the hint of the curly tail of drake Mallard so perhaps they are a pair. How they got here is a mystery.

This bird is clearly a 2nd winter gull: a brutish-looking bird with a large bill so probably a male. Only the mantle shows the blue-grey of adult plumage: the bill has a prominent dark and uneven band with a pale tip and some pink at the base: the iris is no longer the brown of juveniles and in transition to the yellow of the adult. The head looks rather white for a Herring Gull but the consensus from gull experts who have looked at the photo is ‘just’ a Herring Gull (I assume the Coot in front is just calling and not being sick!).

Here is another view with the extent of the pale tip of the bill rather more obvious.

Here are two Canada Geese: there is a noticeable size difference between these birds and an obvious difference in their plumage tones. But the smaller bird is still way too large for a ‘Cackling’-type goose which would also have a noticeably small bill. I can only offer a male and female to explain the size differential and individual variation to explain the different plumage tones.

This is a classic 4th winter Herring Gull. there are just a few dark feathers along the front edge of the primary coverts that will be lost when it is a full adult. However the yellow bill with prominent red spot (is there a hint of dark border?), the lack of any dark band on the tail and the mirrors (white spots) within the outer two primaries are all adult features and eliminate any possibility this is a 3rd winter bird.

Compare and contrast: on this 3rd winter bird the dark on the coverts is more extensive, the mark on the bill is black and only the outer primary shows a small mirror. We cannot see the tail for 100% confirmation of a 3rd winter Herring Gull.

Here is another strange probable 3rd winter bird with very smooth-looking plumage. Also ‘just’ a Herring Gull.

To complete today’s gull puzzles here are adult Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls together. What caught my attention was the rather weak bill with black marks on what otherwise appears to be the adult Herring Gull: the bill should have a red mark on the lower mandible only. What else could it be? The size of the bill more resembles that of a Common Gull but that species is smaller with a more rounded head, would show a dark eye and the dark on the bill would be smaller and neater. A Ring-billed Gull is very unlikely but should look smaller and that species always has a neat vertical mark on the bill at all ages. So? ‘Just’ another Herring Gull I fear.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006
Priorslee Lake
Black-headed Gull c.680
Lesser Black-backed Gull c.830
Yellow-legged Gull 1 adult
Herring Gull 9: 6 adults and 3 immatures
Great Black-backed Gull 1 2nd winter bird, briefly
(Ed Wilson)