13 Jan 15

Priorslee Lake7:12am – 9:36am

3.0C > 4.5C  Overnight rain clearing away to the E: fine for a while, then clouded with sleet / rain after 11:20. Moderate WSW wind. Good visibility.

Note: as from 2015 I have adopted the latest BOU (British Ornithologists’ Union) species order that differs slightly from the more traditional order. See British List Here

My first visits of the year: the recent generally mild weather has seen rather little change: the gales have not brought any significant numbers of gulls.

Some signs of spring this morning.
One of the Cormorants at Trench Lock now has breeding head-plumes as well as the white thigh patch.
Great Crested Grebes seen displaying at Trench Lock.
Coots are now much more aggressive with nest-building observed at Trench Lock and numbers slightly lower suggesting some movement away.
Blue Tits chasing and all tits now in full song.
Song Thrushes in song at both the lake and The Flash.
Dunnocks now singing from exposed perches.
The Hazel catkins are now strikingly obvious and beginning to acquire the yellow colour Gorse in flower at Trench Middle Pool.

(1st visit of the year)

Counts of birds flying over the lake (therefore in addition to those on / around lake)
- 3 immature Mute Swans
- 23 Canada Geese
- 45 Black-headed Gulls
- 43 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls
- 582 Jackdaws
- 93 Rooks
- 6 Ravens
- 6 Redwings

Counts of birds leaving roosts around the lake
- 58 Magpies
- 16 Redwings

The counts from the water
2 Mute Swans
6 (3♂) Gadwall
13 (7♂) Mallard
4 (4♂) Pochard
53 (26♂) Tufted Duck
1 Cormorant
1 Little Grebe
7 Great Crested Grebes
1 Water Rail (heard only)
19 Moorhens
152 Coots
116 Black-headed Gulls
5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
7 Herring Gulls
3 Great Black-backed Gulls

Other notes
>400 Wood Pigeons to the NE in the Wards Rough area: otherwise rather few seen.
Kingfisher making its usual early morning round of the lake.
Jackdaws both far to W and E as well as overhead this morning – some probably missed.
Many more Rooks than throughout December with birds both preceding the Jackdaws (as usual) and then more birds mixed in with smaller groups of Jackdaws.

Much later
Rather few Redwings in the roost.

The current state of the Hazel catkins is shown here: more or less full size now and showing some yellow tinge, not complete until the pollen is available ....

... and a view from the ‘other side’. Some of the catkins in these groups have yet to expand.

... in close-up the hooded ‘flowers’ and the stamens are just about visible.

A Goldcrest works the tree trunk in search of insect eggs tucked in the crevices. Not much to go on for identification here. Obvious small size, the best clue is the white patch in the wing, shared only with the rather unlikely Firecrest. That species has a bold face pattern which would be obvious even on this rather dark photo.

A different bird but still a Goldcrest: note the typical large dark eye in the pale face.

A pair of Ravens tumbling, as they do. Needs to be seen in video really. Note that when the bills are open as they call these look rather thinner and more curved that you might expect, but the prominent ‘fingers’ of the primaries confirms the ID. Of course with the sound there would be now doubt.

And here one goes on another roll: here the diamond-shaped tail can be seen.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 9:39am - 10:23am

(1st visit of the year)

The 17 Goosander flew off just as I arrived and therefore unable to count number of drakes.
3 Ravens over here in addition to those at the lake.
At least 14 Goldfinches in the Alders here: none at the lake this morning, just single fly-overs – perhaps all the cones at the lake eaten?.

Counts of birds flying over The Flash (therefore in addition to those on / around water)
- 8 Canada Geese
- 23 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 7 Herring Gulls
- 3 Ravens

The counts from the water
2 Mute Swans
32 Canada Geese
1 all-white feral goose
37 (26♂) Mallard
1 all-white feral duck
27 (13♂) Tufted Ducks
17 (?♂) Goosander
2 Great Crested Grebes
5 Moorhens
15 Coots
127 Black-headed Gulls
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
9 Herring Gulls

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool10:31am – 11:00am // 11:35am – 11:40am

(1st visit of the year)

Now where did the Muscovy-type duck appear from? Doubt it can fly. It is certainly very friendly
still unsure whether there was 1♂ and 2♀ or 1♂ and 1♀ Shoveler – I changed my mind at least 3 times!

The counts from the water
2 Mute Swans
1 Canada Goose
13 (6♂) Mallard
3 feral Mallard-type ducks
1 feral Muscovy-type duck
3 (1♂) Shoveler
2 (2♂) Pochard
50 (17♂) Tufted Ducks
2 (0♂) Goosander
3 Cormorants
1 Grey Heron
1 Little Grebe
4 Great Crested Grebes
11 Moorhens
146 Coots
82 Black-headed Gulls
49 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
8 Herring Gulls

The new and rather friendly Muscovy-type feral duck that has appeared at Trench Lock. I do not pretend to be an expert but the wings look rather short as if they have been clipped to stop it flying away. So presumably it was brought here by someone.

One of the Cormorants at Trench Lock showing the head plumes that older birds acquire as part of their breeding plumage. It also shows the crest on the nape. The yellow bare skin on the chin is also brighter as the bird comes in to breeding condition. The top of the white thigh patch is just about visible above the water-line.

Arriving Canada Geese startle a first-winter Herring Gull in to flight. All but one of the gulls in the background are adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, very few of which have the heavy head-streaking shown by many birds.

One Canada Goose with the brakes on under water and the other having a honk before it to settles on the water.

This Coot is already busy nest-building.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool11:05am – 11:30am

(1st visit of the year)

Nothing special

- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 5 Herring Gulls
- 1 Sparrowhawk

The counts
3 Mute Swans
41 Canada Geese
29 (18♂) Mallard
5 feral Mallard-type ducks
3 (2♂) Pochard4 (1♂) Tufted Ducks
1 Grey Heron
1 Great Crested Grebe
15 Moorhen
10 Coots
148 Black-headed Gulls
2 Herring Gulls

An old country saying has it that ‘when gorse is in flower, kissing is in season’: or rendered as ‘when gorse is out of flower, kissing is out of season’. What is not generally known is that there are three different species of gorse that flower at different periods. As each species flowers over a long period it is unusual for ‘kissing to be out of season’. The name ‘gorse’ comes from the Saxon ‘gorst’ meaning ‘waste’ – the old name for open heathland, the favourite location of the plant. Not much of that at Trench Middle Pool these days.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2014
Priorslee Lake
1st winter drake Scaup and two female Scaup still.
(Paul King)
Drake Scaup present still.
(Tony Beckett)
A snowy day
Yellow-legged Gull
Great Black-backed Gulls
(Ed Wilson)
Great Black-backed Gulls
Adult Yellow-legged Gull
(Ed Wilson)