1 May 15

Priorslee Lake: 5:28pm - 9:04am

Telford sunrise: 5:38am

2.0°C > 11.0°C Some thin high cloud after a cool frosty night: cloud cleared for a while. Light NE wind becoming SE moderate. Very good visibility.

(43rd visit of the year)

- female Kestrel hovering over SW area and then along the M54 verge before 6:30am. Later presumed same flew low over carrying prey and scattering the Sand Martins.
- 2 drake Tufted Duck early but flew off W.
- 2 Oystercatchers on the SW grass with one bird display-flying around the W end of the lake: I assume these are the same birds first seen on 12 March and intermittently since. Probably nesting nearby: but where?
- pair of Coot with 3 new juveniles this morning.
- 1 Sky Lark flew N calling: another in song over fields to the E.
- hirundines again present only after c.7:20am in variable numbers. Up to 40 Sand Martins again and also a pair of Swallows noted.
- one of the two singing Willow Warblers was singing from the very top of a c.50’ Ash tree – I associated these with low and scrubby habitats.
- no Lesser Whitethroats heard today: not entirely surprised as this species tends to arrive and sing until a mate arrives and singing is very sporadic afterwards.
- 2 Common Whitethroats doing display flights this morning: another singing and perhaps even a 4th.
- 2 Sedge Warblers in song this morning, both along the S side: perhaps even a 3rd.
- again 4 Reed Warblers singing: one of these from bushes some distance from reeds.
- first hoverflies of the year and many of them too: all Episyrphus balteatus?

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 5 Greylag Geese in 2 groups
- 1 Canada Goose
- 1 Herring Gull
- 2 separate Collared Doves
- 1 Sky Lark
- 49 Jackdaws
- 59 Rooks
- 2 Ravens

Too late for any count of birds leaving roosts around the lake.

Count of hirundines etc
- >40 Sand Martins
- 2 Swallows

Count of singing warblers
- 12 Chiffchaffs
- 2 Willow Warblers
- 11 Blackcaps
- 2 Garden Warblers
- 3 or 4 Common Whitethroats
- 2 or 3 Sedge Warblers
- 4 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans: pen on nest
- 1 Canada Goose: flew off
- 5 (3♂) Mallard
- 2 (2♂) Tufted Ducks: flew off
- 2 Oystercatchers: flew off
- 1 Grey Heron
- 8 Great Crested Grebes
- 6 Moorhens
- 38 + 3 (1 brood) Coots

The sunrise lights the thin high clouds.

And from a different perspective when there was more cloud.

Rather dark when this female Kestrel was hovering over the SW grass: but nothing ventured.... You can see the way the alula are pushed well forward at the bend of the wing and also see that the feathers on the upper surface of the left wing are lifting showing that the wing is in effect ‘stalled’.

And from a different angle.

Still rather too little light to freeze this, but identifiably a Jay in flight.

Much later a female Kestrel shot across the lake carrying prey – you can see the tail of what is likely a field mouse hanging down. All the Sand Martins alarm-called and scattered.

A Common Whitethroat. This bird had been singing so clearly a male but the head is rather warmer-toned than I would expect on a male. The white throat is compressed and not as obvious as usual.

Later the same bird in song. With the throat puffed out and the wind catching the feathers from this angle it is almost a ‘blackthroat’.

A different bird taken later complete with proper white throat and also the blue-grey head I would expect.

This sprite shouting its song is a Willow Tit just visible between branches. Seems that this declining species is once again breeding here.

One of the Coots with their 3 offspring – first I have seen here this year.

“feed me, feed me!!”. Sorry but I think these juveniles are ugly. But the parents seem to think otherwise.

Looking alert these two drake Tufted Ducks were about to depart. Not sure why one bird shows a longer crest as both seem to be full adults though I could be persuaded that the bird with the shorter crest has a less bright eye and a more diffuse ‘nail’ to the bill and might therefore be a 1st summer bird.

Not entirely sure what is going on here: these two Great Crested Grebes were flat in the water and making noises which seemed to be being answered from within the reeds, though with Song Thrush and Reed Warbler in full cry just next to me it was hard to locate these sounds.

Periodically one bird would pull away.

Then they would both pull away and have a quick display – as much as you can when you have soggy plumes from sticking your head in the water.

And then back to the threat, if that is what it is.

But at least they can laugh about it!

Not the easiest species to photo – a Sand Martin showing the breast band, often hard to see with the eye. Perversely this was the first shot I took and most of the next 100 or so have all been junked!

This was an exception.

And this, emphasising the plain brown upper surface of this species.

And this, where both the plain back and breast band can be seen as can the often rather striking white underside.

Here we can see the very short bill of this species – it opens its gape to Hoover up insects. Note too some feather damage on the right wing: well it has just flown in from Central Africa.

And the next to last.........

and last............

A smart male Pied Wagtail. The grey flanks immediately rule out this being a migrant White Wagtail, the form that breeds in much of mainland Europe.

This is what I know as Hedge Garlic but has many local names with Jack-by-the-Hedge the most common. Alliaria petiolata is the scientific name. The crushed leaves do indeed smell and taste of garlic and can be eaten ‘hot’ from the plant – and, yes, they are slightly peppery as well.

More garlic: this is Wild Garlic, aka Ramsons (Allium ursinum – hence also Bear Garlic, so named because Brown Bears dig them up). The flower-head is just opening here. However I have now realised that this is indeed Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). See 11 May Here

A hoverfly. I think Episyrphus balteatus: it looks a bit bulky here but I think that is due to the angle of view fore-shortening the body.

Not as boring as often thought – a Moorhen reveals subtle colouration.

(Ed Wilson)


Wrekin: 9:15am - 12:15pm

(3rd visit of the year)

Made a traditional Spring visit to see four species of summer visitor that are easiest to see here in the Telford area – these being Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Tree Pipit.

The visit started well with 2 Redstarts heard, a Marsh Tit carrying food and a singing Garden Warbler. The tit was my first for this year; and warbler new for me at this location

After this the birding rather went downhill as I struggled uphill. The Redstarts stopped singing and I never saw them. It took a long while before I heard my first Pied Flycatcher and after some searching I eventually located and photographed another male. Perhaps it was rather too late in the year – birds already paired and less inclined to sing? Certainly at 10:30 in the morning

Tree Pipit was somewhat easier when I flushed one feeding on the ground in the conifers near the top where two males were song-flighting from the tree-tops. Also here were several Meadow Pipits for direct comparison – I had missed these on my previous visit

And I finally caught up with a Wood Warbler singing very close to the main path

Among the other possibilities that might have been were Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher. Perhaps still too early for the latter: but it is generally unobtrusive with a quiet and undistinguished song that makes it hard to find.

It is gorgeous in Spring here.

Of course one reason to visit is the bluebells. The scientific name, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, gives a clue to its close relation, the cultivated Hyacinth.

A swathe of blue in many areas.

A carpet even.

And again.

England’s green and pleasant land: er? yellow?

This Nuthatch was rooting about on the ground – not that unusual behaviour but you have to be quick usually.

This male Pied Flycatcher was not at all co-operative, hiding the other side of a large tree and forcing me to shoot through the smallest of windows to get any sort of shot.

And here with a sparkle in his eye!

And again.

A Tree Pipit. Apart from being on a tree the best ID feature at this angle is the normal length hind claw – on a Meadow Pipit it would be at least twice the length. Other ID features are rather hidden and the light has given the bird a rather browner cast than would be typical.

When it turned around other clues were the rather neat streaking on the breast and these fading away along the flanks and, compared with Meadow Pipit, a rather heavier bill.

This is a more typical pose, singing from atop a tree and making short display flights. Note how much greyer this bird looks out in the open.

On this Meadow Pipit you cannot see the hind claw but note how the flank is more heavily streaked and the bird looks somewhat plainer. The calls and songs differ and are diagnostic.

Upside down in here is what is almost certainly a Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius). Here it is visiting the unobtrusive small flowers of the bilberry plants here. Specific identification of the various bilberry plants is harder than identification of bees!

Another of The Wrekin’s specialities: a Wood Warbler. Compared with Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers these are strikingly white on the belly with an obvious yellow was on the throat. The bill is also very distinct in being all pinkish from underneath with no dark tip.

This shot shows another feature – the very long wings. These enable it to migrate further in to Africa than many other species, a feat it seems to do in one long hop as it is unusual for Wood Warblers to be seen on migration – they just ‘turn up’ back at traditional sites in oak woodland in west and north of the UK. You can also see the olive tone on the back.

The yellow wash on the throat and pale bill are well seen here as is the prominent dark mark through the eye.

See how long the wings are.

And perseverance: all the features in one shot!

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2007, 2008,  2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013

Nedge Hill - Map
16 Wheatears
(Ed Wilson)

Nedge HillMap
1 Whinchat
4 Wheatear
2 Garden Warbler
(John Isherwood)

Nedge Hill Map
1 Whinchat
22 Wheatear
(John Isherwood)

Nedge HillMap
5 Wheatears
(Ed Wilson)

5+ Tree Pipit
3 Redstart
Wood Warbler
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee LakeMap
15 Mute Swans
(Martin Adlam)

Priorslee LakeMap
(Carp Anglers)

Priorslee LakeMap
2 drake Ruddy Ducks
1 Dunlin
1 Whimbrel
5 Common Sandpipers
(Ed Wilson)