11 May 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:48am - 8:17am

Telford sunrise: 5:19am

11.0°C > 15.5°C. Areas of medium cloud gave way to low cloud and showery drizzle with bright spells gradually becoming more and more prevalent. Moderate SSE wind, veering SW later. Good visibility and somewhat hazy.

Several highlights this morning
- the best was the rufous- (sometimes hepatic-) morph female Cuckoo that flew low over Trench Lock: this was, I think, only my second-ever rufous-morph – such morphs are always females. They are typically confusing birds as well as being unobtrusive – females rarely call to draw attention to their presence. In flight superficially like a falcon but what falcon sp. has a more or less uniformly rusty-brown upper-side? A Kestrel would show darker outer wings and grey or grey-barred tail. And the wing-action was all-wrong for a Kestrel anyway. Eventually it clicked! And my first-ever Cuckoo at this site.
Other sightings worth highlighting
- Peregrine over Trench Lock Pool – my first of the year: and just 5 minutes before the Cuckoo
- Reed Warbler singing at The Flash – my first for 3 years here
- Green-veined White butterfly at Trench Lock Pool – also my first of the year

(52nd visit of the year)

Other notes
- just 1 Oystercatcher this morning: it flew in while I was standing on the SW grass – its preferred location – so it flew around calling and then left even though I had moved away by then.
- an immature Black-headed Gull was patrolling up and down the water when I arrived at 4:50am and did so for at least 30 minutes before disappearing.
- a few passing hirundines until the showery drizzle arrived when both Swifts and Sand Martins appeared.
- the Willow Warbler must be religious: it gave up singing for Sunday: he was back singing this morning in the same spot.
- Blackcaps seemed to be singing everywhere: there did indeed appear to be 15 different singing birds.
- Reed Warblers elusive this morning. The wind was blowing straight in to their reeds and perhaps this dampened their enthusiasm to sing.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 7 Canada Geese (2 groups)
- 3 (2♂) Mallard
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 4 Herring Gulls
- 8 Feral Pigeons
- 118 Jackdaws
- 32 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc
- 6 Swifts
- 28 Sand Martins
- 10 Swallows
- 2 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 6 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Willow Warbler
- 15 Blackcaps
- 1 Garden Warbler
- 3 Common Whitethroats
- 4 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 12 (9♂) Mallard
- 8 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Oystercatcher
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 2 Moorhens
- 33 Coots

Not a bad start but soon clouded.

Without visible means of support is this Garden Spider (Arameus diadematus).

Admission time: I wrongly ID'd these white flowers as Ramsons (Allium ursinum on 1 May: closer inspection reveals them to be Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). The distinctive triangular stems give them away. Must be more careful.

A rather better photo of Lady’s Smock / Cuckooplant / Milkmaid (Cardamine pratensis) some of the flowers showing the delicate pink colour. The fly is an extra.

(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Flash: 8:21am - 9:09am

(42nd visit of the year)

- no sign of cygnets here yet – indeed with the growth of the vegetation I could not actually see the pen on the nest today.
- the eight Mallard ducklings still doing well
- no juveniles with the pair of Coots alongside Derwent Drive – they were refurbishing their nest this morning. So this brood seems to have been lost
- the Reed Warbler, as highlighted, was sporadically singing from unsuitable scrubby vegetation along the NE part of the lake. I assume this bird still moving through. Previously birds have occasionally bred in the reed bed at the S end of the lake alongside Derwent Drive but this area seems less suitable now because the fishermen have trampled some of the reeds and the remaining reeds are rather exposed.

Birds noted flying over
- 2 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Count of hirundines etc
- 5 Swifts
- 7 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 1 Blackcap
- 1 Reed Warbler

The counts from the water
- 2? Mute Swans: pen on nest?
- 28 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 9 (7♂) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 white feral duck
- 4 (2♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 16 + 2 (1 brood) Coots

You can just about make out all 8 ducklings here. Their mother seems to have acquired a new consort.

(Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool: 9:16am - 10:01am

(22nd visit of the year)

- Tufted Ducks gone
- the lone Sand Martin was new for me at this site this year
- House Martins remain in very low numbers

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Peregrine as highlighted
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull
- 1 Cuckoo as highlighted

Count of hirundines etc
- 10 Swifts again
- 1 Sand Martin
- 1 Swallow
- 1 House Martin

Count of singing warblers
- 2 Chiffchaffs
- 3 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans: pen on apparently empty nest
- 11 Canada Geese
- 2 (2♂) Mallard
- 2 feral Mallard-type ducks
- 4 Great Crested Grebes: 2 on nests
- 4 Moorhens
- 36 + 4 (2 broods) Coots

At first sight these look like (Common) Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) but they are in fact Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and can be recognised as such by being less mauve and more ‘blue’ as well as having less bell-like flowers. This species is a common garden-escape. The problem is that it easily hybridises with ‘our’ bluebell and diminishes the genuine wild stock. There are no gardens close to the W band of Trench Lock, but could well have come from soil dumped there: or perhaps dispersal of the minute seeds though the seeds naturally have a very low germination rate.

A Green-veined White feasting on newly-opened flowers of Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.). The lines on the underwing typically look grey rather than green. There is a Black-veined White butterfly, but that is long-extinct in the UK and therefore unlikely(!). On that species the lines are thin, neat and very black and the wings otherwise lack black smudges or yellow tones.

Some of the Hawthorns (Crataegus sp.) look spectacular at the moment. Hawthorn genetics is very complex with native UK plants having many different forms, sometimes classified as separate species or sub-species of Crataegus monogyna. Each form has adapted to a particular habitat. The Midland form, sometimes Crataegus laevigata, is our local form that survives well in cold and dry winters. But the genes have been mixed with continental forms that were widely planted along roadsides by councils in less-enlightened times – they were cheaper to buy. And various cultivars like Firethorn and Quick Thorn sold in Garden Centres freely hybridise with our native plants. Hence best to use Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) unless you are an expert.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006 and 2012
Priorslee Lake - Map
Common Scoter
(Andy Latham)
Priorslee Lake Map
Pair of Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)