15 May 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:43am - 8:23am

Telford sunrise: 5:12am

5.5°C > 10.0°C. Mainly cloudy, lower to NE; breaking slowly after 09:00. Calm, then light E wind. Good visibility.

Best today was the discovery of a singing Lesser Whitethroat at the lake. It might have been present since my last sighting on 30 April as this sporadic songster was in the hedges alongside the M54 in the furthest W part of the area where it is difficult to hear much over the road noise.

(55th visit of the year)

Other notes
- Tufted Ducks flew around several times before they finally left.
- 14 of the 18 large gulls were in a spiral too far away to specifically identify: all the others were Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
- the single Oystercatcher was present when I arrived but had left by 5:00am.
- at least 11 and probably 12 Great Crested Grebes for a while this morning with much chasing on and under the water. Only one bird seen to fly off but the ‘usual’ 8 seemed to have regrouped around their usual territories later.
- 2 Swallows were on the fence of, and then on masts of yachts in, the Sailing Club compound as early as 5:45am. This is unusually early to see this species – it normally waits for the insects to emerge as the day warms. These are also perches that I cannot recall being used previously.
- only 1 Willow Warbler heard singing this morning – and that the 2nd bird that was first noted on Tuesday (12th).
- a 4th Common Whitethroat heard singing this morning, but rather distantly. One of the other pairs seems have a nest under the canopy of a yacht in the Sailing Club compound.
- while trying to determine how many Reed Warblers were singing in the dawn-chorus the cacophony I realised that one of them was in fact a Sedge Warbler.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 4 Greylag Geese (2 groups)
- 4 Canada Geese (2 groups)
- 1 Cormorant
- 18 large gulls
- 1 Stock Dove
- 2 Feral Pigeons
- 147 Jackdaws
- 106 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc
- 15 Swifts
- 6 Swallows
- 2 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 7 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Willow Warbler
- 17 Blackcaps
- 4 Common Whitethroats
- 1 Lesser Whitethroat
- 1 Sedge Warbler
- 5 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 9 (6♂) Mallard
- 2 (1) Tufted Ducks
- 11? + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 5 Moorhens
- 32 Coots
- 1 Oystercatcher

I have mentioned before that Great Crested Grebes look a rather unfamiliar shape in flight. Here is one passing overhead, the apparent body-length enhanced by the large feet and long legs set well back on the body. The white in the wing is unexpected.

And here from the side we see the upper-wing pattern which shows even more white.

This Swallow was resting on top of one of the masts in the sailing club compound. From this angle the spade-like shape of the bill is well-seen. It is designed to be opened wide and Hoover up insects over as wide a area as possible. It also looks like the prototype of one of the ‘Angry Birds’ from the video game developed in Finland.

Shooting in to a bright sky without sun is tricky but the key feature of the whole bird are apparent here – the long wings and the tail streamers.

This is the other bird of the pair having a preen with one wing partially spread and the tail likewise, showing the white marks in the tail.

And here we see the wing-feathers and the tail-streamers more clearly.

Another shot of a speciality of the lake – a Willow Tit. This morning this bird was uttering its rather nasal call – the first time I have heard this call for many weeks. All I have heard is constant song as it has worked its way around the lake. Whether it has been proclaiming its territory or still searching for a mate is a moot point. So is the reversion to call-notes indicative that it has now found a mate? Typically the very similar Marsh Warbler would show a neater outline to the ‘bib’ but voice is my far the easiest was to tell these species apart.

Looks odd from this angle but it is the very common Red Campion (Silene dioica). It may be found flowering at almost any time of the year but is most abundant in May. The colour can also be rather variable though this specimen is typical.

This seems to be one of the so-called ‘stretch spiders’ and may indeed be the Common stretch-spider (Tetragnatha extensa).

In close up we can see the typical array of eyes – two rows of four eyes (not all spiders have eight eyes and when they do not all have them so-arranged). We also see the front of the body has marks that might be ‘false eyes’ though the web suggests that spiders with false eyes have those false-eyes at the rear of their body.

Duck mating never looks much fun. Oft times there are multiple drakes attempting to mate with a single duck and it is not unknown for the duck to be drowned or otherwise killed in the melee. Here a single drake Mallard is involved (the beak of the duck under the water is just about visible!)....

...and on this occasion, apart from adjusting her dress, she seems none the worse for her, ahem, ducking.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 8:28am - 9:05am

(44th visit of the year)

- still no sign of Mute Swan cygnets with the cob again sitting quietly off the island.
- some of the Tufted Ducks have left since yesterday.
- some of the Coots were still brooding their young so probably more in total.

Birds noted flying over

Count of hirundines etc
- 4 Swifts
- 16 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 3 Blackcap

The counts from the water
- 2? Mute Swans: pen on nest?
- 37 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 12 (10♂) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 white feral duck
- 3 (2♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 18 + >2 (2 broods) Coots

Makes a change from one with its mouth open singing: here a Song Thrush hunts for morsels to feed its brood. Well: not exactly: this worm had been pulled out by a Blackbird that flew off at my approach. The Song Thrush was the opportunist.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 9:13am - 10:04am

(23rd visit of the year)

- the pen Mute Swan still adding material to nest so she will be very late laying any eggs this year. They were a new pair last year and I am told they did not have fertile eggs
- 2 of the Greylag Geese were on the adjacent school field until the caretaker shooed them away
- Tufted Ducks back
- my first juvenile Moorhens of the year
- some of the Coots were still brooding their young here as well

Birds noted flying over

Count of hirundines etc

- 8 Swifts
- 2 Swallows
- 6 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 3 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 4 Greylag Geese
- 14 Canada Geese
- 4 (3♂) Mallard
- 3 feral Mallard-type ducks
- 1 Cormorant
- 4 Great Crested Grebes: 2 on nests
- 5 + 5 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 30 + >14 (5 broods) Coots

After the sun started to appear this Dunnock decided to have a quick sunbathe.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006 and 2012
Priorslee Lake - Map
2 Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)

Wrekin Map
Wood Warbler
3 Spotted Flycatchers.
(Andy Latham)