20 May 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:31am - 8:45am

Telford sunrise: 5:05am

5.0°C  > 10.5°C. A few light showers from broken clouds. Moderate, gusting fresh, NW wind. Very good visibility.

As yesterday there was a passage of Swallows early, but many fewer today. They were again accompanied by a few Swifts: most odd as Swifts roost on the wing so why they get tied-up together so early is not clear.

(59th visit of the year)

- a lot of commotion from Magpies and Crows in the NW area: investigated but nothing seen. Started up again 10 minutes later with Mistle Thrushes joining in. Again nothing seen but a few minutes later a female Sparrowhawk flew out of the trees and was the likely culprit. She emerged from close-by a previous nesting area. But much later presumably the same female was seen flying out of the NE copse alongside Castle Farm Way and causing much commotion there as well.
- 1 have logged a possible Garden Warbler. This bird is a real puzzle: normally I have no trouble separating the song of Garden Warbler from Blackcap and my rule of thumb on any odd-sounding bird is that it is a Blackcap, which it has always turned out to be. This bird not only sounded a bit like both species but on occasions sounded more like a Common Whitethroat without sounding exactly like any of them. It only sang early when the light was not good and it stayed hidden in particularly dense shrubbery. One for another day.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 4 Canada Geese (2 groups)
- 4 (?♂) Mallard
- 2 Cormorants
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
- 6 Feral Pigeons
- 3 Stock Doves
- 243 Jackdaws
- 77 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc
- c.25 Swifts
- 21 Swallows
- 6 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 6 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Willow Warbler
- 14 Blackcaps
- 1? Garden Warbler (see notes)
- 2 Common Whitethroats
- 5 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 4 (3♂) Mallard
- 8 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 25 + 1 (1 brood) Coots again
- 1 Oystercatcher

Another day: another rather threatening-looking start.

How nice: a rainbow.

Mr. Google (other search engines are available) suggests these are probably eggs of the Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina). Laid on the underside of the leaf these were only visible because the fresh breeze was blowing the plant around.

Pleased with this ‘classic’ shot of a Chiffchaff. He was very upset with the Sparrowhawk that had been in the area and was calling loudly and jumping around on the outer thin branches of the trees, pausing just long-enough for me to get this shot (and also a lot of empty twigs and part birds!). Note the dark legs, lack of any real paleness at the base of the bill and the rather weak supercilium. There is a hint of yellow on the under tail and also on the flanks below the bend of the folded wing (alula): on a Willow Warbler the yellow would tend to be all across the breast but the intensity varies between birds and is so subtle that seeing it at all depends upon the light condition – just about perfect here. Willow Warbler would also look more olive-green on the back – this bird is clearly grey.

As he takes off we see the yellow-wash more clearly.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 8:49am - 9:41am

(46th visit of the year)

- I saw four cygnets with the parent Swans from a distance: when I got closer they were all on the pen’s back and impossible to count accurately. Some of the locals say ‘4’; other say ‘5’.
- for the second successive visit no sign of the 8 Mallard ducklings that had seemed to be doing well
- 2 of the drake Mallard had decided to sit on the ridge tiles of houses in Derwent Drive. Why do they do this?
- no juveniles from the first noted Coot brood this morning.
- Starling overhead making the special calls used when recently fledged juveniles around.
- Chaffinch seen feeding juvenile.

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Feral Pigeon

Count of hirundines etc
- 4 Swifts
- 2 Swallows
- >10 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 2 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Blackcap

The counts from the water
- 2 + 4? Mute Swans
- 33 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 14 (12♂) Mallard
- 1 white feral duck
- 6 (3♂) Tufted Ducks again
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Moorhen
- 18 + 4 (2 broods) Coots

This juvenile Coot at The Flash is growing well, has now just about lost the red spiky head feathers and is beginning to get the white chest it will have until it moults in to adult plumage in a couple of months.

This is what it would have looked like c.10 days ago.

“you get a good view from up here without having to flap”. Quite why Mallards sometimes take to the ridge-tiles of the houses around The Flash is hard to say. It is often around this time of year.

Lurking here is a juvenile Chaffinch – note the short tail and the ‘eggy’ gape.

Always trying to upgrade photos: here is a better shot of House Martin showing its rather tubby silhouette and the short fork to the tail, though it rarely looks so forked in practice as it is spread or closed to help the bird manoeuvre.

Here we see the contrast between the glossy-black back and the matt-black wings and tail. To the eye it usually appears all dark.

Here we see a hint of the band on the upper breast. The literature would have you believe this is a feature of juvenile birds and that adults show a clean white breast. Well: this bird cannot be a juvenile; it might be an immature (i.e. 1st year) bird though this is not identified as being different from the full adult.

The cob Mute Swan is protective of his new family and here sets off to ensure that the Canada Geese keep his approved distance.

Meanwhile the pen Mute Swan goes for the yokel-look. Just how many children live on that back?

(Ed Wilson)

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