22 May 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:22am - 6:30am // 7:15am - 8:32am

Telford sunrise: 5:02am

10.0°C > 16.0°C. Mainly cloudy with some breaks for a while c.6:30am. Calm start with light and variable wind becoming NNW later. Good visibility becoming excellent.

A rather quiet day but with a rather unexpected pair of Shelduck dropping in for a few minutes.

(61st visit of the year)

- the 2 Greylag Geese stayed nearly an hour: the Swans totally ignored them.
- the Great Crested Grebes were playing submarines this morning when they were not hiding in the reeds: they were extremely difficult to keep track of but there did seem to be only 6 adults.
- several small groups of Wood Pigeons were flying much higher than usual today suggesting they were not merely on a local feeding foray. That said they were still not high-enough to be migrant groups.
- just a few Swifts overhead from time to time – none stay more than a few minutes: no hirundines noted at all here.
- 3 Starlings overhead, at least 1 a juvenile.
- one of the Reed Warblers was singing from the small patch of reeds on the S side this morning: unusual.
- family party of Greenfinches seen, the juveniles being fed.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 11 Canada Geese (3 groups)
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
- 13 Feral Pigeons
- 1 Stock Dove again
- 165 Jackdaws
- 159 Rooks
- 1 Pied Wagtail

Count of hirundines etc
- 12 Swifts
No hirundines noted

Count of singing warblers
- 7 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Willow Warbler
- 14 Blackcaps
- 1 Common Whitethroat
- 8 Reed Warblers again

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 2 Greylag Geese
- 2 Shelduck briefly
- 10 (7♂) Mallard
- 6 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens
- 31 Coots
- 1 Oystercatcher

The Yellow Flag / Yellow Iris / Water Flag – take your pick of the common names – (Iris pseudacorus) is just starting to open. One is pictured here with a couple yet to open.

This was a surprise: an unusual date for a Shelduck distant fly-by. Most years a few drop in on Spring migration when they are looking for nest sites – this species uses old rabbit burrows near water. But late May?

Even more of a surprise: there were two and they flew around and pitched in. A pair – the drake with the swollen knob at the base of the bill and the much smaller duck with much narrower chestnut band. She shows some white around the base of the bill and the head in not so clean dark-green as the duck from which I conclude she is a 1st year bird and perhaps either not breeding or has failed in her first-ever attempt this year and that is why they are on the move, But this plumage is not illustrated or mentioned in any field guide I have consulted.

Great light illuminating the underwing of this Buzzard. Note there is no sign of yellow on the cere (at the base of the upper mandible) and hence this is an immature bird. An adult would also show a dark band toward the tip of the tail – here the tail feathers are rather worn and ragged.

A typical fly-by of a small group of Feral Pigeons. Where are they going? I do not think these are racing pigeons as I see as many flying east as I see flying west. The group size varies from one to about eight. Often during pigeon races parties contain as many as 30 – 50 birds. Key feature separating these from Wood Pigeons is the shorter tails; and separating them from Stock Dove is the pale underwing. The diagnostic white rump is often not visible when parties fly more or less overhead. Another clue, with experience, is the format of the group, close-together and fast-flying.

Could do better but it illustrates the point: the bird on the right is clearly a male Greenfinch: the one on the left is a stripy juvenile – note the smaller bill. I cannot hazard a guess at the mostly hidden bird in the middle – a female or another juvenile? But it matters not as ....

... here we see a female Greenfinch. Compare with the shot of yesterday’s singing male and note how much duller her bill is.

Yesterday a Great Tit searching for food for the nestlings: here a Blue Tit is doing the same.

This show the sole surviving cygnet at the lake is growing fast – here with dad.

These yellow flowers, similar to dandelions, are hawkweed and likely simply Hawkweed (Hieraceum murorum). If you think dandelion identification is hard try this group. There are 260 recognised species of hawkweed in Europe and because the plants reproduce apomictically – that is asexually with seeds that produce genetic clones of the parent – then there are numerous local variations as well.

Tail-first is apparently how Cormorants land on water. Although its webbed feet are spread and stretched forward it is its tail-feathers that are touching the water here. Most bird species have either 10 or 12 tail-feathers (retrices) and here on the fully spread tail we can count that the Cormorant does indeed have 12. The ‘white-faced look’ is because we are seeing an adult bird head on.

... and now the feet are taking the strain. Even cropped and enlarged from extreme range we can see the blue eye – it really is a wonderful colour in close-up but you rarely get that near this species.

... and it is making a bit of a splash about it. Hardly the most elegant of landings.

Mute Swans are big: sometimes the wings are too wide.

.. and sometimes it is just too tall: must try harder!

(Ed Wilson)


Woodhouse Lane: 6:30am - 7:15am

(3rd recent visit)

Some notes from Woodhouse Lane 
Nothing unusual seen in the rape fields and the Whitethroats were very elusive / quiet
- 4 Sky Larks in song again
- 3 Chiffchaffs in song
- 2 Blackcaps in song
- just 1 Common Whitethroat singing
- one pair of Linnets flew overs
- 3 Yellowhammers in song and 1 more calling

This is Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca), a very common member of the pea family found just about anywhere. These were on the verge of Woodhouse Lane, but I saw some later around the lake that had yet to open their flowers.

Yes I know I only did this a few days ago but I am a sucker for ‘girlie birds’ – those with bright plumage doing something interesting: singing here and showing the unusual shape of the lower mandible that many species of bunting have to some degree. This angle reveals it to be a ‘peg’ or even a ‘tooth’.

You can almost see what it had for breakfast! I have been puzzling over the yellow in the claws and conclude that it has been in amongst the oil-seed rape flowers and some petals have been impaled on its claws.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 8:35am - 9:30am

(48th visit of the year)

- the Cormorant was an unexpected sighting: these days this species is quite scarce here and it was never common in the breeding season anyway.
- none of the Swifts and House Martins was over the water. The Swifts were far to the N around the usual breeding area in St. Georges: and the House Martins were over the houses well to the W.
- Bullfinches heard: first record for several weeks.

- warm-enough now for one of the terrapin sp. to have emerged from hibernation. I am not entirely sure how terrapins hibernate but I know some species of turtle are able to go torpid at the bottom of lakes and get what little oxygen they still need through a membrane at the base of the tail – a sort of primitive gill.

Birds noted flying over
- 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 3 Feral Pigeons

Count of hirundines etc
- 12 Swifts
- 6 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 2 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 + 5 Mute Swans
- 6 Greylag Geese
- 35 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 14 (11♂) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 white feral duck
- 5 (3♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Cormorant
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens
- 16 + 4 (2 broods) Coots

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006 and 2013
Priorslee Lake Map
2 Little Ringed Plover
Garden Warbler
Reed Warbler
Stock Dove
2 Lapwing
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake Map
2 Ruddy Duck
(Ed Wilson)