23 May 15

Priorslee Lake4:24am - 8:33am

Telford sunrise: 5:01am

8.0°C > 12.5°C. Started clear but clouded from N at both medium & low level after 07:30. Rather keen N wind falling away somewhat. Good visibility, hazy at times.

(62nd visit of the year)

- pair of Great Crested Grebes and juveniles slept in this morning and had me worried they had disappeared.
- 6 Tufted Duck as 3 pairs eventually flew off: not entirely sure all 3 pairs were present from the get-go.
- small movement of Swallows and Swifts early with 1's and 2's passing W. After 7:00am a few more hirundines appeared but none stayed more than 10 minutes.
- only the one Willow Warbler in song but again at the original location a bird seen foraging.
- Starlings again brought juveniles to the area and parked several on the Ricoh hedge for a while. Cannot recall seeing this in previous years.
- Pied Wagtail agitated and carrying food on to of dam: must be nesting somewhere close-by

- first damselfly of the year here – a Red-eyed Damselfly
- the attractive so-called Red-and-Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)
- an abundance of a green weevils – the Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus)

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 2 Greylag Geese (singles)
- 2 Canada Geese (1 group)
- 1 Cormorant
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 22 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Stock Doves
- 216 Jackdaws
- 80 Rooks

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

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

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 10 (6♂) Mallard
- 6 (3♂) Tufted Ducks
- 6 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens again
- 30 Coots
- 2 Cormorants

Well it was a fine start if a bit breezy.

The abundant Cow Parsley is now being joined by Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) – perhaps better to call this Common Hogweed to distinguish from Giant Hogweed (that has yet to flower). This can be separated from Cow Parsley by the more dense / compact umbels. Its specific identity amongst all the others in this family is best recognised by the larger spreading flowers around the outside of each umbel.

And for comparison a patch of Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), now past its prime.

With a snout like that and elbowed antennae clearly a weevil sp. Mr. Google (other....) pointed me http://www.naturespot.org.uk/species/nettle-weevil so I can say this is the Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus).

In close-up we can see that on this specimen – it was abundant this morning – some of the grey-green scales have rubbed off. When they do the weevil will look black.

And here is the ‘business end’ of another specimen. Almost all weevils are vegetarian. Despite its abundance this morning I cannot recall seeing this insect before.

And at the risk of going overboard see how the angle of light can make this look bronze.

Own up time – again: see a Cormorant has 14 retrices (tail-feathers) not 12 as appeared yesterday on the shot of the bird at The Flash. We see here that the white-thigh patch that adults acquire in late December as they come in to breeding condition has all-but disappeared. Neither are there any head-plumes though the strong yellow band in the white throat is still very evident [sadly only the tail is really sharp here, but as that is the important thing it is worth including].

How elegant: nicely turned-up wing-tips. Even here the 14 retrices can be counted.

Proof they don’t always get it right: this duck Mallard just fails to clear the water with her right wing-tip as she flies off.

An immature Lesser Black-backed Gull already beginning its wing moult. Gulls have 10 primaries – here I can only count eight. Primary feathers are dropped in turn from the inner-most and at the same time the secondaries are dropped starting with the outermost and hence leaving a big ‘hole’ in the wing when the moult first starts and before any of the feathers have begun to regrow. As the moult progresses the effect is less pronounced. On this bird it at this angle it is impossible to tell whether there is any dark on the mantle but the barring on the rump suggests that this is a 1st summer bird beginning its moult to 2nd winter plumage. The almost all-dark bill supports that hypothesis.

Eight it is then! And we see some suggestion that the tail-feathers are also in moult, though it could be damage from fighting as it is apparently only on one side.

This bird is different: all 10 primaries appear to be in place but we see evidence of moult in the tail with the outer feathers showing the typical immature dark band, the inner feathers just faint marks of an almost adult bird and some missing feathers suggesting active moult. I suspect a 2nd summer bird beginning moult in to 3rd winter. Note the typically well-patterned underwing of immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Cute what? The so-called Red-and-Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata). Some references call it Black-and-Red Froghopper. You pays your money ...

Its that time of the year when I get confused by ‘blue-tailed’ damselflies! Luckily this had red eyes which means it is a Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) – a species that was new for me here last year, probably more through lack of experience than anything else though it is a species spreading northwards with ‘global warming’. This is an immature male – the eyes are not very red and the thorax is still yellow: it will go blue as it matures. But the blue tail means it must be a male. Look at the sheen on the wings.

Oh: you want a close-up! Very cooperative specimen.

How to make a mountain out of a molehill? This female Pied Wagtail is obviously nesting close-by and looking out for danger – me? – before delivering the meal to her brood. A male would look darker, black indeed, on the back.

Can almost identify her catch here!

Here we see the almost black upper-tail. On the Continental race, sometimes considered a separate species White Wagtail, this would be concolorous with the rest of the upper parts. It would generally look paler, though that can change with lighting conditions and perspective. It also has much whiter flanks – our bird, as we can just see here, is sullied grey on the flanks.

Particularly evident here is an apparently misplaced feather in the folded wing. Whether this is because she has had no time to preen recently, too busy collecting bugs or whether perhaps it is damage from being crammed in a nest with squabbling nestlings I would not like to say.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 8:44am - 9:45am

(25th visit of the year)

- the Mute Swans again started off on the nest-site but soon moved off.
- the pair of Great Crested Grebes with hatched young were hidden on one parent’s back throughout: the other pair were still sitting.
- did a careful check and count of the Coot this morning: 18 juveniles in 6 broods; 3 more birds sitting on eggs or brooding young juveniles; 1 still nest (re)building.
- a Jay flew across the water: my first at this location this year.

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Count of hirundines etc
- 3 Swifts
- no House Martins again

Count of singing warblers
- 3 Chiffchaffs again
- 6 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 6 Canada Geese again
- 2 (1♂) Mallard again
- 3 feral Mallard-type ducks again
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Duck
- 4 + ? (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens
- 41 + 18 (6 broods) Coots
- 2 Cormorants
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

A Sparrowhawk over Trench – at some distance. It has to be a female both on size (hard to judge here of course) and on the barring across the breast and belly. Oddly this shows a faint orange wash to the body-side in front of the wing – males are washed orange all across the upper body but lack conspicuous barring: it also has a strange ‘hooded’ appearance.

This I think the Green Shield Bug (Palomena viridissima) – the pronotum seems slightly convex to me and matches some photos on the web. Only viewed from this angle and in flat light do you see the amazing pattern of what appear to be slight indentations in the hard outer wings.

Another amazing-looking insect. I did wonder whether it was a stilt-bug but reading the literature these have long antennae and this doesn't. So it has to be a crane-fly sp. or something similar. My books do not show a side-view that would help me match the clear markings we see here.

This appears to be the non-biting midge Chironomus plumosus. It is a male – the plumed antennae tell us that. It is also apparently upside down and possibly even dead!

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006
Priorslee Lake Map
Mink seen by locals
(Ed Wilson)