6 May 15

Priorslee Lake

Early Morning: 5:09am - 8:48am

Telford sunrise: 5:27am

6.5C > 10.0C > 7.0C. Early shower then scattered cloud for a while: band of rain spread from SW after 8:00am. Fresh and sometimes strong and gusty S wind. Very good visibility.

Highlight was what I am sure was an Arctic Tern that flew high through just before 6:00am. I was unable to get enough features to satisfy the County Rarities Committee – all I noted was a medium sized tern with very elastic wing beats and very long tail streamers. Against the light it was impossible to see any plumage features – e.g. the diagnostic wing pattern – that would eliminate Common (and, most, unlikely, also Roseate) Tern. Wing action is at least in part dependent on the wind strength and tail streamer length is always rather subjective. It was particularly frustrating as all my previous Arctic Tern sighting here have been equally fleeting and inconclusive.

(47th visit of the year)

Other notes
- a brood of at least 2 juvenile Great Crested Grebes on the back of one of the birds
- no sign of Coot juveniles: too windy?
- the 2 Oystercatchers flew in at 5:45am and stayed for c.30 minutes
- party of 7 Black-headed Gulls flew through just as the rain started
- very good number of hirundines. A few Sand Martins gathered high over before 5:30am and numbers increased to c.45, birds remaining high over and seemingly reluctant to move off in to the shower arriving from the SSW. It was gone 6:00am before they finally moved away, taking 6 Swallows with them. More birds arrived after 6:30am with a few Swifts, though the latter did not stay. When the rain set in after 8:15am there were over 150 Swallows and martins feeding low over the water. Totals below are conservative.
- 2 Goldcrests seen fighting
- Sedge Warbler singing in different location when I did a 2nd lap. Since neither location looked like a suitable breeding site I assume just one bird involved this morning.

- Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) flowers seen
- the first Hawthorn flowers are just about to open

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 5 Canada Geese
- 5 Cormorants
- 1 probable Arctic Tern
- 7 Black-headed Gulls
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull
- 2 Stock Doves
- 83 Jackdaws
- 29 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc (see notes)
- c.10 Swifts
- c.100 Sand Martins
- c.40 Swallows
- c.30 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 10 Chiffchaffs
- 1 Willow Warbler
- 11 Blackcaps
- 1 Garden Warbler
- 3 Common Whitethroats
- 1 Sedge Warbler
- 3 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans: pen on nest
- 5 (3?) Mallard
- 8 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens
- 31 Coots
- 2 Oystercatchers

Uninspiring sunrise this morning ...

... and rather threatening: note the single Oystercatchers as specks on each of the ‘piers’

This Jay’s ‘comb-over’ is not working too well in the wind!

Not exactly sure how many juvenile Great Crested Grebes are riding on the adult’s back – at least two. My first juveniles of the year.

Mrs. Mallard: nothing special, just a great view.

A Song Thrush adds his voice to the dawn chorus – just about at its loudest at the moment.

Another umbellifer: these huge leaved belong to a Giant Hogweed. Will take another 10 days at least to reach full height.

Another ‘blackthroat’: here the wind is catching the inflated throat feather of a singing Willow Warbler. Not many clues to the identity here (if you cannot hear the song). Best clues are the pale feet; the uniform colour to the lower mandible; and the neat supercilium that is visible in front of the eye.

This attractive flowering plant is Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon). It is introduced in the UK but seems to be fully naturalised. In parts of the US it is classified a Noxious Weed due to its ability to out-compete the natural flora.

Introduction: I spent a lot of time this morning photographing swifts, swallows and martins. Conditions were both favourable – the wind, cloud and rain brought them to feed low over the water; and unfavourable – the dull weather made it hard to get crisp and well-lit shots of the birds. With that proviso and the knowledge that if you take enough shots (>350!) then some will come out OK here is what we see.

This is a classic Swift pose with slightly forked tail. Note the pale chin that is rarely visible to the naked eye. You can also just make out the darker coverts contrasting slightly with the primaries and secondaries.

Here the Swift has its tail fully spread.

From underneath there is little to identify this as a House Martin: the rather tubby-looking body is the best separation from Sand Martin. While this latter species would have a brown breast band this is not always easy to see in reality.

And just to confuse matters there is a ‘shadow’ breast band sometimes visible on House Martins, as here!

If you see a white rump like this you know it must be a House Martin.

This Swallow is working hard against the wind – see how the wings are obviously flexing while the tail is sharp meaning its effort with the wings is keeping on an even keel.

Classic Swallow from underneath with the dark (red) throat and the long tail streamers, longer in males, separating from both martin species.

This Swallow has its wings and tail spread: note the pale dots visible when the tail feathers (as opposed to the streamers – the elongated outermost feathers) are spread.

Two Swallows caught together here and while only one is sharp this illustrates the pale dots in both the under and upper spread tail feathers.

Unless the tail is spread the pale dots are not visible. It is not unusual for birds to show unequal length streamers as they often break. What has been shown in research is that females tend to select males with equal length streamers and then the longer the better!

Here we see 2 Swallows and, for comparison the slightly smaller and plainer Sand Martin.

The tail of Sand (and House) Martins is more notched than forked but when spread, as here, looks rounded.

(Ed Wilson)

Also this Morning:  6:30am

Sedge Warbler

(John Isherwood)


Nedge Hill: 7:00am

1 Hobby  (airfield)
1 Yellow Wagtail (Wyke)
4 Wheatear
2 Lesser Whitethroat

(John Isherwood)


Devil's Dingle: 9:00am

1 Redstart
1 Lesser Whitethroat
1 Reed Warbler
2 Little Ringed Plovers
2 Oystercatcher

(John Isherwood)

On this day in 2006, 2008 and 2012
Priorslee Lake - Map
1 Common Sandpiper
(John Isherwood)

Nedge Hill Map
10 Wheatear
(John Isherwood)(John Isherwood)
Nedge Hill Map
5 Wheatear
Yellow Wagtail
(Ed Wilson)
Priorslee Lake - Map
1 Common Sandpiper
1 Cuckoo
2 Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson / Martin Adlam)

Nedge Hill Map
1 female Ring Ouzel
4 Wheatear
(Arthur Harper)