1 Jun 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:18am - 8:37am

Telford sunrise: 4:51am

6.0°C > 10.5°C. Started mainly clear with a few fading remnant showers; then fine with a layer of medium-high cloud; and after 10:00 new showers. Light, increasing, SSW wind. Very good visibility.

(71st visit of the year)

- Swifts and Swallows feeding low over the dam on insects being blown off the lake and up over the dam face: thrilling to stand and have both species zoom past literally inches away with the wind in their wings clearly audible.
- juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker seen indicating local breeding success.
- Willow Tit heard in song: my first here since 25 May and first song since 01 May.

- first orchid flower seen – Early Marsh Orchid.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 5 Greylag Geese (2 parties)
- 23 Canada Geese (4 parties)
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Feral Pigeons (1 group)
- 2 Stock Doves (1 group)
- 1 Collared Dove
- 162 Jackdaws
- 109 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc
- c.30 Swifts
- 7 Swallows
- 8 House Martins

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

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 2 Canada Geese
- 11 (7♂) Mallard
- 1 Cormorant
- 5 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- no Moorhens!
- 25 Coots

If you had been up at 4:25am you could have seen this pellucid start to the day.

Or laid in bed until 5:00am and seen this.

Now here is a hard one! Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler? It did not call. It flirted its wings continually but did not dip its tail like Chiffchaffs usually do. I am inclined to go with Chiffchaff on the basis of the rather weak supercilium and the strength of the eye-ring. The supercilium could perhaps be weak on a juvenile Willow Warbler but that would look strikingly yellowier toned.

It then, most unusually, hopped up on top of one of the masts in the Sailing Club compound.

And then hopped back on to the wire and in to the sun. Despite it showing orangey legs I am sticking to Chiffchaff as the ID – I think it is the early light accentuated by the camera’s failure to entirely compensate for that. Again note the weak supercilium, but more obvious here is the wing-length. Willow Warbler is a long-distance migrant to sub-Saharan Africa whereas Chiffchaff typically goes no further than the Mediterranean area.

Just occasionally things go well and all the Swifts pounding past me allowed for some reasonable shots. This highlights that Swifts are not, as they usually seem, overall black but are very dark grey with not all the feathers the same tone. We can see the pale throat that is rarely visible (to my eyes) on flying birds.

This shows the shape to great effect.

Another chance to see the pale throat and also note the dark eye-socket. This is probably for the same reason that American Footballers paint dark lines under their eyes though one suspects that Swifts really do need to avoid nasty reflections and its not an affectation.

This is Early Marsh-Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata). I was only thinking yesterday that early June was a good time to look for these and I searched and failed. So how early in June should I be looking? The 1st seems to be a good bet. Not much of the spike is open as yet and it was the only one I could find.

The flowers in closer-up. We’ll do better later when they are more open.

Yellow Iris of course but now showing the ‘throat’ (as well as attendant insects!)

(Ed Wilson)


Woodhouse Lane: 6:25am - 7:15am

(5th recent visit)

Some notes from Woodhouse Lane
- the Reed Warbler previously noted as singing from the hedge to the E of Castle Farm Way is, or at least was this morning, singing from just inside the oilseed rape field close to that hedge.
- Reed Bunting seen carrying food to the sane oilseed rape field.

Selected other counts
- 2 Sky Larks in song
- 3 Chiffchaffs in song
- 4 Blackcaps in song
- 3 Common Whitethroats with again 1 only singing
- no Linnets again
- 1 Yellowhammer in song and 2 more heard.

This Buzzard, sitting on a pylon just behind the sluice exit at the lake looks rather hunched. The reason was that he was being ‘bombed’ by one of the local crows who wished to move him on.

And here we see an attack in progress – rather too little light for a crisper shot I am afraid.

We've seen this male Yellowhammer on the same perch in the past: but note he is beginning to look rather scruffy.

Only Red Campion (Silene dioica) but a great view in the sun. Why ‘red’ Campion? And how many petals? Only five, with each deeply notched and looking like 10 at first glance. Courtesy of the plantlife.uk.org web site we learn “The first part of Red Campion's scientific name - Silene - comes from the Greek woodland God Silenus. He is often depicted as drunk and was the tutor of the God of Wine, Dionysus. Why? Silenus was often covered in sticky foam (his name comes from sialon, the Greek word for "saliva"). Female Red Campion flowers also produce a froth that helps catch pollen from visiting insects”.

A rather unusual view up in to the hanging flowers of what I believe to be Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale).

You want unusual views of flowers? Here is a Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) in a field of oilseed rape (Brassica sp.).

How do they do that? This Great Spotted Woodpecker seems to have no problem walking along the underside of the bough.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 8:42am - 9:27am

(52nd visit of the year)

- the Swans have lost one of their 5 cygnets.
- the Cob Swan again got embroiled in a scrap with the same pair of Coots. Definitely his fault this time as he was well away from the pen and the cygnets and ‘loitering’ until he made an unprovoked lunge at one of the juvenile Coots. The parents were justifiably upset!
- 12 Canada Geese flew over together going E as groups of 8 & 4. Shortly after a party of 4 flew from the NE to the SW and may or may not have been some of the same birds.
- pair of Tufted Duck seen again climbing off and back on to the island.
- 4 broods of juvenile Coots; three nests with brooding adults; 2 empty nests.
- juvenile Starlings on roof around Derwent Drive this morning, calling to be fed.

Birds noted flying over
- 12, perhaps 16, Canada Geese

Count of hirundines etc
- 8 Swifts
- 3 Swallows
- c.15 House Martins again

Count of singing warblers
- 2 Chiffchaffs
- 2 Blackcaps again

The counts from the water
- 2 + 4 Mute Swans
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 62 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 15 (9♂) + 8 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 20 + 9 (4 broods) Coots

Blackbird? Nope. Not that easy to tell this is a juvenile Starling from this angle. An adult Blackbird would show some yellow on the bill and a juvenile would have brown tones. The neat fringes to the feathers are typical of juvenile birds with very fresh feathers – the pale fringes will soon wear off.

Much easier at this angle with the bill-shape nothing like a Blackbird and the hint of the ‘bandit mask’ that will develop as the moult to adult plumage progresses.

Here we see the shorter tail of the Starling though care: many juvenile birds leave the nest before their tail-feathers are fully grown.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 9:35am - 10:34am

(28th visit of the year)

- still no sign of any real nesting action from the Swan: still occasionally sitting on what looks like only a part completed nest.
- 4 Coots sitting on nests in what was by then rather showery conditions: some may have been brooding young.

- apropos the record of a Little Grebe at Priorslee Lake on 29th (last Friday) one of the fishermen reported seeing two birds here “over the weekend” and thought how unusual it was to see them in the middle of summer(?), Apparently not here today.

Birds noted flying over

Count of hirundines etc
- 5 Swifts
- 2 Swallows
- c.30 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 2 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 14 Canada Geese again
- 5 (1♂) Mallard
- 3 feral Mallard-type ducks
- 4 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 + 2 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 38 + 13 (5 broods) Coots
- 1 Lesser Backed-backed Gull

This shows the basic shape of House Martin, tail spread ...

And here with tail held normally. On both these we see the dark-grey wings contrasting with the blue-black head and back.

Here the tail is held closed as it speed past a distant Coot.

And here the bird is banking but note the head is held level – OK unless you are prone to neck-ache.

Rather too much zoom on the original but I had to avoid lots of sticks to avoid and get in to the dark area to capture this juvenile Moorhen – always more attractive than those nasty red-headed Coots.

(Ed Wilson)
On this day in 2006, 2007 and 2014

Priorslee Lake Map
Highlights Here

Priorslee Lake Map
Common Tern
(Martin Adlam)

Priorslee Lake Map
2 Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)