29 Jun 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:17am - 5:35am // 6:35am - 9:23am

Telford sunrise: 4:48am

12.0°C > 16.5°C. The red dawn sky was a better indication of an increasingly cloudy morning with a few spots of rain than the Met. Office forecast of a fine day. Calm start with light / moderate NW wind later. Good visibility.

First visit after just over 2 weeks watching aircraft (mainly) in Japan.

The road and path works for the new Academy are now more or less complete and I was able to revert to my normal summer schedule of once around the lake; a walk to, around and back from The Flash; and another lap of the lake.

Best today was rather out-of-season Yellow Wagtail over. Most years I log a Spring migrant but this is my first breeding season record. There seems no reason why they would not nest in the fields to the E if the crops were suitable. That said I have seen none on my visits to Woodhouse Lane.

New for the year were Ringlet and Large Skipper butterflies and several species of moth.

(81st visit of the year)

- 1 adult Mute Swan over.
- the ‘excess’ adult Great Crested Grebes seem to have moved on leaving just the pair with 2 juveniles and the long-term users of the N side reeds, still apparently without young.
- Sparrowhawk seen carrying prey in to copse on NE side of Castlefarm interchange: perhaps one of the birds that have nested in the NW area previously but were unwilling to sit out the building work this year?
- 2 new broods of Coots (which I will call 7 & 8, though others may have been and gone while I was away).
- single adult Black-headed Gull dropped in briefly: perhaps an early returning bird?
- one of the passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls also stopped off briefly.
- single Stock Dove flushed from putative breeding area: later a pair unusually high overhead with one bird doing an apparent display flight: then a pair seen landing on the old Celestica site.
- c.20 Swifts by 4:30am and this numbers stayed around much of the time.
- 3 House Martins flew in briefly from the estate area with one of these at least a calling juvenile.
- an amazing 18 different Blackcaps in song: there seemed to be rather fewer non-singing birds than I would have expected. However one of the singing birds seemed to be a red-capped juvenile.
- only 2 Reed Warblers in song but at least 2 parties of adults with juveniles.
- juvenile Chaffinches and Bullfinches both seen begging from parents.

- Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
- the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is now in flower.
- also new in flower was Meadowsweet / Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 1 Mute Swan
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 221 Jackdaws
- 229 Rooks
- 11 Starlings

Count of hirundines etc
- c.20 Swifts
- 3 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 7 Chiffchaffs
- 18! Blackcaps
- 2 Common Whitethroats
- 2 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 8 (5+♂) Mallard
- 4 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Moorhens
- 42 + 11 (5 broods) Coots
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

The Met Office forecast was for a fine day – the weather had other ideas with the red sky presaging some light rain later.

Spectacular briefly.

Then 20 minutes later and not a sign of the red sky.

Most of the Yellow Flags (Iris pseudacorus) are now over: this is an exception and we can see a soldier beetle sp. as well.

I found this fly in deep cover and it was hard to get the colour reproduced: without flash (as here) a crisp photo was almost impossible ...

But using the flash ‘blew out’ the delicate pinkish ting. It turns out it's a male Common Snipe Fly, Chrysopilus cristatus.
I’ll have to do this again to get a better shot. I took what I thought was a record shot of Red Dead-Nettle (Lamium purpureum) but on inspection I see this is in fact Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica). Both are in the large Mint (Labiatae) family.

A White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis) going about its business.

Here is another startling-looking fly, a Yellow Dung Fly, Scathophaga stercoraria – again the flash does not do it justice but the striking red eyes are well-shown.

Took me a while to realise what this was all about. I thought initially it was a ‘three in a bed’ scenario but it seems the male fly here has a Mystacides longicornis caddis fly as some sort of offering while he is coupled to the female. The caddis fly was abundant this morning – the long feelers give it its scientific name and it is another fly with red eyes. No idea of the fly sp. with the strangely humped back.

You want a close-up? The poor caddis seems to be being sucked dry as we watch.

Another Mystacides longicornis caddis fly, this one trapped in a spider-web but showing its features clearly.

This Tortrix moth appears to be Celypha striana, sometimes Barred Marble. There are a number of similar species.

I will probably not get a better shot of a male Blue-tailed Damselfly this season with all the wing-venation and hairs on the legs so clear.

And ditto for Common Blue Damselfly. The shape of the mark on the second body segment (from the left / top) separates from Azure Damselfly.

More gruesome nature: a Funnel Web Spider, Larinioides cornutus having breakfast.

I repositioned to get a better view and it has started a green-fly as a second course!

Well that didn't last long!

The white fluffy head of Meadowsweet / Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

Not sure how long Ringlet butterflies have been flying. This specimen looks quite fresh – you can still see the ‘eyes’ on the wings – but it has already been in the wars with a rather tatty left hind-wing.

In close-up here what I think are Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) flowers.

And these are what I believe to be Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) flowers.

GIANT HOGWEED (Heracleum mantegazzianum)! Everything about this plant is super-sized – this one is 10 foot high and the umbels spread at least 3 feet.

Another super-sharp image showing the hairs on a green bottle fly, most likely the Common Greenbottle (Lucilia sericata).

This is a Large Skipper butterfly. All skippers, and there are dozens of species across both the Old and New Worlds, normally rest with the fore-wings held half-open. Here both wings are closed. ‘Large’ is not a helpful name as the also very common ‘Small’ is hardly different in size – certainly it is not readily apparent in the field. The wing pattern separates the species. No other UK skippers are orange-toned and all these are much less common.

Here we see some of the wing-pattern as the specimen opens its wings.

And here we see the forewings held at the usual part-open angle.

And the perfect plan-view! A cooperative specimen.

This is Chrysoteuchia culmella (sometimes Garden Grass-veneer), one of the most common ‘grass moths’. All have a similar rather worried and staring-eyed look when seen well. This species is particularly poorly marked. Seen here on a grass ‘flower’ about to annoy those people who suffer with hay-fever.

It's a messy job but someone has to do it! These look like Flesh-flies (Sarcophaga carnaria) and are clearing up some horse dung.

I know this flower as Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) but Wikipedia gives Red Robin, Death come quickly, Storksbill and Dove's Foot as some other common names. It is one of the Cranesbill family and we can get a hint of the origin of that name from the dead flowers in the background.

In case you think all the aphids attack your garden this dock sp. would beg to differ.

This is Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) growing on the top of the dam. In olden times used as a herb and herbalist ascribe many curative properties to the plant – hence its name.

Part of a group of six corvids circling high above the lake. The spread primaries and the spread tail suggested Ravens but as I had not heard calls I took this shot to check. We can see that the head and bill are nowhere near bulky-enough for Ravens and that they are ‘just’ Rooks going for a fly. A Raven’s tail should look more wedge-like but at this time of year birds are moulting and reliance on such features can be misleading.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash:

5:45am - 6:25am

(57th visit of the year)

- it was only after I had left that I realised I had not seen the Swans – perhaps they were tucked up inside the island and I failed to notice ...?
- the geese seem settled and ready to moult – none was seen in flight today.
- new brood of 4 small Mallard ducklings seen (as well as the well-grown brood of 8).
- just a single juvenile Great Crested Grebe confirmed.
- unable to decide whether there were juveniles from 2 or 3 broods of Coot: all the adult birds sitting at the start of the month seem not to have produced any young.
- perhaps my visit was rather early in the day for the House Martins to be about ...

Birds noted flying over
- 2 Cormorants
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Hirundines etc. seen
- 1 Swift
- 2 House Martins

Warblers heard singing
- 3 Chiffchaffs
- 2 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- no Mute Swans seen!
- 31 Greylag Geese
- 184 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 27 (19♂) + 12 (2 broods) Mallard
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 + 1? (1 brood) Moorhens
- 17 + 5 (2 broods) Coots

This is Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre), now abundant along the walls between Derwent Drive and The Flash. The ‘biting’ name comes from the burning sensation from the leaves.

Common of course but no less attractive for that: close-up of part of the flower stalk of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

The progress of the party of 8 Mallard ducklings: from this photo I am unable to decide which of them is the duck in charge. From the left birds 5, 8 and 9 have bills that suggest they will be drakes; 2 and 3 are impossible to tell; the rest all look like ducks.

These 4 have a way to go before they catch the others!

A Honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.) flower.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2010 and 2013
Priorslee Lake
15 Cormorants
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Juvenile Yellow Wagtail
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 drake Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)