5 Aug 15

Priorslee Lake: 04:55 – 06:25 // 07:25 – 09:21

Telford sunrise: 05:34

12.0°C > 17.0°C. Early cloud melted away with some puffy clouds later. Light S wind increased moderate, even fresh. Good visibility

(95th visit of the year)

- Mallard numbers increased further
- 2 Little Grebes only found today. 1 bird an adult; the other a juvenile
- again 5 adult Great Crested Grebes seen, but today three birds with juveniles – all small and on their parent’s back so not quite sure how many. Two of the pairs seem to have nested very close to each other in the main N side reed-bed: previous experience suggests these could well kill each other’s offspring in territorial disputes. No sign of the long-term residents of the NW reed-bed who raised the two presumed fledged juveniles
- significant movement of Wood Pigeons flying E soon after dawn with >100 logged: smaller movement W after 08:00. Presumed local birds moving to fields to the E to feed
- first Swift at 05:20 again and a few more than yesterday
- 2 family parties of Goldcrests
- 7 Barn Swallows low over Ricoh grounds with some of the >40 House Martins
- two Chiffchaff were heard to sing briefly, one of these singing much faster than usual – juvenile still learning?
- Willow Warbler heard calling: presumed dispersal / migrant: they did not seem to stay and breed here this year
- Common Whitethroat seen carrying food – a late brood?
- 2 Reed Warblers seen in the W end reeds before the wind got up and made adventures on the edge of the reed bed rather risky even for this sure-footed species
- in addition to the 3 Starlings overhead another 6 were seen feeding on the grass in the Ricoh grounds adjacent to the footpath
- for 2nd day no Dunnocks / Hedge Sparrows seen or heard
- 3 Grey Wagtails included at least 1 juvenile
- several plain-faced juvenile Goldfinches
- 1 Riband Wave moth on the lamps (with another in the Priorslee Avenue foot tunnel)
- 1 Grey Pug moth also resting in the Priorslee Avenue foot tunnel
- largest number of grass moths for the year this morning: all seemed to be the very common and rather pale and plain-looking Agriphila straminella (sometimes Pearl Veneer)
- brief sunny spell produced Large Skipper, Large White and Gatekeeper butterflies and an array of bees and hoverflies. The Gatekeeper was my first here this year!

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 26 Canada Geese (2 groups)
- 14 large Gulls
- 245 Jackdaws
- 63 Rooks
- 3 Starlings
- 3 Pied Wagtails

Count of hirundines etc
- >45 Swifts
- 7 Barn Swallow
- >50 House Martins

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 41 (?♂) + 1 Mallard
- 1 Grey Heron
- 2 Little Grebes
- 5 + 4? (3 broods) Great Crested Grebes
- 7 + 6 (4 broods) Moorhens
- 75 + 14 (7 broods) Coots again
- 78 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

I was not in the UK to photo the real ‘blue moon’ on 31 July but here it is on the wane and that will have to suffice. A ‘blue moon’ is the name given to the second full moon that occurs within a single calendar month. The next will be on 31 January 2018 when, quite extraordinarily that means, that as 2018 is not a leap year, there will be no full moon at all in February 2018 and therefore another blue moon in March 2018.

The day’s sunrise.

It is an exhausting life being a Swan.

The one and only Mallard duckling at the lake so far this year – and we are unlikely to get more now.

Just about fits without cropping! Here a juvenile Wood Pigeon – note the lack of white on the neck but the diagnostic white on the bend of the folded wing shown by this species at all ages. The pupil looks a different shape to that shown by adults and the iris is rather darker. The tail marks look rather different but I cannot confirm that this is anything more than the rather unusual view.

Here we see an adult Black-headed Gull already well-advanced in its post-breeding moult and rapidly losing the dark hood that was so prominent until a few weeks ago.

And here we see the different rates of progress with some birds almost ‘winter white’ while others show a full, if faded, dark hood.

Here is a juvenile Black-headed Gull: no longer a ginger-brown and beginning its moult.

A different moult strategy for ducks: the drakes drop all their flight feathers at once and are flightless for a while. During that time the body loses the bright breeding plumage and they can be hard to distinguish from the duck of the species. In Mallard the bill is the clue with the drake retaining the rather plain pale green bill throughout. Another clue here are the large pale primaries.

This Great Crested Grebe has at least 3 juveniles on its back with 2 beaks and another neck visible. But the pattern makes it hard to be certain and there may be a 4th. Moorhen and Coot in the background.

The same bird and you would think just 1 juvenile!

Two Buzzards here. The right-hand bird shows a very pale tail- accentuated by the lighting, but shows that it lacks the prominent dark tips to the tail feathers and this is therefore a juvenile.

Not easy to identify when seen like this: but ...

... this view makes it easier: a juvenile Goldfinch. The red ‘face’ will not be acquired until surprisingly late – October / November, but the yellow in the wing gives it away.

Then it will look like this!

A Blackcap, but is it a female or a juvenile (or both)? As far as I know it is not possible to separate these. I would expect a female to look rather scruffier after a hard breeding season so that might suggest a juvenile. But then again it seems to be carrying food so perhaps ...

In the Priorslee Avenue tunnel I found this resting pug moth – appropriately Grey Pug.

This grass moth shows the typical surprised look, accentuated here by the (unusually) raised antennae. Sometimes hard to separate when worn: I initially thought this was Crambus perlella (or Yellow Satin Veneer) but none of the photos on the web show this with a blue-grey eye so it is likely Agriphila straminella (or Pearl Veneer).

A Riband Wave moth on one of the street lamps alongside the lake: here of the more common form ‘remutata’ in which the area between the two cross-lines is pale and hence there is no ‘band’.

Hard to get a decent shot of this spider sp. high up on a street lamp. The round and pale (green in real life) body with black dots suggests this is probably the Green Orb-Weaver Spider (Araniella cucurbitina). In the shot the rest of the body looks rather too slender but this is possibly an effect of the flash lighting.

“dive in!” This bee buries its head in a flower of Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis) after the nectar. Likely Bombus pascuorum with its rather scruffy and foxy red coat.

And taking a breather.

Another bee, this probably Bombus terrestris with a pale ‘tail’.

And, I think, another bee species and one that I cannot recall noting previously. More like a honey bee in size and shape but quite differently marked and without any obvious pollen basket.
... and another view.

I am on safer ground with butterflies: a fine view of a Gatekeeper as it warms in the morning sun.

A male Common Blue Damselfly ditto.

This looks like a Large Skipper but I now know that I have to look at the underside of the antennae tips to see whether it might be an Essex Skipper .....

So we had better see a side view: nope: just a Large Skipper.

Taking photos of small hoverflies inside large convolvulus flowers that are waving in and out of the sun can result in strange results as this silhouetted example shows. Syrphus ribesii is the species involved: it is very common and particularly fond of convolvulus flowers.

And this hoverfly is Episyrphus balteatus – another very common species, much smaller than the previous species.

With a view of a different individual.

While this is a Tapered Drone Flies, Eristalis pertinax, often to be found hovering over paths in woods just above head height. This species lays its eggs in wasps nests where the similarly-marked larvae feed on the wasp larvae

Another view

Another view.

This is, I think, the flower of Bistort (Polygonum bistorta). On checking my references I will have to look again as there are two rather similar species which might occur – Redshank (Polygonum persicaria) and Amphibious Bistort (Polygonum amphibium).

When I took the photo of the Knotgrass yesterday I was struck by how similar the general arrangement and especially the flower resembles Bistort (Polygonum bistorta) – and with a scientific name of Polygonum aviculare it is obvious why. Here is the Knotgrass flower in close-up.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash:  06:35 – 07:15

(70th visit of the year)

- 5 Greylag Geese: the single that was seen yesterday and likely cannot fly; and a party of 4 that seemed to be 2 adults and 2 fully-fledged juveniles
- I could not reliably sex several of the Tufted Ducks and wonder whether these are fledged juveniles
- no sign of the previous juvenile Great Crested Grebe again this morning: but one of the adults behaving as if it was carrying new small juvenile(s) on its back
- the adult and full-grown Coots were mostly inside the island this morning
- a small moth on one of the lamps: probably Scoparia ambigualis (sometimes Common Grey), though there are several similar species that are hard to separate

Birds noted flying over

Hirundines etc
- 1 Swift
- 6 House Martins again

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 5 Greylag Goose
- 25 Canada Geese
- 1 Lesser Canada Goose ssp.
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 28 (21♂) Mallard
- 11 (5♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 + ? Great Crested Grebes
- 3 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 22 + 1 (1 brood) Coots
- 1 Black-headed Gull only

A Sparrowhawk peers down at me: with the barring extending on to the throat this must be an adult – juveniles have streaking on the throat. And the lack of any rufous tone to the breast tells us it is a female. I have to admit it did not look ‘that big’ – females of most birds of prey are larger than males and in this species usually noticeably so.

The way this Great Crested Grebe is holding its wings suggests that there may be juveniles on its back. One bird has been sitting on the nest for several weeks and is now no longer doing so.

This seems to be the moth Scoparia ambigualis (sometimes Common Grey), though there are several similar species that are hard to separate.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012
Priorslee Lake
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
A female Teal
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
30 House Martins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Little Grebe
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)