7 Aug 15

Priorslee Lake: 04:54 – 06:50 // 07:45 – 09:19

Telford sunrise: 05:37

8.5°C > 18.0°C. Rather chilly start with cloud to E and S: this moved away after 09:00 but clouded again after 11:00. Calm start with mainly light SSW wind. Very good visibility.

Best today were the single Sedge and Willow Warblers seen at the lake – both likely birds on the move.

(97th visit of the year)

Other notes
- some of the geese were flying below tree-height this morning and totals may be under-recorded
- 1 Greylag and 23 Canada Geese came in to the lake on their return. Not only did the cob Mute Swan make no move to chase them off but he allowed them to share the SW grass
- the 3 Little Grebes seen today were a single adult and 2 juveniles
- even more confused with the Great Crested Grebes: seemed to be 3 pairs together on the N side with one of the birds of the SW area visible. One of the N side pairs moved away to the NW and was not seen again; and no further sightings of the SW area pair either. At least 7 adults and at least 7 juveniles but still needs further work
- more Coot juveniles from more parties: no ‘new’ parties so likely better count in better conditions?
- rather few Black-headed Gulls early but then at c.06:35 there were suddenly 183 on the water. Oddly just 1 of these was an immature
- I again specifically counted the Wood Pigeons flying E: today 171. Only 20 were noted flying ‘back’ W later
- first Swift was a single moving W at 06:45. Later 2 were over the N side for a protracted period
- Kingfisher heard again
- all 6 Swallows were seen flying through NW – a 2 and then 4 more later
- a few House Martins drifted in from the estate and back again: there was no large groups as there have been the previous few days
- 4 Song Thrushes in song pre-dawn: by 05:30 they are quiet
- 3 Dunnocks / Hedge Sparrows heard this morning
- single Noctule-sized bat sp. over pre-dawn
- two new moth species for the year, both officially micro moths (though the latter is physically larger than many macro moths) - Udea lutealis (or Pale Straw Pearl) and Pleuroptya ruralis (or Mother of Pearl)
- Large Skipper butterflies again
- Common Blue damselflies
- hawker dragonfly disturbed at 05:00 but flew off before I could ID it
- 7-spot and Harlequin Ladybirds seen

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 16 Greylag Geese (2 groups)
- 120 Canada Geese (13 groups)
- 37 large gulls at least 1 of which was a Herring Gull
- 3 Stock Doves
- 11 Feral Pigeons
- c.200 Wood Pigeons
- 220 Jackdaws
- 97 Rooks
- 1 Pied Wagtail

Count of hirundines etc
- 3 Swifts
- 6 Barn Swallow
- 4 House Martins again

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 30 (?♂) + 1 Mallard
- 1 Grey Heron
- 3 Little Grebes
- 7 + 7? (3? broods) Great Crested Grebes
- 9 + 10 (8 broods) Moorhens
- 80 + 18 (9 broods) Coots again
- c.200 Black-headed Gulls
- 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull

A ‘red sky in the morning’ that presaged neither wind nor rain.

Later the still water and broken cloud gave this rather unusual vista

Not exactly the best picture in the world of a Blue Tit or of a Giant Hogweed. But I was musing as to how it can be that Blue Tits seem unaffected by contact with this plant when it can cause serious irritation and blistering of human skin.

This is a not the Great Crested Grebe I photographed yesterday: if you look hard there seem to be 3 juveniles on the adult’s back.

Here we have a Reed Warbler. The yellow beneath the bend in the wing indicates a juvenile. It was my second attempt at a warbler photo in these sedges. I was already to label it with a sarcastic comment that if it is in sedges it should be a Sedge Warbler when I realised, too late to get even a record shot, that it was in fact a Sedge Warbler! This Reed Warbler then took its place. Not easy on this view to separate from Chiffchaff: we see the sloping forehead but how that appears depends on what the bird is doing; and the bill is rather shorter than usual, but then it is on most juvenile birds. Overall a longer bird and the stronger-looking legs are grey.

And here we do have a Chiffchaff

Another view: here the yellow area seen on the Reed Warbler is warm buff .

The pattern is a bit washed out but identifies this as a Udea lutealis (or Pale Straw Pearl) moth

This is a rather worn specimen of the moth Pleuroptya ruralis (or Mother of Pearl). Its vernacular name comes from the pale glossy pinkish sheen on the wings not really evident on this specimen except in the middle of the left forewing.

This little fellow is a frog-hopper: get too close and ‘ping’ – he’s gone. Probably Common Frog-hopper (Philaenus spumarius). The scientific name provides a clue – the ‘spume’ is what is sometimes known as ‘cuckoo-spit’: the eggs and their protective coating.

A wasp sp. on Angelica. Wasps are much maligned: they should be the gardener’s friend, feasting on a whole range of pests. They are much more intelligent in some ways than bees – if they come indoors they will use their antenna to detect air currents and hence find their way out while bees repeatedly hurl themselves at the same closed windows. Wasps will only sting if they feel threatened so don’t wave your arms about – let them inspect you and they will go away. And for most people the sting is only a momentary sharp sensation designed to make you move so they can escape – none of the many days of itching that midges cause. As it is getting late in the season the workers can no longer get their fix of sugars from the dying queen and so are on the lookout for nectar, as here. Rotting fruit comes later.

Obviously a ladybird but what species? It could be one of the dark forms of 2-spot Ladybird (Adalia bipunctata) but the dark forms of that species do not show so much white around the face and therefore I think it is a Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis).

Meanwhile this is the very familiar 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)

Not the Sargasso Sea but the weed around the edges of the lake. In this view the form of the individual plant is not apparent and I have been unable to identify which of the numerous invasive species of water-plant it might be.

Getting a photo that showed both the leaf-form and the scattered small heads on this umbellifer defeated me. However from what we can see here, especially the relative large and distinctively shaped leaf means we can identify it as Upright Hedge-parsley (Torilis japonica). Note that on any one umbel there are both white and pink-flushed flowers.

These flowers are now beginning to emerge: it is Water Mint (Mentha aquatica). The leaves are very strongly aromatic when crushed.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 07:00 – 07:35

 (72nd visit of the year)

- the pair of Great Crested Grebes were asleep in the middle of the water and I could not see whether the juveniles were present
- Chiffchaff in song here

Birds noted flying over.

Hirundines etc
- 6 House Martin

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 28 Canada Geese
- 1 Lesser Canada Goose ssp.
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 30 (20♂) Mallard
- 13 (5♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 1 Grey Heron again
- 2 + ? Great Crested Grebes
- 5 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 17 + 2 (1 brood) Coots
- 9 Black-headed Gulls

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 09:27 – 09:35 // 10:20 – 11:05
 (35th visit of the year)

- the two adult Great Crested Grebes seemed to be from different pairs though their partners could not be located; neither could any nests. Just 1 juvenile seen
- only the two dependent juvenile Coots counted as such
- Small White, Common Blue and Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown butterflies seen: the first two of these species were new for me at this site this year
- Common Darter, Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonflies and Common Blue Damselflies all identified: and least one other species of hawker dragonfly seen but not identified. The darter and Brown Hawker were new for me at this site this year
- 7-spot Ladybirds here as well

Birds noted flying over.

Count of hirundines etc
- 4 House Martins

The counts from the water
- 4 Mute Swans
- 4 Canada Geese
- 18 (12♂) Mallard
- 3 feral Mallard-type ducks
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 5 + 5 (3 broods) Moorhens
- 83 + 2 (? broods) Coots
- 2 Black-headed Gulls

Long-tailed Tits always worth a photo when they show well.

A photo or two.

.... or three: note the ragged tail on this bird – moulting I would surmise

... or four

... or five!

The ‘rotor-head’ of a Common Darter dragonfly

After extensive search in the literature for 19-spot or 21-spot Ladybirds (depending on how you count ‘merged’ spots) I have concluded that this is another form of Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)

Can autumn be far away when you see the poisonous berries of Arum maculatum – a plant with many vernacular names with “lords-and-ladies” perhaps the best known?

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 09:40 – 10:15

(13th visit of the year)

- all the Greylag Geese gone
- 2 of the Canada Geese might have been goslings at one time this year but looked fully fledged
- no idea where all the Mallard were hiding – on the island
- strange to see so many Tufted Duck here and none on the main pool
- only the single dependent juvenile Coot counted as such
- a Terrapin sp. in its usual place
- several species of umbellifer identified

Birds noted flying over

Hirundines etc.

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 46 Canada Geese
- 1 (0♂) Mallard
- no feral Mallard-type ducks
- 16 (7♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 + 4 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 3 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 20 + 1 (1 brood) Coots
- 4 Black-headed Gulls

Another umbellifer. This one is easy to identify by the dark (red) spot in the centre of each umbel – unique to Wild Carrot (Daucus carota). And no, it is not edible. Although the umbellifer family gives us cultivated carrots and parsnips, gives us culinary additions like Parsley and Angelica and if not exactly farm-fodder it includes Cow Parsley, Hogweed, and Pig-nut then it also contains many poisonous, nay deadly, species like Hemlock, Hemlock Water-Dropwort and the very unpleasant Giant Hogweed. Beware.

Here the flower is almost over and the dark centre would be hard to find. But the way the umbel becomes concave at this stage and the spiky base to the umbel is unique.

And in this young umbel the spiky base is larger than the growing umbel.

And like all umbellifers attractive to insects – here a small hoverfly, probably Melanostoma scalare, though the sheen on the wings is obscuring the pattern on the body.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2009 and 2011

Priorslee Lake
2 Common Sandpipers
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
(Martin Adlam)