29 Sep 15

Priorslee Lake: 05:52 – 09:29

Telford sunrise: 07:07

6.5°C > 11.5°C. Clear and fine with more in the way of high cloud and some ordinary cloud to N & E. Again rather hazy and patches of fog seen in the distance. Calm with very light SSE breeze later. Mainly good visibility

Best today was my first-ever newt sp. in the area, almost certainly a Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

Another surprising record was the first 2 Redwings of the Autumn flying out of trees around the lake

(129th visit of the year)

Other notes
- Greylag Geese: 1 present when I arrived and flew off; 98 flew outbound in 5 groups; then a group of 23 closely followed by a huge group of >180 flew inbound
- Canada Geese: as yesterday there were 79 present when I arrived which flew off; just 5 flew outbound. None seen later
- 6 Mallard flew off pre-dawn and were not sexed
- a few more Shoveler this morning: the drake was on its own today
- many of the Tufted Duck were continually diving and hard to sex, so I did not attempt to
- 7 + 9 was the result of the Great Crested Grebe count. In theory there should be 8 adults and there may well have been another fishing under water
- the Kestrel was on one of Severn Trent’s information posts again
- another relatively low count of Jackdaws and fewer Rooks: perhaps they have found another area to fly off to feed
- 1 calling Blackcap the only warbler noted (but see notes for The Flash where there were many Chiffchaffs)
- apart from the 9 fly-over Meadow Pipits (all singles) another bird was flushed from the long grass in the SW area

- no bats again
- the Palmate Newt as highlighted
- 1 Common Marbled Carpet moth on the lamps (with another probable ‘the wrong way around’ on the inside of one of the lamp shades
- nothing in the Priorslee Avenue foot tunnel

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- c.300 Greylag Geese (8 parties)
- 5 Canada Geese (1 party)
- 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 5 Feral Pigeons
- 3 Stock Doves
- 191 Jackdaws
- 127 Rooks
- 11 Starlings
- 24 Pied Wagtails
- 9 Meadow Pipit
- 1 Siskin

Hirundines etc

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 79 Canada Geese
- 28 (>11♂) Mallard
- 4 (1♂) Shoveler
- 44 (?♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Grey Herons
- 1 Little Grebe
- 7 + 9 Great Crested Grebes – see notes
- 20 + 18 Moorhens
- 199 Coots
- c.175 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

A few wisps of mist again with more cloud to the NE.

 Fast-growing now: one of the juvenile Great Crested Grebes.

I was really struggling with these ducks but the camera reveals the bill-shape much more clearly than I could see with x10 binoculars. Three duck Shoveler (Black-headed Gulls behind).

Here one of them shows its green speculum – Mallard’s speculum is blue (drake Tufted Duck and Coot get in on the action).

Here is what is probably the same Kestrel rather closer. From this view the yellow cere is visible so it is a female and not an immature. Indeed I changed position and got to see the breast to confirm that but the instant I was about to press the shutter the bird flew!

A rather scruffy-looking Goldfinch. I think this is an adult in moult – some juveniles are starting to get adult bits and pieces but none is this far advances as yet.

I was rather puzzled by this – I thought a lizard. The only native species that could possibly occur in this area is the Common Lizard (Zootoca vivpara). However it is not common and the habitat around the lake seems rather improbable. I know that lizards are usually fast-moving but in cold weather perhaps not. However there were several other things that troubled me: the front foot does not have the five toes shown by a lizard; and the eyes bulged a bit. Then it fell in to place – it is a newt.

Here we see the whole newt sp. Separation of Smooth and Palmate Newts seems to be done mainly on size (10 cm. or 15 cm.) but I had nothing to measure it with (what is a cm. in old money?) and perhaps it was regrowing its tail anyway. But I think the stripe through the eye and the pale chin make it a Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus). You can get some idea of size – it is on a yellow-line the council have painted near the new academy.

Because at the time I thought it a lizard I was torn between leaving it where it was – exposed to danger but at least likely to get some warmth from the sun. And move it somewhere sheltered and hope it found somewhere to hibernate. The latter would have been the correct course of action for a newt.

A rather different-looking Common Marbled Carpet on one of the lamps this morning.

A new fungus that has just appeared around the lake.

While ‘gardening’ – removing some of the grass from in front of the fungus – I inadvertently uprooted one. So we can see the gill formation clearly: and yes that does seem to be a very small bug at the top of the stem.

An unexpected fly-over! A Royal Air Force Merlin helicopter. This is probably from 28 Squadron at RAF Benson. However I am puzzled by the crossed-sword badge on the tail which is not the squadron badge shown on the web.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 09:31 – 10:10
(89th visit of the year)

- usual caveat on geese numbers: I suspect the missing numbers are mainly Greylag Geese that were already inside the island when I arrived
- significant exodus of Tufted Duck since yesterday
- only single adult and juvenile Great Crested Grebe logged today
- all the Black-headed Gulls left towards the lake while I was there: I had noticed earlier that many of the birds at the lake seemed to come from this direction (usually they mostly arrive from the Ricoh grounds)
- the two Barn Swallows were clearly ‘on a mission’ and flying S without a pause
- after yesterday’s low counts and the total absence of Chiffchaffs at the lake it was unexpected to find at least 9 here with one singing and 2 seen that were not even calling
- Meadow Pipit overhead

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
- 1 Meadow Pipit

Hirundines etc.
- 2 Barn Swallows flew S

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- >135 Greylag Geese
- 57 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 28 (15♂) Mallard
- 39 (?♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 1 + 1 Great Crested Grebes only
- 5 + 1 Moorhens
- 19 Coots
- 31 Black-headed Gulls

I was trying to read the Darvic ring on the adult Mute Swan and failed – '7 something'. However we can see the ID of the two cygnets as '7IIV' and '7IIU' (the third cygnet ‘escaped’ and is unringed). Not bad from the opposite bank. Greylag Geese behind with orange bills and legs.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2005,  2008 and 2010
Priorslee Lake
3 Pochard
2 Sparrowhawks
24 Swallows
Peregrine Falcon
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
105 Greenfinches
House Martin
3 Chiffchaffs
(Ed Wilson)