11 Nov 15

Priorslee Lake: 06:19 – 09:38

Telford sunrise: 07:24

12.5°C > 14.0°C. Broken cloud at multiple layers with a few clear spells. Moderate/ fresh SSW wind. Very good visibility

Best and strangest sighting today was what seems to have been a leucistic Lesser Black-backed Gull (see photos for discussion)

(140th visit of the year)

- rather few geese this morning: why?
- even larger movement of gulls this morning
--- maximum count of Black-headed Gulls on the water was c.420. Again birds were moving to & fro from Ricoh
--- after several groups of large gulls flew over birds started to settle with at least 350 present before a car with a backfire – how unusual is that in these days of electronic ignition – put them all up. Some 10 minutes later there were c.450 back on the lake. I suspect most of these were new birds as the ‘albino’ type did not return and there were >20 Herring Gulls when there had been just 2 previously. Number continued to build reaching at least 850 though some others had already drifted away
- 1 Yellow-legged Gull at least in the throng
- the early Wood Pigeon passage again comprised of small groups. All the large parties (up to 200 in several groups) were in a narrow window between 08:20 and 08:45 with many of these apparently climbing out of local trees. This raises the question: why were there no birds c.20 miles away that would pass c.30 minutes later?
- small group of Rooks passed almost 30 minutes ahead of the Jackdaws: then much later another group of 12 birds, but these not on the usual flight lines
- 2 single Starlings seen leaving the reeds: 1 group and another single bird (in with a party of Wood Pigeons!) overhead
- Cetti’s Warbler vocal again: after noting yesterday that it was being faithful to a small clump of reeds between the two fishing platforms it had of course moved – to the S side
- brief burst from one of the Song Thrushes
- passage of Fieldfare and Redwings again. At least 8 more Redwings seen leaving trees around the lake
- 1 Meadow Pipit seen leaving the S side: 2 singles over
- 1 Siskin heard over: later 2 males seen with Goldfinches attacking the Alder cones
- no moths on the lamps again

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 2 (1 group) Greylag Geese
- 12 (3 groups) Canada Geese
- >425 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (see notes)
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 4 Stock Doves (2 singles and pair)
- 1498 Wood Pigeons (18 migrant groups)
- 167 Jackdaws
- 26 Rooks
- 15 Starlings (2 groups)
- 61 Fieldfare (6 groups)
- 15 Redwings (4 groups)
- 4 Pied Wagtails
- 2 Meadow Pipits
- 1 Siskins

Birds seen leaving roosts around the lake
- >30 Magpies
- 2 single Starlings
- 5 Redwings again

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 7 (4♂) Gadwall
- 18 (11♂) Mallard
- 2 (2♂) Shoveler
- 65 (33♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron still
- 9 Great Crested Grebes
- 33 Moorhens
- 226 Coots
- >420 Black-headed Gulls (see notes)
- >850 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (see notes)
- >25 Herring Gulls
- 1 Yellow-legged Gull

This morning’s sunrise over the lake, the red creeping under the usual ‘Telford hat’ of low cloud.

And in close-up.

The red soon faded away.

A male Siskin attacking Alder cones.

Just part of one migrant party of Wood Pigeons over the lake this morning. Try counting this lot in flight.

Er? well what is this gull. Startlingly white and suggesting perhaps Glaucous Gull (bill too large and head shape wrong for Iceland Gull). But it would be a very strange date for any of the ‘white-winged’ gulls – they are mid- / late-winter birds, even in to Spring. Not in Autumn. Well there are several things wrong with this. On an adult, which this appears to be, the mantle should be pale pearl-grey and only the wing-tips would contrast as pure white. And in winter plumage, which it should have acquired by now, there should be extensive brown streaking on the head and neck (note the characteristic extensive dark streaking on the adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls now in winter plumage). So I conclude this must be some form of leucistic gull and I would guess a Lesser Black-backed Gull – the head-shape and posture exactly matches the bird behind. There were only 2 Herring Gulls present among some 250 Lesser Black-backs at this time (leucistic – lacking melanin pigment in the feathers rather than albino – unable to produce any melanin which would result in a pink eye and pale bill. It would be most unusual for a true albino to reach adulthood as their poor eyesight would almost certainly lead to very early death).

In this view there appears to be some grey in the folded wing tips (though we cannot be absolutely certain it is not just shadow). One point we can note here is the variability of the length and depth of the bills on the adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls. While males are on average larger than females it seems odd that the thinner bills would be (rather than just appear to be) longer.

Probably the clearest photo I took. Soon afterwards a car back-fired and put them all up, but I was unable to keep tabs on this bird to get a flight shot.

Here we see an adult Herring Gull in with adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This individual shows extensive head streaking in winter plumage – after November the streaks tend to wear and become less noticeable.

The mantle tone on gulls depends on the strength and the angle of the light and can be hard to judge. Note how the 3rd bird from the front looks very dark, almost recalling Great Black-backed Gull. That species would always, even a female, look larger, show a more massive bill and an unstreaked head.

Here we have a good candidate for a Yellow-legged Gull. The mantle is darker than a typical Herring Gull and the head appears unstreaked. While Scandinavian race Herring Gulls (common winter visitors inland) have darker mantles than ’our’ birds they are typically larger with very prominent head markings. This bird seems the same size as the Lesser Black-backs. Note the rather square head-shape and heavy bill – both typical for Yellow-legged Gull. We cannot see the legs though!

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash:  09:41 – 10:18

(97th visit of the year)

- the Gadwall and Teal gone
- the Pochard seem to have moved here from the lake
- I did the count of Tufted Duck settling on 32 (16♂) – then as I was about to leave 19 more flew in (from the lake?)
- Kingfisher here again
- also Grey Wagtail

Birds noted flying over 
- 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 18 Wood Pigeons in migrant party

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 32 Greylag Geese
- 37 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 32 (21♂) Mallard
- 3 (2♂) Pochard
- 51 (?♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 6 Moorhens
- 22 Coots again
- 59 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull yet again

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014
Priorslee Lake
Today's Report Here
(Ed Wilson)

The Wrekin
(Andy Latham)

Priorslee Lake

10 Great Crested Grebes 
10 Cormorants
8 Pochard
107 Tufted Ducks 
c.1600 Wood Pigeons
c.1700 Fieldfare
c.460 Redwings
359 Jackdaws
124 Rooks
105 Starlings
c.12 Siskins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
140 Lapwings
150+ Golden Plover
1 Snipe
1 Gadwall
1 Shoveler
15 Pochard
60 Tufted Ducks
2 Water Rails
6 Meadow Pipits
21 Redwings
20 Fieldfare over 
3 Goldcrests
c.400 Starlings
1 Siskin
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake

28 Pochard
58 Tufted Ducks
15 Lapwings
670+ Black-headed Gulls
2008+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1207 Wood Pigeons
88 Fieldfare
24 Redwings
254 Jackdaws
229 Rooks
795 Starlings
10 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)