2 Dec 15

Priorslee Lake: 06:59 – 09:35

Telford sunrise: 07:59

9.0°C > 12.0°C. Started mainly clear with some areas of medium cloud developing and later lowering; feeling fresh despite mild temperature; moderate / fresh S wind died away light for a while. Very good visibility

Today’s best record for me was the singing – yes, singing – Willow Tit at the lake. This is my first record of this ‘at risk’ and fast-declining species here since 01 July. Earlier this year what turned out to be probably just one bird was singing and singing and singing all around the lake. I am far from sure whether it bred this year with two birds confirmed only on 20 February. Good to know that at least one bird is still present

(143rd visit of the year)

- another duck Gadwall noted today to give me a new ‘highest count’ at this site – 12 birds
- a 3rd Shoveler with the 2 drakes today: am still undecided about its sex after looking at the photo I took
- Water Rail much more vocal this morning – two birds?
- 41 Moorhens my highest count here this year (perhaps ever) – more than when small juveniles present
- 1 high-flying group of c.100 Wood Pigeons on the move – W-bound today. Still few others
- a single Starling seen leaving the reeds again: loose group of 5 overhead later
- Cetti’s Warbler not heard this morning
- >70 Jackdaws shot past in a large group low to the W catching me out; and then c.270 flew past to the E. After this many other smaller groups, some flying very low just over the water
- another small passage of both Fieldfare and Redwings
- at least 8 Siskins and 3 Redpolls seen and heard around the NW Alders with presumed the same Siskins heard overhead as they moved to and fro along the N side Alders. Rather fewer Goldfinches this morning
- first Reed Buntings for a while: 2 heard at the W end and then presumably the same 2 seen flying off before sunrise. Earlier 4 birds, apparently also this species, were seen leaving the N side reeds together
- what were presumably the same two moths on the same two lamps – singles of Winter Moth and Mottled Umber
- the mild weather to date means that at least one Ragwort plant still has flowers

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 61 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 11 Feral Pigeons (2 groups)
- 1 Stock Dove again
- c.100 Wood Pigeons (1 passage group)
- c.530 Jackdaws
- 8 Rooks only
- 5 Starlings (1 group)
- 19 Fieldfare (5 groups)
- 2 Redwings (1 group)
- 4 Pied Wagtails

Birds seen leaving roosts around the lake
- 49 Magpies
- 1 Starling again
- 9 Redwings
- 6 Reed Buntings

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 12 (7♂) Gadwall
- 7 (4♂) Mallard
- 3 (2?♂) Shoveler
- 11 (9♂) Pochard again
- 72 (40♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Little Grebe
- 11 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Water Rail heard
- 41 Moorhens
- 252 Coots
- c.125 Black-headed Gulls
- 23 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls
- 1 Great Black-backed Gull

A clear start today with a few clouds and the red sky ahead of a breezy day.

Two Shoveler with the drake at the back now acquiring adult plumage. The bird in the foreground I thought at the time was a duck: in this shot the flanks look too rufous and suggest another drake, less advanced in its moult. However it may be that the reproduction is too ‘warm’ as a result of the low winter sun and it could still be a duck.

The same drake Shoveler flapping after a wash. Note here that the inner secondaries seem not yet fully grown. Note too the black (or dark green?) humerals – a feature I cannot see illustrated or mentioned in any of my reference books.

Another view of the same Shoveler. Here we see what appears to be water flying out of the bill as it shakes itself.

Seems a bit early but these Great Crested Grebes don’t need the head plumes to start the mating ritual head-shaking.

Did I mention the low winter sun accentuating the warm tones ...

Two drake Pochard. I noticed that these had rather differently-toned mantles and here we can see why – the right-hand bird has some retained juvenile dark feathers.

This is a first winter Herring-type Gull trying to keep its balance on a small buoy – look at the black nails. I had thought this was a Lesser Black-backed Gull and only by looking at the photo can I see the pale bases to the fresh mantle feathers. That said the overall dark tone suggests it might be a Yellow-legged type, though I would expect the head to be paler. I would want to see the wing-pattern before deciding and despite its precarious position it failed to fall off or flap.

An adult Herring Gull playing submarines! Actually it was shallow-diving to wet its plumage before a good preen.

Not what you expect in December: Ragwort in flower.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 09:44 – 10:26

(47th visit of the year)

The fishermen have replaced and extended their platforms in the wood at the S end. Perhaps it was in doing this that some of the overhanging trees and branches were removed – which is a shame as they provided shelter, nest sites for Great Crested Grebes and Moorhens; as well as being used by the Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

- very high count of Mallard for this site
- 2 duck Shoveler lurking among the main Mallard party
- for some reason duck / immature Tufted Duck seem to often outnumber drakes at this site
- a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull: see the photos for a discussion on this bird

Birds noted flying over

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 43 Canada Geese
- 59 (32♂) Mallard
- 2 (0♂) Shoveler
- 3 feral Mallard-type ducks
- 56 (21♂) Tufted Ducks
- 3 Cormorants
- 1 Grey Heron
- 3 Great Crested Grebes again
- 11 Moorhens
- 186 Coots
- 116 Black-headed Gulls
- 26 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Yellow-legged Gull
- 5 Herring Gulls

At first glance a classic winter Lesser Black-backed Gull but ... the very limited red spot on the lower mandible and the strength of the black mark on the bill all point to an immature – probably 2nd winter bird. As I have noted previously the strength and extent of the streaks on the head and neck are very variable in this species for reasons that are apparently not understood.

Another immature large gull and one where the adult part of the mantle seemed too pale for a Lesser Black-back yet rather dark for a Herring Gull. With the head looking very white under the streaking I am more certain this is a Yellow-legged Gull.

And this I think clinches it with a very small pale ‘window’ with just the 4 inner primaries with pale inner webs; and a very white upper-tail above the extensive dark tip. In Lesser Black-backed Gull the secondary coverts would be (almost) as dark as the secondaries.

Here we can compare and contrast immature winter gulls. The 2nd winter Herring Gull on the left shows new, pale inner primaries whereas the much darker 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull show no pale area at all here and a less well defined tail-band to that shown by the Yellow-legged Gull.

Is it Spring or Autumn? this tree seems unable to decide.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
3 Gadwall.
8 Pochard.
51 Tufted Ducks
156 Coots.
1st winter Great Black-backed Gull on the water. 
35 Redwings
c.407 Jackdaws
82 Rooks.
4 Siskins
1 Redpoll
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
3 Yellow legged Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
Caspian Gull
(John Isherwood / Another Observer)

The Wrekin

(Pete Nickless)

Priorslee Lake
21 Pochard
50 Tufted Ducks
1 eclipse drake Ruddy Duck
73 Coots
>750 Black-headed Gulls
1904 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1 Yellow-legged Gull
29 Robins
25 Blackbirds
1 Fieldfare
6 Song Thrushes
31 Redwings
1 Willow Tit
258 Jackdaws
248 Rooks
4 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Cormorant
3200 Black-headed Gulls
700 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1st winter Great Black-backed Gull
7 Pochard
36 Tufted Duck
208 Coot
246 Jackdaws
83 Rooks
(Ed Wilson)