26 Mar 16

Priorslee Lake: 07:15 – 09:30

Sunrise: 05:56

7°C > 9°C: Overcast with mainly light drizzly-rain after 07:45; moderate / fresh S wind; Good visibility, moderate after onset of drizzle

(49th visit of the year)

The poor weather brought the first hirundines of the year for me here. A lone Sand Martin, briefly, at 07:45. Then 4 Sand Martins at 08:15 which increased to c.10. While I was trying to get some record photos of these I heard and then saw at least 2 Barn Swallow. And then the real surprise: a House Martin. This is usually the last of the hirundines to arrive and I have rarely seen this species in March, even when I spent a lot of time in SW England

Other notes
- only 1 Swan noted again
- a pair of the Gadwall seem to have gone
- with the two Black-headed Gulls overhead was, frustratingly, another gull that looked ‘interesting’ but it was too far away before I saw it to enable a positive ID
- in addition to the Wood Pigeons around and over the lake there were at least 150 over the fields to the east
- 2 Kingfishers today
- the Willow Tit was calling at the W end when I arrived: much later I heard what was probably the same bird calling across Castle Farm Way in the sluice exit area. I doubt there are two calling birds here
- 2 Lesser Redpolls again, feeding on dead Willowherb heads along the S side
- 1 of yesterday’s March Moths in the same place on the same lamp
- several bumble bee sp. flying around despite the dull and cool conditions: not seen well-enough to identify

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 2 (1♂) Mallard
- 2 Black-headed Gulls
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls
- 13 Wood Pigeons
- 7 Jackdaws
- 3 Rooks
- 8 Starlings
- 1 Redwing
- 1 Goldfinch
- 5 Siskins

Hirundine totals
- c.10 Sand Martins
- 2 Barn Swallows
- 1 House Martin

Singing warblers around the lake
- 1 Cetti’s Warbler still
- 5 Chiffchaffs again

The counts from the lake area
- 1 Mute Swan (see notes)
- 3 (2♂) Gadwall
- 4 (3♂) Mallard
- 19 (12♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Cormorant briefly again
- 11 Great Crested Grebes
- 14 Moorhens
- 60 Coots
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 20 Herring Gulls

This is the first of a number of shots of this morning’s hirundines. With low light-levels and fast-moving and erratic flight from the birds chasing insects much credit goes to Canon for getting the auto-focus locked-in on a surprising number of occasions. Many more shots went straight in the bin of course, but to do so costs almost nothing with digital photography. Here we see the underside of a Sand Martin. In the field I find the dark collar almost impossible to see.

This view shows the dark collar to better effect.

This upper side view shows Sand Martin to be all brown above, with no spots in the short tail, here spread as it changes direction (Barn Swallows look blue-black on the mantle and wings while House Martins look black, though also gloss blue in good light).

Here is the upper side of a Barn Swallow. The row of white dots is often conspicuous in flight as the bird twists and turns after insects (an upper side view of another Sand Martin behind; with another Sand Martin doing its ‘bullet’ impression behind that).

The underside of a Barn Swallow. The throat area is all-dark (c.f. the Sand Martin’s collar). But the long tail-feathers distinguish this species.

This is the only shot I managed of the House Martin. The only feature that identifies here is the white that wraps right around the tail end on to the rump.

A Lesser Redpoll on dead Willowherb stems. This seems to be a female.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in .....................
Priorslee Lake

Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake

3 Great Crested Grebes
13 Cormorants
4 Greylag Geese
22 Tufted Duck
5 Sand Martins
6 Redwings
8 Chiffchaffs
>500 Jackdaws
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
50 Tufted Ducks
4 Chiffchaffs
4 Siskins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake

1 Little Grebe
6 Great Crested Grebes
1 Cormorant
7 Wigeon 
2 Gadwall 
1 Pochard 
42 Tufted Ducks 
1 Great Black-backed Gull
Mediterranean Gull.
Ring-billed x Lesser Black-backed Gull.
>1500 Black-headed Gulls
2 Redwings
65 Magpies
25 Siskins
2 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
2 Great Crested Grebes 
6 Swans
2 Pochard 
85 Tufted Duck 
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake

3 Buzzards
1 Little Grebe 
5 Great Crested Grebe
4 Gadwall
36 Tufted Duck
c.160 Jackdaws
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
4 Great Crested Grebe 
3 Greylag Geese 
32 Tufted Duck

1 Cormorant
43 Tufted Ducks
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake

Little Ringed Plover
1 Cormorant
1 Mallard x Pintail
18 Tufted Duck
1 Ruddy Duck
1 Little Ringed Plover
1 Kittiwake
33 Wren
29 Robin
24 Blackbird
3 Chiffchaff
39 Magpie
3 Greenfinch
6 Reed Bunting
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
8 Great Crested Grebe
2 Pochard
27 Tufted Duck
1 Snipe
3 Chiffchaff
2 Reed Bunting
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Barn Owl
1 Little Grebe
5 Great Crested Grebes
1 Shoveler
30 Tufted Ducks
2 Water Rails
321 Wood Pigeons
2 Sky Larks
5 Meadow Pipits
33 Wrens
21 Robins
21 Blackbirds
1 Fieldfare
3 Redwings
1 Chiffchaff
1 Willow Tit
18 Greenfinches
8 Siskins
1 Linnet
6 Reed Buntings
1 Yellowhammer.
(Ed Wilson)