8 Mar 16

Priorslee Lake:

Afternoon Update: 12:30 - 13:15

1 Kittiwake - adult summer present to at least 13:15
5 Gadwall
3 Redpoll

(John Isherwood)

Morning Report: 07:15 – 09:15

Sunrise: 06:38

0°C > 3°C: clouded after clear night just melting frost: still clear to far E. Occasional light drizzle. Calm start with light SW wind later. Good visibility

Highlight today was the adult Kittiwake that came in to the lake in company with 10 immature Herring Gulls. These seemed to be giving it a hard time, though it eventually settled on the water for at least 25 minutes. Most of the gulls were in and out within minutes again today

Kittiwake is about annual here even though it is a true ‘sea gull’ and mainly pelagic in behaviour. The thinking is that birds take a ‘short cut’ flying up the River Severn and across to the Wash – look at it on a map – to avoid the long flog around Dungeness. If they encounter bad weather – as it would have today – they look for any water to stop, rest and re-orientate. A rather early date for a migrant, I usually look for them at the end of the month or in April

(35th visit of the year)

- two Little Grebes this morning, one of them, at least, in full breeding plumage – the other not seen well-enough
- after many recounts I was happy there are still, and probably have been for weeks, 15 Great Crested Grebes
- >40 Wood Pigeons flew high E in scattered groups, probably just local movements but certainly they did not come from the local trees. Another 60 at least in the tops of the trees in Ward’s Rough to the ENE and flushed when the bird-scarers in the fields discharged
- the two Sky Larks flew S together just E of Castle Farm Way. The resident singing bird was present both before and after they passed, so I am assuming they were birds moving through
- plenty of small groups of Siskins flying over. A pair in one of the trees by Teece Drive gate was making very excited twittering noises – sounded like a whole gang of them but wasn’t
- 8 Linnets today, again close to the Academy right alongside Teece Drive
- 1 March Moth on one of the street lamps

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 4 Canada Geese (1 group)
- 11 Black-headed Gulls
- 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 7 Herring Gulls
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 1 Stock Dove
- >100 Wood Pigeons
- 9 Herring Gulls
- 4 Jackdaws only
- 1 Rooks only
- 2 Ravens
- 2 Sky Larks
- 4 Starlings
- 3 Greenfinches
- 2 Goldfinches
- 11 Siskins

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 5 (3♂) Gadwall still here
- 5 (3♂) Mallard
- 13 (8♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron again
- 2 Little Grebes
- 15 Great Crested Grebes
- 20 Moorhens
- 67 Coots
- 1 Kittiwake
- 15 Black-headed Gulls
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 17 Herring Gulls

A Redwing in the trees. The pale supercilium (eye-brow) and moustachial stripe identify even when the ‘red wing’ (really on the flanks) cannot be seen. Call is how I usually find these birds as they are always shy unless weather is very bad when they will come in to gardens.

My first sight of the Kittiwake: dreadful light for photos but there is enough here. The neat back wing tip and the darker inner wing are diagnostic. We can also just about make out the yellow bill and dark eye, though these two features are shared with Common Gull.

In better light ...

And the underwing-tip pattern is the same as that on the upperwing.

And again.

Eventually about to settle on the water.


On the water it is a very smart-looking bird with a surprisingly dark mantle, accentuated by the rather poor light this morning.

Here with a first-year Herring Gull for size comparison (and the wing-tip of a Black-headed Gull!).

And here with a different first-year Herring Gull, one with rather more pale at the base of the bill than usual in early March.

And here with two Black-headed Gulls (and two drake Tufted Ducks and half a Coot).

A flap after a preen reveals dark brown legs. There is a different high Arctic species from Alaska called Red-legged Kittiwake which has – red legs! ‘Our’ bird is properly ‘Black-legged Kittiwake’, though in fact the legs can be orange, red or brown, though they are usually dark brown or black. Leg colour is usually irrelevant since most birds are seen in flight along coasts when the legs are invisible. I saw a red-legged bird at the lake some 5 years ago and could not remember what colour they were supposed to be! The ‘real’ Red-legged Kittiwake is a different-looking bird when seen and no real confusion arises.

A fairly typical view: a splash, a whirr of wing and the bird skitters across the water. What is it? A Little Grebe. The size, the chestnut head and neck and pale belly help identify in the action shot.

Here we see the small size compared with a Coot (and a soft drink bottle). This bird is in breeding plumage and clearly shows its prominent yellow gape even at this range.

Had to ‘tweak’ this against-the-light shot but today we see all of a Linnet without any bush in the way.

This morning’s March Moth.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 09:25 – 09:45

(23rd visit of the year)

Nothing to highlight

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
- 4 Siskins

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 13 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 18 (12♂) Mallard
- 16 (9♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 16 Coots
- 21 Black-headed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls again

(Ed Wilson)


Devil's Dingle: 11:00am
12 Teal
2 Snipe

(John Isherwood)

On this day in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2015
Priorslee Lake

Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 Iceland Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
(John Isherwood)

Holmer Lake
1 Goosander
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
13 Pochard
41 Tufted Ducks
1 Oystercatcher
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
9 Cormorant
15 Tufted Duck
1 Woodcock
311 Wood Pigeon
36 Robin
24 Blackbird
10 Redwing
53 Magpie
5 Reed Bunting
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Ruddy Duck
1 Little Grebe
4 Great Crested Grebes
2 Herons
1 Cormorant
6 Pochard
42 Tufted Ducks
2 Ruddy Ducks
103 Coots
1 Water Rail
1 Ring-billed Gull
141 Wood Pigeon
142 Jackdaws
23 Blackbirds
11 Song Thrushes
1 Redwing
14 Greenfinches
6 Reed Buntings.
(Ed Wilson and et al)