31 Aug 16

The Flash: 07:00 – 07:20

Sunrise: 06:19 BST

15°C > 17°C: Broken cloud at multiple levels with only occasional sunny bits. Light SSE wind. Good visibility

(89th visit of the year)

I assume it is the council who has authorised two of the large willow trees at the N end of the water to be felled. It is not obvious to me why this was necessary: the dreaded Health and Safety Police?

- the cygnet and the two adult Swans were all in very different parts of the water. Not seen the cygnet attempting any flying as yet
- strange that the Lesser Black-backed Gulls here at this time of the year always seem to be adults
- the 15 House Martins all in a single party heading SE
- Arum maculatum (Cuckoopint or Lords and Ladies etc) in some number along the stream-side down ‘squirrel alley’

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 3 Wood Pigeon
- 3 Starlings

Hirundines etc. seen here today
- 15 House Martins

Warblers seen / heard around the water: numbers in brackets are singing birds: song very sporadic now
- 3 (0) Chiffchaffs

The counts from the water
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 10 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 22 (16♂) Mallard
- 14 (?♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 + 1 Great Crested Grebes again
- 1 + 1 Moorhens
- 14 + 5 (4 broods) Coots
- 7 Black-headed Gull (5 juveniles)
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Here are the remains of the felled trees.

From this end they look healthy-enough: so why?

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Lake: 07:25 – 09:25

(124th visit of the year)
Notes from today
- the Canada Goose seems to have a broken wing: so how did it get here? and why did the Swan leave it alone – did he break the goose’s wing?
- all the large gulls dropped in for a few minutes only
- a single Barn Swallow flew N calling loudly for no apparent reason
- 14 House Martins flew high N in a group – were these the birds seen flying S over The Flash? Later 7 (more?) from the estate area
- a party of >140 Wood Pigeons flushed from the Wards Rough area to the NE and flew W over the lake; at least 30 more that flushed at the same time circled back without crossing the lake
- a / the Willow Tit again with a big tit party at the W end
- several juvenile Bullfinches seen today
- a Tortrix moth on one of the lamps, as yet unidentified
- several Common Darter dragonflies
- generally a shortage of insects again

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 2 Feral Pigeons (1 group)
- >150 Wood Pigeons
- 1 Jackdaw
- 1 Rook again
- 6 Goldfinches

Hirundines etc. seen here today
- 1 Barn Swallow
- 21 House Martins

Warblers seen / heard around the water: numbers in brackets are singing birds: song very sporadic now
- 6 (1) Chiffchaffs
- 1 (0) Willow Warbler
- 3 (0) Blackcaps
- 3 (0) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 1 Canada Goose
- 15 (?♂) Mallard
- 5 (?♂) Tufted Ducks again
- 1 Grey Heron again
- 7 + 6 (3 broods) Great Crested Grebes again
- 2 + 1 juvenile Moorhens
- 50 + 10 juvenile Coots
- 43 Black-headed Gulls
- 24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 5 Herring Gulls

Here is the Canada Goose with the apparent broken wing.

This Grey Heron was the other side of the boat launching platform and appeared to think I couldn’t see him!

Eventually he decided I could and flew off calling [Coots, Tufted Ducks and gulls in the background].

Getting the exposure right for ducks on the water can be a nightmare – especially against the light. This duck Tufted Duck is well-exposed. The background less so.

Getting the exposure right for gulls can also be a nightmare: the white comes out too white or the grey too dark; or the background is muzzy. No amount of fiddling with Photoshop can retrieve most shots. Amazingly I got this shot of a winter adult Black-headed Gull about spot-on with detail in the grey feathers and interesting water patterns.

Just a few feathers remain from the summer ‘hood’ on the neck-side. The black smudges on the head will stay all winter.

Note the black tips to the folded primaries fall short of the tail-tip. When fully regrown they will extend beyond the tail ....

... as we see on this 1st year bird that would have started its wing-moult much earlier and therefore have regrown all its primaries.

Big gull moult from underneath. This first year Lesser Black-backed Gull is moulting in to second winter plumage. We see the outer primaries have yet to regrow as have some of the greater coverts.

A different bird (look at the bill marks) but otherwise in a very similar state.

And another bird, this one with a rather thin bill and therefore likely a female.

Contrast with the bill on this bird. Perhaps accentuated by the angle of the head: but even so very different.

Another view of this same bird.

A much paler-toned bird with the pale area of the inner primaries suggesting perhaps a Herring Gull. But in fact just a combination of spread feathers and back-lighting because ....

Here we see it as a 2nd year Lesser Black-backed Gull – I age this mainly on the bill markings: a 3rd year bird would normally show yellow on the bill.

This is an unusual gull – a streamer-tailed black-back gull perhaps?

And another view. It illustrates the importance of making sure that we do not drop litter, especially plastic litter (just as likely of course that this came from the bird feeding at the tip). It – a (near) adult Lesser Black-backed Gull – was getting a hard time from the other gulls: perhaps they thought it might be food? And it would be easy for this bird to get tangled in vegetation.

This bird is not trailing anything: it is the angle that makes the right wing-tip look as if it is! Note this bird has yet to drop its outer primary. The angle also accentuates the rather longer and narrower wings of Lesser Black-backed Gull compared with Herring Gull. In the field I can rarely see any difference.

This is a 1st year Herring Gull. It is paler overall than almost all Lesser Black-backed Gulls (later in the year wear makes this a less reliable feature). The clincher is the broad pale edges to the tertials – the feathers in front of the black folded primaries; and that apart from the primaries all the feathers have a very similar tone.

I mentioned some days ago there seemed to be birds from a second / replacement brood of Great Tits about. Here is one looking very washed out and with rather fuzzy edges to the black on the head. The rather narrow breast stripe suggests a female.

But: I have to say this Blue Tits does not look in proper adult plumage either and so far as I know Blue Tits never have second broods. So perhaps it is an effect of the annual moult I have never noticed before.

Image To Come

1457 Not my best-ever shot but gives some idea of the very different appearance of juvenile Bullfinches. They not only lack the breast-colour of adults (only red in males of course) but the black on the head is absent. The stubby bill is the give-away (and, in the field, the call)

At somewhat of a strange angle and not entirely sure what the minute red twig is doing across the back of this moth but ... this has to be Acleris emargana (or Notch-wing Button). New for the year.

Worth repeating? A male Common Darter dragonfly.

(Ed Wilson)

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

Possible Little Ringed Plover
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake

Common Tern
(Ed Wilson)

Nedge Hill

(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake

Yellow Wagtail
Little Grebe
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
58 Tufted Duck
(Ed Wilson)