22 Oct 16

The Flash: 07:00 – 07:10: 09:55 – 10:35

Sunrise: 07:49 BST

3°C > 7°C: A medium/low cloud layer had dispersed pre-dawn fog; this layer lifted and broke; as it did so the mist rolled back in. Calm start; light NW wind later. Moderate visibility, good for a while, becoming poor

(95th visit of the year)

The even-earlier first-pass was in the dark and just c.15 Canada Geese were noted leaving. All the counts below are from the second visit
- the adult Mute Swans went for a fly-about, leaving the lake for a short while, but soon returned. No sign of the cygnet and assume it is no more
- still few Tufted Ducks: was rather closer today and sexing was likely more accurate
- 3 duck Goosanders near the W-end reeds: what I assumed were the same 3 then seen, unusually, hauled out on the island. A further check revealed there were in fact 5 on the island
- better counts of both Moorhens and Coots though not obvious why
- Magpies heard preparing to leave roost on the island pre-dawn. There seem to be rather few leaving any roost at the lake, though perhaps I am arriving too late. Or has the roost moved here with the additional disturbance from the Academy close-by the traditional roost site? Will investigate
- a few fly-overs later with the Sky Larks being my first of the year at this site
- what were likely the same Epirrita sp. moth and Shield Bug were on the lamp again

Birds noted flying over
- 5 Feral Pigeons
- 2 Pied Wagtails
- 2 Sky Larks
- 1 Siskin

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 36 Greylag Geese
- 1 Greylag x Canada Goose
- 39 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 27 (20♂) Mallard
- 11 (9♂) Tufted Ducks
- 5 (0♂) Goosanders
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 + 1 Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Moorhens
- 13 Coots
- 14 Black-headed Gulls

Three duck Goosanders on the island: two of them having a preen. A Greylag Goose asleep behind them. A winter-plumage Great Crested Grebe (no head plumes) in the foreground. And the red shield of a Moorhen just visible on the left.

Not strictly at The Flash but in nearby St. Georges. Starlings are actually quite hard to approach and get a well-lit shot of their intricate plumage so I grabbed the opportunity of bird singing from a chimney pot. As soon as he saw me he flew off (‘he’ because the base of the bill is blueish – and he was singing).

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Lake: 07:15 – 09:50

(130th visit of the year)

Road-work starts in Castle Farm Way at the E end on Monday and is slated to go on until March 2017. Castle Farm Interchange is to get more traffic lanes; there will be a new and realigned lay-by with marked parking spots; wider footpaths with cycleways will be added; upgraded street lighting and a complete resurface are promised. Some of the trees and shrubs in the area are bound to be lost. How all the activity will affect the birds using the lake, especially the often jumpy larger gulls remains to be seen

Notes from today
- the Wigeon gone but two pairs of Shovelers today
- the mist meant the count of Tufted Ducks had to be done in sections: three attempts, starting with that while the light was still very poor, gave me 114, then 131 and finally 124
- 1 of the 60 Coots was an obvious immature
- 4 Black-headed Gulls passing high W seemed to be nothing to do with the local birds
- of the 14 Wood Pigeons logged flying over just 8 were in an obvious migrant group braving the poor visibility. Another c.40 birds were seen leaving the trees to the E of Castle Farm Way, but these almost instantly flew back in
- the roost dispersal of Jackdaws started at 07:35 with at least 380 birds passing far to the E with at least another 190 a few minutes later. As far as I could tell these groups contained no Rooks
- single Starling seen leaving the SE area; another 13 left a roost but were well airborne when I saw them and not sure where they were roosting: 15 others flying over in 3 small groups
- small overhead passage again with Sky Larks, lone Linnet. several groups of Siskins and a few Redpolls all heard
- 7 Epirrita sp. moths on the lamps today, likely all Autumnal Moths. One of these was caught in a spider-web
- a Pink-barred Sallow moth also caught in a web on a lamp: this is my first record of this species for many years

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 39 Greylag Geese
- 13 Canada Geese
- 4 Black-headed Gulls
- 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 14 Wood Pigeons only (see notes)
- c.585 Jackdaws (see notes)
- 5 Rooks
- 4 Skylarks again
- 8 Fieldfare
- 7 Redwings
- 9 Pied Wagtails
- 15 Starlings (3 groups)
- 1 Greenfinch
- 9 Goldfinches
- 8 Siskins
- 1 Linnet
- 3 Redpolls

Count of birds seen leaving roosts around the lake
- 14 Starlings (2 groups)
- 11 Redwings
- 2 Reed Buntings

Warblers seen / heard

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 8 (5♂) Gadwall
- 8 (4♂) Mallard
- 4 (2♂) Shoveler
- 1 (1♂) Pochard
- c.125 Tufted Ducks (see notes)
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 Little Grebe
- 4 Great Crested Grebes only
- 1 Water Rail heard again
- 12 Moorhens
- 60 Coots
- c.90 Black-headed Gulls

Very dull early-on and the best I could do with one of the drake Shoveler present today: two duck Tufted Duck in the foreground).

Rather better shot of one of the duck Shoveler (a drake Tufted Duck in the background).

This bird caught my eye. Superficially a duck Tufted Duck though the head-shape seems all wrong with the highest part of the head ahead of the eye. On this view the tip of the bill (the nail) seems not to be black.

This more side-on shot confirms the impression but is there perhaps a hint of a ‘tuft’? After due deliberation and consulting the literature I think this is ‘just’ an immature Tufted Duck, probably a duck. All Aythya ducks – Tufted Duck, Pochard, (Greater) Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Ferruginous Duck and Ring-necked Duck – are known to hybridise but this seems not to be the case here.

This Robin seems to have something to shout about.

And then showed his other side!

Impossible to get this moth, tangled in a web, in focus: enough here to clinch the ID as a Pink-barred Sallow moth: this is my first record of this species for many years.

One of the 7 Epirrita sp. moths on the lamps today: this shows just about the palest form of this species ....

 ... and this is at the darker end of the range.  

Between the lake and The Flash

I showed some details of the Autumn colours in this splendid Acer sp. yesterday. Here is the whole thing.

On this day in ...........
Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 adult Yellow-legged Gull
1 adult Great Black-backed Gull
4 Gadwall
1 Teal
(John Isherwood)

Nedge Hill
A Raven tussling with Sparrowhawk
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
389 Fieldfare
6 Redwings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
15 Pochard
34 Tufted Duck
13 Moorhens
232 Coots
1 Redwing heard 
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
A male Stonechat the west end
2 Gadwall
A drake Shoveler
14 Pochard
44 Tufted Duck
C.350 Starlings in the roost
20 Redwings
209 Coot
(Ed Wilson)