15 Nov 16

Priorslee Lake: 07:20 – 09:55

Sunrise: 07:33 GMT

14°C > 15°C: Started with broken cloud with some patchy drizzle and some sun; later clouded. Light, occasionally moderate W wind, veered N and dropped away. Very good visibility

Milder this morning than almost any other morning this year!

Best today were the 14 Goosanders seen apparently leaving the lake (though I did not see them actually lift from the water). Better conditions allowed me to confirm the ID of the first winter (GreaterScaup

(149th visit of the year)

Notes from today
- a sub-adult Mute Swan had to be seen off by the residents while the cygnet looked on and then went for a fly of its own. Not seen it accomplish a turn at the end of the water as yet
- the duck Shoveler still present
- same 6 drake Pochard this morning
- Little Grebe again: it is very much ‘hit and miss’ to see this – you have to be watching the correct part of the reed-edge at the precise moment the bird pops up for air and dives again
- 81 of the 137 Wood Pigeons flying over were in 7 groups: much reduced passage and local movement today
- where are all the Greenfinches: the last week or so I have logged just one or two in the W end hedge or overhead
- >30 Siskins at the W end as I left
- no moths on the lamps today: with a mild night I would have expected a few – perhaps the supermoon had attracted them all away from the street lights

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 14 Black-headed Gulls
- 38 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 11 Herring Gulls again
- 3 Feral Pigeons
- 137 Wood Pigeons
- 14 Jackdaws
- 2 Rooks
- 37 Starlings (2 groups)
- 72 Fieldfare (5 groups)
- 28 Redwing (5 groups)
- 2 Pied Wagtails
- 5 Meadow Pipits
- 1 Chaffinch again
- 1 Greenfinch
- 1 Goldfinch

The counts from the lake area
- 3 + 1 Mute Swans (see notes)
- 2 (1♂) Gadwall once more
- 12 (7♂) Mallard
- 1 (0♂) Shoveler again
- 6 (6♂) Pochard again
- 95 (55♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 (1♂) (GreaterScaup
- 14 (6♂) Goosander
- 2 Grey Herons
- 1 Little Grebe
- 8 Great Crested Grebes again
- 7 Moorhens only
- 60 Coots
- c.120 Black-headed Gulls
- 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull

The sub-adult Mute Swan leaving after being chased off. We can see it has a blue Darvic ring: poor light means we cannot read it.

About time I did another duck Gadwall: note the bright orangey edges to the bill.

From the same angle here is the duck Shoveler with even more extensive bright orangey edges to the bill.

Today there were better views of the first winter (Greater) Scaup: here we see it with two duck Tufted Ducks – quite a different head-shape.

The closest duck Tufted Duck unusually shows no vestigial tuft: still quite a different shape from the first winter (Greater) Scaup in front of it. Note too the different tone to the back.

Now the light is better and the bird closer we can see the start of the vermiculations on the back and that there is a hint of a black tip to the bill.

And from the other side.

And tilting its head allows even this slightly out-of-focus shot to confirm the black tip.

Just in case you missed it.

Note: (Greater) Scaup is annual but uncommon in the Midlands, though probably overlooked. It seems to be becoming more regular. In our area I first logged one at Trench Lock Pool over 10 years ago. As far as I can tell from a brief trawl through my logs a single drake was at the lake in the 2012 / 2013 winter. There were then three birds that commuted between the lake and The Flash in the 2013 / 2014 winter. This is the first since.

A male Siskin

Possibly about the last of the Autumn colours.

These two first-winter Black-headed Gulls show the plumage features clearly.

The roadworks at the Castle Farm Interchange show this sign: has anyone a clue what it means? I suppose we should slow anyway. Incidentally these have been given the grand title of “Growth Point Package Improvements”: presumably a consultant got paid a lot of money to come up with that name. what is wrong with ‘Road Works” or “Junction Improvements”?
(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 10:30 – 11:20

(5th visit of the year)

- a Cormorant was overhead as I was arriving and may have come off the water
- the gulls were coming and going as ever
- generally very quiet with even fewer Tufted Ducks and Coots logged

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans again
- 5 Canada Geese
- 7 (4♂) Mallard
- 15 (4♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Great Crested Grebe again
- 8 Moorhens
- 49 Coots
- 126 Black-headed Gulls
- 62 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 6 Herring Gulls again

Black-headed Gulls are quite content to sit on the lamps in the middle of the A442 adjacent to the pool. One of these still shows much of a black head. Whether this remains from last summer or whether the bird is already starting to acquire breeding plumage is hard to say – probably the former.

A 1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull in flight. The upperwing is actually darker than on an adult and the neat tail-band is particularly noticeable.

This bird shows less of a pronounced tail-band – it looks more like a bird still in juvenile plumage.

A 3rd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull landing: an admixture of dark grey and black feathers in the upper wing, no white ‘mirrors’ and remnant black marks from the tail band. Note a few wing feathers are lifting as the wing ‘stalls’ on landing.

A full adult in much the same pose: note the alula (the small feather at the bend of the leading-edge of each wing) are extended to provide more low speed control [there appears to be a single black mark in one of the tail feathers and this bird might just also be a 3rd winter bird].

One tends to think bird alight gracefully on water: not so in the case of this Lesser Black-backed Gull (the extent of the dark trailing edge to the wings identifies).

Classic adult winter Lesser Black-backed Gull at rest ...

These two demonstrate the variability of the head-streaking.

A 1st winter Herring Gull in flight – the new pale inner primaries are shared with a 2nd winter birds but the all-dark bill is perhaps the easiest guide. More brown than pale grey in the upperwing.

The underwing pattern of this bird.

A different bird in flight where the pale inner primaries are less obvious.

A 2nd winter Herring Gull in flight – more or less equal amounts of brown and pale grey in the upper wing. Many birds would not show any red on the bill.

A 2nd winter Herring Gull leads a 1st winter bird providing a direct flight comparison.

And, different birds, but here at rest are 1st and 2nd winter Herring Gulls.

And here a full adult winter Herring Gull, this bird showing rather little head streaking.

A 2nd winter Herring Gull at rest – still acquiring all the pale mantle feathers, the best clue being the extent of the pale base to the bill. At this time of year the bill would likely be all black on a 1st winter bird.

A more advanced 2nd winter Herring Gull at rest with extensive grey on the mantle. Almost no yellow and certainly no red on the bill in this bird.

This bird is intermediate between the previous two 2nd winter Herring Gulls showing how confusing this group can be (note too the variability in the head-streaking of the adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls behind).

In many way a dreadful shot – not enough light to freeze the action – but illustrates a 1st winter bird shaking itself after bathing. The head is upside down!

For some reason (almost) all the Tufted Ducks popped up on the surface in a tight group: snap! Every time I look at this I want to come up with a different number of drakes – 2 adults; 2 moulting in to adult plumage; 5 or 6 others? or just blotchy ducks? All will be revealed by about 4 weeks when it will no longer be hard.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 11:25 – 11:55

(2nd visit of the year)

- some Canada Geese now turned up since my previous report
- a Meadow Pipit flew over

The counts from the water
- 21 Canada Geese
- 28 (20♂) Mallard
- 3 (3♂) Tufted Ducks
- 14 Moorhens
- 11 Coots
- 105 Black-headed Gulls
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in ...........
Local Area
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe 
1 Wigeon 
5 Gadwall 
2 Teal 
77 Tufted Duck 
230 Coots 
c.650 Black-headed Gulls
c.450 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
21 Herring Gulls
36 Fieldfare
2 Redwings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
3 Wigeon
1 Shoveler 
3 Pochard 
11 Tufted Ducks 
c.35 Redwings
c.175 Jackdaws
36 Rooks
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
4 Yellow-legged Gulls
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebes
30 Pochard
75 Tufted Ducks
50 Coots
>550 Black-headed Gulls
1329 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
7 Herring Gulls
1 Yellow-legged Gull
242 Wood Pigeons
36 Robins
22 Blackbirds
72 Fieldfares
22 Redwings
1 Redpoll
3 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)