11 Dec 17

Priorslee Lake

-5.0°C > -3.0°C: Remaining cloud clearing to SE; fine, crisp and cold. Lying snow. Moderate NW breeze. Good visibility

Sunrise: 08:11 GMT

Not the weather for an early start!

Priorslee Lake: 09:12 – 11:22

(157th visit of the year)

c.10% ice in sheltered NW areas. Sky had cleared late in night and the very cold temperatures were quite recent. Open water kept moving by the wind

Best bird today was another duck Goldeneye. The 3rd Goldeneye – 1 drake, 2 ducks – this winter for me here: a bird I do not see here every year

Notes from today:
- 4 additional adult Mute Swans again today. They did not want to leave
- 32 Canada Geese flew in. Swans were too busy to care. A party of 11 flew towards The Flash
- pair of Wigeon new in
- did not see the ‘spare’ drake Gadwall today but rather chilly on the dam to do complete scans – hence no Coot count
- Tufted Duck count also ‘best effort’ as they dived and moved around to avoid the battling swans
- not entirely sure how many Cormorants there were today. Did not see any fishing in the water. 2 appeared to be leaving. Then 4, and eventually 6, more all on similar path that could have come from Bayliss Pools alongside the M54. Certainly the party of 26 that flew over a few minutes later came from that way. Several later singles may have peeled off from these groups. I reckon at least 34 birds
- a female Kestrel flew W over the dam: my first record of this species here since 17 October
- not surprisingly there were no moths on the lamps

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 11 Canada Geese (1 group, inbound)
- >32 Cormorants (see notes)
- 1 Sparrowhawk (male)
- 2 Buzzards
- 1 Kestrel (female)
- 7 Black-headed Gulls
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 56 Wood Pigeons only
- 1 Fieldfare
- 2 Redwings
- 1 Linnet
- 1 Lesser Redpoll

Started too late to see birds leaving roosts around the lake:

The counts from the lake area
- 6 + 3 Mute Swans again (see notes)
- 32 Canada Geese
- 2 (1♂) Eurasian Wigeon
- 10 (5♂) Gadwall
- 23 (13♂) Mallard
- 9 (8♂) Pochard
- 62 (33♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 (0♂) Goldeneye
- 2+ Cormorants (see notes)
- 4 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Moorhen only
- [Coots not counted]
- 46 Black-headed Gulls
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Oh dear: six adult Mute Swans does not make for a peaceful morning.

The residents had work to do: the cob on the warpath again.

Here the pair work together.

Two try to escape: the bird on the right has a dull bill suggesting it is the younger bird. Talk about low flying!

Anchors out!

Here two adults look a bit amorous and clearly have the interest of the cygnets.

But they were not the parents and the resident cob was not happy with his children getting sex education.

It can get quite serious with more than just threats.

The bird on the right has an orange Darvic ring (not readable) so it was not ringed in Shropshire.

They always look surprised, though it probably was: a duck Goldeneye – wonder why it is called that?
A very distinctive head profile.

A study in black and white (with a bit of grey and blue).

Here is a little Goldcrest trying to find some parts not covered in snow where it can look for small insects and eggs. Sadly not sharp – they do move about a lot – but we see red on the crown, so the bird was clearly excited and had raised its crown feathers to expose the red bases.

These little sprites spend a lot of time hover-feeding, as here.

The crown feathers are still raised here.

A Blue Tit also at work trying to find food.

Taking a breather to check for danger perhaps.

A perky little Wren will be struggling to find food.

Well: a lot more snow and some more pictures will not go amiss of what has, recently, been a very rare occurrence. Branches bending under the weight of snow make the N-side path barely passable.

And the bulrushes are even more horizontal than they were.

Another north side view.

And the north west area.

Again with the blue sky behind.

Not often you see reeds with snow on them.

The Wesley Brook bridge: not my feet marks.

Real Christmas Card scene.

Can’t think of anything original to say!

Looking across to the northwest area.

And across to the north. Note how the taller trees have caught the wind and the snow has been blown off.

The south east area.

(Ed Wilson)


Thank you to Mark Williams for the following photos.

Down at the sailing lake today I saw 2 Kingfishers and managed to get a better photo.

Canada Geese, Mallard and Tufted Duck

Mute Swans fighting.

Mute Swans fighting.

Mute Swans fighting.

Looking across the lake from one of the snow covered fishing pontoons.

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Scaup imm/fem
4 Yellow-legged Gull
(Gary Crowder)

Priorslee Lake
3 Yellow-legged Gull
8 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 duck Gadwall
3 Goosander
4 Teal
1 Wigeon
1 Redshank
8 Pochard.
55 Tufted Ducks 
1 Water Rail
172 Coots.
4 Great Black-backed Gulls . 
36 Redwings
42 Fieldfares
453 Jackdaws
64 Rooks
(John Isherwood/Roger Clay/Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool
35 Mute Swans
1 drake Wigeon
1 duck Goldeneye
2 drake Shoveler
40 Tufted Duck
1 Common Gull
6 Herring Gull
163 Lesser Black-backed Gull
128 Black-headed Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
165 Coot
Lesser Black-backed Gull with a Dark Blue ring with Orange [red] numbers 567. This bird bred in Germany. 
(Martin Grant/Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Adult Caspian Gull
(Tom Lowe)

Priorslee Lake
Black necked Grebe
1 Great Black-backed Gull
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
5 Cormorants
18 Pochard
56 Tufted Ducks
27 Robins
23 Blackbirds
3 Fieldfares
2 Redwings
1 Willow Tit
2 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Water Rail
750 Black-headed Gulls
1000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1 Little Grebes
5 Great Crested Grebes
15 Pochard
27 Tufted Duck
2 Redpolls
25 Siskins
15 Pied Wagtails
2 Redwings
32 Fieldfares
5 Reed Buntings
13 Robins
18 Blackbirds
11 Greenfinches
(Ed Wilson)

10 Dec 17

Priorslee Lake: 11:30am

Went up to the sailing lake this morning and saw 1 Water Rail and managed to get a photo of the Kingfisher. Not the best photo of the Kingfisher but the best I have got so far. (Mark Williams)

Water Rail

Water Rail


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

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
2 Yellow-legged Gull
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
6 Gadwall 
4 Pochard 
2 Teal 
4 Raven
(John Isherwood)

The Flash
3 Goosander
(John Isherwood)

Horsehay Pool
Caspian Gull
(Jim Almond)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe.
3 Gadwall.
6 Pochard.
46 Tufted Ducks
1 Goosander
1 Water Rail
155 Coots
23 Redwings
6 Fieldfares.
151 Jackdaws
63 Rooks
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull
2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
Caspian Gull
3 Yellow-legged Gulls
c20 Herring Gulls.
(J W Reeves)

Priorslee Lake
Black-necked Grebe
Yellow-legged Gull
An adult Little Gull
(Jason/Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
9 Pochard
53 Tufted Ducks
1 Water Rail
1 Merlin
3 Buzzards
>500 Black-headed Gulls
234 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
1 Great Black-backed Gull
24 Robins
22 Blackbirds
122 Fieldfares
178 Redwings
1 Willow Tit
139 Jackdaws
66 Rooks
12 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson / Martin Adlam)

Priorslee Lake
160 Golden Plover
1500 Black-headed Gulls
400 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
2 Little Grebes
13 Pochard
34 Tufted Duck
239 Coot
1 Water Rail
142 Jackdaws
251 Rooks
2 Redpolls
47 Siskins
6 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

9 Dec 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

-1.5°C > +1.5°C: Early light snow showers; otherwise good clear breaks. Lying snow. Calm / light W breeze. Very good visibility

Sunrise: 08:09 GMT

Had hoped the weather might have induced some movement: apart from more gulls overhead than usual it was uneventful

Priorslee Lake: 07:00 – 10:20

(156th visit of the year)

Just icing in sheltered NW areas

Notes from today:
- 4 additional adult Mute Swan had arrived by 07:55. Two were seen off at 08:00. Another left c.08:10. The remaining bird still present until 10:00 at least
- 20 Canada Geese on the water by 07:05: may have roosted. Mute Swans not interested. Flew off 07:50. Different party of 15 flew over before these left
- the drake Goosander flew W at 10:00
- one of the Great Crested Grebes from the ‘NW reeds’ not seen this morning: I may just have heard it call
- 100 Black-headed Gulls (along with 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls) ‘appeared’ on the water at 07:30: they had not come in low from the W end as usual. As in recent days most of these left, today to the SE. Some returned but never more than c.40
- a Green Woodpecker heard calling and then seen in flight along the N side
- main party of Jackdaws spread out and I estimated c.520. Unlike recent weeks this main party was followed by several sizeable (and a few small) groups totalling 195 birds (6 groups)
- I thought I heard the wings of Starlings leaving the roost at 07:40 but saw nothing. 21 birds came out of the reeds some five minutes later
- 1 Northern Winter Moth still on the same lamps as yesterday but pre-dawn only
- lots of mammal tracks in the snow: the snow too powdery to provide identifiable prints
- a Red Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) plant found in flower on the dam

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 15 Canada Geese (1 group, outbound)
- 1 (1♂) Goosander
- 2 Buzzards
- 53 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Stock Dove
- 5 Wood Pigeons only
- >625 Jackdaws
- 2 Rooks
- 1 Starling
- 2 Fieldfares
- 1 Redwing only
- 5 Pied Wagtails
- 2 Greenfinches
- 1 Siskin

Birds noted leaving roosts around the lake:
- 22 Magpies
- 21+ Starlings
- 9 Redwings
- 1 Reed Bunting

The counts from the lake area
- 6 + 3 Mute Swans (see notes)
- 20 Canada Geese (flew off)
- 11 (6♂) Gadwall once more
- 16 (12♂) Mallard
- 9 (7♂) Pochard
- 53 (31♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Cormorants again
- 2 Little Grebes
- 3 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Water Rail heard
- 7 Moorhens
- 179 Coots
- c.100 Black-headed Gulls
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

At last: the moon is visible after all the grey days in the last week.

A chilly sunrise. In the distance a small snow shower is evident.

Sunrise after the snow shower had passed.

Another snow shower passes through: hard to know where the snow ends and the Mute Swans begin.

One of the uninvited Mute Swans leaves. Apparently unringed.

The resident pair on the warpath while the cygnets look on. I am assuming that it is the cob leading: the books say it has the larger ‘knob’ on the fore-crown but even here where we can compare it is not obvious to me.

The cause of their ire: this bird – a sub-adult (note the duller bill) – just would not leave. It does appear to have a BTO metal ring on its right leg.

A first-winter Black-headed Gull in a chilly scene.

A different first-winter Black-headed Gull trails a leg. It may be broken – a not infrequent occurrence. They seem to be able to cope reasonably well with one operational leg.

A Pied Wagtail also looking chilly in the snow. None of my books illustrate winter-plumaged birds so the white throat – as we see here – is a bit of a surprise. Males have uniformly black backs; females are grey with black blotches, as here. However the extent of the black at the side of the throat and on the lower chest suggests this is a male – perhaps a first year bird?

Even chillier!

A surprise find: Red Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) in flower. When I did my check on 01 December all these plants looked frosted and dead.

More snow scenes today. A small amount more snow last afternoon and evening with an overnight frost had made sure the snow stuck to the branches. This is looking at the NW corner from the boat-launching area.

And looking toward the north side.

Bushes in the south-west corner laden with snow.

This Bulrush (or Reedmace) (Typha latifolia) shows where the wind blew from, coating one side of the seed-head.

A forest of snowy bulrushes.

The south-east corner: during the week there would be queuing traffic behind the fence.

From the dam-top looking at the same south-east corner.

A rare sight indeed – looking north along the dam with Castle Farm Way devoid of traffic.

Take a good look: these fields across Castle Farm Way have planning permission for 1100 houses so you may not see this scene again.

The eastern part of the north side.

Inside the same area.

With warmth from the sun much of the snow was falling off the branches – caught these in time.

Looking back east along the north side with more bulrushes evident.

Not a day for the Goldfinches and Siskins to try and feed on these Alder cones.


The weight of the snow had bent many of the branches and as we see here it could be difficult to walk the path without crouching.

A forest of dead Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) plants, their see-heads weighed-down with snow.

Really weighed-down.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 10:25 – 11:45

(109th visit of the year)

Just a hint of ice in sheltered NW area

Notes from here
- must have overlooked the Mute Swan cygnet yesterday: present today, still not having anything to do with its parents
- the 12 Goosander were remarkably tolerant of children screaming with delight at the snow, snowballing and pulling sledges. They stayed ‘just that far away’ as usual. Strange that again in this season there are so many drakes: historically brownheads have dominated by a large margin
- the Great Crested Grebes would not stay still and on the surface. Certainly 3 birds: a 4th I think
- as at the lake every one of the large gulls overhead was a Lesser Black-backed Gull – no Herring Gulls
- 1 Skylark fly over was unexpected at this date

Birds noted flying over
- 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Wood Pigeon
- 1 Skylark

The counts from the water
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 6 Greylag Geese
- 2 Canada Geese again
- 1 white feral goose as usual
- 30 (18♂) Mallard
- 1 (0♂) Pochard
- 35 (17♂) Tufted Ducks
- 12 (9♂) Goosanders
- 3 or 4 Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Moorhens
- 11 Coots
- 76 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull again

A ‘tufty-type’ with a white face. Could it be a duck Scaup? The white on the face is probably not extensive enough, but the head-shape looks rounded so ...?

Nope: it has a ‘tuft’ so it is just a duck Tufted Duck after all.

Three of the drake Goosanders in various preening poses. Their rather odd head-shape is accentuated here.

As we see here as well.

Two boys and two girls.

A drake flapping. Even when drakes are in ‘brownhead’-type eclipse or immature plumage they show white across the entire width of the wing. Ducks have pale grey forewings. Here we also see a pink flush to the belly. This will get brighter and more extensive as it enters breeding condition.

From a different angle.

And the underwing.

A fine flotilla of eight drakes (and a Black-headed Gull, showing that white is not always white, the Goosanders looking very faintly pink by comparison).

By the time I got to The Flash much of the snow had fallen off the trees and bushes: this view was an exception.

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe
1 Little Egret
3 Gadwall
3 Pochard
34 Tufted Ducks
169 Coots
c.233 Wood Pigeons
6 Redwings
1 Fieldfare
c.800 Jackdaws
137 Rooks
16 Siskins
2 Linnets
1 Redpoll
(Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool
39 Tufted Duck
1 Goldeneye
162 Coots counted again
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe 
4 Great Crested Grebes
38 Swans
34 Pochard
45 Tufted Ducks
2 Water Rails
c.1800 Black-headed Gulls
210 Lesser Black-backs
8 Herring Gulls
1 Great Black-backed Gull 
14 Redwings
1 Siskin flew over
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe
12 Pochard
56 Tufted Ducks
1 drake Ruddy Ducks
2 Goosanders
3 Lapwings
1 Snipe
>1700 Black-headed Gulls
865 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
22 Robins
22 Blackbirds
6 Redwings
243 Jackdaws
133 Rooks
1 Brambling
4 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2500 Black-headed Gulls
250 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
2 Little Grebes
11 Pochard
34 Tufted Duck
237 Coot
2 Redpolls
24 Siskins
2 Redwings
3 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)