1 Mar 17

Priorslee Lake: 06:10 – 07:20 // 08:10 – 09:39

1.5°C > 6.5°C: Variable medium-level cloud. Light SSW wind. Very good visibility.

Sunrise: 06:55 GMT

(18th visit of the year)

New species for my 2017 Priorslee Lake list.

Notes from today:
- Water Rails heard in two very different locations: as usual near the Wesley Brook bridge; and also in the NE area. I think that their squealing calls are usually given when two birds encounter each other and I have never previously heard such calls from the NE area where I have only ever seen single birds. Perhaps at least 4 birds are present?
- the two Herring Gulls (an adult and a 1st summer) stopped only momentarily
- four Stock Doves seen together flying around the usual old Ash tree
- many fewer Magpies seen leaving the roost area than in early January; particularly the number flying off E across Castle Farm Way was well down. I assume that some birds are beginning to use their nests that are already being refurbished
- no big parties of Jackdaws flying over from their roost: just small groups
- different songsters heard today included Coal Tit
- the Willow Tit was first heard singing across Castle Farm Way near the sluice exit: later it moved quickly along the S side, singing all the time
- after yesterday’s single Starling breaking my year-duck here for this species there was a plethora of birds today: a party of c.180 flew E over; this seemed to ‘pull’ an unseen roosting bird out of the reeds; later 2 flew over headed to the estate

Birds noted flying over the lake
- 21 Canada Geese (5 groups)
- 4 Black-headed Gulls again
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Stock Dove again
- 13 Wood Pigeons
- 73 Jackdaws (16 groups)
- 3 Rooks
- c.182 Starlings (see notes)
- 1 Pied Wagtail again
- 3 Greenfinch
- 1 Goldfinch again

Roost / departure counts
- 39 Magpies
- 1 Starling (see notes)
- 1 Redwing
- 2 Reed Buntings

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 2 (1♂) Gadwall again
- 7 (5♂) Mallard
- 16 (11♂) Tufted Ducks
- 4 Cormorants
- 1 Grey Heron
- 8 Great Crested Grebes still
- 2+ Water Rails heard
- 12 Moorhens
- 33 Coots
- 38 Black-headed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls

A great sequence of ever-changing sunrise views over the lake this morning: we start well before sun-up. Note the sleeping Mute Swans in the foreground – we will see them again!

It looked like it might be a fiery start.

With the red spreading across the sky: Mute Swans still sleeping.

The ‘fire’ fading away to more orange tones.

A low view with the sleeping Mute Swans taking centre-stage.

Much later over the estate we see a very bright ‘sun dog’ or mock sun (properly a parhelion). Sun dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Not easy to get the exposure right to show the rainbow-like colours – not surprising when the mechanism is the same, just the angle rather different.

Well: I cannot overlook an opportunity to photo an exquisite drake Gadwall in great light!

A better view of the breast from this angle.

And Mrs. Gadwall as well: she is holding her wing to show the white speculum nicely.

Two Cormorants, an immature on the left with the pale belly – indeed the bird on the right is not a full adult and seems to lack both head plumes and the thigh-patch.

The full adult flew in later: looks quite spectacular here and very different from non-breeding birds.

The same bird making the usual tail-first touch down.

Compare a similar view of the immature.

A 1st year Black-headed Gull. This bird shows more immature plumage than is typical at this date. Looks as if it the outer tail-feathers have been replaced as they lack the dark tip and, in particular, the left side looks short and not fully grown.

Another view of the same bird.

The underside view.

And the spread-wing in more detail.

This Hawthorn has a double-decker Magpie nest inside. Not sure whether there are two pairs nesting. I recall seeing groups of occupied double- and triple-decker nests on electricity pylons in the treeless wastes of Siberia many years ago.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 07:30 – 08:05

(15th visit of the year)

NB: earlier time so some numbers may be not strictly comparable

One or more Jays calling in the NW area were a new species for my 2017 Flash list

Notes from today:
- after 3 blank days seems the Goosanders are not coming here any more – headed off to breeding rivers?

Birds noted flying over here

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 14 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 22 (17♂) Mallard
- 37 (26♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 Great Crested Grebe once more
- 7 Moorhens
- 13 Coots
- 4 Black-headed Gulls only.

An interesting ‘sort of drake Mallard’. It has the curly tail but the green head is incomplete; the bill colour is all wrong – it should be uniform pale greenish-yellow; and the flanks show a combination of drake Mallard’s closely vermiculated grey side with some large brown-tipped feathers. It almost seems to be a mix of drake and duck with some Gadwall in the bill. Most odd.

Another ‘not quite right’ drake Mallard. Most of it is OK but the head is not ‘bottle green’ all over so there must be some stray genes somewhere.

Three Wood Pigeons and three Magpies take the early sun from a tree on the ever-diminishing island here – Winter storm Doris claimed another.
Looks a bit like one of those paintings of villages along the canals of Northern France or Belgium.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 09:39 – 10:10 // 10:45 – 10:55

(5th visit of the year)

Somewhat surprisingly Goldfinch was a new species for my 2017 Trench Lock Pool list

Notes from here
- 2 interloping Mute Swans were causing mayhem as the resident adults, assisted by the cygnets, crashed through the loafing birds in pursuit
- so where have the Mallard gone?
- still two Pochard here
- Shovelers still here
- a few Goosanders remain
- gull numbers remain very low

Birds noted flying over here

The counts from the water
- 4 + 3 Mute Swans (see notes)
- 15 Canada Geese
- 2 (1♂) Mallard
- 8 (6♂) Shoveler
- 2 (2♂) Pochard
- 50 (29♂) Tufted Ducks
- 4 (1♂) Goosander
- 2 Cormorants
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Moorhens
- 56 Coots
- 26 Black-headed Gulls
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull

One of the interloping Mute Swans takes to the air to escape the wrath of the local cob.

The residents in full-cry: note the bill of these birds is somewhat darker orange than the interloper suggesting it is not quite adult.

Getting close.

At full power.

Somewhere in here are two birds.

“Take that”

“And that”

One of the cygnets joins in.

Dad and two of the cygnets take a breather (note the drake Shoveler sleeping through all the chaos).

Pochard have been rather few this winter and often hard to approach: so here is a drake.

A duck Goosander. I don’t think we need to use the term ‘brownhead’ at this date: the sex of all immatures should be clear by now.

An adult Cormorant here shows only a small white thigh patch and only the slightest hint of head plumes – a few pale feather tips are visible if you look really hard.

This seems to be the same immature Herring Gull that was chased away from Middle Pool by the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Here we see some of the feathers in more detail.

“Look at my arm-pits”!

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 10:15 – 10:40

(5th visit of the year)

- also still a few Goosanders here
- a Cormorant flew N overhead but what was possibly the same bird arrived a few minutes later (and then disappeared)
- Sparrowhawk over here again (still trying to get it on this year’s Priorslee list)
- the adult summer Lesser Black-backed Gull seemed intent on seeing off the immature Herring Gull
- 2 Stock Doves flew over (just perhaps from the island). Certainly my first of the year here but off-hand I cannot recall ever seeing this species here before
- 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker calling and seen in flight: also my first of the year here
- the Daffodils are in flower and Blackthorns have more extensive blossom than at Priorslee Lake: it seems it is just that bit lower and therefore has a slightly milder microclimate

Birds noted flying over here
- 1 Cormorant (see notes)
- 2 Stock Doves

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 3 Greylag Geese
- 45 Canada Goose
- 18 (14♂) Mallard
- [no feral-type Mallards noted]
- 8 (5♂) Tufted Ducks
- 3 (0♂) Goosander
- 1 Cormorant
- 2 Great Crested Grebes
- 8 Moorhens
- 16 Coots
- 1 Black-headed Gull only
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
- 1 Herring Gull

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Large gulls lose the spotting on the head and neck in the breeding season whereas small gulls acquire solid dark heads! This bird now looks very smart.

Two for the price of one! Compare the size of the gull with a duck Goosander – one of our largest ducks.

An immature Herring Gull. As always seems to be the case not quite as it should be: the bill and pattern on the mantle are both clearly those of a 1st year bird but on most birds the wing tips would be faded and worn whereas these are solid black like a juvenile. These feathers should not be replaced until mid-summer.

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Shirlett High Park
16 Crossbills
(Yvonne C)

Priorslee Lake
1 Yellow-legged Gull
(JW Reeves)

Horsehay Pool 
1 Yellow-legged Gull
(JW Reeves)

Priorslee Lake
4 Great Crested Grebes
2 Pochard
17 Tufted Duck 
(Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock
3 Pochard
50 Tufted Duck 
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 Gadwall
1 Water Rail
4 Linnets
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
10 Great Crested Grebes
4 Heron
3 Cormorants
5 Pochard
26 Tufted Ducks
107 Coots
2 Water Rails
606 Wood Pigeon
334 Jackdaws
156 Rooks
25 Starlings
11 Pied Wagtails
21 Fieldfare
1 Redwing
1 Willow Tit
26 Starlings
10 Greenfinches
69 Siskins
3 Redpolls
9 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)