19 Mar 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

10.5°C > 11.5°C:  Mainly cloudy: a few breaks and some dull bits with light rain sprinkles. Fresh W wind easing somewhat. Very good visibility.

Sunrise: 06:16 GMT

Priorslee Lake:  05:05 – 08:05 // 08:55 – 09:31

(35th visit of the year)

The Greylag x Canada Goose flew overhead and was my first record of it from the site this year – and a very scruffy bird it is too. As a ‘hybrid’ / feral bird it does not get added to my species list for the year

Notes from today:
- single call from a Pheasant very distantly – perhaps even across Castle Farm Way
- the variability of Great Crested Grebe numbers likely partly accounted for by birds on nests already
- Jackdaw passage even more prolonged today
- Kingfisher seen carrying food E over the lake again
- Brambling fly-over noteworthy
- another March Moth on a lamp – same place as 2 days ago but apparently not there yesterday
- after yesterday’s success with the flowers found a two more species today: Dog’s Mercury and Coltsfoot

Birds noted flying over the lake
- 1 Greylag x Canada Goose
- 44 Canada Geese (6 groups)
- 3 Black-headed Gulls (together)
- 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (5 groups)
- 4 Herring Gulls (together)
- 2 Feral Pigeon (together)
- 8 Wood Pigeons
- 437 Jackdaws (33 groups)
- 21 Rooks (18 singles / pairs)
- 2 Pied Wagtails
- 3 Meadow Pipits
- 1 Brambling

Warbler counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 3 (3) Chiffchaffs

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 4 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 3 (2?) Mallard again
- 17 (11?) Tufted Ducks
- 3 Cormorants
- 8 Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Water Rail again
- 5 Moorhens
- 30 Coots
- 1 Black-headed Gull again

Spent some time creeping up on the Cormorants this morning to try to get the exposure of the black bird against the much brighter lake correct. I had not noticed at the time this adult bird seems to be ‘tagged’ with a red marker on its left leg, not that I can see any identity on the tag. Note the way the right foot grips the platform.

This is the other Cormorant on the same platform, here I exposed the shot to show the eye colour and the feather detail. Just a few white tips form vestigial head plumes. The white thigh-patch is not visible in this view but it means this bird is also a breeding-condition adult, probably a younger bird.

The only Black-headed Gull – indeed the only gull – at the lake this morning. It spent a while apparently picking morsels off the surface. I assume that there was therefore a hatch of insects: this had failed to bring anything like a passing Sand Martin to join in.

Try as I might I could not make out what was being picked up: there does seem to be something between the mandibles but I cannot make it out.

If you look carefully there seems to be something on the surface just right of the bubble ....

... just there! But what it was I still cannot make out.

Tail-on view of this almost breeding-plumaged adult Black-headed Gulls – there were just a few white bits still showing around the bill on the previous pix.

A Wood Pigeon drinks out of a gutter in the Priorslee Estate.

This Blackbird with some albinism has been living around the foot-tunnel between the lake and The Flash and has caused me several ‘heart-stopping’ moments: when it flies away – which is how I usually see it. The white at the base of the tail looks like two white oval and makes it look as if it ought to be something exotic and rare. Today it perched long-enough for this snap. White patches in Blackbirds are very common. Because such birds ‘stand out’ they are often easy for predators to select.

Not a stunning photograph: this is Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis). The tassel-like spikes on the one open flower tell us this is a male plant – male and female flowers form on separate plants. Dog's Mercury can quickly colonise and spread by its underground rhizomes (stems). It can be so expansive that it shades woodland floors and crowds out rarer species. It is poisonous and eating it causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea – and death if you eat enough! Named ‘mercury’ as it resembles the unrelated Summer-flowering Good King Henry which is also known as 'English Mercury'. The 'dog' part is thought to mean 'false' or 'bad' though there is anecdotal evidence that dogs find it irresistible – before the poisons causes them to vomit!

After much confusion I am fairly sure this is Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). I was mightily confused by the leaves in the photo as Coltsfoot leaves do not appear until after the flowers have died. But having trawled my reference books and the web and failed to find anything else that fits I have concluded that the leaves visible are from other yet-to-flower species. The scientific name suggests Coltsfoot is useful for treating coughs (tussis in Latin). It is now recognised that the plant contains liver-damaging toxins!

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash  08:15 – 08:50

(27th visit of the year)

- both Mute Swans were on / at the nest-site this morning
otherwise rather quiet and unmemorable

Birds noted flying over

Warbler counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 2 (2) Chiffchaffs

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 1 Greylag x Canada Goose
- 28 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 16 (14?) Mallard again
- 27 (15?) Tufted Duck
- 1 Cormorant
- 3 Great Crested Grebes again
- 7 Moorhens
- 13 Coots

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
3 Great Crested Grebes 
7 Wigeon 
2 Gadwall 
18 Tufted Ducks 
127 Jackdaws
158 Black-headed Gulls
22 Herring Gulls
1 Great Black-backed Gull
1 Chiffchaff singing
6 Redwings
1 Siskin
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
2 Great Crested Grebe 
7 Swans 
2 Pochard 
1 Greater Scaup 
81 Tufted Duck 
(Ed Wilson)

Trench Lock Pool
1 Chiffchaff  singing
1 Little Grebe 
4 Great Crested Grebes 
1 Cormorant 
25 Tufted Duck 
(Ed Wilson)

Trench Middle Pool
1 Great Crested Grebe 
3 Cormorant 
6 Tufted Duck 
2 Goosander 
5 Siskins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 Sand Martins
(Martin Adlam)

Priorslee Lake
2 Great Crested Grebe
2 Cormorant
22 Tufted Duck
1 Ruddy Duck
1 Green Woodpecker
8 Meadow Pipit
25 Wren
20 Blackbird
5 Redwing
5 Chiffchaff
34 Magpie
8 Greenfinch
8 Reed Bunting
(Ed Wilson)

The Flash
8 Great Crested Grebe
2 Pochard
32 Tufted Duck
1 Chiffchaff singing
(Ed Wilson)