17 Apr 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

5.5°C > 6.0°C: Low cloud with spells of drizzle. Light E wind. Moderate visibility, poor in drizzle

Sunrise: 06:08 BST

A later than usual start on a dull day with light rain and drizzle coming down the Cheshire Gap

Still plenty of Willow Warblers around. 1 Common Sandpiper at the lake; all three hirundines – Sand Martins, Barn Swallows and House Martins at both location with the vast majority being Sand Martins

Priorslee Lake: 06:18 – 07:40 // 08:30 – 09:27

(57th visit of the year)

Notes from today:
- one of the Grey Herons is easy to identify as it has several missing feathers in one wing
- c.40 of the Sand Martins suddenly appeared overhead at 06:45 and then started catching insects over the lake. Eventually as many as 100 birds were over the lake with just a single House Martin and the occasional Barn Swallow amongst them
- one of the Barn Swallows seemed to be heading in from the W – the village area where they traditionally nest. So perhaps these are back on territory
- you could tell it was a Bank Holiday: so little traffic I could hear a Yellowhammer singing from across Castle Farm Way
- Ribwort [Plantain] (Plantago lanceolata) was newly identified plant this morning

Birds noted flying over the lake: in the poor visibility just
- 1 Feral Pigeon

Hirundine counts
- c.100 Sand Martins
- c.4 Barn Swallows
- 1 House Martin

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 11 (8) Chiffchaffs
- 9 (9) Willow Warbler
- 14 (10) Blackcaps

The counts from the lake area
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 8 (6?) Mallard
- 19 (11?) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Grey Herons
- 6 Great Crested Grebes
- 3 Moorhens
- 17 Coots
- 1 Common Sandpiper again

This morning’s Common Sandpiper.

Looking at this photo you might wonder why it is not a Spotted Sandpiper – the New World congener? It certainly has a few pale streaks and could these become spots as it moves further in to breeding plumage? After reading all my books I have concluded not: Spotted Sandpiper in breeding plumage loses the distinct white area seen here on the shoulder and the breast area loses its dense patterning in favour of the spots that also appear on its belly. Slightly worrying is that the tail of this bird looks rather short which is a Spotted Sandpiper feature.

A head-on view.

The other side: from this angle the tail looks longer. Interestingly in the rather dull light I did not see these markings in my binoculars.

Managed to find a specimen of bittercress in a much better position for seeing its easiest identification features – the extent and shape of the basal leaves (the number of stamens in the small flowers is beyond me!). This rather dense foliage and the rather rounded leaves confirms my thought as Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta).

These leaves are Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata). It has many other vernacular names – I knew it as Ribwort Plantain. The leaves have been used medicinally – an infusion of the leaves is said to make a good cough medicine.

This is one of the ovoid flower-heads, before the small white flowers open.

The Cowslips (Primula veris) are rather hidden but are looking good at the moment.

A close-up of one of the heads, covered in droplets from the drizzle.

And looking in to a single flower.

A flower-head at very typical angle.

Also covered in droplets from the drizzle are Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) and ...

... this speedwell sp. I’ll have to take a rain-check on its specific identification: the leaves we see do not belong to the speedwell and I am unable to find in my literature any species with 4 petals and a yellow centre as shown here.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 07:50 – 08:25

(43rd visit of the year)

All three hirundine species were new for me at this site this year and became, in time order, my 59th (Barn Swallow), 60th (House Martin) and 61st (Sand Martin) species

No other notes from here but one of the warblers between the lake and The Flash still puzzles a bit. Too dull to get a photo. It was a rather wet-looking bird with a distinct supercilium suggesting Willow Warbler. It looked slightly ‘tubby’ and its deliberate movements and lack of tail wagging supported this identification. Trouble was it appeared to have jet-black legs. It was loosely in the company of singing and non-singing Chiffchaffs and a singing Willow Warbler (and a singing Blackcap). I did not hear it call. I am pretty certain it was a Willow Warbler (and have logged it as such): but those black legs – not just dark: black – still worry me

Birds noted flying over

Hirundine counts
- 1 Sand Martin
- 4 Barn Swallows
- 1 House Martin

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 3 (3) Chiffchaffs again
- 12 (12) Willow Warblers
- 4 (3) Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 28 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 14 (12?) Mallard
- 17 (11?) Tufted Duck
- 1 Great Crested Grebe
- 4 Moorhens
- 16 Coots

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- 2 drake Mallards on the lower pool
- single Moorhen again scurrying back to the lower pool
- both singing and non-singing Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers between the pools (see note above)
- a Blackcap singing in the same area

(Ed Wilson)

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

Local Area
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
1 Cormorant
2 Grey Herons
8 Greylag Geese
10 Tufted Duck
1 Sand Martin
4 Swallows.
1 Sedge Warbler
10 Blackcaps
7 Chiffchaffs
191 Jackdaws
(Ed Wilson)

Woodhouse Lane
2 Red-legged Partridges
1 Whitethroat
4 Sky Larks
1 Blackcap
1 Chiffchaff
1 Linnet
2 Yellowhammers
(Ed Wilson)

Nedge Hill
1 Wheatear
1 Common Whitethroat
1 Willow Warbler
3 Chiffchaff
2 Swallow
2 Blackcap
6 Skylark
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
(Martin Grant)

Nedge Hill
1 Common Redstart
5 Whitethroat
15 Wheatear
2 Swallows
2 Yellowhammer
6+ Skylarks
3 Linnet
(Ian Grant, Martin Grant)

Priorslee Lake
1 Dark-bellied Brent Goose
(John Isherwood)

Nedge Hill
1 Redstart
2 Wheatear
1 Raven
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
1 Common Sandpiper
2 Tufted Ducks
1 Lapwing
1 Siskin
Common Whitethroat
(John Isherwood/Ed Wilson)

Nedge Hill
1 Common Redstart
12 Wheatear
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
1 Common Sandpiper
(John. Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
2 Reed Warblers
1 Pochard
17 Tufted Duck
6 Swallows
2 Reed Warblers
4 Blackcaps
5 Chiffchaffs
1 Willow Warbler
1 Jay
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 Little Grebe
1 Gadwall
7 Tufted Ducks
1 Common Sandpiper
111 Sand Martins
1 House Martin
4 Swallows
1 Blackcap
4 Willow Warblers
11 Chiffchaffs
1 Common Tern
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
4 Great Crested Grebes
3 Tufted Ducks
3 Ruddy Duck
9 Common Sandpiper
11 Chiffchaff
8 Willow Warbler
4 Blackcaps
1 Common Whitethroat
1 Swallow
1 Willow Tit
5 Greenfinch
1 Linnet
1 Redpoll
4 Reed Bunting
(Martin Adlam)