10 May 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

2.0°C > 11.5°C: Fine and cloudless. Frost early. Calm / light and variable wind. Good visibility with some low-level mist over the lake early

Sunrise: 05:21 BST

Priorslee Lake: 04:58 – 06:30 // 07:20 – 09:17

(61st visit of the year)

Notes from today:
- one pair of Mallard walked out of the Wesley Brook and across Teece Drive in to the Academy grounds: no ducklings with them
- perhaps a 2nd pair of Tufted Ducks: birds seen from two locations when it was too misty to see across lake: later certainly just one pair
- the fluffed-up Great Crested Grebe seen again with no sign of juveniles as yet
- still no sign of juvenile Coots even though the better weather tempted more birds on to the open water: all that happened was they started fighting!
- 1 Little Ringed Plover again seen at the base of the concrete ramp
- a Common Sandpiper ‘appeared’ on one of the yacht club boat platforms and then ‘disappeared’
- best gull passage for ages: almost better than last winter!
- only 1 Willow Tit heard today
- 3 Garden Warblers all seen in song. Perhaps still establishing territories as usually only 1 or 2 breed
- yesterday’s Lesser Whitethroat not heard today
- Sedge Warblers singing from 3 different locations today – my highest-ever number here. I also saw a non-singing bird that I am pretty certain was a 4th bird
- Starlings were flying to and fro from nest sites around the estate again: judging by the noises being made around Newport nest sites the young are about to fledge.
- no moths on the lamps again
- my first damselfly of the year – a Large Red Damselfly: this is a species that I have not seen for several years here. It is the earliest damselfly to appear and often abundant
- Bee-fly (presumed Bombylius major): surprised to find this still flying
- my first Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis) of the year
- several wasps and hoverflies seen, but none specifically identified

On with the totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 3 Greylag Geese (pair and single)
- 3 Canada Geese (trio)
- 22 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (6 groups)
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 2 Wood Pigeons
- 1 Jackdaw again
- 2 Rooks
- 8 Starlings again

Hirundine etc. counts: birds coming and going and not staying
- 6 Swifts
- 4 Sand Martins
- 3 Barn Swallows
- House Martin(s) heard only

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 10 (9) Chiffchaffs
- 2 (2) Willow Warblers
- 15 (12) Blackcaps
- 3 (3) Garden Warblers again
- 4 (3) Common Whitethroats
- 4 (3) Sedge Warblers (see notes)
- 6 (6) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 12 (9♂) + 4 (1 brood) Mallard
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Ducks (see notes)
- 1 Grey Heron again
- 6 + ? Great Crested Grebes (see notes)
- 6 Moorhens
- 24 Coots
- 1 Little Ringed Plover
- 1 Common Sandpiper

Patchy mist over the lake first thing – this at 05:02!

Mist stayed around for some time – this at 05:30.

... indeed until after sunrise – this at 05:45.

A shaft of sunlight illuminating a grass-stem

A touch of frost on these bramble leaves.

A different view of a sunrise courtesy of the cob Mute Swan.

Well the breeding season is well underway for Mallard but this drake shows no sign yet of losing his finery.

Still fighting: somewhere in there are two Coots.

Magpies are usually too wary to allow this close an approach.

At last managed to get a Song Thrush in full-throatal!

I was stalking a Sedge Warbler (which didn’t behave) when this Long-tailed Tit popped in to view. Looks rather wet: perhaps just from the damp vegetation.

The red-eyed look suggests they need more sleep.

Other than recent arrivals most warblers are busy breeding and hiding away in the leaves. This Willow Warbler was an exception singing away atop a tall branch. Perhaps still looking for a mate?

This is an instructive photo: the rather rufous-looking fore crown suggests a female Blackcap but it is in fact a Garden Warbler. Note the diffuse grey on the neck-side. The colouration has been affected by the very early light.

A better shot of a different Garden Warbler. This too is instructive in that one of my Field Guides says the bill is bluish grey-buff with a darker tip. So why are there pinkish tones visible?

Common Whitethroat in full song again.

And a non-singing bird.

Being quiet did not last long!

Note the faint pinkish wash on the breast side of this different bird, Note too, like the Garden Warbler, the fore crown is tinged rufous.

A male Reed Bunting hunched against the frosty start.

And here is his more subdued mate.

A different male Reed Bunting. With its tail spread we can see the white outer tail-feathers.

A familiar-enough flower but looks even better in close-up: Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).

These flowers are from a Crab apple (Malus sylvestris)

Just frosted with the crystals emphasising the structure of the ‘clock’ of a Dandelion sp. (probably Taraxacum officinale).

Really close-up here.

Also just frosted are some remaining flowers of Lady's Smock / Cuckooplant / Milkmaid (Cardamine pratensis).

A patch of Red Campion (Silene dioica or Melandrium rubrum).

A close-up of a flower of the most common buttercup around the lake – the Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris).

And this is how they get pollinated.

Here is Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): some of the flowers are over and the distinctive ‘backwards’ clock has developed; other flowers are still just about open.

Not really noticed these ‘panicles’ of seeds from a Sycamore (probably Acer pseudoplatanus). We are all familiar with the winged seeds, but these flowers precede the seeds. Apparently the flowers are hermaphrodite and all develop in to seeds – as many as 10000 on a mature tree.

And here in context with the leaves.

A spider was quick to capture a small fly that I flushed in to the web.

My first Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis) of the year.

My first Large Red Damselfly of the year. The black legs immediately separate from Small Red Damselfly if the size were not apparent.

As with most damsel/dragonflies surprisingly hairy when seen from this angle.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:40 – 07:15

(46th visit of the year)

A Garden Warbler singing to the N alongside the old A5 was the 62nd species I have logged at this site in 2017. I log this species most years but it always seems to move on rather than stay to breed
2 Swifts seen in the distance over St. Georges a few minutes later therefore become the 63rd

Other notes from here
- my first brood of Moorhens this year
- a 2nd brood of Coots notes
- a juvenile spotty Robin also noted

Birds noted flying over
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (singles)
- 2 Wood Pigeons (singles)

Hirundine etc. counts
- 2 Swifts
- 1 Barn Swallows

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 3 (3) Chiffchaffs
- no Willow Warblers
- 4 (4) Blackcaps again

The counts from the water
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 25 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 14 (13♂) Mallard
- 6 (3♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 Great Crested Grebe again
- 2 + 2 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 18 + 4 (2 broods) Coots

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- the usual singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap

A spotty Robin – my first juvenile this year.

We see the pale ‘gape’ line shown by all recently fledged birds. Robins are aggressive birds driving away intruders and juveniles are thought to lack the red breast so that they are not attacked. Quite how adult pairs deal with the innate aggression does not seem to be explained.

A few remnant willow flowers survive here: most ‘pussy willow’ is long gone.

Easy-peasy: a thistle. Ah: but which. Looks simple but cannot find anything like this in my reference books and May is rather an early date for any thistle. So ...?

The creamy-white pollen tells us this is a ‘real’ (English) Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Great White Egret
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)