30 May 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

11.5°C > 14.5°C: Mostly cloudy. Moderate WSW wind. Very good visibility
Sunrise: 04:53 BST

Priorslee Lake: 05:37 – 06:50 // 07:50 – 09:22

(69th visit of the year)

The Mute Swans have lost one of their five cygnets: not an uncommon event but when the brood was rather small it could be significant
other notes from today:
- 2 Tufted Ducks were flying off E as I arrived; later a pair were on the water but these left (again?). Assumed all the same birds
- a Collared Dove flew over: for some reason I have recorded fewer than usual this year even though there are birds around the estate as usual
- a Great Spotted Woodpecker was getting very angry with a Grey Squirrel near where I think the birds are nesting. If I were the squirrel I would be worried about that bill!
- a Sedge Warbler was seen interacting with a Reed Warbler that was stripping last year’s dead reed stems, presumably for nesting material. A non-singing Sedge Warbler is a positive indication that it is attempting to breed here – something that does not happen every year
- no fewer than 7 singing Song Thrushes this morning: also 3 others together were likely a family group
- as last year an adult Pied Wagtail was on the dam-face feeding 2 yellow-toned juveniles. I suspect the breeding site is across the M54 in the industrial estate somewhere
- Reed Buntings seem to be holding 4 breeding territories
- a Common Swift moth was a welcome sight on the pole of one of the lamps
- >5 Silver-ground Carpet moths flushed from vegetation
- both Black Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus cristatus) and the snipe fly Rhagio scolopaceus seen again
- more new(ly identified) flowers noted this morning included
.... Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
- one or more species of fungus – neither specifically identified as yet

On with the bird totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 3 Canada Geese (1 group)
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 1 Wood Pigeon
- 1 Collared Dove
- 3 Jackdaws
- 1 Rook

Hirundine etc. counts:
- 14 Swifts
- 6 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 7 (7) Chiffchaffs
- 1 (1) Willow Warblers still
- 9 (9) Blackcaps
- 2 (2) Garden Warblers still
- 1 (0) Common Whitethroat
- 1 (0) Sedge Warbler
- 9 (6) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 4 Mute Swans
- 6 (3♂) + 4 (1 brood) Mallard
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Ducks (see notes)
- 5 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 Moorhens
- 26 + 1 (1 brood) Coots

The duck Mallard with her well-grown ducklings. Looking at their bills we see they will be two drakes and two ducks – the ducks have brown along the sides of the bill (#s 2 & 4).

This is a juvenile Wood Pigeon. They lack the white neck-patch of the adults but they do have white in the bend of the folded wing to distinguish them from the slightly smaller (more stocky!) Stock Dove. We cannot see that feature from this angle: it was obvious when it flew away.

Cannot resist: one of seven singing Song Thrushes this morning.

Making sure it is heard in all directions!

Remember: no obvious features is the hallmark of Garden Warbler. When you hear the song there is no mistake.

Here we see a Reed Warbler collecting nesting material – the stripped stems of last year’s reeds. These birds are rather late nesters as they need to build in new-growth reeds and time their broods so they can fatten up for Autumn migration on reed aphids.

A mouthful!

Not entirely sure what this juvenile Great Tit was up to, tugging away at the fluffy heads of last year’s Great Reedmace (Bulrush). Several were doing it. Were they after the seeds? or insects inside them?

An adult Pied Wagtail with a juvenile in the foreground on the dam.

A closer shot of a juvenile showing the eggy beak and rather blurred markings.

On some individuals the whole face is suffused yellow – not so with this bird.

An the ‘side elevation’ for completeness.

A Goldfinch lurking in the damp grass.

A particularly well-marked Silver-ground Carpet moth.

Interesting: this moth was rather ‘in the dark’ so I chose to use flash. That has resulted in the water droplets sparkling so as to obscure the real marks.

I tried again hoping I could hold the camera steady: it revealed a Common Swift moth – all other species of swift moth would be more patterned though all are somewhat variable.

A rather better shot of the Snipe fly Rhagio scolopaceus.

And a ‘side elevation’. Ought to be a ‘stilt’ fly – now they do have long legs! (I think this just might be a different species, but I cannot be sure of the sex as from this angle we cannot see whether the eyes meet).

I have tried here to show the very small flowers of Common or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) but they really don’t show too well.
Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius) seems a reasonable name. Does dock have particular properties to assuage nettle stings or will rubbing with any ‘soft’ plant have the same effect? Or is it all in the mind anyway?

Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) flowers.

This common-enough plant / weed was growing in the area disturbed by the recent O-about and lay-by roadworks. It looks rather different in close-up: Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris).

A forget-me-not sp. Growing at the end of the dam it could be any of Common, Wood or Water Forget-me-not and they are not easy to separate. Looking at the leaves I am inclined to go for Common Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis) [separate from speedwells which only have 4 petals].

The Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) about to open.

One of the two? species of fungus this morning.

At least I assume there were two species even though there very different-looking fruiting bodies were adjacent. Possibly an age-thing?

A snail of course: another group that is rather complex. Using the very excellent Nature Spot Here as a guide I think it might be a Hairy Snail (Trochulus hispidus) – the hairs do wear off.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 07:00 – 07:45

(50th visit of the year)

No sight or sound of the Reed Warbler this morning.

Other notes from here
- the 7 cygnets still OK
- more Mallard visible today
- just one pair of Tufted Ducks remains. I would have thought it rather late for the other birds to be migrating
- a 3rd Great Crested Grebe: possible juvenile (s) on the back of one of the adults again
- some of the Coots seem to have been sitting on nests a very long time: it is possible that a clutch failed and they re-laid while I was away ..... Not sure how many broods as the oldest juveniles are moving well away from their nest sites
- Nuthatches calling at N end must be a separate family to those seen between the lake and The Flash – see below
- noisy parties of Long-tailed Tits at each end of the water: both included juveniles
birds noted flying over
- 2 Feral Pigeons

Hirundine etc. counts
- 18 Swifts
- 3 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 2 (2) Chiffchaffs again
- 1 (1) Blackcap

The counts from the water
- 2 + 7 Mute Swans
- 25 Canada Geese
- [the white feral goose has disappeared again]
- 16 (15♂) Mallard
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Duck
- 3 + ? Great Crested Grebes
- 1 Moorhen
- 18 + 6 (4? broods) Coots

One of the many juvenile Long-tailed Tits dashing about at The Flash this morning. Note the rather smudgy head-pattern and ill-defined pink eye-ring of the juveniles.

At The Flash I found this plant. I know it by the vernacular name of ‘Indian Paint Brush’, a name applied to a number of red-flowering plants. It is a form of hawkweed – Orange Hawkweed (Hieraceum brunneocroceum) – and may well be a garden escape here.

And here more in context

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap both back in usual location
- 3 Nuthatches – family party? –seen working the bottom 3’ of an isolated tree near the upper pool.

Between the lake and The Flash there were 3 Nuthatches working at the base of a large Acer tree. Here one pauses to check me out. A presumed family party though they all looked pretty much the same.

Also here I noticed my first Honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.) of the year – though it must have been in flower for some while to look like this.

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Long Lane, Wellington
13 Ringed Plover
2 Dunlin
(JW Reeves)