9 May 17

Priorslee Lake, The Flash and Nedge Hill

4.5°C > 7.5°C: Mainly overcast. Light NE wind. Good visibility
Sunrise: 05:23 BST

First day back after just over two weeks in the USA. Most of the summer visitors now in

Priorslee Lake: 06:10

2 Little Ringed Plover on SW shore
1 Common Sandpiper
1 Sedge Warbler

(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake: 04:55 – 07:00 // 07:50 – 09:50

(60th visit of the year)

Before getting underway an update on a sighting from as far back as 03 March. A flock of medium-sized birds flew over and looked wrong for Starlings and I wondered at the time whether they might have been (Bohemian) Waxwings but was unsure. While in the US I saw several parties of the New World equivalent Cedar Waxwings, both feeding in trees and in flight. From these observations I am now happy that the birds on the 03 March were indeed (Bohemian) Waxwings and thus the species total for the lake at the start of the day starts at 86

The last of the migrant ‘regulars’ noted today, in recording order increased the species count to 91:
- Garden Warbler was 87
- Common Whitethroat was 88
- Sedge Warbler was 89
- Swift was 90
- Lesser Whitethroat was 91

Notes from today:
- one of the Great Crested Grebes had fluffed-up back feathers and was probably sheltering juveniles
- no sign of juvenile Coots here as yet: perhaps rather too chilly for them to be away from the nests?
- 2 Little Ringed Plover seen at the base of the concrete ramp a bit of a puzzle. This early migrant should be breeding now: perhaps birds whose nesting attempts(s) have failed. Hopefully on the move to somewhere better
- rather a late date for a passage Common Sandpiper
- the two Black-headed Gulls, at least one a full adult which is very unusual. Some years I see none here during May and if I do they are usually non-breeding immatures
- the passing group of 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not so unusual, though not common at this date
- big and tight group of 32 Feral Pigeons likely Racing Pigeons
- Jays seen in several locations: seem to be >1 pair this year
- early Jackdaw and Rook passage over before I arrived
- on both laps of the lake I heard Willow Tit in two different locations and suspect there might be >1 bird present. Needs confirming
- 3 Garden Warblers all seen in song. Perhaps still establishing territories as usually only 1 or 2 breed
- 1 Lesser Whitethroat heard in song as I was about to leave: from across the academy running track / cricket pitch
- 2 singing Sedge Warblers also unusual: these birds tend to move on quickly though they have bred a few times
- 5 Reed Warblers a disappointing count: more reeds this year but fewer warblers. This is another late migrant and more may yet arrive
- all the Starlings were flying to and fro from nest sites around the estate
- no moths on the lamps and very few insects in the rather chilly and dull conditions
- Red Clover flowers new for the year
- Ramsons in flower and smelling strongly of garlic
- a few Hawthorns now laden with flower; many still to flower
- masses of Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
- a few of the Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) plants on the dam beginning to flower
- a Broom (Genista sp.) in flower near the yacht club HQ: likely a garden escape
- some flowers of Rapeseed (Brassica napus) [rape; oilseed rape] likely escapes from the farmland to the E
- plenty of Cleavers (Galium aparine) noted: I could not locate any with the very inconspicuous flowers

On with the totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 2 Canada Geese (1 pair)
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 32 Feral / Racing Pigeons (1 party)
- 6 Wood Pigeons
- 1 Jackdaw only
- 3 Rooks
- 8 Starlings

Hirundine etc. counts
at least 250 birds present when they reacted to a passing Sparrowhawk: these are all minimum numbers
- >10 Swifts
- >100 Sand Martins
- >75 Barn Swallows
- >15 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 8 (8) Chiffchaffs
- 2 (2) Willow Warblers
- 9 (8) Blackcaps
- 3 (3) Garden Warblers
- 1 (1) Lesser Whitethroat
- 5 (4) Common Whitethroats
- 2 (2) Sedge Warblers
- 5 (5) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 13 (11♂) + 4 (1 brood) Mallard
- 6 (3♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron
- 5 + ? Great Crested Grebes (see notes)
- 4 Moorhens
- 18 Coots
- 2 Little Ringed Plovers
- 1 Common Sandpiper
- 2 Black-headed Gulls, briefly

One of the duck Mallards was with 4 ducklings.

This Great Crested Grebe held its feathers like this throughout my visit: I strongly suspect that very recently hatched juveniles are being brooded under the feathers.

One of the two Little Ringed Plovers. This one had strayed from the concrete ramp on to the adjacent grass.

Here is the other Little Ringed Plover. Note just how small this species is alongside the drake Mallard.

And a slightly better shot of this bird.

It will be hard to improve on this!

Try this: with an interesting water pattern behind it. Only the Little Ringed Plover shows the yellow eye ring.

Since it was so cooperative it seems a shame to leave this one out.

Two species of wader in one day! Here is a Common Sandpiper flying on fluttering shallow wing beats.

The appearance of this Sparrowhawk over the lake caused panic amongst the hirundines – needlessly as this bird is carrying prey already.

This shot of one of the two Black-headed Gulls shows that this one, at least, was an adult and not a first-year bird as I had assumed.

One of the passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We cannot see the upperwing here to accurately age the bird: the spotting on the flanks indicate it is an immature. The bill shows only a small amount of black with a hint of a red spot so it is likely a third year bird.

This shot does not help much as it has started a wing moult and is rather too scruffy to judge exactly the state of the plumage.

This different bird looks for all the world like a full adult but note the small dark tips the tail which belies this.

Here is the party of 32 Feral / Racing Pigeons: one is mostly hidden.

Expended a lot of pixels attempting shots of the hirundines feeding low over the water. Most ended in the bin. Here is a selection of the better ones.

Two Sand Martins show their breast bands – always hard to see in the field.

A single Sand Martin.

Another Sand Martin.

For some reason this Sand Martin looks rather dumpier than usual.

A fly-by Barn Swallow.

Seen from above with red forehead just about visible: tail twisted as it manoeuvres.

Surprising how blunt-ended the wings can look.

Less so at this angle.

The white rump identifies a House Martin.

And plan view from below: the dark crown identifies in the absence of the white rump.

My first attempt at the singing Garden Warbler. They do not usually sing in the open so I grabbed this shot even though the light was still rather poor.

Light better now: the main way to identify a Garden Warbler on sight is by its lack of features! It is slightly larger than other warblers but lacks any real markings – just grey tones. The dark marks on the throat of this bird are just shadows from the feathers extended by the effort of singing. The song, once learned, is the easiest way to identify this bird. The books tell you it is confusingly similar to Blackcap but to my ears it is quite different in tone as well as structure.

The other side while still in full song. Again the black mark is the way the feathers are responding to the vocal effort.

Also a first attempt, this is a Common Whitethroat. I am sure that I will get a better shot but even in the poor light the ‘white throat’ and brown wing feathers are easy to see.

Head-on it is just the white throat.

Now for some flowers

These are Ramsons (Allium ursinum).

And again.

This is the flower-head of Rapeseed (Brassica napus): a likely farm escape.

The Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is abundant at the moment.

Here is a mass of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) flowers. No idea why several flowers have all their anthers rather pinkish whereas most are white.

This species has been flowering for a while now but still looking good: Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon).

This is Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum): very common around the lake. The colour representation here is not good – I recall reviewing the photo on the screen and thinking it didn’t look right. Checked the literature for all the other likely species in the crane’s-bill family without coming to any different conclusion.
And en route to The Flash

This is Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) found near the tunnel under Priorslee Avenue: this photo shows it is not White Campion as I had assumed.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 07:05 – 07:45

(45th visit of the year)

Notes from here
- the only Great Crested Grebe seen seemed to be standing guard: could not locate the nest itself
- no sign of Swifts here looking towards their usual haunt around the church in St. Georges
- 2 House Martins over St. Georges came in to hunt over the water: did not seem to be any birds over the local estates as yet

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Cormorant
- 1 Rook

Hirundine etc. counts
- 2 Barn Swallows
- 2 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 2 (2) Chiffchaffs
- 1 (1) Willow Warbler
- 4 (4) Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 1 Mute Swan (other presumed on nest)
- 21 Canada Geese
- 1 all white feral goose
- 9 (8♂) Mallard
- 4 (2♂) Tufted Duck
- 1 Great Crested Grebe
- 4 Moorhens
- 15 + 3 (1 brood) Coots

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- pair of Mallard on the lower pool
- singing Chiffchaffs at the lower pool
- singing Blackcap at the upper pool
- Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) was found near the tunnel under Priorslee Avenue

(Ed Wilson)


Nedge Hill: 07:20

1 Grasshopper Warbler still singing along Naird Lane
1 Lesser Whitethroat

(John Isherwood)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here


Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Grasshopper Warbler
(John Isherwood)

Nedge Hill
(John Isherwood)

Priorslee Lake
Arctic Tern
(Ed Wilson)

Nedge Hill
2 Wheatear
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)