14 Jun 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

10.5°C > 16.0°C: Misty, even foggy, start: later just thin high cloud patches. almost calm. Poor visibility to start but moderate / good if hazy later

Sunrise: 04:45 BST yet again – the earliest it will ever be

Priorslee Lake: 04:17 – 05:45 // 06:40 – 07:50

(77th visit of the year)

Notes from today:
- a pair of Great Crested Grebes seem to be nesting along the S side – a new location
- the fine weather seem to encourage the Coots to show off their broods, although three of the broods were very new with just 1, 1 and 3 juveniles seen. As two of these broods were from very close nests and Coots are not known for their sociable behaviour while nesting we shall have to see what happens
- a Little Ringed Plover on one of the boat platforms when I arrived. Not seen later
- no early party of Swifts this morning while it was misty: just a single over later
- 2 Coal Tits singing and another seen. This seems rather strange as I normally hear song only in early Spring ahead of breeding and I am not aware that this species is multi-brooded and therefore would be re-establishing a territory. So why would two different birds be starting to sing again?
- pre-dawn two Garden Warblers were singing very close together where the ‘new’ bird was noted two days ago. Later just one here and the other moved to the W end, but not in its usual position
- the Sedge Warblers carrying food again
- Bullfinches seen / heard in four different locations so hope to see many juveniles later
- two moths on the new street lamps – another Buff Ermine and my first Ghost Moth of the year
- many Timothy Tortrix moths again
- a rather late Silver-ground Carpet flushed from the vegetation
- only just beginning to warm-enough for the insects as I had to leave: I did manage
...... both Common Blue and Azure Damselflies
...... more Black Snipe flies (Chrysopilus cristatus)
- anyone affected by grass pollen had better stay away at the moment: as I was walking through the long grass clouds of pollen were wafting around

On with the bird totals

Birds noted flying over the lake!

Hirundine etc. counts:
- 1 Swift
- 1 Barn Swallow
- 2 House Martins yet again

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 6 (5) Chiffchaffs
- 1 (1) Willow Warbler
- 10 (9) Blackcaps
- 3 (3) Garden Warblers
- 2 (1) Common Whitethroats
- 2 (1) Sedge Warblers again
- 3 (3) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 14 (11♂) + 4 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 Grey Heron
- 6 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 5 Moorhens
- 27 + 6 (4 broods) Coots
- 1 Little Ringed Plover

A misty start – you can see both the moon and its reflection in the cam waters.

This moon!

The sunrise through the mist.

A change of angle.

Still misty in the distance.

And another perspective.

The swan flotilla in the mist.

This is the pair of Tufted Duck on the lake and unlike the pair that flew this way from The Flash we see the flanks of the drake are already losing the pure white breeding plumage – so a different pair.

Not much light – this pre-sunrise – but we can see the eye-ring to make this a Little Ringed Plover even if the leg colour is hard to make out.

Rather over-exposed to highlight the eye-ring. Luckily he bird stayed still.

This bird still nags inside my brain. It is, probably, just a Garden Warbler but the song did not sound quite right – the timbre was OK but the song were not as free-flowing or lengthy as it should be. So I stalked it and took this photo from which the bill hardly looks short and stout (for a warbler) or pale grey. The problem is with the lack of features there is not much else it could be.

It was certainly singing with gusto.

This male Reed Bunting is also beginning to lose its ‘jet-black’ head and pure white moustache as the breeding season progresses. Buntings tend to breed late – being seed-eaters they have to wait until all the flowers have been pollinated by the insects (that the insect-eating birds catch for their off-spring) and the seeds have been set and ripened. Yellowhammers are about the last singing birds – I reckon August 20th – so there is plenty of time yet.

My first ‘inhabitant’ of the newly refurbished street lamps – a wolf-spider sp. Not the flash has given ‘eye-shine’ to at least three of its eight eyes.

The speckles here are not eye-shine but reflections of the dew-spots on this male Buff Ermine moth – my first moth on the newly refurbished street lamps.

On the face of it a very similar moth but careful observation shows different marks under the dew. As the dew-spots were largely reflections of the ‘flash’ ....

... I did a hand-hold to expose the real marks to reveal a quite unrelated species – a female Ghost Moth.
(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 05:55 – 06:35

(58th visit of the year)

Notes from here
- big number of geese this morning
- the noisy pair of Tufted Ducks again took off and flew away towards the lake: did not seem to be the birds that I saw at the lake as that drake had grey patches on the flanks, beginning the moult out of breeding plumage
- 3 Great Crested Grebes today: one seen flying (off?); 1 fishing; 1 on nest
- the Coots seem to have declared the breeding season over and birds were gathering in the middle. Still at least two nests with birds sitting on eggs or brooding small juveniles
- Great Spotted Woodpeckers being seen and heard all around the lake and The Flash as well as along the path between. At least one of these birds seen here was a juvenile
- a Mistle Thrush seen – my first here since 15 April
- at least 2 Nuthatches calling from diseased ash trees (see below): some weeks since I heard them in these trees
- Chalara dieback of ash is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It is badly affecting the large trees where the path from the lake meets the path past Priorslee Academy. One tree appears to be completely dead. The Woodland Trust notes that the trees can live a long while even with the disease and notes that both diseased and dead wood is as an important habitat for many species of insect and birds

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Cormorant

Hirundine etc. counts
- 8 Swifts
- 4 House Martins

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

The counts from the water
- 2 + 7 Mute Swans
- 5 Greylag Geese
- 1 Greylag x Canada Geese
- 165 Canada Geese
- 1 white feral goose
- 14 (12♂) Mallard again
- 6 (4♂) Tufted Ducks remain
- 3 Great Crested Grebes
- 3 +1 Moorhen
- 21 + 6 (3 broods) Coots

Not my best-ever shot of a Great Spotted Woodpecker but included to illustrate the red crown of juveniles. This disappears from the ‘front’ as the bird matures – completely if it a female; and leaving a small patch on the nape if it is a male. Here the bird is banging away at the tree – and well might it shut its eye against the force.

This male Starling has just about lost the bill (for a boy) base to its bill. Still looks quite smart even though it will shortly commence a full moult of all its feathers.
And at the right angle there is still some gloss to the plumage.

Of interest between the lake and The Flash today
- the usual Chiffchaff singing around the lower pool

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Richardson's-type Canada Goose 
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Sedge Warbler possibly breeding
Skylark nesting in Celestica grounds
(John Isherwood)