24 Jul 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

14.5°C > 16.5°C: Mainly overcast start with clearance spreading from NW by 07:30 ahead of lower cloud. Moderate NNW wind. Very good visibility

Sunrise: 05:15 BST

Priorslee Lake: 04:45 – 06:30 // 07:25 – 09:05

(81st visit of the year)

Work is about to start on the dam. I spoke to the Severn-Trent contractors who will be drilling a number of holes to insert rods and associated equipment to allow measurement of any movement of the dam and the roadway to be accurately measured. Setting up may take 10 days or so; and monitoring will continue for many months

My first visit for over a month: always takes me a few days to find everything again

Other notes from today:
- good to see the 3 cygnets still doing well
- two of the juvenile Great Crested Grebes now independent, but still together. A pair with 4 new juveniles. Another pair of adults
- 11 juvenile Coots from 10 broods. Just 3 of these juveniles still dependent and only one a recent hatchling
- Wood Pigeons overhead moving back and forth to stubbles to E where another c.30 birds at least
- a single Swift appeared briefly at 05:20
- House Martin(s) heard just once
- at least one Green Woodpecker heard along the N side. Another heard later – I think: remarkably this call was very, very similar to a calling Greenshank (and may just possibly have been this species)
- several Pied Wagtails seen and heard moving toward the roof of the Holy Trinity Academy. When a Sparrowhawk appeared on the scene all of these went up alarm-calling to harass it and revealed that there were 8 Pied Wagtails
- most warblers silent now: plenty of noise from Reed Warblers though suggesting a good breeding season
- none of the c.8 Goldfinches seen well-enough was a juvenile
- no moths on the lamps
- 2 Shaded Broad-bar moths flushed from the grass
- c.10 grass moths of at least 2 different species seen: some were Pearl Veneer (Agriphila straminella)
- 26 different flowering plants noted: notable changes in the month
Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) newly in flower
Common Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris formerly Senecio jacobaea) also newly in flower but with many fewer plants than in recent years and many rather stunted
some Greater Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum): I need to double-check as I assumed that Rosebay Willow-herb or Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) spikes were also present but the camera suggests otherwise
a Buddleia sp. found alongside the Wesley Brook opposite the Holy Trinity Academy. Too dull and windy for many insects on the flowers this morning
a few Blackberry flowers remain; also the very first fruits almost ripe
Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare) found under fence of Holy Trinity Academy
Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) new
Common (or Black) Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) also new
Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) another species newly in flower

On with the bird totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 25 Greylag Geese (6 groups) [12 (3 groups) outbound; 23 (3 groups) inbound]
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (singles)
- 36 Wood Pigeons
- 2 Collared Doves
- 1 Raven
- 8 Starlings

Hirundine etc. counts:
- 1 Swift only
- House Martin(s) heard only

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 3 (0) Chiffchaffs
- 2 (2) Blackcaps
- 2 (0) Common Whitethroat
- 9 (2) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 4 Greylag Geese
- 3 Canada Geese
- 29 (?♂) Mallard
- 1 (?♂) Tufted Duck
- 4 + 6 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
- 5 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 38 + 11 (10 broods) Coots
- 55 (1 juvenile) Black-headed Gulls

Not a very inspiring start to the day to welcome me back.

The three cygnets with Mum: an adult Black-headed Gull falls off a buoy behind them.

Not at all sure about this Tufted Duck: it could be a duck but possibly a fledged juvenile. As there are no adults around I doubt it was raised here.

I counted just three juvenile Great Crested Grebes in this brood: the camera reveals four.

A few seconds later and the last one is climbing on the adults back and they are nearly all gone!

The only juvenile Black-headed Gull this morning is the bird back-on in the centre. Still very ginger-brown on the nape and the back. The extent of the ‘ghost’ black hood is surprising.

The only ‘grass moth’ that stayed still long-enough for me to identify was this Pearl Veneer (Agriphila straminella).

A most attractive moth frequently disturbed by day is this Shaded Broad-bar.

A single head of Common (or Black) Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) – complete with very small beetle.

Despite being hacked down where it overhangs the Wesley Brook bridge this Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) battles on and is managing to flower. Very irritant and not a plant to touch.

The camera never lies? Here is the flower of a Greater Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum). A lovely deep mauve?

A different setting on the camera and the flowers are revealed as more pink than mauve! This, from memory, is a better representation of the real colour. It is odd that in the days of colour film all were tested for their ability to render, especially blue tones, accurately but no-one seems to mention this aspect of digital photography.

The dense cluster of white flowers that is Meadowsweet or Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

The rather ragged and domed top, often tinged pink or mauve, distinguishes Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) from others in the umbellifer family.

Another good field mark are the large ‘leaves’ along the stems from which the side shoots emerge [this is not the Angelica (Angelica archangelica) used in confectionery and an introduced perennial which can be invasive].

Buttercups may look ‘boring’ but are an attraction for many small flies and beetles. The small hoverfly is likely to be a Chequered Hoverfly (Melanostoma scalare) but with the wings obscuring the markings it is not possible to make a positive ID. This hoverfly can be seen in every month of the year. The flower is almost certainly a Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) – I do not find separation of the various ranunculus species easy.

I could find just one White Dead-Nettle (Lamium album) pant still in flower.

This, believe it or not, is a grass head. I have no idea what species and probably not escaped from Kentucky! This shot taken against the sky ....

 ... against a more normal background it looks mauve, even pink. Strange.

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- a Blackcap heard calling

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:35 – 07:15

(62nd visit of the year)

In the SW part of the water the only substantial stand of reeds has been flattened and some scrubby area cleared to make way for more fishing platforms. The reeds were where Reed Warblers bred a few years ago; it is where both Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings typically stop-off most year; and also where Water Rails have often spent the winter. Yet another wild area destroyed

Other notes from here
- no idea where the pen Mute Swan and the cygnets were today: hopefully hiding inside the island somewhere
- a reasonably new brood of 5 Mallard ducklings – probably old-enough to be safe from most predators
- at least two of the Tufted Ducks seemed to be juveniles, though full-grown. The rest seemed to be all drakes though hard to tell when they lose breeding plumage
- not absolutely certain how many juvenile Great Crested Grebes – the birds were tucked-up under hanging vegetation: at least two
- new-ish brood of 2 Moorhens
- not sure where all the earlier juvenile Coots have gone: seemed to be 3 from 2 recent broods only
- Swifts not seen here and scanning the distant St Georges area also failed to find any
- single House Martin over the estate as I was leaving
- none of the 4 Goldfinches seen was a juvenile
- two Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) seen along the W side: new for me this year here

Birds noted flying over
- 3 Feral Pigeons
- 2 Wood Pigeons

Hirundine etc. counts
- 1 House Martin

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 1 (0) Chiffchaff

The counts from the water
- 1 Mute Swans
- 23 Greylag Geese
- 91 Canada Geese!
- 1 white feral goose
- 15 (14♂) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
- 9 (?♂) Tufted Duck
- 2 + 3? (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 4 + 2 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 14 + 3 (2 broods) Coots
- 13 (no juveniles) Black-headed Gulls

Duck Mallard (complete with loose moulting feather) and three of her well-grown brood.

Here she is with all five of her brood – less easy to see out of water.

The brown eye, rather ‘blurred’ plumage and pale feathering around the base of the bill all point to this being a juvenile Tufted Duck. The folded wing looks rather ‘short’ and I suspect this bird is not fully fledged and there may have been successful breeding here.

This is a different bird and seems to be another juvenile. The wing looks slightly longer here. Neither of these birds was with any of the adults all of which seemed to be eclipse drakes. Whether there are more broods of ducklings on the island remains to be seen.

Here are three eclipse drakes. They lack the white flanks of breeding adults yet retain a rather longer ‘tuft’ than is ever seen on a duck.

One of the juvenile Moorhens. Even at this young age easy to separate from juvenile Coots by the pale flank marks and dark belly.

The other juvenile Moorhen mouth open begging.

Only adult Goldfinches seen this morning: would have expected juveniles by now.

The scrub and reed cleared area converted to fishing platforms.

(Ed Wilson)

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