25 Jul 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

11.5°C > 16.5°C: Clear start with some mist; cloud spreading from E after 06:30 soon burned off. Calm start with light N wind later. Very good visibility not affected by mist.

Sunrise: 05:17 BST

Highlights from today
- Common Sandpiper at the lake
- 2 adult Common Terns at the lake
- Willow Warbler heard in song at The Flash
- Gatekeeper and Comma new butterflies for the year at the lake

Priorslee Lake: 04:35 – 06:05 // 07:05 – 08:40

(82nd visit of the year)

Other notes from today:
- geese obviously finding their wings after moult and now outbound to feed overhead
- 2 Common Terns first noted c.07:15 and stayed until c.08:30. Both adults with courtship feeding seen despite the rather late date for more broods by this species
- 1 Swift between 05:25 and 05:40; then 2 briefly at 07:05
- yet again no Jackdaws or Rooks seen. I was possibly too late for any roost dispersal but no laggards seen either
- the Garden Warbler noted was a juvenile so looks like they bred successfully here
- still 6 Song Thrushes in song before 05:00
- after an unusual blank day yesterday 2 Dunnocks seen today – one of these a spotty juvenile
- a juvenile Grey Wagtail seen: my first record of this species here since 21 March
- no moths on the lamps again
- c.10 grass moths again; all seemed to be Pearl Veneer (Agriphila straminella)
- several hawker-type dragonflies flushed: at least one of the
- a very distinctive green-bodied spider on one of the lamps and a similar, smaller individual on the buddleia later. Both likely Arienalla sp. and possibly A. cucurbitina (Cucumber Green Orb Spider)
- 4 species of hoverfly – Episyrphus balteatus (Marmalade hoverfly), Eristalis tenax (Common Drone-fly), Volucella pellucens (Pellucid Fly) and Melanostoma scalare (Chequered Hoverfly) – noted
- a 24 Spot Ladybird (Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata)
- I confirmed both Greater Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) and Rosebay Willow-herb or Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) both present – over 90% of the flowers are the former

On with the bird totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 46 Greylag Geese (10 groups) all outbound
- 30 Canada Geese (7 groups) all outbound
- 1 Cormorant
- 4 Stock Doves
- 36 Wood Pigeons again
- 3 Pied Wagtails

Hirundine etc. counts:
- 3 Swifts
- 3 Barn Swallows
- >7 House Martins, inc. juveniles

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 4 (1) Chiffchaffs
- 3 (1) Blackcaps
- 1 (0) Garden Warbler
- 4 (0) Common Whitethroat
- 8 (3) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 1 Greylag Goose
- 2 Canada Geese
- 24 (??) Mallard
- 2 (??) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron
- 4 + 6 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes again
- 4 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 40 + 15 (13? broods) Coots
- 1 Common Sandpiper
- 2 Common Terms
- 38 (1 juvenile) Black-headed Gulls

An alternative ‘sunrise’ view: mist over the lake.

A more normal view complete with sun’s rays.

My first sight of one of the Common Terns – standing on a buoy demanding to be fed. Note the black tip to the bill separating from Arctic Tern.

Her partner arrives with food: note the rather diffuse dark trailing edge to the underwing, also separating from Arctic Tern.

My best flight shot.

My best resting shot.

Having a preen.

And a good shake of the feathers.

Another showing both the black bill tip and diffuse dark trailing edge to the underwing.

One bird carrying a small fish.

Another courtship feeding episode.

Compare and contrast the shape and size of the Common Tern on the left and the Black-headed Gull on the right.

This adult Black-headed Gull is already starting to lose its all-black hood.

Whereas this bird has yet to start moulting. Here we clearly see the hood is not ‘black’ but more ‘chocolate’ (we cannot call it ‘brown-headed’ – there is a different species of that name in Asia.

Another difficult light shot. A juvenile Grey Wagtail – my first here since March. The rather thin bill and the brown flecks identify.

Juvenile birds can be a puzzle: this is a Dunnock peering out at me.

A Small Skipper butterfly.

Necessary to check the underside of the antenna-tips to separate from the less-common (and misnamed) Essex Skipper.

The two white marks in the dark wing spot is the easiest way to identify this as a Gatekeeper butterfly.

A fine Comma butterfly.

A classic Episyrphus balteatus (Marmalade hoverfly) on the dandelion.

An Eristalis tenax (Common Drone-fly).

This hoverfly is a Volucella pellucens (Pellucid Fly).

This very small ladybird is the so-called 24 Spot Ladybird with the snappy scientific name of Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata. A new species for me.

This spider was rather too far away to get a clean shot: it is an Arienalla sp. but A. cucurbitina (Cucumber Green Orb Spider) is hard to separate from A. opisthographa. So Arienalla sp. it remains. Another new species for me.

This was a much smaller but similar spider – males are smaller (up to 5mm) than females (up to 8mm). This shot is taken on one of the flower spikes of buddleia!

With my thumb-nail giving scale we see how small it is!

These flowers are from the single spike that separates Rosebay Willow-herb or Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) from the Greater Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) I photographed yesterday.

The first fruits of the Snowberry (Symphoricarpos sp. probably S. albus).

And the first fruits of the Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) [aka dogberry; water elder; cramp bark; snowball tree; European cranberry bush].

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- 2 adult and 4 juvenile Moorhens at the upper pool
- 2 Chiffchaffs heard calling

Compare and contrast time again: between the lake and The Flash there was this Wood Pigeon on one of the roofs. It is a juvenile, identified by its lake of white neck mark and the wholly brown eye. Note it still has white on the bend in the wing which means it cannot be any other species of pigeon.

Meanwhile here is the more richly-coloured adult with the white neck-patch and the pale eye with the white iris and dark pupil.

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:10 – 07:00

(63rd visit of the year)

Other notes from here
- at least I found the cygnets today – now just 5 remain: there were 7 in mid-June
- most Tufted Ducks seemed to have gone since yesterday – 2 drakes and 1 probably juvenile seen. Perhaps more on the island
- confirmed there are three juvenile Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Swifts seen, mainly rather distant
- Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) was a new flower for me here

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 9 Wood Pigeons
- 1 Pied Wagtail

Hirundine etc. counts
- 4 Swifts
- 2 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 1 (1) Willow Warbler

The counts from the water
- 2 + 5 Mute Swans
- 23 Greylag Geese again
- 72 Canada Geese
- 1 white feral goose
- 22 (16?) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
- 3 (2?) Tufted Duck
- 2 + 3 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes confirmed
- 7 + 2 (2 broods) Moorhens
- 14 + 7 (4 broods) Coots
- 2 (no juveniles) Black-headed Gulls only

Not well-positioned for good photography but we can see the Great Crested Grebes have three juveniles.

A Long-tailed Tit looking rather less than pristine!

Looks rather better this way around.

And again.

When I saw a sea of these spikes I thought there was another species of willowherb here. But not so: this is Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Need to find it around the lake now.

I’ll have to come back to this to get a proper ID. Around The Flash there is always the possibility of ‘garden escapes’.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
300+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls
3 Herring Gulls
1 Yellow-legged Gull
1 Reed Warbler
3 Blackcaps
4 Chiffchaffs
4 Sand Martins
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
3 Great Crested Grebes
3 Herons
3 Greylag Geese
17 Tufted Ducks
1 Kestrel
6 Stock Doves
303 Wood Pigeons
12 Swifts
1 Kingfisher
4 Sand Martins
7 Swallows
6 House Martins
2 Grey Wagtails
8 Reed Warblers
2 Lesser Whitethroats
1 Common Whitethroat
1 Garden Warbler
9 Blackcaps
6 Chiffchaffs
2 Willow Warblers
3 Willow Tits
1 Jay
248 Jackdaws
485 Rooks
205 Greenfinches
3 Bullfinches
8 Reed Buntings
(Ed Wilson)