30 Jul 17

Priorslee Lake, The Flash

12.0°C > 15.5°C: Some mist to start with variable cloud. Light WSW wind after calm start again. Very good visibility.

Sunrise: 05:24 BST

Best today was a Green Woodpecker calling at The Flash – my first record here for several years. It became my 67th species at The Flash in 2017

Priorslee Lake: 04:35 – 06:10 // 07:00 – 08:25

(87th visit of the year)

One of the dog-walkers report an ‘owl with a flat face’ – so presumably a Barn Owl – over the playing field alongside Teece Drive late last evening

Talking of this field: I was also told that the Holy Trinity Academy have informed the council that they no longer wish to use the facility and have handed back their share of the lease. It is presumed that as the field is not fenced and is used by dog-walkers, not all of whom are punctilious about clearing up, there are health and safety issues. The council plan to use it as two junior football pitches – as there are no changing facilities there is limited scope for its wider use

A consequence of this is some positive news of a community-led plan, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust, to plant several hundred trees to replace those that were unnecessarily felled ahead the building work. There is also an outstanding requirement for the council to plant trees in a smaller area where felling was done without proper authorisation

It will take some years for any trees to have any significant wildlife benefit but it is welcome news

Notes from today:
- largest movement of geese since the breeding season. Most of these birds seemed to originate from ‘beyond’ The Flash – Trench area?
- cannot explain the variability in Coot numbers counted
- just 1 Common Sandpiper today
- two Common Terns again
- many fewer Black-headed Gulls than in recent days
- the 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls likely a family party: an adult a two juveniles
- no Swifts: likely most have now left us until next May
- at least 2 Kingfishers today: being very noisy. Fledged family? Not seen to perch to enable me to check the age of the birds
- today the first Jackdaws of the week
- a Common Marbled Carpet moth on one of the lamps this morning
- a caddis fly sp. was also on the same lamp: possibly Oecetis ochracea
- just 2 pipistrelle-type bats seen again
- the usual Pearl Veneer (Agriphila straminella) grass moths flushed
- at least 1 Brown Hawker dragonfly
- a Grey Squirrel [or North America Gray Tree Rats, as I prefer to call them] eating the Hazel nuts already
- the Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare) is no more – the vegetation growing under the fence around the Holy Trinity Academy has been ‘treated’ with weed-killer

On with the bird totals

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 66 Greylag Geese (12 groups): 65 of these outbound
- 151 Canada Geese (18 groups): 135 of these outbound
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 3 Stock Doves
- 30 Wood Pigeons
- 8 Jackdaws
- 3 Rooks
- 32 Starlings
- 4 Pied Wagtails
- 1 Linnet
Hirundine etc. seen
- >9 House Martins

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

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 2 Canada Geese again
- 19 (?♂) Mallard
- 3 (0♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron again
- 7 + 6 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes remain
- 4 + 3 (3 broods) Moorhens
- 47 + 16 (14 broods) Coots
- 1 Common Sandpiper
- 2 Common Terns
- >45 (>11 juveniles) Black-headed Gulls

Not much of a sunrise today.

Talk about opportunistic. This juvenile Chiffchaff – the greenish cast on the back contrasting with the grey wings tells us it is a juvenile – was feeding on spiders and trapped insects in the security fence around the Holy Trinity Academy.

Here we can glimpse the yellowish wash on the flanks. A juvenile Willow Warbler would like very yellow in comparison.

The warbler was rather unhelpful in staying buried though in fact its sluggish behaviour also provided a clue. It is a Garden Warbler – the warbler without any real plumage features. It is a rather stout bird with a relatively thick and all-black bill, both features supporting Garden Warbler. The pale edges to the wing feathers suggest this is a juvenile – adults should not have moulted their wing feathers yet.

This can be a pitfall if you do not hear it and / or see its companions. It is a juvenile Goldfinch with the bold marks in the wing the easiest plumage ID. These birds will not acquire the red face of adults until well in to October or even November.

The Common Marbled Carpet moth was found on one of the street lamps. A very variable species and not too easy to separate from Dark Marbled Carpet. Here the projection at outer edge of the cross-band seems not pointed enough to be that species.

This caddis fly sp. was on the same lamp as the moth. I think it may be Oecetis ochracea, noted as having exceptionally long antennae. The habitat and date support the ID, but ....

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- adult with 3 juvenile Moorhens seen alongside the upper pool
- 1 Chiffchaff heard calling here again

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:20 – 06:55

(68th visit of the year)

Notes from here
- Swans with cygnets all present today
- the 5 Mallard ducklings also seen. And an influx of Mallard contained an usual high percentage of ducks

Birds noted flying over

Hirundine etc. noted
None again

Warblers noted
- 2 (0) Chiffchaffs

The counts from the water
- 2 + 4 Mute Swans
- 6 Greylag Geese
- 44 Canada Geese
- 1 white feral goose
- 23 (13♂) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
- 3 (0♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron
- 2 + 3 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes again
- 4 Moorhens
- 11 + 5 (5? broods) Coots

Who has been eating the fish? When I showed the photo to the fishermen they suggested Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) as the most likely culprit. Otters just eat the bits they find tasty; and a fox would make more of a mess of the structure. Having seen rats here this week it is probably a good call.

(Ed Wilson)

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Priorslee Lake
13 Swifts
(Ed Wilson)