2 Aug 17

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

13.0°C > 14.0°C: Cloudy. Light rain c.05:50 and then more persistent rain after 07:10. Calm start with increasing SE wind. Good visibility

Sunrise: 05:29 BST

Best today a juvenile Mediterranean Gull at the lake. My first of the year and my 95th species at the lake in 2017

Priorslee Lake: 04:35 – 06:15 // 07:05 – 08:15

(88th visit of the year)

One that ‘got away’ here was an unknown falcon-type bird(?) that shot past me while I was trying to count the number of pipistrelle-type bats along the N side. The bird passed through the bats, banking to show me its plan view showing pointed falcon-like wings, these much broader-based than any UK falcon sp.; and a short and rather bulky body. The timing was rather odd in that it was still very dark (c.04:40) and I would have thought too dark for most birds of prey to be hunting. I was reminded most of the SE Asian Bat Hawk, but that is a sedentary bird and has never occurred in Europe. Could it have been a large bat sp.? I think not, but the view was too brief to be certain

Notes from today:
- 2 of the adult Great Crested Grebes seemed to be missing today: only 1 adult was noted with the four new-ish juveniles; and the ‘spare’ bird not seen. The two well-grown juveniles were flying around a lot today and seem likely to leave and go exploring soon
- c.70 Black-headed Gulls came in early. By 06:00 only 7 remained (6 juveniles). Then when I returned to the lake at 07:10 I counted 98 birds. These also mainly departed, leaving just 12. Another influx at c.08:00 gave me a total of 108. Were these the same birds coming and going?
- just 5 Magpies logged. Since this species fledged their young there have often been rather low numbers, though one day last week there were 15 together on the football field. They are not (yet?) using any of the winter roosting area
- what sounded like a sizeable group of House Martins heard high over the dam at c.05:30. Then at c.06:00 at least 56 birds were high over the estate to the E of the lake. This seemed to be too many to be just local birds, even after including the recent fledged juveniles. If they had just found a good food source then no other species were motivated to join in (too early in the day for flying ants anyway)
- family party of Bullfinches seen
- my first Pale Straw Pearl (Udea lutealis) moth of the year on one of the lamps this morning
- at least 5 pipistrelle-type bats seen
- the usual small number of Pearl Veneer (Agriphila straminella) grass moths flushed
- a few lingering Scented Mayweed (Matricaria chamomilla) flowers still around the edges of the football field

On with the bird totals, many somewhat affected by the rain

Birds noted flying over the lake:
- 71 Greylag Geese (10 groups): all outbound
- 160 Canada Geese (23 groups): 158 of these outbound
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls again
- 5 Feral Pigeons
- 28 Wood Pigeons
- 2 Collared Doves
- 1 Pied Wagtail

Hirundine etc. seen
- 2 Barn Swallows
- >55 House Martins

Warblers counts: number in brackets = singing birds
- 5 (1) Chiffchaffs
- 1 (0) Blackcap
- 1 (0) Common Whitethroat
- 2 (0) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 1 Canada Goose
- 21 (?♂) Mallard
- 4 (1♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Grey Heron
- 5 + 6 (2 broods) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 34 + 9 (7 broods) Coots
- >110 (? juvenile) Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Mediterranean Gull
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull

One of the many parties of Greylag Geese seen outbound to feed in the fields to the E.

My attention was drawn to this gull by the rather large and broadly fringed feathers on the mantle. It looked very different from any of the juvenile Black-headed Gulls but it was not immediately obvious what it was. While I suspected it might be a Mediterranean Gull I was particularly confused as it looked no bigger than the accompanying Black-headed Gulls and in particular the bill did not look any bigger or thicker even though it was all-black.

Perhaps the bill is larger, but bird’s overall size seems about the same.

In the end I was forced to flush the bird to see the diagnostic wing pattern – pale webs on the inner primaries and wholly grey greater coverts – eliminating any possibility of a not-infrequent seen Black-headed x Mediterranean Gull hybrid.

Compare with a juvenile / 1st winter Black-headed Gull. We see our bird has less marking on the hind neck and there is a dark eye-mask rather than the dark spot and ‘headphones’ apparent on the Black-headed Gull. Also note the smaller area of grey confined to the greater coverts on the folded wing.

Another flight view.

The Pale Straw Pearl (Udea lutealis) moth this morning.

Between the lake and The Flash alongside the path
- Moorhen(s) calling from the upper pool
- single Chiffchaff and Blackcap heard calling here again
- a Greenfinch making rather strange calls: each started with a normal Greenfinch-like trill but then ended with a few Nuthatch-like notes: never heard this before

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:25 – 07:00

(69th visit of the year)

Notes from here
- increase in number of Tufted Ducks here – very hard to sex at this time of year
- a large group of fungus, possibly Mycena aetites or Drab Bonnet

Birds noted flying over
- 3 Black-headed Gulls
- 9 Wood Pigeons

No hirundine etc. noted yet again: the local Swifts have likely gone

Warblers noted
- 3 (0) Chiffchaffs

The counts from the water
- 2 + 4 Mute Swans
- 16 Greylag Geese (12 of these arrived)
- 98 Canada Geese (66 of these arrived)
- 1 white feral goose
- 11 (8♂) + 5 (1 brood) Mallard
- 11 (2?♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 Grey Herons
- 2 + 3 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes remain
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 8 + 6 (4? broods) Coots
- 7 (1 juvenile) Black-headed Gulls

A small number of a big group of fungus this morning. They are rather past their best making specific identification tricky. I am certain they one of the species of Mycena, commonly known as ‘bonnets’. I suspect they are Mycena aetites aka Drab Bonnet.

A close-up of one of the ‘heads’, turned inside out and fragmenting with age. Many fruiting bodies of fungus last only a few days, some even less.

And the outside view of another ‘head’.

Many of the group. Note on the bottom left is a different specimen. Will have to get a better photo to try to ID that.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day..........
Priorslee Lake
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
4 Common Tern
Yellow Wagtail
(Ed Wilson)