24 May 18

Priorslee Lake and The Flash

9.0°C > 11.5°C: Mainly cloudy with a very few spots of rain. Moderate ENE wind. Moderate visibility.

Sunrise: 05:00 BST

Priorslee Lake: 05:40 – 06:15 // 07:15 – 08:55

(58th visit of the year)

Notes from today:
- the same ‘resident’ 6 Mute Swans: the long-term pair have 5 cygnets (not 4 as I logged yesterday). The pair in the NE area are still sitting but the cob seemed very agitated today chasing the 3rd pair
- a pair of Tufted Ducks was first noted at 08:00: they left 08:20. The birds seen earlier at The Flash?
- two rather late Common Sandpipers, presumably on passage
- the same(?) two Common Terns first noted 05:55 and present until they disappeared at 08:15
- big party of at least 60 Swifts overhead with at least 5 House Martins amongst them
- 13 Starlings noted on the now less than pristinely kept ‘football field’. This is a most unusual sighting and suggests they are still finding nest holes around the estate
- Mistle Thrush singing near the Teece Drive gate for a while: new location
- 2 Linnets seen leaving the dam-face were unusual at this date

- nothing on the lamps again this morning
- a Common Roller (Ancylis badiana) [a Tortrix moth] flushed from the vegetation
- many Common stretch-spiders (Tetragnatha extensa)
- several Alder flies (likely Sialis lutaria) still on the sluice entrance
- also on the sluice entrance were several damselfly exuvia
- several Common Crane-fly (Tipula oleracea)

The following plants in flower are in addition to the list I provided yesterday (in no particular order)
- Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
- Yellow Rocket (Barbarea vulgaris)
- Birds foot-trefoil or Bacon and Eggs (Lotus corniculatus)
- Broom (perhaps Cytisus scoparius)
- Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
- Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris)
- Common or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Stock Dove
- 2 Wood Pigeons only

Hirundines seen today
- >60 Common Swifts
- 1 Barn Swallow
- >5 House Martins

Warblers noted: figure in brackets is singing birds (not all the males seen might have been singing)
- 4 (4) Chiffchaffs
- 13 (13) Blackcaps
- 3 (3) Garden Warblers
- 1 (1) (Common) Whitethroat
- 4 (4) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 6 + 5 (1) Mute Swans
- 10 (9♂) Mallard
- 4 + ? Great Crested Grebes
- no Moorhens again
- 21 Coots
- 2 Common Sandpipers
- 2 Common Terns again

So the resident Mute Swans have 5 cygnets. Always possible they lost a few after hatching.

The rather unexpected Common Sandpiper – usually passed through by this date.

The Common Terns were still about so managed a few ‘update’ shots. One, tail-spread, about to drop on a fish.

My best fly-by.

Or perhaps this one?

Compare and contrast time and a very lucky shot. On the left a Common Wood Pigeon and on the right a Stock Dove. Juvenile Wood Pigeons lack the white neck-patch but always show white on the bend of the wing. The slightly more compact Stock Dove always shows black patches in the wing.

A Common Starling on the ‘football field’ grass. I have never seen them use it before but perhaps when it was maintained as a sports facility it was too short to provide food.

Eventually there were as many as 13 – here are 11 of them.

A Common stretch-spider (Tetragnatha extensa) gets to work on breakfast. Its prey is too wrapped for me to identify.

Not just in Autumn: here is a Common Crane-fly (Tipula oleracea).

A damselfly exuvia: no idea of the species.

This small micro moth is Common Roller (Ancylis badiana)

This is the very common Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

One of those plants with many vernacular names – Yellow Rocket (Barbarea vulgaris) also called bittercress, herb barbara, rocketcress, yellow rocketcress, winter rocket, and wound rocket.

Another plant with many vernacular names – about 70 local names are known. I’ll stick to Birds foot-trefoil or Bacon and Eggs (Lotus corniculatus).

Likely planted or an escape – Broom (perhaps Cytisus scoparius though there are many cultivars).

After my confusion over what turned out to be Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) yesterday here is Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius).

Most of the flowers nor over (while I was away). Just a few left from this Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris).

Not sure whether I can count this as a ‘flower’ as they are almost invisible – it is the top of a Common or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica).

(Ed Wilson)


The Flash: 06:25 – 07:05

(43rd visit of the year)

A Reed Warbler that sang briefly from the scrub alongside Derwent Drive near the new fishing platform that destroyed the reeds found here was new for my site year-list which now stands at 60. This bird was probably provoked to sing by a passing party of Long-tailed Tits. I record this species here about one year in every two. As far as I know none has stayed to breed

Less unexpected were my first Swifts of the year here: species 61

Notes from today
- the long-term Mute Swan Yellow 52F was standing on the island: I could not see whether there was another bird on a nest somewhere. The 4 other birds were clustered in the NW area
- new brood of Mallard ducklings: at least 6 ducklings
- just 1 pair of Tufted Ducks: they seemed to disappear – see notes for the lake above
- only 1 Great Crested Grebe seen: with one of the large willows having collapsed under the snow and now in full leaf there is plenty of scope for a hidden nest
- no juvenile Coots seen again
- numbers of Swifts and House Martins hard to determine with birds wheeling overhead
- I do not note all the plant species here as there are many exotic garden escapes: just to note that the Yellow Flag irises are much more advanced than at the lake

Birds noted flying over
- 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull
- 1 Stock Dove

Hirundines etc. seen today
- >25 Swifts
- > 5 House Martins

Warblers noted: figures in brackets is singing birds (not all the males seen might have been singing)
- no Chiffchaffs
- 1 (1) Willow Warbler
- 3 (3) Blackcaps
- 1 (1) Reed Warbler

The counts from the water
- 5 Mute Swans (see notes)
- 13 Canada Geese
- 10 (9♂) + 6 (1 brood) Mallard
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Great Crested Grebe
- 4 Moorhens
- 20 Coots

The ‘resident’ cob 52F stands on the island. I could not see a mate on a nest anywhere – he lost his original mate in March when she had to be put down after breaking a wing. He seemed unconcerned by ...

These four. Birds 1 and 3 have brighter more adult bills and birds 2 and 4 showed a hint of brown in the wing.

Rather distant: the brood of 6 Mallard ducklings with Mum.

Here the Yellow Flags (Iris pseudacorus) are more open. A bee sp. climbs along the markers to the nectar.

A Long-tailed Tit posed briefly.

Noted between the lake and The Flash
- a Moorhen heard calling from the upper pool
- 1 (1) Blackcap at the upper pool

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

23 May 18

Priorslee Lake only

8.5°C > 13.0°C: Overcast start, breaking after 08:45. Moderate ENE wind. Moderate visibility and rather hazy.

Sunrise: 05:01 BST

Priorslee Lake: 06:25 – 09:30

(57th visit of the year)

I arrived back yesterday after a 24-hour journey from Alaska, complete with a heavy head-cold so I was none too disposed for an early start this morning!

Two Common Terns present after 07:15 became my 86th species recorded here this year

Other notes from today:
- the ‘resident’ 6 Mute Swans still present: the long-term pair seem to have 4 cygnets only (they soon took them back to the nest). The pair in the NE area are still sitting – this seems rather too long? The non-nesting pair were still present
- one of the Great Crested Grebes was holdings its back-feathers as if it might be carrying juveniles: unconfirmed at the moment
- no Moorhens seen and no Coot juveniles – too windy?
- no Jackdaws or Rooks either: usually by this date they are ferrying food back and forth to distant nest sites
- more Reed Warblers now: one singing along the S side and another in the shrubs along the N side
- the Starling overhead was making the calls associated with fledged (or about to fledge) juveniles

- nothing on the lamps this morning
- a Silver-ground Carpet moth flushed from the vegetation
- also a Common Marble moth (Celypha lacunana): my earliest-ever date for this species
- several Common stretch-spiders (Tetragnatha extensa)
- a Red-and-Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)
- several Alder flies (likely Sialis lutaria) on the sluice entrance
- after the cloud cleared a few damselflies flew: specifically identified were both Common Blue and Azure Damselflies

I noted the following plants in flower (in no particular order)
- Daisy (Bellis perennis)
- Dandelion sp. (probably Taraxacum officinale)
- Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
- Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
- Hawkweed sp. (probably Hieraceum brittanicum)
- probably Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
- Dog Rose (Rosa canina agg.)
- Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
- Common Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis)
- Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.)
- Wood Avens (Geum urbanum)
- Black Meddick (Medicago lupulina)
- Rapeseed (Brassica napus) [rape; oilseed rape – field escape]
- Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)
- Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus)
- Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
- Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
- White Dead-Nettle (Lamium album)
- Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
- Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
- Lady's Smock / Cuckooplant / Milkmaid (Cardamine pratensis) – a few remaining
- Hedge Garlic or Jack-by-the-Hedge (Alliaria petiolata) – a few remaining
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Red Campion (Silene dioica or Melandrium rubrum)
- Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) or Red Stem Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
- Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)
- Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)
- White Dead-Nettle (Lamium album)
- Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
- Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)

Today’s bird totals

Birds noted flying over / near the lake:
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls
- 3 Wood Pigeons only
- 1 Starling

Hirundines seen today
- 8 Common Swifts
- 2 Barn Swallows

Warblers noted: figure in brackets is singing birds (not all the males seen might have been singing)
- 6 (5) Chiffchaffs
- 14 (14) Blackcaps
- 2 (2) Garden Warblers
- 2 (2) (Common) Whitethroats
- 6 (5) Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 6 + 4 (1) Mute Swans
- 14 (12♂) Mallard
- 4 Great Crested Grebes
- no Moorhens
- 23 Coots
- 2 Common Terns

This is somewhat of a mystery. The flowers resemble those of both Medlar (Mespilus germanica) and Crab Apple (Malus sp.) but those are trees and the leaves are not right. Its behaviour growing low on the dam and shape of the leaves look somewhat like Small-leaved Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster microphyllus) – but not the flowers! Surprisingly, all these species are (or at least were) in the same general classification. I suspect it is likely a garden-escape stunted by growing on very impoverished soil, and possibly a cross anyway.

Terns can be hard to identify: I knew from the call that these were Common Terns having been exposed to dozens of Arctic Terns over the last two weeks in Alaska. Here we see the wing pattern of dark wedge on the trailing edge that separates Common Tern.

In this view we would struggle with the wing marking but the black-tipped orange bill is distinctive: on an Arctic Tern it would be blood-red without the black tip.

A flight shot shows that at certain angles the tail can appear very long – another feature of Arctic Tern, though often difficult to judge on a lone bird.

Another flight shot: there were two different birds present and this may be a different bird.

Here is a view showing the dark primaries: these can be very hard to see on a flying bird as it twists and turns.

Last flying shot


The long bill is well illustrated here.

A male Common Whitethroat rather ruffled in the breeze.

A Silver-ground Carpet moth: in the background we see Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) about to open.

A Common Marble (Celypha lacunana) moth lurking.

An Azure Damselfly with a narrow band on the thorax. Note it is rather hairy!

With a wide band on the thorax here is a Common Blue Damselfly.

The very caddis fly-looking Alder Fly (Sialis lutaria).

A Red-and-Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata).

Well it is Spring still: these spiders getting to know each other. I know that in some species the male is much smaller than the female (and in some species is eaten after mating): seems not to be the case here.

This is a Common stretch-spider (Tetragnatha extensa) – indeed I think the previous photo is of a pair, their embrace disguising the ‘stretch’ appearance.

One of many banks of Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).

Red Campion (Silene dioica or Melandrium rubrum).

Obviously a buttercup: I think that the very tall stems identify this as a Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens).

What I though was a dock sp. but seems to be Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) – in the same genus as docks.

Very few flowers of Lady's Smock / Cuckooplant / Milkmaid (Cardamine pratensis) remain: this one touched with dew.

Amongst all the Cow Parsley were a few Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) plants.

I am fairly certain these flowers are from a Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana): often a planted shrub.

Another shrub in flower and probably planted - Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus).

Hawkweeds are a minefield with many closely related species: this is probably Hieraceum brittanicum.

I’ll have to ‘pend’ this seed head: obviously closely-related to dandelion but ...?

Just opening are the first Yellow Flags (Iris pseudacorus).

Also just opening is this Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).

A Dog Rose (Rosa canina agg.) flower.

Common Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis).

Well it is May as well time for Hawthorn or May (Crataegus monogyna) flowers.

Here is a flower-head of Ramsons (Allium ursinum).

In a ditch so I could not photo in to the flower of this White Dead-Nettle (Lamium album)

In the same ditch this closely-related Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon).

Almost certainly an escape from across Castle Farm Way is this Rapeseed (Brassica napus) [aka rape; oilseed rape].

A White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis)


(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
Today's Sightings Here

Priorslee Lake
Mink seen by locals
(Ed Wilson)