30 Jun 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:19am - 5:40am // 6:40am - 9:07am

Telford sunrise: 4:48am again

13.0°C> 20.0°C. Almost cloudless. Light ESE wind. Good visibility

(82nd visit of the year)

- a single very small juvenile Moorhen seen with a parent – likely more as they were mostly keeping inside the reeds
- another new brood of Coots (#9)
- four different Black-headed Gulls dropped in briefly, the first two before 4:30am: one of these was a very recently fledged gingery-looking juvenile, sadly while it was too dark to photograph it
- most of the passing large gulls were too distant to specifically identify
- >25 Swifts by 4:30am and stayed until 5:15am. After 8:30am a party of 15 dropped in to drink and then sped off E – migrants already?
- rather fewer corvids today: passage of Rooks was already under way when I arrived this morning; many of the Jackdaws were flying very low over the fields to the E and others were probably below my line of sight

- Meadow Brown and Small Skipper butterflies were new for the year
- Small Tortoiseshell was a new butterfly for me this year at this site
- Ringlet and Large Skipper were also seen
- many grass moths, mostly unidentified; my first-ever Shropshire and lake record of Burnet Companion; a Clouded Border moth, new for this year – and first seen on 01 July last year; and a single Silver-ground Carpet
- my first wasp sp. of the year here.

- first Common Marbled Carpet of the year found in the Priorslee Avenue foot-tunnel
- usual Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies, this morning in abundance
- some beetles Oedemera nobilis: it is only the males of this beetle that have thickened femora

Despite my early starts and the warm weather I have seen no bats in the last two days and only two so far this year. Previously I would have seen up to 6 animals flying around as I arrived during similar conditions, mixing it with the early arriving Swifts. I know that an environmental survey done prior to the school building work identified the presence of a bat roost but I was not told where it was or how they were proposing to preserve it.

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 2 Greylag Geese
- 2 Cormorants
- 16 large gulls
- 1 Feral Pigeon
- 179 Jackdaws
- 131 Rooks

Count of hirundines etc
- c.45 Swifts
- 2 Barn Swallows
- 6 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 9 Chiffchaffs
- 13 Blackcaps
- 2 Common Whitethroats again
- 4 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 14 (12♂) Mallard
- 1 Grey Heron
- 6 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 4 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
- 45 + 14 (6 broods) Coots
- 4 Black-headed Gulls

No red sky this morning: just a great morning to be around early.

Of course as it is now past the longest day Autumn with spider-webs covered in dew cannot be far away!

Flash needed to get any colour on this Common Marbled Carpet on one of the lights in the Priorslee Avenue foot-tunnel.

Mr. Bullfinch takes the morning sun.

This rather faded moth was very lethargic and soon buried itself in the grass. With the help of a friend in Cornwall I now know this to be a Burnet Companion moth, a species I last saw some 20 years ago, co-incidentally in Cornwall. As its name suggests I should be looking out for burnet moths – day-flying metallic-looking black and red moths which can be tricky to identify though luckily we only get one species in this area. New for my 2015 list, my Shropshire life-list and of course my Priorslee Lake life-list.

A fine and particularly cleanly marked Silver-ground Carpet moth

This is rust fungus, PhragmidĂ­nm ssp., on the stem of a bramble. Once affected the fungus stays with the plant both under- and above- ground.

Well: here is my attempt at a better Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) photo. This is better, but not ‘best’.

Can’t do much about the contrast I am afraid but a worthwhile shot of a singing Reed Warbler. Difficult to see any features here but in a way that confirms the identity. The bill is certainly on the large size for a warbler but in its excited state the crown feathers are raised and mask the sloping forehead look of this species.

The forehead shape is better shown when it is quiet!

These flowers are from Woody Nightshade (amongst many other names – scientifically Solanum dulcamara). It is very toxic but the attractive red berries are very bitter – hence Bittersweet as another name.

Just a small part of the Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) that is gradually spreading along the dam-face. Here two forms are involved. The roots can be boiled to make a sedative. The origin is probably as a garden escape here.

I will struggle to get a more cooperative Small Tortoiseshell than this specimen.

And here feeding on its favourite – the nectar of brambles.

These are the flowers of Perforate St John's-Wort (Hypericum perforatum) growing on the dam. This is fast-becoming something of a herbal lesson: this plant is used to treat depression and apparently is as good as any prescription drug and without many of the side-effects. So why ....?

Another view: the small black dots on the stems and edges of the flowers help identify.

Another Large Skipper: this is a male, identified by the streak on the forewing which contains scent scales – though nowhere can I find whether these are used to detect females or attract them!

A different specimen: you just don’t get views like this too often!

The much plainer wing identify this as a Small Skipper. The forewing is not visible here so the sex cannot be determined from this view.

Had to correct the ID of a butterfly yesterday: THIS is a Meadow Brown (yesterday’s was a Ringlet which is why it had several circles on the wing – doh!)

Covered in pollen from Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) this is the beetle Oedemera nobilis: it is only the males of this beetle that have thickened femora. Another small fly is lurking. Not entirely sure what is in the mouth of the beetle.

Another view of another specimen.

This small moth is Anthophila fabriciana, also known as the Common Nettle-tap. It has a huge range from the Pacific coast of China and all across the Himalayas and Europe.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 5:50am - 6:30am

(58th visit of the year)

- Swans seen today but behaving rather atypically. One cygnet seen on its own and calling before it joined the pack of Canada Geese and they all seemed quite happy feeding together. The pen later came off the island with 3 other cygnets and may no attempt to find the ‘lost’ cygnet. Meanwhile the cob was elsewhere minding his own business
- the small Cackling / Lesser Canada Goose sp. seen today
- at least some of the geese seem to be able to fly still as there were more Greylags and fewer Canada's today, though with birds able to hide away inside the island hard to be certain
- the new brood of 4 small Mallard ducklings seen again: the long-term brood of 8 not seen but the number logged suggests that these were scattered among other birds
- pair of Tufted Duck, the drake well out of breeding plumage
- the juvenile Great Crested Grebe with one of the parents: the other parent was tidying the nest
- a Nuthatch calling outside the dentist surgery was my first at this site this year

Birds noted flying over
- 1 Grey Heron
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Hirundines etc. seen
- 1 Swift
- 4 House Martins

Warblers heard singing
- 1 Chiffchaff
- 3 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- 2 + 4 Mute Swans (see notes)
- 63 Greylag Geese
- 158 Canada Geese
- 1 Lesser Canada Goose ssp.
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 36 (27♂) + 4 (1 brood) Mallard
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 (1♂) Tufted Ducks
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- no Moorhens
- 19 + 4 (1 brood) Coots

Superb light on this flying Grey Heron made it irresistible.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006 and 2010
Priorslee Lake
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
1 drake Ruddy Duck
(Ed Wilson)

29 Jun 15

Priorslee Lake: 4:17am - 5:35am // 6:35am - 9:23am

Telford sunrise: 4:48am

12.0°C > 16.5°C. The red dawn sky was a better indication of an increasingly cloudy morning with a few spots of rain than the Met. Office forecast of a fine day. Calm start with light / moderate NW wind later. Good visibility.

First visit after just over 2 weeks watching aircraft (mainly) in Japan.

The road and path works for the new Academy are now more or less complete and I was able to revert to my normal summer schedule of once around the lake; a walk to, around and back from The Flash; and another lap of the lake.

Best today was rather out-of-season Yellow Wagtail over. Most years I log a Spring migrant but this is my first breeding season record. There seems no reason why they would not nest in the fields to the E if the crops were suitable. That said I have seen none on my visits to Woodhouse Lane.

New for the year were Ringlet and Large Skipper butterflies and several species of moth.

(81st visit of the year)

- 1 adult Mute Swan over.
- the ‘excess’ adult Great Crested Grebes seem to have moved on leaving just the pair with 2 juveniles and the long-term users of the N side reeds, still apparently without young.
- Sparrowhawk seen carrying prey in to copse on NE side of Castlefarm interchange: perhaps one of the birds that have nested in the NW area previously but were unwilling to sit out the building work this year?
- 2 new broods of Coots (which I will call 7 & 8, though others may have been and gone while I was away).
- single adult Black-headed Gull dropped in briefly: perhaps an early returning bird?
- one of the passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls also stopped off briefly.
- single Stock Dove flushed from putative breeding area: later a pair unusually high overhead with one bird doing an apparent display flight: then a pair seen landing on the old Celestica site.
- c.20 Swifts by 4:30am and this numbers stayed around much of the time.
- 3 House Martins flew in briefly from the estate area with one of these at least a calling juvenile.
- an amazing 18 different Blackcaps in song: there seemed to be rather fewer non-singing birds than I would have expected. However one of the singing birds seemed to be a red-capped juvenile.
- only 2 Reed Warblers in song but at least 2 parties of adults with juveniles.
- juvenile Chaffinches and Bullfinches both seen begging from parents.

- Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies.
- the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is now in flower.
- also new in flower was Meadowsweet / Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

Counts of birds flying over the lake (in addition to those on / around lake)
- 1 Mute Swan
- 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 221 Jackdaws
- 229 Rooks
- 11 Starlings

Count of hirundines etc
- c.20 Swifts
- 3 House Martins

Count of singing warblers
- 7 Chiffchaffs
- 18! Blackcaps
- 2 Common Whitethroats
- 2 Reed Warblers

The counts from the lake area
- 2 Mute Swans
- 8 (5+♂) Mallard
- 4 + 2 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 4 Moorhens
- 42 + 11 (5 broods) Coots
- 1 Black-headed Gull
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

The Met Office forecast was for a fine day – the weather had other ideas with the red sky presaging some light rain later.

Spectacular briefly.

Then 20 minutes later and not a sign of the red sky.

Most of the Yellow Flags (Iris pseudacorus) are now over: this is an exception and we can see a soldier beetle sp. as well.

I found this fly in deep cover and it was hard to get the colour reproduced: without flash (as here) a crisp photo was almost impossible ...

But using the flash ‘blew out’ the delicate pinkish ting. It turns out it's a male Common Snipe Fly, Chrysopilus cristatus.
I’ll have to do this again to get a better shot. I took what I thought was a record shot of Red Dead-Nettle (Lamium purpureum) but on inspection I see this is in fact Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica). Both are in the large Mint (Labiatae) family.

A White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis) going about its business.

Here is another startling-looking fly, a Yellow Dung Fly, Scathophaga stercoraria – again the flash does not do it justice but the striking red eyes are well-shown.

Took me a while to realise what this was all about. I thought initially it was a ‘three in a bed’ scenario but it seems the male fly here has a Mystacides longicornis caddis fly as some sort of offering while he is coupled to the female. The caddis fly was abundant this morning – the long feelers give it its scientific name and it is another fly with red eyes. No idea of the fly sp. with the strangely humped back.

You want a close-up? The poor caddis seems to be being sucked dry as we watch.

Another Mystacides longicornis caddis fly, this one trapped in a spider-web but showing its features clearly.

This Tortrix moth appears to be Celypha striana, sometimes Barred Marble. There are a number of similar species.

I will probably not get a better shot of a male Blue-tailed Damselfly this season with all the wing-venation and hairs on the legs so clear.

And ditto for Common Blue Damselfly. The shape of the mark on the second body segment (from the left / top) separates from Azure Damselfly.

More gruesome nature: a Funnel Web Spider, Larinioides cornutus having breakfast.

I repositioned to get a better view and it has started a green-fly as a second course!

Well that didn't last long!

The white fluffy head of Meadowsweet / Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

Not sure how long Ringlet butterflies have been flying. This specimen looks quite fresh – you can still see the ‘eyes’ on the wings – but it has already been in the wars with a rather tatty left hind-wing.

In close-up here what I think are Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) flowers.

And these are what I believe to be Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) flowers.

GIANT HOGWEED (Heracleum mantegazzianum)! Everything about this plant is super-sized – this one is 10 foot high and the umbels spread at least 3 feet.

Another super-sharp image showing the hairs on a green bottle fly, most likely the Common Greenbottle (Lucilia sericata).

This is a Large Skipper butterfly. All skippers, and there are dozens of species across both the Old and New Worlds, normally rest with the fore-wings held half-open. Here both wings are closed. ‘Large’ is not a helpful name as the also very common ‘Small’ is hardly different in size – certainly it is not readily apparent in the field. The wing pattern separates the species. No other UK skippers are orange-toned and all these are much less common.

Here we see some of the wing-pattern as the specimen opens its wings.

And here we see the forewings held at the usual part-open angle.

And the perfect plan-view! A cooperative specimen.

This is Chrysoteuchia culmella (sometimes Garden Grass-veneer), one of the most common ‘grass moths’. All have a similar rather worried and staring-eyed look when seen well. This species is particularly poorly marked. Seen here on a grass ‘flower’ about to annoy those people who suffer with hay-fever.

It's a messy job but someone has to do it! These look like Flesh-flies (Sarcophaga carnaria) and are clearing up some horse dung.

I know this flower as Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) but Wikipedia gives Red Robin, Death come quickly, Storksbill and Dove's Foot as some other common names. It is one of the Cranesbill family and we can get a hint of the origin of that name from the dead flowers in the background.

In case you think all the aphids attack your garden this dock sp. would beg to differ.

This is Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) growing on the top of the dam. In olden times used as a herb and herbalist ascribe many curative properties to the plant – hence its name.

Part of a group of six corvids circling high above the lake. The spread primaries and the spread tail suggested Ravens but as I had not heard calls I took this shot to check. We can see that the head and bill are nowhere near bulky-enough for Ravens and that they are ‘just’ Rooks going for a fly. A Raven’s tail should look more wedge-like but at this time of year birds are moulting and reliance on such features can be misleading.

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash:

5:45am - 6:25am

(57th visit of the year)

- it was only after I had left that I realised I had not seen the Swans – perhaps they were tucked up inside the island and I failed to notice ...?
- the geese seem settled and ready to moult – none was seen in flight today.
- new brood of 4 small Mallard ducklings seen (as well as the well-grown brood of 8).
- just a single juvenile Great Crested Grebe confirmed.
- unable to decide whether there were juveniles from 2 or 3 broods of Coot: all the adult birds sitting at the start of the month seem not to have produced any young.
- perhaps my visit was rather early in the day for the House Martins to be about ...

Birds noted flying over
- 2 Cormorants
- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Hirundines etc. seen
- 1 Swift
- 2 House Martins

Warblers heard singing
- 3 Chiffchaffs
- 2 Blackcaps

The counts from the water
- no Mute Swans seen!
- 31 Greylag Geese
- 184 Canada Geese
- 1 all-white feral goose
- 27 (19♂) + 12 (2 broods) Mallard
- 1 all-white feral duck
- 2 + 1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
- 2 + 1? (1 brood) Moorhens
- 17 + 5 (2 broods) Coots

This is Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre), now abundant along the walls between Derwent Drive and The Flash. The ‘biting’ name comes from the burning sensation from the leaves.

Common of course but no less attractive for that: close-up of part of the flower stalk of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

The progress of the party of 8 Mallard ducklings: from this photo I am unable to decide which of them is the duck in charge. From the left birds 5, 8 and 9 have bills that suggest they will be drakes; 2 and 3 are impossible to tell; the rest all look like ducks.

These 4 have a way to go before they catch the others!

A Honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.) flower.

(Ed Wilson)

On this day in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2010 and 2013
Priorslee Lake
15 Cormorants
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Common Sandpiper
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
Juvenile Yellow Wagtail
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
(Ed Wilson)

Priorslee Lake
2 drake Ruddy Ducks
(Ed Wilson)