12 Jan 17

Priorslee Lake: 07:25 – 09:20

4°C: Increasing and lowering cloud after clear start to the E. Mainly light W wind. Very good visibility until rain arrived spot on 11:00 as forecast

Sunrise: 08:16 GMT

(10th visit of the year)

New species for my 2017 Priorslee Lake list

Highlights here

Notes from today:
- 3 Little Grebes seen in NW area: a few moments later one seen in centre of N side – depends how far and how fast they can move under water whether this was a 4th
- the first 44 Black-headed Gulls from the W stopped off on the water: all the subsequent birds flew straight through. Then all the birds on the lake left
- the lone large gull on the lake – a Herring Gull – was, unusually, present when no other gulls were on the water
- 3 gulls flew W together when it was still quite dark: these were not Black-headed or Lesser Black-backed Gulls and looked rather small to have been Herring Gulls. But to dark to ID properly and if, as I suspect, they were a trio of Common Gulls that would have been most unusual here
- no moths or other insects on the lamps again

Birds noted flying over the lake
- 2 Greylag Geese
- 43 Canada Geese (5 groups)
- 5 (2♂) Goosanders
- 68 Black-headed Gulls
- 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 2 Herring Gulls
- 3 other gulls (see notes)
- 20 Wood Pigeons
- 316 Jackdaws
- 1 Rook
- 2 Redwings
- 1 Pied Wagtail
- 4 Greenfinches
- 2 Goldfinches
- 7 Siskins
- 2 Linnets again

Roost counts
- 62 Magpies

The counts from the lake area
- 2 + 1 Mute Swans
- 2 (1♂) Gadwall once more
- 16 (9♂) Mallard
- 9 (8♂) Pochard once more
- 32 (21♂) Tufted Ducks
- 1 Cormorant
- 2 Grey Herons once more
- 3 Little Grebes (see notes)
- 5 Great Crested Grebes
- 11 Moorhens
- 43 Coots
- 44 Black-headed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Lock Pool: 10:00 – 10:40

(3rd visit of the year)

Notes from here
- another high number of Shoveler present
- Little Grebes seem to have gone
- very few large gulls and some of these flew straight over

Other birds new for me at this site in 2017 were Collared Dove and Grey Wagtail

Birds noted flying over here
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

The counts from the water
- 2 + 3 Mute Swans
- 39 Canada Geese
- 40 (24♂) Mallard
- 12 (9♂) Shoveler
- 53 (24♂) Tufted Ducks
- 7 (3♂) Goosander
- 1 Cormorant
- 7 Moorhens
- 39 Coots
- 78 Black-headed Gulls
- 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 3 Herring Gulls

One of the many Shoveler at Trench Lock today. One of the easiest ways to sex this bird in this rather indeterminate plumage is from the bill – all black means it is a drake; a duck would show orange at the side of a horn-coloured bill (it would also never appear so rufous along the flanks). The staring pale eye is another clue, that of drakes being more obvious than that of a duck.

A Cormorant of course: looks like an adult even though this bird seems to have none of the white head-plumes or white thigh-patch that they acquire in the breeding season. Amazing blue eyes these birds have (and amazing how they can get on to on a stump like this with webbed feet).

A winter-plumage Herring Gull here between two adult winter Black-headed Gulls. Ostensibly an adult though the bill of the Herring Gull shows dark on both mandibles and it is likely therefore a 3rd winter bird even though there is no indication of any immature plumage.

(Ed Wilson)


Trench Middle Pool: 10:45 – 11:00

(3rd visit of the year)

- a 2nd adult Mute Swan new in
- the Greylag Geese arrived just before I did
- another good count of Goosander (unless you are a fisherman)
- a Sparrowhawk rather confused my gull count by putting everything up: my first of the year here
- 2 Buzzards over did not help: also my first of the year here
- another high number of Coots
other birds new for me at this site in 2017 were Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Redwing and Grey Wagtail

The counts from the water
- 2 Mute Swans
- 6 Greylag Geese
- 53 Canada Goose
- 14 (10♂) Mallard
- 1 (0♂) feral-type Mallard
- 10 (4♂) Tufted Ducks
- 25 (8♂) Goosander
- 1 Great Crested Grebes again
- 10 Moorhens
- 25 Coots
- 44 Black-headed Gulls
- 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
- 1 Herring Gull-type (see photos)

Here at Trench Middle Pool there was this puzzling Herring Gull-type which was sadly flushed by the passing Sparrowhawk just as I was about to take its photo. This view just about illustrates a pitfall of 2nd winter Herring Gulls: its bill has a black band across it with a slightly paler tip. These features are shared with 2nd winter Ringed-Bill Gulls – an unusual visitor from the USA. The latter species is only slightly smaller than some female Herring Gulls so care is needed and all the features would need to be checked.

Here is the upper-wing view of the same bird: there is too much dark in the secondaries for it to be a Ring-billed Gull. Also the bill is too large and the bird too bulky-looking. However it has to be said that it is a rather odd Herring Gull with rather more dark on the secondary coverts and rather less extensive dark on the tail than a typical 2nd winter bird. Looking at the photos in my ‘Gulls’ monograph there is a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull which matches the upper-wing pattern closely, but not the very restricted tail marks. The upper-wing pattern is also similar to a photo of a 3rd winter argentatus Herring Gull (the larger northern race). That is not likely here as on our bird the bill pattern is wrong, the tail marks are too pale and it is not a large-enough bird. My best guess would be 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull, but will leave it as Herring Gull-type.

(Ed Wilson)

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

Priorslee Lake
1 drake Scaup
2 female Scaup
(Mike Stokes)