Tuesday, January 27, 2015

return of the glaucous

Spent the morning tramping around the Killeröd loop with Paul Cook and his mate from the UK, this nutcracker was one of the target birds we did find but we failed to find the normally easy crested tits...

Had a rough-legged buzzard in Grevie on my way to meet up at Killeröd with Paul Cook and a mate of his from the UK. A crossbill dropped in whilst I waited for them to arrive and then we walked the long loop which was very quiet apart from a nutcracker halfway round and four willow tits near the car park when we got back.

Next stop was Torekov but a biting northerly wind sapped our enthusiasm after we had logged 23 purple sandpipers at the rev. Also here a redpoll (my first of the year at last), a shelduck and a Slavonian grebe. I split from the guys here and headed south to check Ranarpsstrand for jack snipe - no habitat after the storm so no joy. Apart from 16 starling feeding on the foreshore the place was pretty quiet.

It all happened on the way home when I noticed a large flock of fieldfare feeding in a field at Ranarp. Stopping I found myself next to a large flock of greylag in a ploughed field that demanded inspection. Sure enough two neck-collars were in the flock but no other geese species sadly. As I got out of the car for my 'scope I flushed a covey of nine grey partridge (nice year-tick) and later when the geese were checked I turned round to the ploughed field on the other side of the road and found the elusive glaucous gull feeding with other gulls and getting ridiculously muddy feet! This bird has not been seen since the 18th but is obviously still present! A quick check of the fieldfare flock revealed a redwing - bonus!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

a walk in the woods

Time to get into the woods around Killeröd to chase down a few year-ticks. Snow on the ground and the sun in the sky made for a pleasant walk. The birds behaved too with crested tit (2), nutcracker (heard only) and finally back at the car after two hours at least three willow tits.

Friday, January 23, 2015

hat-trick

Got three year-ticks today. In the afternoon Number 2 and I went sledging and when we arrived we had a flock of geese south which contained two white-fronted geese.

In the evening we went owling and bagged two long-tailed tits in Båstad at dusk and then spotlighting revealed a nice tawny owl at Hålehallstugan. The rest of the night-drive produced fallow deer (10, Slottet), roe deer (1, Älemossen) and lots of hares. Number 2 armed with her own spotlight enjoyed finding rabbits and hares as we drove about and we will go again no doubt but maybe spend more time listening next time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wildfowl count - Torekov to Hovs Hallar

Had a great session doing another wildfowl count today. Snow was on the ground but the temperature barely dropped below zero, we might get a winter yet though. Torekov harbour had seven coot (!), 25 over-flying and very noisy twite (year-tick) and I nearly saw a black redstart I think...

The rev produced another noisy flock of 35 twite and at least two purple sandpipers. Rålehamn next and pretty routine here although the mirror calm sea produced the first three razorbill of the day. Out on Tjällran it was pretty quiet, something to do no doubt with the two large white-tailed eagles in residence.

Norra Ängalag produced another year-tick in the shape of a red-necked grebe (finally!) and there were at least ten twite feeding in fields here too. The final Ripagården leg delivered another year-tick (black guillemot), as well as 12 common crossbill and a dunnock. Not a bad count.

Afterwards I checked Klarningen for rough-legged buzzard and scored one. A few thrushes going past south included a single redwing. Checked Petersberg next and discovered that machinery is on site to level the reedbed and pit for development. I never really found anything amazing here over the last seven years but I always enjoyed poking about here for birds and other wildlife and it was one of the few bits of deep, open freshwater in the municipality. It will make reedbed birds harder to find, and destroy one of only two of the municipality's red-necked grebe breeding sites. Why the kommun is building houses in a floodplain is anyone's guess but no doubt money talked.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Routine wildfowl count - Dagshög to Torekov - and a day's end stunner

Time for the January wildfowl count, a great excuse to get out of the office. The weather was pretty unpleasant though with light slushy snow falling throughout, so in the end I was pretty pleased to get back indoors at lunchtime! The upside though was almost no wind, the resultant quiet was eery after all the windy weather we have been experiencing.

Kicked off at Dagshög and coshed off the American black duck quickly, the only bird of note, although there were two whooper swans on the pool here.

At Påarps mal I picked up a redwing for the year in the summer house garden and this was the only good bird here. Moving on swiftly I counted the sewage works area and then hit Torekov. I parked up overlooking the rocks favoured by wintering shag (2 today) and immediately heard a chiffchaff. I had never recorded a winter chiffchaff in BK until this winter but this bird was my fourth of the season. It eventually showed well and I got on with the final stretch of the count.

After 'work' I checked Torekovs rev and was pleased to find the early shelduck that appeared on the coast last week. Also here a single dunnock feeding on the seaweed banks and at least six purple sandpipers.

In the afternoon I bumped into a small flock of waxwing ine the village on my way to pick up the kids from school. Dusk found me at Lya ljunghed, a flyby jay was new for the year but amazingly I think I heard the advertising call of a lynx!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

peregrine

Had to drive down to Malmö to pick up a repaired lens today but managed to drop in on Klarningen briefly and picked up a dark 2K peregrine. Access to the site might become an issue soon if it keeps raining...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Malaysia dragonfly tour - a look back to 2013

 Many of the tour participants were very talented photographers and would endure any amount of discomfort to get the right shooting angle on their subjects.

I wrote this for Svarovski when they lent me some gear in 2013 but they never used it to my knowledge - so here it is!

"My first experiences as an embryonic naturalist revolved around a dip net and a microscope. As a 9-year old I was fascinated by the life aquatic and would happily draw ostracods and Daphnia for hours in my notebooks, identifying many of them with the aid of the simple reference books available to me. The gift of my first pair of binoculars though saw me going down a path familiar (no doubt) to many readers of this blog. I became a committed birder and spent the greater part of my young adulthood joyfully chasing birds around the globe. Exposure to the rich species diversity of the tropics though ensured that my interest in aquatic fauna and especially Odonata was slowly rekindled. The problem way back then though was how to identify the stuff you found!

It is hard nowadays to remember life before the internet but its advent suddenly created an online world where communities of naturalists could come together, the identification of previously difficult groups of organisms, like tropical dragonflies, suddenly became possible through shared effort and collaboration. Likewise digital cameras and modern binoculars suddenly put the world of invertebrates into close focus. Against this backdrop of technological progress, I found myself working as a freelance naturalist, leading general natural history tours. Inevitably birding often took second place on such tours and I found myself returning to many of the haunts of my youth, but now with a mandate to look at other taxa; taxa ignored or simply unnoticed during previous bird-oriented visits. Now I could search out dragonflies and with the help of the internet and communication with benevolent experts have a chance of putting names to things. My interest in Odonata grew and so did my list!

The advent of dragonfly tourism was inevitable but is still very much in it’s infancy, pioneered by the likes of Dave Smallshire (UK) and Dennis Paulson (USA). Both are authors of acclaimed Odonata fieldguides for their respective regions and it was a meeting with Dave at the UK BirdFair that set the wheels in motion for an incredible tour of Peninsula Malaysia together with a group of ten of his ‘regulars’. Our two-week tour, along with one of Malaysia’s finest field naturalists (Dennis Yong), took in the wild, ancient rainforest of Taman Negara, the genteel but well-forested hill station of Fraser’s Hill and the mangroves and coastline around Kuala Selangor. A fairly typical nature-oriented itinerary therefore but for dragonflies we also had to factor in a day in some peat swamp-forest, an important habitat for a specialised and very desirable suite of species.

How did we do? Well in many ways it exceeded our expectations; of the c. 250 species of Odonata currently recorded for Peninsula Malaysia we managed to see and photograph an incredible 120! Added to this we saw a wealth of other wildlife, enjoying the mammals and birds especially, and when we could summon up the energy many of us went for night-walks after dinner in search of amphibians and other fauna. A great experience and one I would love to repeat some time soon." 
 
Chlorocyphids or jewels were an incredibly attractive feature of the Malayan odo-fauna, at our first site on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur Heliocypha perforata appears for the first time.


Another chlorocyphid and one we all hoped to see was the peat swamp-forest specialist Libellago hyalina.


A small pond on the edge of the vast but largely inaccessible Krau Game Reserve quickly became the favourite site on the tour largely for the sheer diversity of species present and it was quickly dubbed the ‘Super Pond’. Here two new Rhyothemis species perch together in the sun.


Another chlorocyphid, this one (Libellago semiopaca) found by paddling in the Sg. Tahan at Taman Negara.

Mid-altitude forest in the Gombak Valley produced our first Ceriagrion fallax.


Night-walks at Taman Negara produced some great invertebrates including several encounters with the huge tarantula Cyriopagopus schiodtei.


Large forested rivers supported good numbers of the attractive damselfly Dysphaea dimidiata.


 Chance encounters with reptiles like the Malayan vine snake (Ahaetulla mycterizans) were much appreciated.


 Night-walks also produced the occasional mammal sighting, here a diademed leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros diadema) checks us out.


On our last day at Taman Negara it rained heavily bringing out the frogs during the night, we were pleased to find a Wallace’s flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) taking up a territory near the HQ buildings.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

soggy

Had three hours in the field this morning but the weather was not very pleasant with light rain throughout. It was hard to take a great deal of pleasure from the session and this was not helped by a paucity of birds. I started at Stora Hult, Grytskären and Ranarpsstrand. Little of note here, a single Slavonian grebe (Stora Hult), gannet (1 past) and a sparrowhawk at Ranarpsstrand.

Moving north significantly dropped in on Rammsjöstrand hoping for jack snipe but there were workmen all over the sewage works field and after grabbing my first dunnock of the year and checking for the black duck I moved on again. Påarps mal produced the black duck and it was pleasant going through the pipits here, but no sign of the water pipit today.

My birding day ended later at dusk when three waxwing flew over Grevie kyrkby - my first of the winter, let alone the year!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

missed the big blow

I stayed in bed this morning after a stormy night and missed a good seawatch. We did get down to Båstad in the afternoon and whilst the team enjoyed the high water, waves and associated damage I had a quick look out to sea bagging two fulmars and a little auk in just over an hour.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

catch up

Great views again today of the very confiding BK glaucous gull, this time at Ranarpsstrand. The porpoise carcass out on Grytskären got washed over to the mainland in the storm and she has followed.

Whizzed around with the kids today to try and cosh off a few potential year-ticks found by others during the last few days. Started off at Påarps Mal and we quickly connected with a pipit flock that contained the three species we were after, including at least five rocks and a water. Out on one of the islands the black duck was roosting.

Next stop was Torekov rev where four purple sandpipers finally put in an appearance and then we dashed off to Ripagården. Here we quickly found a small flock of about 12 common crossbills and finally got great spotted woodpecker for the year. Another reed bunting here was nice.

After lunch we nipped down to Ranarpsstrand to try for jack snipe but only succeeded in getting great views of the 2K glaucous gull as the sun dipped to the horizon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

after the storm (20150105)

A 2k kittiwake, taking time out from the open sea to grace the shores of Eskilstorpsstrand.

Tried to catch up on a few species spotted in the last four dyas, notably a good goose flock at Klarningen yesterday. No sign of any exciting geese here this morning but I did catch up with greylag (8), kestrel (1) and a nice reed bunting.

In the afternoon the kids and I checked Eskilstorpsstrand and found a stray kittiwake and 18 snow buntings on the beach.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

last day of the storm and more seabirds

 Fulmar on the year list at last

With a borrowed car I was able to get to Yttre Kattvik early in the morning and birds were going past still. Good numbers of red-throated diver (56+) were on the move but I could not spot any other diver species. Highlights here in three hours were Slavonian grebe (5), fulmar (4), gannet (3), little gull (1), razorbill (1) and a fantastic close little auk.

Little auk scuttling past Yttre Kattvik

I checked Petersberg before lunch for some year-ticks; green woodpecker (1) and a little grebe. After lunch the team all headed for Axeltorpsravinen where we quickly connected with a dipper. Then we headed for a walk at Ripagården where a nice 2K little gull was feeding in the bay and we whopped off parrot crossbill (2), coal tit (1) and goldcrest for the year.

Little gull feeding near the harbour at Ripagården