Monday, June 29, 2009

Painting - 29/06/09

The painting goes on and on and on... I see wet paint when I shut my eyes - do not worry though, I know it is just a pigment of my imagination. A few crossbills heard flying about today were the first of the year! Bonus.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Four years ago this week

Four years ago this week I was enjoying a great trip in the Kazak Altai, a chance to see black and white-winged lark and Pallas' sandgrouse and much more.

The toad-headed agama Phrynocephalus spp. found around Lake Zaissan may be specifically distinct

A ferry was required to get us across Lake Zaissan (in fact a reservoir)

The campsite on the shores of the lake came complete with a family of eagle owls

29/6/05 Journey through desert to Zaissan camp
The birders were up for an hour before breakfast to chase up the azure tit but despite some earnest searching we failed to find the birds and headed back to the hotel. Breakfast was soon over and we climbed aboard the 4WD minibuses for the twelve-hour journey that was to take us to the camp on the shores of Lake Zaissan.

We broke the journey at numerous places. First stop was the first of many in the Kalbinsky Hills, here we saw our first meadow buntings, a fantastic adult imperial eagle, a black stork and got to grips with our first butterflies, many of which were familiar including ringlet and large heath but others that were a bit more spectacular including some truly enormous apollos and the splendid Hipparchia autonoe.

A second stop at a lay-by produced clouds of butterflies that were interested in salts left by evaporated “lay-by fluids”. Huge numbers of blues predominated and a number of fritillaries included high brown. The birders had in the meantime wandered off and had found fieldfare, Blyth’s reed warbler, more meadow buntings, common rosefinches and a singing Cetti’s warbler. Overhead a sub-adult steppe eagle allowed us to appreciate the structural differences between this species and imperial eagle. The botanistas meanwhile had disappeared up a hill and came back looking satisfied.

Next stop was in some relict pine forest that was interesting but rather quiet although we heard tree pipit, watched a nice male red-backed shrike and enjoyed a roadside stand of Dactylorhiza umbrosa. A short way up the road we stopped again to admire a roadside clump of burning bush Dicthamnus angustifolia.

Next stop was at a roadside yurt where both before and after a good lunch we searched for plants, butterflies and dragonflies. Butterflies here included northern chequered skipper, Limnetis sidyi and hellmanni. Golden orioles flew overhead busy feeding young. Tearing ourselves away we headed for the ferry that was to take us over an arm of the lake. Before the ferry ‘terminal’ we stopped and searched the sand dunes for the endemic Zaissan toad-headed agama. We found them to be common here and even saw some territorial males curling up their tails and posturing. Also here we saw some black terns and our first Caspian gulls.

After the ferry crossing (try the smoked bream) we drove onwards eventually hitting the dirt roads and the desert proper and driving off into the middle of nowhere. A few birds were seen en route, including black lark, but we had little time to stop at this stage and reached our camp at 2015 in time for a late dinner and bed.

30/6/05 Zaissan camp area and Kein Kerish
We woke up to find the flags of Kazakstan and GB flying proudly over the camp. The birders had a look around before breakfast, Tony found the first of many white-winged larks and there were also a few shorelark around camp. The first white-tailed eagle was applauded but we were to see 3-4 regularly around the shoreline of the lake over the next few days.

After breakfast we headed west along the shoreline towards the peninsula, en route we found some gypsum (desert rose) outcrops and a small aster Tragopogon marginifolia. The walk out also produced our first Caspian terns and great black-headed gulls made occasional appearances overhead too. The small pools on the other landward side of the beach were chock-a-block with Libellula quadrimaculata and looked a picture covered in fringed water-lily Nymphoides peltata. Numerous other species of dragonfly and damselfly were also present and a juvenile bluethroat played hide-and-seek along the edge of the pool ashamed of his dowdy plumage. On the way back we headed through the desert, past a few semi-nomadic families that spend the summer grazing their animals here and searched in vain for sun-watcher. We did get a number of white-winged larks, black larks and short-toed larks for our trouble though.

Lunch was big and taken in the heat of the afternoon made us all a bit drowsy but before long we were back in the buses for the drive across the Kein Kerish. This spectacular rock formation was a large version of our campsite and looked superb from the top of the escarpment where we parked the vans. It was almost impossible to judge scale here as your brain becomes convinced that such a formation must be vast but when you get down you find that things are much smaller than they appear. Navigation is another matter though as the place is a maze. The birders spread out searching for the charismatic Mongolian finch (but sadly we could not find it) in the process we had good views of desert wheatear and John found us a family party of lesser whitethroats (sub-sp halimodendri). On the valley floor mini-groves of Nannophytum delighted us all, with their ancient looking, bonsai-like appearance.

For Van 2 though the best was yet to come. Abandoned by Van 1 we pulled to a stop when Ruth noticed two sandgrouse flying up the road towards us. We all climbed out and they eventually flew on to drink at a pool. They looked good for Pallas’ sandgrouse but the distance was too great to be sure. We headed towards them but re-filling took just a short time and soon they were on their way. Luckily they did not fly far and we slowly stalked them becoming more convinced of their identity until we were standing right next to the pair which fed unconcernedly nearby. The views at close range were stupendous and both Tony and I entered a state of bliss – for years this bird had occupied our imaginations and now finally it had been laid to rest. The rest of the crew looked on in amusement and enjoyed the excellent views of this beautiful bird. It was unfortunate that the other van was not present though and when we eventually found them along the way they were a little disappointed. But it was time to return for dinner – a spectacular affair of fish soup and fresh zander, pike and catfish (fried and boiled). How we ate.

At 2230 we staggered up the hill and bashed around in the dark for jerboas, things were pretty quiet but we managed poor views of one lesser jerboa, which bounced away rapidly and also connected with a corsac fox as we wound down the campsite wadi.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A year ago this week

Dice snake Natrix tessellata, common along the waterways of southern Turkey, in a similar niche to our grass snake. I paid for catching this one though, like grass snakes they exude a powerful smelling substance from their cloacas... It took a two days of pine resin and scrubbing to free my hands of the smell!

Lestes barbarus - always good to see

Onychogomphus forcipatus - a splendid gomphid present in good numbers during our stay in southern Turkey

Gomphus schneideri - another great gomphid, slightly more local than the species above but often common where found

This time last year I was searching southern Turkey for dragonflies...

27/6/08 Esenköy and the Urluca River

The last day arrived and after shopping for our lunch, Turkish Delight and ‘evil eyes’ we headed off. Our first stop was a small stream just outside Esenköy. It was still early and not much seemed to be happening until Roy found a small group of Lestes barbarus – a welcome addition to the trip-list. We spent sometime with these damsels. Also here a single Caliaeschna batted past.

Driving on we tackled the hill climb up to the Urluca River. We spent the rest of the day here. Diversity was low but several species were found in very good numbers. The dense drifts of Platycnemis and banks of Caleopteryx splendens were especially noteworthy. We also found our first Sympetrum fonscolombii and enjoyed many Onychogomphus forcipatus and smaller numbers of Gomphus schneideri. Emperors patrolled the river and Libellula depressa were frequently encountered. After lunch we went upstream a way finding many teneral gomphids and a large dice snake. Birds were very noticeable up here and we enjoyed excellent views of black-headed, cirl and corn bunting.

Leaving the river we worked a long roadside drain and found Ischnura elegans and pumilio and small numbers of Coenagrion puella. By this time the day had once again disappeared and we headed back to the hotel. En route Hassan kindly invited us in to his house and we took tea and fruit with his family. After enjoying our first Turkish çay and Hassan’s hospitality we headed back to base to pack our bags, call the log and try and get some sleep before we had to transfer to the airport.

Painting - 27/06/09

A big day on the south-face of the house. Lots of paint and a few birds. In the garden pied flycatcher and lesser whitethroat youngsters could be heard in the nest. The redstarts have fledged but remain close by. Two young green woodpeckers dropped in, presumably the young from the pair nearby. I never realised how quiet this species goes in mid-summer until I lived in a territory. A reflection in a window tipped me off occasionally to the silent passage up the road of a cruising red kite.

Friday, June 26, 2009

20 years ago this week

Packed the wife, kids and car off north for ten days to allow me to get on with some serious painting and decorating today. This is a considerable sacrifice on my part - chance to watch Wimbledon, lots of dragonflies and grouse...

So in the absence of birding in the present it is back to nostalgic trawling of the Benstead bird diaries...

Twenty years ago found me in Queensland in the middle of a 16 month long trip with my girlfriend at the time (Cath Jeffs). I always like to factor time into my trips to just sit and watch stuff go by - the chance to watch the migration of hump-backed whales north along the Queensland coast was one we could not pass up.

21/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island fine SE 15-20
Arrived in the early afternoon, good seawatching conditions but distracted by two fine hump-backed whales, which jumped for ages. Fantastic. Also 20+ bottle-nosed dolphins.

22/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island wind SE in pm
Seabirds noticed today, good conditions during the afternoon. Cath came up trumps spotting every single good bird. Plenty of gannets, but the star bird was a fine Providence petrel (1) viewed down to 400m, showing white primary and covert patch, beautiful bird. Also a single black-browed albatross, an immature, separated from grey-headed by pale bill, and a brown booby (1).

Little else of note, though an Australian hobby brightened things up a bit. Plenty of shearwaters out there at extreme range; fluttering/Hutton’s types.

23/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island offshore winds

Five hump-backed whales showed up today after no definite signs yesterday. Only other thing of note was a very close fluttering shearwater (1), definitely pale underwing. Plenty more further out. A whistling kite was seen to harass this bird for some time and flew 2-3 km out to sea hunting.

24/6/89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island calm W
No birds during morning session, though a total of 3+ hump-backed whales noted. Afternoon session more productive (seemed to be a general rule during our stay but light so much better then). Loggerhead turtle seen off the rocks, good to see again. The chaps (the Corben gang) having joined us in mid-afternoon enjoyed an entertaining seawatch; Providence petrel (1) seen flying backwards and forwards at range often associating with a whale, arctic skua (1) very unusual at this time of year and Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (3).

25/6 /89 Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island calm
Spent most of the day at Lookout. Plenty of dolphins including Indo-Pacific humpback (15+). Also two hump-backed whale mid afternoon. No seabirds but a nice wandering tattler (1) rounded things off nicely. An immature white-bellied sea eagle being harassed by an osprey made entertaining watching.

27/6/89 Boombana and Slaughter Falls
Morning trip with Tom and Lisa looking for red-browed treecreeper failed but turned up logrunner (pair), paradise riflebird (male) and rose robin (male). Tom locked his keys in the car which led to an amusing half hour.

Checked out the powerful owls (pair) and did some spotlighting with Dave and Chris; tawny frogmouth (4), white-throated nightjar (1), brushtail possum (2) and sugar glider (1). Finally got ring-tail possum in Chris’ back garden during the week.

Chris Corben, if you are out there I salute you!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birding - 25/06/09

Like most of the rest of Bjäre, the upland areas of the Hallandåsen are dotted with small farms. One is run almost entirely without motorised machinery - very Amish. No idea whether it is better for birds but it looks nice.

After a day and half resting I got bored and went out in the afternoon to give myself a road-test. Recent sightings at Klarningen have included both the Egyptian goose (found previously) and a few birds I have yet to see at the site. So headed there hopefully. Should have known better though, managed to find six green sandpipers (and the Egyptian goose...) but no greenshank or ruff. Turn-over is rapid here it seems, probably because the site can be offering little in the way of food I imagine. The top-soil areas have dried out and most of the remaining wet areas are on sub-soil. The water level is dropping too - it look like the system is rain-dependent at the moment. I just hope it retains enough water for the upcoming autumn wader migration, which could be fun here if so.

Drove home over the top, stopped briefly at Ehrenstorp, hoping for feeding cranes but getting agitated whinchat and calling cuckoo instead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Klarningen - 23/06/09

Still feeling poorly and a trip to the doctors saw me wired up for an ECG and a blood-test. Ordered to rest! Mrs B kindly drove me to Klarningen though for a quick look on the way home. A heat haze was novel. Things were quiet here (green sandpiper - 3), the highlight coming as we drove back when a defiant pair of grey partridge defended a chick before herding it into the side and away.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birding - 21/06/09

One of the weird practices along the Bjäre coastline is the bulldozing of beaches to remove seaweed. I dislike it because it removes lovely rotting seaweed that attracts waders during migration. Perhaps more importantly though it seems insane to remove beach material (ie sea-defences) when sea-level rise has been established as fact (in the UK it would be illegal). Several sites where this is practised are showing signs of erosion, many are backed by expensive holiday homes... I bought a house above the 80 metre contour!

Summer has finally arrived. Took the kids out to the beach at Torekov rev hoping for yesterdays reported brent goose. It had flown and apart from a few breeding terns everything was quiet here this morning.

After dinner nipped down to Klarningen for a quick look. A few waders as usual with green sandpiper (4), curlew (9), oystercatcher (12) and little ringed plover (1). The latter did a superb broken-winged and wobbly distraction display in front of me, despite the fact that I am pretty sure the nest is across the river!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Patch tick - Egyptian goose!

Small cow-wheat Melampyrum sylvaticum at Haga today

Well today I soiled my patch-list with an Egyptian goose tick. I had predicted it would not take long for Klarningen to tempt one in and I was right. There has been one hovering on the edge of the patch all spring, reported occasionally from Skottorp and no doubt occasionally sneaking into BK unseen.

Anyway lets start at the beginning shall we. Took the kids out for the day and we kicked off with two hours of blueberry-eating in the woodland around Haga. I had hoped to confirm wryneck as a breeding bird (heard a male in May) but the blueberries took precedence. Did see two male red-backed shrikes and had a female feeding young nearby. The season moves on at an alarming pace.

After lunch we headed for the shops for the weekly bag of sweets and then whilst they ate them I had a quick fifteen minutes scanning at Klarningen. The afore-mentioned Egyptian was resting together with four male wigeon (the flock grows...) and four greylag geese. Egyptian geese are a much bigger deal here than in the UK and I think this might be the first for NW Skåne this year. I really hope no-one twitches it though, it is a scummy addition to any list (outside it's range of course!).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Birding - 19/06/09

Had a quick trip out with the kids to have a look at Ranarpstrand - fairly quiet, water levels high but 6 gadwall were notable. They are scarce here and I have never seen a flock greater than 8 on the patch.

In the evening headed out to Klarningen for a look around in between rain showers. Two redshank are now present and look very at home, other birds included a storming hobby, three male wigeon and the usual green sandpiper (1) and little ringed plover (1).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birding - 18/06/09

Overslept again this morning but got into the field for a short session before breakfast at Klarningen. Always worth checking in the rain this place - noteworthy birds dropping in briefly included spotted redshank (1), redshank (1) and wigeon (three males). Three green sandpiper and a single little ringed plover completed the cast.

After breakfast nipped out for a walk at Ripagården with Mrs B and Number 3. It rained and we saw very little, apart from a buzzard mugging lapwing chicks. An alarm-calling water rail was interesting to hear. A short stop at Hemmeslövstrand produced a single little tern feeding just offshore. Another quiet day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bits of birding - 17/6/09

Managed five minutes birding today at Hålehallstugan with the kids. Pretty quiet, three red-necked grebe were nice, but no sign of any young. A few fledgling coot, four tufted duck and some sand martins completed the cast. Hard to get too excited about but Mrs B did some lovely work on the house whilst I looked after the animals.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bits of birding - 15/6/09

Mmmm! Indian courser. Not in Sweden today unsurprisingly but there has to be some compensation for having to read about me not seeing any birds.

Nipped into Sandön before the weekly shop as usual. The westerly winds of the last few days have sent the water levels really high though and we saw very little. A pool on the nearby turf-farm had 40 shelducks (they really seem to be moving about at the moment - failed breeders?). In the afternoon we took the kids to see some cows being milked and afterwards checked out the shore just north of Rammsjöstrand. Pretty quiet here too! So a quiet day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Birding (again) - 14/06/09

3K common tern with adult, do not see many of these, or maybe I am overlooking them?

Petersberg - an old gravel pit, been ignoring it a bit this spring but it can turn up odd birds

Nipped out again in the evening, hoping that the reported Caspian tern had holed up in the bay. Checked Båstad seafront, a few common terns here (including a 3K bird) but no sign of carrot-bill. Checked out Petersberg before going home and had a superb basking grass snake that avoided the camera sadly. Pretty quiet otherwise, although I watched an excellent male ringed plover doing it's puff-chested, goose-step display prior to mounting the female. Racy stuff.

Bumbling - 14/06/09

Yttre Kattvik - looked great in the sun with a light westerly this morning but the winds were not strong enough for any real seabird action

Got out and about late today. Took the kids out to Yttre Kattvik for a walk and some climbing on the rocks along the seashore. A few birds going past included a summer-plumaged red-throated diver and a single guillemot. Spent quite a bit of time taking some poor shots of bumble bees and will try and get to grips with this group during the summer. Just spent some time trying to identify one, only to discover it was a 'cuckoo bee' - they look like the hosts obviously...

We lunched up at Älemossen for an hour and got a nice male red-backed shrike and a displaying honey buzzard. Number 1 found the best thing though, a superb oil-beetle (Meloe violaceus) - grotesquely pictured below.

Oil-beetle - Meloe violaceus

Last stops of the day were at Eskilstorpstrand (not much but 100+ mallard on the beach) and Klarningen (single mistle thrush of note in quick look - migrant?).

The view north along the Halland coast from the Hallandåsen

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Birding - 13/06/09

Large yellow-underwing Noctua pronuba - flushed by the three daughters of the Apocalypse and perched for views

The kids also pushed a bird off this nest on the ground by the path - marsh tit?

The morning was dull and overcast but by lunchtime we were back in business with the sun out again at last. It has only been two days of rain but it has dragged on a bit. Despite the weather we all went for a walk down Sinarpsdalen in the morning. Highlights include the nest above, a superb male red-backed shrike and a couple of redpoll.

After lunch headed out for a tour of a few sites along the Hallandåsen. Had a family group of three cranes almost immediately - flying by and trumpeting like good'uns. Searched a few sites for firecrest without success. Had time for half an hour at Klarningen. Most of the green sandpipers had departed, although five remained. Two spotted redshank remained too and a flock of 13 shelduck were new in. Otherwise quiet.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Patch tick - short-eared owl

Nice landform, mimicking oxbow features long-since removed by intensive agriculture and its associated drainage practices. Starting to wet up nicely and the birds are coming. Get in!

On wet days like today a wall of cloud hangs over the Hallandåsen ridge (which runs east-west) and this will no doubt ensure plenty of south-bound waders drop out of migration into Klarningen. There were certainly plenty of birds around today

Squeezed in a rainy spell at Klarningen mid-morning, with the kids reading books in the back of the car. They lasted 25 minutes, which gave me enough time to have a quick scan about. It has rained for the last day and a half and the new wetland has been transformed into a good-looking, muddy wet field dotted with pools. The passage waders have flooded in too, with two spotted redshank (patch year-tick), at least 11 green sandpipers and a ringed plover. Who knows what a more thorough examination would reveal? Also here a gathering of at least 50 lapwing and a few sand martins.

Could not resist a return to Klarningen on my own in the afternoon... The rain was still falling but it could not dampen my enthusiasm. Just as I arrived all the lapwing went up and in amongst them my first BK short-eared owl (at last). It showed well in flight and then perched briefly for scope views. Superb.

The rest of the session was spent walking the boundary and trying to get a handle on the number of waders present. The totals were impressive with five spotted redshank (perhaps 7), 11 green sandpipers and one wood sandpiper. I love this place.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Birding - 11/06/09

Number 3 and I made the most of a dry spell and hit Sandön and Rönnen this morning. Sandön was quite good with two spotted redshank, one black tern and two little gulls in a short session. We then moved on to Rönnen for an early picnic lunch and had another spotted redshank and a little stint whilst we ate. Plenty of fluffy young here with redshank, avocet and lapwing chicks on show. This abundance had inevitably attracted predators and we watched a grey heron scarf down an unwitting shelduck chick, whilst red fox cubs looked on in approval and gave marks for style.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Raining - 10/06/09

Miserable wet weather this morning - we do need the rain though. A dawn session walking between Segelstorpstrand and Glimminge produced a few things. A family party of green sandpipers at Segelstorpstrand were presumably local birds. Starlings are sweeping south in small family groups and will soon start to coalesce into bigger flocks. All reminders that the breeding season is drawing to a close for many species and we will soon be involved in southward migration! Time flies. The male common rosefinch was still singing at Öllövstrand and was the easy highlight of the walk.

Had a look around a few sites near Båstad mid-morning, a few loafing goosander and a large flock of 75 feeding common terns were encountered but no sign of the Caspian tern that was reported four days ago. Would have been a BK tick for me but will have to wait now.

Some rain (from Kazakstan):

Monday, June 8, 2009

Birding - 08/06/09

Nottingham catchfly Silene nutans - good showing of this species at Öllövstrand today

Mouse-eared hawkweed Pilosella officinarum flowering prolifically along the coast at the moment too

Biting stonecrop Sedum acre

News of a male rosefinch singing at nearby Öllövstrand had me up and about before Mrs B went to work. At 0330 I heard a brief snatch of possible rosefinch song but could not be certain. There were a lot of potential mimics singing too at the time. Marsh warbler and thrush nightingale were in full song but a thrash about revealed nothing unusual.

After lunch took the kids back to Öllövstrand for a walk and confirmed the rosefinch with a brief sighting and a little singing - sadly a dull 2K male bird, but they all count. The real red breeding males are all offshore on the island of Hallands Väderö, sadly out of reach for the casual birder. We sometimes do a day trip on the boat but is is not cheap with the whole team... Spent the walk looking at flowers and the kids were thrilled to find a garfish skull.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Birding - 07/06/09

Påarp - sandbanks and rocks just offshore attract a variety of waders and other waterfowl. Today's highlight was the first brent goose of the year. They pass through in small numbers at this time of year and a few drop out. The bulk of the brent migration seems to go round the south end of Sweden and into the Baltic.

A day out with the family took us north to Trönninge ängar where I had hoped to finally year-tick garganey. No joy again, although two excellent spotted redshank made up for the journey off-patch. We did not spend long here though (hides feel claustrophobic these days) before moving on to have lunch at nearby Påarp. Plenty of good birds here with brent goose (1, year-tick), knot (1), dunlin (2), bar-tailed godwit (1) and a singing rock pipit. Also at least 100 common scoter offshore amongst the eider.

Got home to discover that the redstarts next door had hatched and the 'parents' were busy feeding young. You may recall that our male redstart died, hitting one of our windows in May. After that we heard no more song but it was obvious pretty quickly that the female was still incubating and later that a male was still present in the territory. Did she somehow enlist help from another male? We have seen a few extra-pair matings in the garden this spring by different species, was this male lurking in the background? Some of the chicks could be his I guess if so. In the garden nestboxes I think we have two female pied flycatchers nesting but I am not sure yet if this is right, they are still incubating and hard to keep track of.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Birding - 06/06/09

Wheatear - busy feeding young along the coast today

Overslept this morning and did not get into the field until 0600. Walked between Glimminge and Dagshög before breakfast. Fine day with a brisk SE wind. A scattering of marsh warblers, thrush nightingales and icterine warblers were evident in song. Plenty of fledgling birds about too. Highlights included: goosander (male Rammsjöstrand), hobby (bird of the day at Burensvik) and yellow wagtail (female at Dagshög).

Got back to be whisked out again with the family to Ranarpstrand. 45 minutes here produced two avocet and a male wigeon. Quiet sessions but enjoyable.

Another birder (showing well but distantly at Grytskaren) - rare sighting around these parts!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Birding - 05/06/09

Managed a couple of hours out with the kids at Vasaltheden in the afternoon. Highlight was the first fledgling wheatears of the year. I did get a flyby of a Streptopelia dove which had the adrenaline pumping (it was batting north and turtle is a mega here) - Number 1 and 2 conspired to push over the pram with Number 3 on board just at that moment - it was only a collared dove luckily and Number 3 survived. Spent the rest of the session watching the kids jumping into small streams.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Swedish tick - quail!

Hovs Hallar - rugged and difficult to work for passerine migrants but great for vismig. This is probably Sweden's premier sea-watching location

Still feeling lousy from the stinking virus I nevertheless managed to drag myself out of bed at 0400 for a session before breakfast. This paid off handsomely in the end but brought me to a near standstill for the rest of the day...

With rumours of another visit from Copenhagen I decided to recce the red-breasted flycatchers just off-patch at Dömestorp. No joy here for the flickers, although two male firecrests were ample compensation! Wood warblers and pied flycatchers were singing too and over the canopy I could occasionally hear the flight call of hawfinch - it is a great spot, badly ruined by being 1 km the wrong side of the BK municipality border!

With my recent eviction from Eskilstorps pools still burning in my memory, and not having worked out the next easiest foot access, I decided to end the session with a little time at the newly-created wetland at Klarningen. The bull-dozers have gone, leaving behind a beautifully land-formed wetland reserve (if they levelled it right) - it looks peachy. Just needs water now, I do not care if they ever get the visitor infrastructure in! Not quite clear how they are going to supply the water, but they may be going to pump water removed from neighbouring fields?? Anyway it was a great idea to visit, I beat the bounds and as I got to the river I could hear a quail calling from Eskilstorps pools - a Swedish tick and on-patch too!

Despite the lack of water at Klarningen a single whooper swan was sitting out in the middle of the field, waiting patiently (like me) for the water to rise. Spent a great hour here, logging about 35 species, mostly along the river (highlights including single garden warbler and red kite). Surprisingly could not chase up a little ringed plover - looks good for them at the moment.

Got home for breakfast and Mrs B offered to drive me somewhere and just sit. We went to Hovs Hallar, spread a blanket out of the wind and enjoyed the sun. Things could no doubt have become romantic but Number 3 was with us and repeatedly tried to get down a badger hole. Not many birds about mid-morning although the resident male red-backed shrike showed briefly.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birding - 03/06/09

A quick walk around the village in the morning revealed singing icterine and marsh warbler, as well as a brief burst of thrush nightingale. Nice! Number 3 and I tried Sandön briefly mid-morning but is was very quiet.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Birding - 2/6/09

Curlew in the village

Fluffy curlew - how do they do it? Everywhere around here is cut for early silage so how these youngsters got off I do not know

No time for birding today but did get out enough to see that the local curlew pair have somehow managed to rear young.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nocturnal birding - 1/6/09

Was out birding at midnight for owls and nightjars. Had the latter by the bucketload - one even tried to get in the car at one point. No owls throughout. Tried on-patch for quail and spent some time listening to thrush nightingale and marsh warbler belting out their songs before calling it a morning. The session was good for mammals though with my first Swedish badger (with a second for good measure too) and a couple of hedgehogs.

Looked after the kids during the day and we had a brief look at Ranarpstrand mid-morning. Highlights here included one avocet (are they breeding?), a single splendid grey plover and a curlew. A pair of velvet scoter loafed off Grytskaren, looking rather fine.