Monday, August 31, 2009

Birding - 31/08/09

A red kite was searching the foreshore at Ranarpstrand today.

No surprises that I fancied a crack at the red-necked phalarope at Torekov at dawn. No joy though, the bird had flown. A few waders here included spotted redshank (1), redshank (4), common sandpiper (4), ruff (2), knot (1), dunlin (50), turnstone (1), little ringed plover (2), ringed plover (3) and grey plover (3). Also two whooper swan.

Later on in the day walked between Lervik and Ranarpstrand. Highlights at Lervik included pintail (2), redshank (9), greenshank (1), common sandpiper (5), ruff (3) and knot (3). Grytskaren had more knot (2) and at least 15 wheatear. Ranarpstrand produced wigeon (3), greenshank (5), snipe (1), dunlin (1), knot (2) and golden plover (1).

Birding - 30/08/09

Ulf processes one of the more colourful birds caught at dusk in the reedbed. This was one of two yellow wagtails that we caught.

Yellow wagtail

Blowing hard from the south-west this morning so we decided to visit Dagshög and see some waves. A few birds about including greenshank (1), razorbill (1) and red-backed shrike (1). Just two or three kilometres north of us, the second patch red-necked phalarope of the year was cavorting. We remained in ignorance throughout the day. I must get that pager organised...

After lunch I headed down to Sandön, as I had been invited by Henrik Ehrenberg to observe the ringing in the reedbed. Before the kick-off I had time for a look around and was pleased to notice a 1K Caspian gull on one of the islands. I have never been a big fan of large gulls, their enormous variability has always given me a bit of a headache. But now I am a born again patch-lister there is no excuse for not doing the homework and putting in some effort. Just got to find a Caspian on the patch now...

Supporting caste at Sandön included some waders; oystercatcher (2), curlew (42), bar-tailed godwit (10), dunlin (2), knot (1) and grey plover (3). Also great crested grebe (2), little grebe (1), goosander (9), osprey (2) and water rail (1).

Working in the reedbed required chest waders, mercifully Ulf Ståhle had a spare pair. Curiously the water level rose and fell quite a bit during the evening - a combination of the brisk SW wind and heavy showers in the river catchment. Doing the net rounds was a bit like re-making 'The African Queen' at times. The first 4-5 hours were very quiet (too windy) and we caught just three reed warblers. Dusk improved the score though with two yellow wagtails, one white wagtail and about a dozen swallows.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Birding - 29/08/09

After a couple of days during which a weird virus went through the family, we were ready to get out again. The only bird highlight during the illness phase was a tawny owl calling in the garden last night. We took it easy today and followed up reports of a garganey at Trönninge ängar - ie we went twitching. I somehow still needed garganey for the year, having dipped through the spring quite well.

On arrival we quickly noticed that the place was rammed with geese. Finding stuff in and around the 1200 greylag was quite a challenge and I suspect that we missed plenty. Found two garganey though in the end, as well as pintail (1), shoveler (4), wigeon (10), ruff (12), wood sandpiper (2), common sandpiper (1), redshank (1), dunlin (1) and snipe (4).

On the way home checked out Klarningen but water levels are static at the moment. Few birds noted in a short look but did get greenshank (1), common sandpiper (1), snipe (1), yellow wagtail (4) and an immature marsh harrier. The access track had whinchat (11) and wheatear (3). Dropped in at Malen finally and unleashed the kids, four goosander offshore.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birding - 26/08/09

Had a quick look at Vasaltheden after overnight drizzle to see if any birds were about. Nothing doing - just a single lesser whitethroat and a handful of tree pipits.

In the afternoon took Number 1 back down there for a kite-flying session and it was much busier with stuff that must have dropped out of the morning's migration. At least 14 yellow wagtail, a single male red-backed shrike, whinchat (2) and wheatear (1).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birding - 25/08/09

Up at the crack of dawn today for a look out from the hill at Haga. It looks like it might make a good vismig location. An hour and a half here before breakfast certainly produced some migrants on the move. Migrants included black-throated diver (2 taking a short cut), golden plover (3), swift (2), tree pipit (53), yellow wagtail (5) and common crossbill (14). Heard a few woodland birds too including green and black woodpecker.

After a morning painting the house, Mrs B and I did a run to the dump (paint-cans!) and then sat for half an hour in our comfy chairs at Kattvik. Swedes love static birding and this is why they are so good at vismigging. After two years here, I am still having trouble staying in one place and it costs me birds every year. The upshot of our sunny 30 minutes was an osprey (in-off) and a single siskin east. Afterwards we picked up the kids and took them swimming at Ripagården. Very quiet here in a quick look - just greenshank (1), common sandpiper (2) and snipe (4). A surprise was a female Calopteryx virgo fluttering along the margin of the small harbour.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Birding - 24/08/09

During the day, I was working on the house and heard quite a few tree pipits and yellow wagtails going over the garden.

An evening session at Glimminge and Vasaltheden was very quiet. Just two redshank and four snipe on the wader front. At least 62 Sandwich terns were resting on the rocks. A quick look at Ranarpstrand revealed 115 Sandwich terns (a good number) and a few more waders including greenshank (2), redshank (1), wood sandpiper (2) and snipe (5). Three goosander and eight wigeon loafed around.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dragging - 23/08/09 and some birds

Another mid-afternoon walk, saw us all visiting the dragonfly pools at Frestensfälla. The late afternoon was warm enough for several species to be flying. A number of Aeshna juncea were patrolling and it was good to catch one to compare with yesterday's subarctica. Also on the wing were Sympetrum danae (small numbers) and Lestes sponsa (still abundant).

Aeshna juncea - in the hand pale spots were noted on the occiput and the underside of the thorax was plain.

Whilst we were looking at dragonflies, a flock moved through the trees and we heard both willow and crested tit. The former is hard to find here but does breed on the patch, the latter is hard to pin down in the breeding season but come the autumn and winter is much easier to see. Last winter a cresty took up residence at Torekov rev and could be watched feeding out on the seaweed with rock and water pipits!

On the way home we watched the 'retro-farmers' at Ehrenstorp cutting a crop with a horse-drawn reaping machine. On the other side of the road the family party of cranes was feeding quietly. A horse field nearby had at least ten yellow wagtails feeding in it. Nice afternoon session.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dragging - 22/08/09 and another wryneck

We all got out of the house mid-afternoon and headed out to Älemossen. The sun was shining, so I made sure the dragonfly net was in the bag.

The only wet areas remaining at Älemossen are clustered together and look artificial; possibly the result of a last-ditch (!) excavation of pools to ensure the continuation of a wetland flora and fauna in this rapidly drying former bog complex. Whatever, the floating sphagnum moss in the pools is fantastic acid-loving dragonfly habitat.

Bird-wise the bog was quiet, a few redstart called from the bushes as we walked in. On arrival at the wet pools, we noted a few hawkers patrolling over the soupy sphagnum, making the most of the late afternoon sun. I quickly got into position and soon had my first ever Aeshna subarctica safely in the net. I had predicted this species presence at the site, but last year had visited in July and only managed Aeshna juncea I think juncea may have been flying today as well, but never managed to confirm it. The only other odonate identified was a single Lestes sponsa.

Aeshna subarctica - nice to have on the patch. This was a tick for me! The frons-clypeus suture widens as it approaches the eyes on this individual. Costa brown not yellow. Two pale marks on the underside of the thorax too. Looked darker and less impressive than juncea in flight.

Comparison shot of Aeshna juncea, same site but a month (27/07/08) before today's sighting of subarctica. The suture between the frons and clypeus narrows markedly as it approaches the eye. This individual also showed pale spots behind the eyes.

On the way home we looked for the cranes at Ehrenstorp but they have moved on. As we bumped down a track to the lake, we nearly ran over a wryneck, which flushed rather hesitantly right in front of the car, before flying off idly and perching for great views. Nice one!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Birding - 21/08/09

A look at the weather chart convinced me that conditions were good for a fall this morning, but it sounds like it all happened slightly further south. I hit Ripagården at dawn with some optimism therefore, but it quickly became apparent that no large numbers of passerines had fallen out overnight. Migrants were about though; a deep, throaty "chuck" followed by a "whheep" alerted me to the presence of a thrush nightingale, a bird that tends to be hard to spot after the spring song-fest. A scattering of migrants included sedge warbler (1) and small numbers of lesser and common whitethroat and tree pipit. The reedbed was hosting a flock of 1500 starlings and the sea had whooper swan (1), wigeon (10, another species now on the move), gadwall (1) and an adult and juvenile razorbill. Waders were few and far between with just snipe (6) and common sandpiper (12). One of the highlights was three big fox cubs ('captured' in the video clip below) having fun by the sea - aaahh bless.

Back at home for breakfast, it was noticeable that the garden (which has been very quiet for weeks) was buzzing. A quick look found three (yes three) chaffinches, four robins, blackcap, lesser whitethroat and chiffchaff. Busy indeed.

After leaving all three kids at day-care for the first time, I took Mrs B out to take her mind off the fact that her babies were growing up. Through the intermittent bouts of uncontrollable sobbing we looked for birds. We both enjoyed a roadside marsh harrier en route to Glimminge. Glimminge was disappointing for waders, although Mrs B flushed a record count of snipe (21), also here redshank (5), wood sandpiper (2) and common sandpiper (2). Wigeon (4) and teal (12) floated offshore.

Working the woodland edge from Vasaltheden was pleasurable. A scattering of migrants included icterine warbler (2), garden warbler (2), spotted flycatcher (4), redstart (1) and tree pipit (10). A total of nine black guillemots in family parties floated offshore. A quick look at Öllövstrand revealed nothing unusual. Walking back through Vasaltheden we had a low female merlin along the shoreline.

Comfort food was required so we ate a packed lunch at Klarningen and had a quick look. Waders included curlew (4), lapwing (50), golden plover (1), greenshank (1), wood sandpiper (1), green sandpiper (1) and snipe (10). Four wigeon flew over scouting the site and a 1K cuckoo drifted along the peripheral line of trees. A few grounded tree pipits were flushed and the site looks good for autumn red-throats!

Driving back to pick up the kids we passed Ehrenstorp and found the family of cranes still in residence. Took the kids for a run-around at Torekov and had a superb osprey over the car at Västra Karup. Autumn has arrived and birds are on the move - yee hah!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Birding - 19/08/09

Spent the morning helping out with Number 3's induction into our day-care centre. Camped out in the garden and let them get on with it, giving Number 3 the occasional 'consultation'. The bird highlight came at 1030 when two cranes came over noisily south. The spring migration of this species is so impressive, but in autumn they tend to slip quietly south in pairs or small family parties. Surprisingly there seemed to be little else moving over the village during the morning.

In the mid-afternoon we all headed out to Glimminge and I went for a short walk. Very little wader activity here with just snipe (11), redshank (2) and wood sandpiper (4). A search of the boundary between Vasaltheden and Glimminge can be good for migrants and is a favourite autumn haunt of mine. Things were quiet here too with just spotted flycatcher (3), redstart (1), whinchat (2), whitethroat (1) and willow warbler (5). On the plus side I finally recorded blue tit for the month! Things have got to get going soon surely!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sea-watching and other stuff - 18/08/09

Ospreys popped up a few times today, probably all the records relating to this one individual, which has been hanging around Båstad for a while now.

Up and about for dawn again, hoping for more seabird action. Tried a rather windy and almost spectacular Eskilstorpstrand for three hours first thing. The easy highlight was a superb male hen harrier going south through the surf and an osprey just overhead. Seabirds included a single dark Arctic skua, three kittiwakes and a single Arctic tern. A trickle of waders tested my mettle as they came fast along the strandline in front of me - grey plover (6), knot (4), redshank (3) and dunlin (4).

Moved on to Yttre Kattvik as they had seen more skuas (a great and a pomarine) in the early morning. Things quietened down sadly for the rest of the morning but the watch was not without interest. The raptor theme continued with a great male merlin (as I sat down) and a peregrine in-off later on. Wader passage still ongoing here with grey plover (2), golden plover (22), redshank (4), knot (3) and oystercatcher (61).

Took the kids out in the afternoon. Malen had a fly-over osprey and after the kids had a swim we went on to Klarningen. Here we had another (or the same?) osprey, a marsh harrier, ruff (3), greenshank (5), snipe (2), whinchat (6) and wheatear (2).

Driving home we bumped into the same family party of cranes as the other day at Ehrenstorp (photo and video below).

Another shot of one of the cranes currently using road-side fields at Ehrenstorp. I should get a better camera really... In the video below the plaintive cries are from Number 3 - it is not some previously undescribed juvenile crane call.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sea-watching - 17/08/09

Finally got Arctic skua for the year today - this particular one is from the archives however.

Well the predicted sea-watch was a bit of a non-event today, although a single Arctic skua saved the day (my first for the year). Spent the period from dawn to midday at Yttre Kattvik, totals included; teal (7), common scoter (17), velvet scoter (7), goldeneye (1), red-throated diver (1), red-necked grebe (1), gannet (5), sparrowhawk (1), oystercatcher (23), ringed plover (8), golden plover (6), grey plover (18), knot (1), dunlin (5), ruff (1), whimbrel (2), redshank (8), lesser black-backed gull (1), black guillemot (2) and stock dove (1). Lots of waders slipped through unidentified today including two possible little stints. With pomarine skua and Manxie claimed just to the north during the watch there was every reason to feel a little robbed by the eventual outcome.

Took the kids for a run on the beach at Eskilstorpstrand in the afternoon and had another hour of watching. Highlights included my first Halland black guillemot (1), knot (7 south), bar-tailed godwit (1 south) and ringed plover (ditto). I was hoping to catch up with three pomarine skuas reported on the pager system that were coming south - I had three skuas together way north (off North Mellbystrand) briefly at 1530, before they landed out of sight on the sea, but they were too far away to id and definitely off-patch! They made it to Skummelövstrand (just north of Eskilstorpstrand) by 1800 apparently - taking their sweet time about it. The conditions look OK for sea-watching tomorrow so I may give it another morning of effort. Got to be in it to win it etc, etc.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Birding - 16/08/09

Number 1 scored another hawk-moth caterpillar on the walk between Yttre Kattvik and Hovs Hallar - this splendid privet hawk Sphinx ligustris.

We all went out for walk this morning and had lunch at Hov Hallar. The wind was a breezy SW when we left home but by the time we got to Hovs Hallar it was blowing well from the west. Things are shaping up for a good sea-watch tomorrow I reckon. Number 1 kindly pointed out the only gannet of the day during lunch! It begins... This bird heralded a brief burst of activity with a couple of grey plover, one knot and one bar-tailed godwit past. Typically we moved off just before a pomarine skua went through...

After lunch I checked out Båstad for an hour. Nothing doing here, although a fine male velvet scoter floated just offshore and two goosander shuttled overhead. A quick look at Petersberg revealed some dragonflies including the year's first Sympetrum vulgatum, a Sympetrum danae and a possible Somatochlora metallica. Damsels included Ischnura elegans and Enallagma cyathigerum.

Moustached darter Sympetrum vulgatum - flying at Petersberg this afternoon.

This Sympetrum danae was a surprise find at Petersberg - not really ideal habitat, possibly a migrant?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Birding - 15/08/09

It rained most of the day today. We all went out in the morning for a look at Ranarpstrand but only lasted 45 minutes. Two great crested grebes and a black guillemot floated offshore. Waders were few and far between with snipe (8), ruff (1), greenshank (1), redshank (2), wood sandpiper (1) and golden plover (20). An examination of the fence-line at the back showed that passerine migration is now well and truly on the go with whinchat (4) and red-backed shrike (female).

The rain stopped at tea-time so I nipped out for quick look at Torekov. A few sand martins hunted over Flytermossen. The rev was very quiet although two 1K knot were my first of the season and a shoveler was resting up. A few birds were migrating into the stiff southerly including six bar-tailed godwits and a dozen curlew. Still no sanderling for the year...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lappet moth

Lappet Gastropacha quercifolia - the best moth from our recent French trip. Will Woodrow took this shot and we both regretted his decision to leave his moth trap at home!

Birding - 13/08/09

A family party of cranes at Ehrenstorp this afternoon. They fed unconcernedly beside the car. Migrants or locals?

More rain, so more birding today. Took the family out to a few sites. Checked Båstad quickly for goosander (1). Klarningen was also a hurried stop, not much happening here bar four greenshank, a migrating sparrowhawk and a whinchat. Had lunch at Dömestorp but the kids were tired from a party the night before and we did not get far on our walk before melt-down occurred. On the way home had four superb cranes at Ehrenstorp before dumping off the kids and getting out for a couple of hours.

Walked the coast between Lervik and Ranarpstrand. Lervik was devoid of phalaropes but the bay still held greenshank (1), redshank (2), wood sandpiper (8) and common sandpiper (7). Grytskaren had a huge flock of 20 common sandpipers and the bushes held whinchat (1) and red-backed shrike (pair). Ranarpstrand was difficult to count but had good numbers of waders with greenshank (5), redshank (1), wood sandpiper (7), common sandpiper (5), ruff (1), snipe (15), golden plover (20) and grey plover (1). As well as 85 Sandwich terns and 8 common terns.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Patch tick - red-necked phalarope!

An insignificant little bay in local terms but it's orientation shelters birds during westerly winds. Today it held a red-necked phalarope (a scarce patch bird), in the past it has had white-rumped sandpiper (a mega)...

A reasonably strong westerly greeted me at dawn so I headed out to Ripagården to see what was moving. The wind was too light and of insufficient duration to have dragged many seabirds out of the North Sea, but the wader passage was fun for a couple of hours. Good numbers of grey plover (35 south) were on the move and in amongst them the odd knot (4), golden plover (13), redshank (12), oystercatcher (3) and bar-tailed godwit (1). Three lesser black-backed gulls rested up in the gull flock.

Got home for breakfast and checked the 'puter gen to find that I had missed a red-necked phalarope on patch yesterday! The wind direction had stayed the same overnight, so I figured optimistically that the bird would still be present and it certainly was. I rarely search the west coast for waders during strong westerlies, as I had thought that there were few sheltered spots for them to feed... It was educational therefore to discover the tiny, seaweed-filled bay at Lervik, it was jam-packed with waders sheltering from the wind. Apart from the glorious phalarope there were greenshank (8), redshank (9), spotted redshank (1), wood sandpiper (8), common sandpiper (7), snipe (1) and whimbrel (1). I was pleased.

Spent the afternoon shopping with Mrs B and the gang, on the way back I had to stop and re-tie a brand-new and rather stubborn mattress back onto the car. Driving north 45 km with a mattress lashed on to the roof with a bit of old clothes line during a medium westerly severely frayed Mrs B's nerves for some reason. Anyway we stopped for a break at Hasslarps dammar and had a few more waders; greenshank (1), spotted redshank (1), ruff (9), wood sandpiper (2), as well as several little grebes, a single red-necked grebe and a dozing wigeon. A good day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birding - 11/08/09

Young red-backed shrikes were noted at both locations birded today - always a pleasure to see these little guys. I get the impression that they arrived back in slightly fewer numbers on the patch this year, so hopefully they have had a good season.

A tiny fragment of heathland remains in BK, part of the Älemossen bog complex. The area is drying out fast. Sadly black grouse is on the verge of extinction locally, this used to be a lekking location.

An elephant hawk-moth caterpillar was a good find for the kids.

More rain and more birding. Took the family out to eat blueberries at Älemossen in the morning and to see what was moving. At this time of year, when passerine migration is changing up a gear and everything is trickling south it can be fun to see what you can find in the upland areas away from the coast. First bird up this morning was a fantastic wryneck flushed into a hedge by Number 2 and me, it gave reasonable views after a bit of work. This can be a hard bird to find on the patch but August is the month to find one. Other notables included crane (3 adults), red-backed shrike (2 family parties), tree pipit (10), spotted flycatcher (3), jay (1) and (do not laugh) my first long-tailed tits of the year (!!). Not sure what happened to the latter - was last winter really that harsh? Just need to find a bullfinch for the year on the patch now!

After lunch took Numbers 1 & 2 out for a walk at Ripagården. A big gull flock just inland had an adult lesser black-backed gull. The beach held nine common sandpipers and a Temminck's stint. A whooper swan was floating just off Hovs Hallar. Did a bit of a seawatch whilst the kids amused themselves with the sole of a shoe, other tideline debris and a quantity of sheep dung. I know, I know, I spoil them, but they are my little angels... Not much went past south, except six common scoter, a little tern and a bar-tailed godwit. If the forecast winds arrive tomorrow morning it may be worth a dawn sea-watch...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birding - 10/08/09

The invasion of 7-spot ladybirds continues and the mortality is high

Sixteen greylag geese nearly took the chimney off this morning - a real autumn feel is settling on this part of Sweden.

Overcast weather and light rain in the morning was a good enough excuse to go out with the family. We spent the morning birding at Sandön and Rönnen. Sandön had very few waders; dunlin (9), Temminck's stint (1), greenshank (1), ruff (4), curlew (40), bar-tailed godwit (1), snipe (3), oystercatcher (1), ringed plover (26) and little ringed plover (1). The reedbeds held three water rail and sedge and reed warblers in some numbers. The sea (in a cursory scan) revealed the first Slavonian grebes of autumn (3), nine great crested grebes, three tufted ducks and seven goosander. A razorbill offshore was with at least three unidentifiable half-grown alcids. An osprey lazily hovered over the sea.

Rönnen had a Dutch ringed greylag goose (part of a flock of 750-1000) and 300 barnacle goose. Geese are on the move! Waders were disappointing here though with greenshank (4), wood sandpiper (9), common sandpiper (8), ruff (1) and little ringed plover (3).

Number 1 & 2 had some park theatre to attend in the afternoon, so Number 3 and I went for a walk along the river in Ängelholm. Here we found four mandarin duck (some 1K) and heard a distant black woodpecker as it flew through the trees. As we sat by the river a Cordulia aenea sped past.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Birding - 09/08/09

The kids did a rain dance in the garden to try and save the English cricket team, but just succeeded in producing a short, sharp thunderstorm that put paid to painting the house for the day... Headed off to Klarningen for a quick look - a few waders present with greenshank (2), wood sandpiper (1), common sandpiper (1), curlew (2), snipe (7) and little ringed plover (1).

Later we went for a walk at Vasaltheden, a few migrants present including yellow wagtail (2) and red-backed shrike (immature). Grayling still on the wing here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Birding - 08/08/09

A late afternoon thunderstorm put paid to painting (phew!) and Mrs B pushed me out the door to check out a few coastal sites in BK. En route to Ranarpstrand bumped into a temporary pool in a field and was stunned to count 45 snipe, as well as wood sandpiper (15), green sandpiper (6), spotted redshank (1), greenshank (2) and ruff (3). Nice one!

Ranarpstrand had more snipe (9), greenshank (1), redshank (1), green sandpiper (1), wood sandpiper (3), common sandpiper (2) and dunlin (3). Tern numbers are building with Sandwich tern (66) and common tern (3).

Next stop was Glimminge, plenty of terns here too with 75 Sandwich tern and three common tern. Waders here too with whimbrel (1), greenshank (2), redshank (1), common sandpiper (7), wood sandpiper (16), green sandpiper (1), snipe (6) and little ringed plover (3). Two shelduck here were the only ones seen all evening (where do they go to moult?). A yellow wagtail was feeding on the rotting seaweed and was the sole migrant drop-out.

Moving on I decided to see what was going on at Påarps Mal (Torekov). Three shags here were welcome returnees to this regular wintering location. Other notable birds included whooper swan (the over-summering adult), shoveler (2) and a stunning and splendidly big goshawk. Last stop was Torekov rev, despite the late hour it was still packed with tourists. A quick look here revealed greenshank (6), spotted redshank (2) and dunlin (15).

Painting - 08/08/09

Another day on the south face of the house (it is a small house but the job drags on and on...). Whilst setting up in the morning I was awake enough to notice two tree pipits (south) and a pair of cranes flying low and quietly over the house searching for thermals, we get a few failed breeders through at this time of year.

The autumn migration point (Grötvik) just north of us in Halland is reporting good numbers of yellow wagtail, tree pipit and crossbill on the move. Sadly these birds probably head straight to Denmark I suspect or dissipate as they cross the bay, big numbers at Grötvik are a good indication of what is going on though and when things really get going we can get spectacular vismig along the coast and even through the garden.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Painting - 07/08/09

Mrs B reported a wave of migrant ladybirds this afternoon, whilst swimming with the kids, which reminded me of this melanic (industrial morph) two-spot ladybird snapped recently in Germany. Do not recall spotting this before.

Another scorching day of painting - would have been good for dragonflies, but I will have to paint every fine day from now on to get the house finished - bummer. Avian highlight came in the form of a small flock of five common crossbill heading low and south just after lunch.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Birding - 06/08/09

Klarningen - more water (we missed a lot of rain whilst on holiday). Ruderal growth has been good over the late summer and as the site floods up it will be rich in seeds and very good for duck. No aquatic macrophytes yet but plenty of aquatic invertebrates scooting about in the warm shallow water.

After a bit of a lie-in, I nipped out for a morning in the field to get my eye back in after the holidays! Klarningen looked great and produced some waders including Temminck's stint (2), greenshank (1), spotted redshank (2), wood sandpiper (4), common sandpiper (1), ruff (5), snipe (12) and lapwing (110). A wheatear (1) along the access track signalled autumn for real. Dragonflies were much in evidence in the warm weather with Anax imperator, Aeshna mixta, Aeshna grandis, Sympetrum striolatum, Ischnura elegans, Enallagma cyathigerum and Lestes sponsa. A big surprise was a superb female Onychogomphus forcipatus sunning itself on the bare substrate at the water's edge (my first in Sweden).

Sympetrum striolatum - present in good numbers and ovipositing at Klarningen

A big surprise at Klarningen was this female Onychogomphus forcipatus

Before lunch I nipped up to Frestensfälla to check out the dragonfly pools. The sun unfortunately went into cloud but I managed to get Aeshna cyanea, Aeshna grandis, Sympetrum danae, Coenagrion hastulatum and Lestes sponsa. Butterflies were good too and included silver-washed and high brown fritillary.

Silver-washed fritillary at Frestenfalla, flying with high brown fritillary today

Aeshna cyanea - caught patrolling over a small Sphagnum-choked pool in the forest

Coenagrion hastulatum are getting thin on the ground at Frestenfalla

In the afternoon we headed out to Torekov rev, which was jam-packed with sun-worshippers. The kids got into the water and I checked out the waders. Not bad here considering the crowds with a scattering of stuff including; dunlin (25), greenshank (3), spotted redshank (1), common sandpiper (5), bar-tailed godwit (1), grey plover (1) and little ringed plover (1). Last stop was Ripagården where there were few waders - wood sandpiper (1) and common sandpiper (5) but the sea off the breakwater was refreshing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dragging - 01/08/09

To cool down the kids whilst the villa was given the once over to make it acceptable again after our week of occupation we were shown a great little stretch of river by Simon Uren (Le Moulin de Muralle). Here we waded about and watched Onychogomphus forcipatus, Calopteryx virgo and best-of-all a single patrolling male Boyeria irene - another, very charismatic species that I have not seen for a long time.

Dragging - 28/7/09

It has been a while since I last saw Calopteryx xanthostoma too, this one (a close relative of splendens) is restricted to south-west Europe

A widespread species (Platycnemis pennipes) but my first of the year

Had an afternoon around a few streams and along the Dordogne with the kids this afternoon to try and get some exercise and a breath of fresh air. The small stream near Les Quartre Routes de Lot was OK with plenty of Calopteryx virgo, a few xanthostoma, Platycnemis pennipes and a single territorial Onychogomphus uncatus. A backwater of the Dordogne near Vayrac produced both Onychogomphus species and Anax imperator, as well as xanthostoma and pennipes. Number 1 found an entertaining pair of water voles here too.

Long time, no see - 26/7/09

Argiope bruennichi - a common four-legs in our villa garden in the Dordogne region

Aeshna affinis - another dragonfly that is was good to get re-acquainted with. These fed at dusk around the garden


Spent most of the holiday relaxing and catching up with family, but could not resist netting a rather Anax-like aeshnid that buzzed us at dusk this evening in the garden. Aeshna affinis is a splendid little beast. Other garden invertebrates included plenty of hornets (often munching on wasps) and the splendid wasp spider pictured above.

Dragging - 25/7/09

Onychogomphus uncatus - a new dragonfly for me

Onychogomphus forcipatus - one of two species of gomphid flying together at Chateauponsac during the afternoon

Late July found Team Benstead driving south from Scandinavia to the decidely warmer climes of central France for a big family shindig. Meeting up with my sister and her family we combined forces on the last day of travel and stopped at the La Gartempe River (just below the picturesque town of Chateauponsac). Here we dunked the kids into the cool waters and I had time to grab a new dragonfly (Onychogomphus uncatus), as well as renewing my acquaintance with Onychogomphus forcipatus.