Thursday, October 22, 2009

He's off again (Namibia)

Another October, another trip to Namibia...

Etosha rocks!

Slightly vulgar bataleur!

I am three-in-two for leopard on this trip and eager to maintain form.

Puff-adder - a slightly disturbing addition to the interior of this outdoor khazi at Etosha.

The dainty klippspringer - aaahh!

Patch ticks!

With a trip to Namibia looming and loads to do, the weather forecast said forget all that and get out birding for at least a couple of hours in the morning! Easterly winds slated for the next three days and landfall looks good for Scandinavia. But who knows? Typically I leave tomorrow...

Nipped down to Segelstorpstrand for a change, loads of cover and trees here, and a track record of turning up the patch's only Siberian passerine - a yellow-browed warbler in 2003. From the start it was evident that a bit of a movement was underway overhead - interestingly Falsterbo had a very quiet day, presumably easterlies favour a more northerly route into Denmark?

Plenty of finches on the go this morning with chaffinch/brambling moving steadily, big numbers of siskin (150+) and at one point 35 twite buzzed south down the beach. A single "tew.....trrrrrt" call from a Lapland bunting flying over was a patch first for me and a very long overdue addition to the list. Hopefully I will actually see one this winter. Offshore four Slavonian grebes and a red-throated diver were predictable. Slavonian grebes arrived en masse this week all along the west coast of Sweden.

The highlight came as I was scoping out to sea at the end of the session and I heard a repeated thin, mournful piping and slightly cracked monosyllabic call. I could not work out where it was coming from (there was so much stuff flying over I even looked up!) and then the penny dropped - SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF! I turned to the bush behind me and there it was. I had a brief look just to make sure it was not some weird-sounding immature collybita, before booting up my Panasonic to try and record it. In the time it takes to do this the bird was off across the road and up a hedgeline. Short but sweet.

Then I had to go home and forget about birds, hoover the house, change the car battery, pick up the kids and pack my bags etc etc. It will be painful to see what turns up in the last part of October here, but some stuff may overwinter and it will give an edge to the winter birding to come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Birding - 21/10/09

Grytskaren - a small collection of islands and rocks offshore from Ranarpstrand. Today it produced my first (albeit distant!) purple sandpipers of the autumn.

A rather disturbed night (one sleep-walker and another dreaming of evil pumpkin-heads), meant a late start to a great morning's birding. Managed to get to Grytskaren by 0845 in the end. The good news is that I am now completely mobile - nine days after the op! I guess I should have rested more in the early days...

Plenty to look at Grytskaren all of a sudden, with a definite wintry feel to the avifauna. Best birds here were; red-throated diver (2), black-throated diver (4), Slavonian grebe (8), gannet (1 south), razorbill (1), purple sandpiper (3 - the leg colour still visible at 900m), kittiwake (3), common crossbill (heard) and redpoll (10). The seabird action was bizarre in offshore easterly winds, but it has happened before...

Nearby Ranarpstrand was also entertaining with three more Slavonian grebes, evidence of a large passage of brambling and skylark, and grey wagtail (2 south). Lervik had eight crossbill (south). Driving north to Torekov, stopped at Ängelsbäck to check out a flock of 350 golden plover, it is exciting to find this number feeding on the patch, but a good look through revealed nothing unusual.

Påarps Mal (Torekov) is a regular roosting place for the small number of shag that frequent my neck of the woods in the winter. Managed seven today, most lurking just offshore in small groups, also here six fly-by snow buntings were nice. Moving on the the rev had the whooper swan again at Flytermossen. The rev was not exactly jam-packed with birds but a flock of 17-19 snow buntings, proved impossible to count as they moused around in the seaweed and rocks in front of me - superb, several frosty-backed old males. Also offshore here my first long-tailed duck of the autumn - one of my favourite birds - with a single velvet scoter.

Last stop of the 'morning' was Ripagården, three parrot crossbills here were new for the site list but were eclipsed by close views of a pine marten feeding (?) in a mountain ash. My second pine marten of the year! Also here water rail heard in the reedbed.

Picked up the kids and had a great walk down Axeltorps Ravine, through the beech woods. I had hoped to pick up the first dipper of the autumn, but a rather noisy game of "Sharks!" got in the way...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birding - 20/10/09

Tufted duck (7) at Petersberg this afternoon. This patch of deep, open water often attracts diving duck. Sadly I suspect this 'brownfield' site will ultimately be built on...

The small pit at Petersberg.

Kicked off at dawn with an hour at Klarningen before domesticity took over. Not much doing here; the first redwings and siskins for the site were rather inevitable. Otherwise just five snipe of note.

In the afternoon had a quick session at Petersberg. Highlights here were a brief glimpse of a kingfisher, four little grebes and a flock of ten redpoll. So a pretty quiet day all round!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kidding - 19/10/09

Had an hour at Glimminge mid-morning, fossicking along the shore for 'treasure' with the kids. Recorded a few birds during the adventure, best of the lot were four parrot crossbills over, also snipe (2) and redshank (1).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nutcracker - 18/10/09

An odd family day out, started with the car not starting (too cold)! Taught Mrs B how to start it with the battery charger and then we set off. The red light was on, so we drove around to re-charge the battery. The light did not go off quickly, so we headed out on a round-trip of the back roads of the Hallandsåsen. This paid off with a quality bird sighting. I suppose in the week after my operation it was inevitable that I would finally unblock nutcracker for the patch year-list! Three of them, feeding silently by the road at Atteköp - great birds.

With the battery light still on after 45 minutes, we feared a dead battery and headed for home, but the sight of a rough-legged buzzard flying over the village soon had me stalling the car! The car started fine though, so we finally went for a walk. Did the stretch from Malen to Eskilstorpstrand (slowly). Highlights included; Slavonian grebe (2, Eskilstorpstrand), great crested grebe (26, Eskilstorpstrand), barn swallow (10, Malen and another at Eskilstorpstrand), crested tit (1) and crossbill (4).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Off-patch birding - 17/10/09

Near adult white-tailed eagle at Hasslarps dammar this morning - looks identical to yesterday's bird at Sandön and it is probably the same bird. I have seen a lot of sea-eagles, but a close encounter is always a thrill.

Took Team Benstead out for a walk around Hasslarp dammar today. Plenty of wildfowl here, including little grebe (2), smew (redhead - only my 11th record in Sweden!), pochard (3), pintail (3), gadwall (2) and shoveler (8); all of which have been annoyingly hard to find on the patch of late. Top billing was again stolen by a white-tailed eagle though, probably the same bird as yesterday. Other birds of note included whooper swan (3), wigeon (200), teal (45) and red kite (1).

After lunch at the in-laws, I took Grandad and Number 2 out to Rönnen to look at geese. We found at least 17 white-fronted geese, in amongst the greylag (950) and barnacle (800). Waders here included greenshank (1) and dunlin (26).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brokeback birding - 16/10/09

If anyone in the UK is wondering why all the thrushes have left Scandinavia, they should have been out with me this morning. Sleet, rain, cold and miserable, and I am in the south!

Dropped the team at the in-laws and survived 40 minutes at Sandön mid-morning, before heading for the car. Plenty to see here though, with an excellent hunting white-tailed eagle being the highlight. Better weather would have allowed a more thorough examination of the 25 snipe present at the river mouth. Other birds included; whooper swan (1), pintail (3), coot (3), water rail (2), greenshank (1) and dunlin (14). On the way home checked the turf-farm at Södra Utmarken and found a huge flock of 45 mistle thrushes, with a few fieldfare and redwing thrown in for good measure. As usual no sign of the great grey shrike, perhaps the recently reported bird was a migrant and the regular bird has yet to return?

In the afternoon we all headed to Torekov to get out of the house. En route had a goshawk at Hov and a whooper swan at Flytermossen. The rev is never very good in northerly winds, so the the poor showing here today came as no surprise. Just four redshank and a velvet scoter of interest. The woods were quiet, producing a couple of treecreepers in a mobile tit flock. Slightly dull afternoon but the road to personal full mobility has been sighted and I may be able to stop walking like a cast member of 'Brokeback Mountain' shortly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birding (nearly) - 15/10/09

A single brent goose at Vejbystrand was today's highlight, presumably part of the flock of five reported on the 11th. Not exactly Corvo round here at the moment. Just outside the patch! Frustratingly I could see the BK border just 300m from the bird. Whilst taking this photo I chivvied the bird in the right direction, but it was not going to walk in for the patch-year tick so I left it in peace.

Packing the kids in the car in the morning, had 12 redwing over the garden (at last!). Next was a slow shuffle around Öllövstrand for just over an hour, picking up treecreeper (1), siskin (50) and chiffchaff (1). On the sea were two black guillemots. Driving to Vejbystrand stopped at Ranarp to look at two excellent rough-legged buzzards (migrating?). A belated report on the internet yesterday told of five brent geese at Vejbystrand, so checked out the beach field there. Found one goose remaining, surprisingly hard to spot in a mixed flock of corvids! Nearby Stora Hultstrand had a single Slavonian grebe, whilst Lervik, Grytkaren and Ranarpstrand were very quiet in very quick sessions.

That was quite enough for me for the day (although the healing process is surprisingly rapid), just had to take the little swines for their flu vaccination in the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sitting - 14/10/09

Got out this morning and sat carefully for a couple of hours to see if anything was moving at Klarningen. It was bloody freezing, frost overnight and a brisk northerly keeping the temperature down despite the blue skies. Had a nice hunting rough-legged buzzard, which looked kind of settled. Also a few birds migrating with five whooper swans through and a light passage of buzzard, skylark, meadow pipit, chaffinch, brambling and yellowhammer. Still no redwings though despite the huge movements in parts of the UK recently.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vas a deferens a day makes! Apologies to Adams and Grever.

What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours. Yesterday I was a happy-go-lucky kind of birder, gambolling around the patch and enjoying life. After today's vasectomy, well things are a little different... I hope to be back in the thick of it soon though. In the meantime, check out the Sabine's gull video from the 5th October and I will catch up with some overdue rarity descriptions and nurse my tender nuts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Birding - 12/10/09

Busy on the home front in the morning, with a variety of domestic stuff. Did get a garden tick though, a high flock of 70 barnacle geese following the Hallandåsen west and just within earshot. Driving back from the weekly shop had a nice peregrine hunting by Ängelholm airport - I trust it wasn't one being used to scare birds away, couldn't see any jesses as we drove by.

Mrs B pushed me out the door at the end of the day and I walked between Öllövstrand and Glimminge, hoping for something eastern. All the great weekend easterlies delivered just one dusky warbler and a scattering of Siberian and abietinus chiffchaffs over the whole of Skåne. Slim pickings, but you have to try. Amazingly I did hear and record two abietinus chiffchaffs at Glimminge - the easy highlight of the walk. Other birds of note were a 1K wheatear at Öllövstrand (my latest ever on the patch - although I am usually abroad at this time of year!) and a total of seven snipe.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birding - 11/10/09

A family outing to Farhult in the morning failed to produce any sign of yesterday's Tengmalm's owl sadly - although the kids enjoyed looking. The coast here produced nine grey plovers, three bar-tailed godwit and the first migrating whooper swans of the season (7). On the way home stopped off at Södra Utmarken to look for the regular great grey shrike (which returned recently), but as usual I could not find it. Did get a nice perched 1K goshawk here though, sitting bolt-upright on a dead snag on the forest edge.

Ma B found a couple of confiding snow buntings, which were the highlight of an hour at the coast in the afternoon.

In the late afternoon, Ma B and Number 2 accompanied me for a short walk at Öllövstrand. We hoped for yellow-browed warbler but had to be content with two very tame snow buntings, a few chiffchaff and a blackcap.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birding - 10/10/09

Spent the morning in the garden at the day-care place my kids go to. Birds over included; grey wagtail (1), brambling (1) and six common crossbill. Heard the local green woodpecker too.

After lunch took Ma B and the kids for a walk to Eskilstorps dammar. Plenty of raptors here with 50+ migrating buzzards, a hen harrier and a sneaky goshawk. A curlew called from Klarningen. Otherwise quiet. With the Club 300 website still unavailable (big crash), I sadly did not hear about the Tengmalm's owl at Farhult until it was too late. Something for tomorrow - be nice to see a roosting bird.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Red phalarope pictures

Check out Johan Stenlund's superb photographs of the red phalaropes I saw at Eskilstorpstrand on the 7th.

Birding - 09/10/09

Went for a walk with Ma B and the kids down nearby Sinarpsdalen before lunch. A flock of 15-odd common crossbills performed well for us, giving great views.

In the late afternoon, with a light northerly and sunny skies, I checked out what was moving at Klarningen for an hour and a half. This site is properly outside the peninsula that I live on and the motorway acts as a corridor south. I was about to learn that autumn passage largely bypasses my house and the coastal sites I regularly bird! Good numbers of buzzard were on the move, I counted 59 thermalling to gain height to cross the barrier of the Hallandåsen. A flock of 45 cranes nervously thermalling to do the same, was swiftly followed by another flock of 60. There goes my theory that cranes are less easy to spot in the autumn as they head south!! Big skeins of geese (almost certainly barnacles on flock shape) were also moving south but way out to the east.

On the ground house sparrow (20) was new for the site, a flock of 39 wigeon was good, three snipe still remain but no sign of any jack snipe again. Reed bunting (12) and skylark (6) numbers have dropped off. Everything seems to be in a rush to leave Sweden this year, it was the same in Poland recently.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Birding - 08/10/09

Regular readers will know that I absolutely hate the removal of material from the beaches round here. Who does this? The beach at Torekov rev was badly hit during the recent storm and covered with weed. Response, remove 400 cubic metres of material from the beach. The next storm will be worse and so on... No-one round here believes in sea-level rise apparently.

Had a free morning, after nine o'clock today, so headed out for a thrash around Torekov and Ripagården. Things were pretty quiet (missed the vismig by getting out too late), but things had to calm down after the drama of the last few days. Påarps Mal produced an odd snipe (possibly great), shag (4), whooper swan (1) and blackcap (1). The sewage works was very quiet, although managed to read the darvic on a Danish black-headed gull. Torekov rev had redshank (13), dunlin (7) and golden plover (10).

Picked up the kids from day-care later on and had a single grey wagtail and a flock of eight parrot crossbill in the village on the way back.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swedish tick - red phalarope!

Some days things just go right and today was one of them. With a packed child-care and mother-care schedule, I had to chill and squeeze in three mini-sessions to the day. The wind picked up through the day and by the late afternoon was a good, breezy westerly, nothing like the big storm of three days ago but it still boded well for seawatching.

The birding day did not start until mid-morning when Ma B and I went for a short walk at Lervik. It was short because since breakfast the wind had veered westerly and we elected to go sea-watching somewhere else! Lervik had a few waders with greenshank (1), redshank (1), dunlin (18) and golden plover (6). Wigeon (26) and teal (20) numbers are building.

Yttre Kattvik was the location we chose for a picnic seawatch. Things were quiet birdwise but Ma B's presence ensured a lively conversation and the time passed quickly. Highlight here was a peregrine (in-off), otherwise rather quiet and certainly no seabirds, bar a single red-throated diver and a guillemot.

My next chance to look at the sea came at the end of the day, with the Club 300 website out of action I had no idea what was happening but headed out to Eskilstorpstrand for a short session. Things were dull for the longest time, but knowing how many times I have walked away before the fat lady got on stage I stuck at it. A merlin stormed across the bay. I watched a 1K kittiwake from a kilometre away as it slowly lost its battle against the wind and ended up passing within two metres of where I sat in the dunes. At 1748 things went mental with two fantastic red phalaropes coming past close and fast through the surf. Monster - this is a scarce bird here! I watched them go past in great spirits, stuck my scope back out to sea and watched in delight as a 1K Sabine's gull materialised. This bird must be one left over after the big blow, it was heading south but in a very desultory fashion, stopping occasionally to feed or rest. That was it, two minutes of pure heaven, I would have waited all day for it but only had to put in an hour!

Back at home the computer revealed that at least three other observers to the north had seen the phalaropes as they passed and observers on nearby Skummelövstrand had seen the gull. The latter observers also reported 11 dead fulmar and a few other seabird casualties of the recent storm on a short stretch of beach.

Follow Olof Jönsson! He rocks!

Olof's latest - a spanking Philadelphia vireo, 5th for the WP.

For the last week I have been following the birding exploits of Olof Jönsson, through his blog from Corvo. He is spending two months there and has already found a handful of Yank megas. Read and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birding - 06/10/09

Kicked off this morning pre-dawn at Torekov, hoping to pick up yesterday's Sabine's gull. Nothing doing, the wind had dropped away overnight and it had flown. Birds on the rev included nine redshank and a single 1K Arctic tern. The woods behind had a few common crossbill (at least 6) and a larger number of calling but unseen parrot crossbills.

Back at home, had both parrot (5) and common (14) crossbill over whilst I unloaded the car. Parrot crossbill was a garden tick! After breakfast I took Mrs B and 'Granny Shingles' out for a walk at Älemossen. Big movement of finches underway (mostly chaffinch as usual) and a few thrushes and skylarks on the go too. Also had a single goshawk and a light passage of sparrowhawk and buzzard was evident.

In the late afternoon had an hour and a half at Klarningen. The highlight here was the presence of three hen harriers, including one superb male. Also here snipe (3), lapwing (128), stock dove (23!), collared dove (4) and kingfisher (1). The latter have been hard to find on the patch this year.

Monday, October 5, 2009


About 35-40 kittiwakes were feeding along the seafront at Båstad this morning. Drop outs after yesterday's big blow.

Today was always going to be challenging. Unlike yesterday I had the car, unlike yesterday I also had three kids and Ma B (the latter suffering from shingles). Conditions for sea-watching looked better than yesterday... In the end we made a decent go of it and I got another patch year-tick.

We headed to Båstad for a walk after breakfast, near the play-ground we found a large flock of unhappy looking kittiwake feeding just off the shoreline. I checked carefully through them for anything interesting and scanned the outer harbour. A gannet flew past close-by. As we played happily, the Cory's shearwater flew past an admiring gallery, just as I was pretending to be a dolphin probably. I am sure I am going to see this bird this autumn, but today was not the day (again). We walked on to check the inner harbour. But this time the nearby kittiwake flock included a superb, but very scruffy 1K Sabine's gull! Nice one.

1K birds outnumbered adults by 7 to 1.

Nothing beats a close-up view of a pelagic bird.

Very adolescent, the bird gave a pathetic begging call all the time.

The only flight view I managed. Nice though.

Unfortunately as we approached the harbour we met some birders, they gripped me rigid (Manx and Cory's shearwater) and I told them about the Sabine's gull. It seemed an unfair exchange of information somehow. From the pier I spotted four pomarine skuas, two fulmars and two sooty shearwaters. Things were obviously still very good. Moving the kids onto the beach, I hunkered down for ten minutes at Skansenbadet. I told the guys there about the Sabines's and most of them left to see it. Amazingly in the ten minute watch, I found a Leach's petrel, not a close one, but unmistakeable. So not a bad walk, just glad to have got out and been a part of it really. Leach's was my 7th patch year-tick in two days, bringing the BK year-list to 213. Last year I got 208, so I am chuffed to have raised the bar. It ain't over yet though and that Cory's is still out there...

The Sabine's twitch later in the day. I have found megas that got smaller total crowds than this.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oh I do love a blow!

BK got visitors from all over Sweden and Denmark today, the forecast winds did not let us down and brought a fantastic number of seabirds.

Wind speed picked up during the day, flooding out a variety of animals, the most surprising call during the day was "American mink going left". It trotted along the path right in front of us!

Small numbers of kittiwake were present throughout most of the day, a few IK Sabine's gull were also in the mix.

If you had told me I would be able to sit down for 11 hours sea-watching last year, I would have laughed a lot. But that is what happened today at Båstad and I actually enjoyed it. The forecast winds arrived and birds appeared in good numbers about two hours after dawn. Totals for the day: red-throated diver (10), black-throated diver (3), Slavonian grebe (1), great crested grebe (1), red-necked grebe (3), fulmar (2), sooty shearwater (12), storm-petrel sp. (1 - would have been a Leach's but they behaved badly off Båstad today), gannet (25), merlin (1), bar-tailed godwit (2), dunlin (44), golden plover (6), great skua (3), pomarine skua (3-5), Arctic skua (1), long-tailed skua (5 1K), kittiwake (50), Sabine's gull (2 1K), Sandwich tern (5), Arctic tern (3), little auk (1), puffin (1), guillemot (35) and razorbill (1). Superb day - missed a few things though (great northern diver, Manx shearwater and Leach's all reported from Båstad today). A little further west at Hovs Hallar and Yttre Kattvik they many more birds in the morning but Båstad is better for prolonged views of stuff stuck in the corner of the bay, ideal for a seawatching tart like myself.

A great bonus for me during the day was when Tommy Holmgren and Greg McIvor pointed out a passing 'yellow-legged' gull - examination of Tommy's photographs proved it to be my first patch Caspian gull (1K). I have got to get a better camera!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birding - 03/10/09

Terrible weather this morning, but undeterred I headed out for a wet three hour session. Kicked off at Eskilstorp, hoping for a Lapland bunting. Booted across the stubble to no effect, the pools were quiet but on the way back I was rewarded with a fly-over woodlark.

Klarningen was kinder to me with a migrating 1K hen harrier on arrival. Kicked about here too, hoofing up large numbers of yellowhammer, reed bunting and meadow pipit. Also kicked up three snipe and even better not one but two jack snipe. I was on a hat-trick, with great snipe to play for and the timing perfect. But unfortunately it really started to rain half-way round and I called it a day. Will have to keep at it, great snipe is on the patch list and we are entering the peak passage period.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Birding - 02/10/09

The hobby we had this morning was a bit more alive than this fellah, rescued from jungle crows beside a busy road in West Bengal in May 2003.

Got out for two hours with the kids and Ma B mid-morning. We did a circuit around Vasaltheden and, despite the many distractions, we recorded a surprising number of good birds. The best bird was my latest Swedish whimbrel by a significant margin, I saw it coming from a long way off but dismissed it as the curlew we had seen earlier. Luckily it called just as it was going past! I have not seen whimbrel at all in September and this is only my fourth autumn record in 2009. Other good birds included woodlark and common crossbill calling overhead, a single grey wagtail south, and a splendid hobby heading south fast and feinting briefly at a flock of starlings. Great stuff.

In the afternoon stopped briefly at Malen and had a quick look at the sea. Just one great crested grebe and six tufted ducks. No sign of any scoters.

Update on recent stuff

Sent the video of the gull I saw two days ago to the men who know. Jörgen Bernsmo reports back:

"The condition of this bird is not the best and the pattern of the feathers unnatural. Without seeing the primaries it´s difficult to tell its age but I would say 4 cy+ and most likely a HG. The dense markings on the head outrules any YLG and the jizz of the head and bill is clearly HG to me. atlantis may show dense streaking on the head but as far as we know they do not occur here. The overall jizz is also HG but you need to see the primaries to tell for sure!"

And finally sad news today from yesterday's great grey owl. It keeled over and died in front of a small gallery of birders this morning. Just squeaked that one in, it was in very poor condition apparently.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Poland round-up - Bieszczady National Park

This newt was found in a puddle at Bieszczady, we had high hopes that it would be an endemic Carpathian newt but it is in fact the the more widespread Alpine newt (Triturus alpestris).

Our trip to Poland ended with four days at Bieszczady National Park. This park is fantastic, a very high density of large mammals remain - although we failed to see any of them! One of the highlights at Bieszczady was hearing Ural and Tengmalm's owl (calling in response to playback but not responsive enough to come in sadly). We also managed another white-backed woodpecker here and got brief views of our 8th and final woodpecker species - grey-headed. A spring trip would be good here for birds and it looks good for a summer trip too (butterflies and amphibians). I cannot wait to go back.

Yellow-bellied toad (Bombina varigata) - a pioneer species, often found (like this one was) in unvegetated puddles along tracks.

Bieszczady is a beautiful spot, quite intensely managed (especially for timber) and with plenty of recreation use but despite all this we encountered fresh sign of wolf, bison and brown bear both inside and outside the park.

Twitch on - great grey owl

Headed out this morning to bird Klarningen en route to a long-staying great grey owl, relocated recently about one hour from home. Klarningen was really windy with a vicious 10m/s north-westerly leaving little place to hide. I lasted about half an hour, before I got tired of booting buntings whose flight calls were inaudible, whipped away in the wind. Most, if not all, were reed bunting, also plenty of skylark and meadow pipit present. Why was I not sea-watching? Well, the forecast shows a really good day coming up on Sunday...

Drove up into rural Halland next to twitch the owl (I love the patch but it would be churlish not to go and see such a cosmic bird). My rough Swedish translation of the site directions got me close enough. I found a car parked up and tracked its occupants down a side track and found them watching the owl (fieldcraft?). Superb bird, only my second ever, so pretty special.

The news (received in Poland courtesy of Martin Åkesson) of a great grey owl near home, had me hoping for a long-stayer and the bird duly obliged.

Took the kids out to Torekov in the afternoon, still blowing hard and sharp squalls coming in off the sea. The kids had a great half hour, I could not scrape anything off the sea of any interest and the rev was practically submerged.

The guys on site told me that half an hour before I arrived, the bird had flew down to their feet and had caught and eaten a frog. Prepare to gnaw knuckles and moan slightly - they had to put macro lenses on their DSLRs!