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.

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