Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birding - 31/05/09 - Mothers Day

Singing Blyth's reed warbler in Halland - twitched off today at Mrs B's request. It was Mothers Day so I could not refuse...

Mrs B called the shots this morning and asked for a quick look at the singing Blyth's reed warbler just north of Halmstad in the morning!! She is such a twitcher! We did it and it was a very obliging and educational bird. I am finding the leap from two Acros to five rather a strain and have to listen to as many as I can. Be good to find Blyth's on the patch one day... They seem to be turning up with increasing regularity in Sweden and this may be part of a westward expansion in range I suspect. Got some good recordings of the song and two types of call.

On the way home we stopped at Tönnersa for a swim and had a great time but few birds. Fishing osprey and two goosander were the highlights. Brown tiger-beetles were chased for photos and the first Calyopteryx virgo of the year appeared briefly by the car.

Brown tiger-beetle (Cicindela hybridus) - abundant in the dunes north of the Lagan River in Halland

Birding - 30/05/09

A pair of barnacle geese at Gröthögarna - barnacle geese breed in small numbers on the west coast. They started breeding on the east coast in the 70s and the habit is spreading

Another variable damselfly female

Common butterwort at Gröthögarna

Calopteryx splendens - the first of the year

The kids loved these mute swan chicks at Hasslarps dammar, interestingly includes one pure white 'Polish' morph individual

Number 3 has been incubating a cold virus for many days now and has finally unleashed it. Feel awful. Dragged myself out mid-morning to stagger around Gröthögarna. Just south of Ripagården, this untouched lump of habitat was worth investigation, being dotted with small pools, mires and fen areas, it looks great for dragonflies and possibly garganey. Notable birds included a pair of barnacle geese (breeding?), sand martin (1 north) and a pair of spotted flycatcher at Ripagården.

Had to go shopping in the afternoon, but broke the journey at Hasslarps dammar - very quiet although hairy dragonfly, variable damselfly, Calyopteryx splendens and Enallagma cyathigerum were flying. On the way home stopped at Stora Hultstrand - a light passage of painted ladies was evident coming 'in-off' and a pair of grey partridge valiantly fought off a hooded crow at nearby Lervik.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Baby-sitting - 29/05/09

With Mrs B away at a conference I was left holding the babies. We spent a pleasant hour at a deserted Torekov rev. Just the breeding birds for company. Over on nearby Hallands Väderö the rosefinches and red-breasted flycatchers were in full song...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More sea-watching - 28/05/09

The forecast looked good but I awoke to find the wind direction had shifted southerly in the night and had failed to strengthen. It was going to go west during the morning (and did) but I feared that the southerly winds overnight would not bring us any fresh birds and I was right.

Kicked off just before five all the same and had a close gannet and fulmar pretty quickly. Spent the next three hours for another distant fulmar, a single kittiwake (year-tick) and a light passage of common scoter. I am pretty sure I spent part of the watch in the company of vismig supremo Nils Kjellén - he reminded me a bit of that other bird-finding dynamo Ken Shaw. Anyway between us we failed to see the hoped-for Manx shearwater, so a little disappointing. Maybe we will get more windy weather in June...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Birding - 27/05/09

Star bird during an hour sea-watching this morning was this fulmar - a much bigger deal here than in the UK

Overslept this morning and so did not get out early for the predicted reasonable sea-watch. Did manage an hour at Yttre Kattvik mid-morning and scored the fulmar above (year-tick). Little else moving though. Conditions look good for tomorrow... I still need Arctic skua for the year and brent geese sometimes come through at this time of year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Birding - 26/05/09

Female Coenagrion pulchellum - the English name variable damselfly refers to the large variation shown by females

Quick look around in Halland part of Båstad kommun in the evening after my Swedish lesson resulted in me being booted off the pools at Eskilstorp (private road apparently). Will have to walk in from now on. Highlights were a grey wagtail at Petersberg and a pair of little grebes on the nest at Sinarpsdalen.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Birding - 25/05/09

Did the usual pre-shopping trip to Rönnen today, but the clear and calm overnight weather had prompted a mass clear-out of waders. Just one little stint remained.

In the evening Mrs B and I headed for Eskilstorps pools and had a few good birds. The pick of the crop was a fine peregrine that stormed through and tried to mug one of the wood pigeons that has taken up residence in the area in a large non-breeding flock (late migrants or surplus local birds??).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Birding - 24/05/09

Red-backed shrikes are fab. I remember doing my stint protecting the last pair in the Brecks at Santon Downham in 1986...

Spent a couple of hours last night chasing quail. Could not hear any but I should not have gone on Saturday night, the roads were surprisingly busy. The thrush nightingales were superb though. This meant no early morning session again today. Did get out to Glimminge with the kids - pretty quiet here although there was a little ringed plover pair on the beach and a male shoveler loafing about.

In the evening Mrs B and I headed out to walk between Hovs Hallar and Ripagården. Very pleasant but again quiet with spotted flycatcher (1) about the best of it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Birding - 23/05/09

The consolation prize at Trönninge ängar was this spectacular male grey plover - they do not come better than this

Up and at it again this morning, with rain interfering with play so much during a tour of Eskilstorp and Petersberg (thrush nightingale and icterine warbler singing at the latter site) that I eventually sacked it off and went on another abortive spoonbill twitch to Trönninge ängar. The peripatetic little bugger had flown again overnight. Did get a brace of Temminck's stints, dunlin (1) and the grey plover pictured above. On the way home drove back through Sinarpsdalen and picked up a pair of grey wagtail. Black redstart may be breeding up here I am told, so will have to look for them soon.

Leucorrhinia rubicunda - one of four seen at acidic pools located near the E6 this afternoon

In the afternoon took the family for a walk in the woods and we found a number of small pools that were good for Leucorrhinia rubicunda. Listened out hard for firecrest but no cigar.

Leucorrhinia rubicunda again - note the costa colouration

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birding - 21/05/09

Amazing - a pine marten raiding a crow's nest in the middle of the day. I have seen them before but only at baited hides - good to see a proper self-found one at last.

Big Swedish family party today so slipped out for some time alone in the early morning. Tried out Torekov rev - very quiet here for birds lately but did get a red kite over the town. They are a daily occurrence hereabouts, and often drifting over the house, but this was my first bird in Torekov. Tried the wood behind the rev, to see if any migrants were about. Icterine warblers 'new-in' were singing lustily, otherwise things were quiet. Until I went in search for the source of a huge amount of mobbing just off the track. A pine marten! Unbelievable views of this animal as he darted around through the foliage, trying to outwit a determined pair of hooded crows defending their nest. Superb.

Checked out Dagshög on the way home but it was quiet for birds too. After breakfast took the kids and their grandfather out for a walk so the the house could be prepped for the big shin-dig. We went to Eskilstorp pools and had a pleasant walk. I have been going there at the end of the day mostly, so it was nice to find hairy dragonfly, four-spot chaser and Coenagrion pulchellum flying about. Birdwise a few things were noted. A fine red-backed shrike was present. A marsh warbler sang beautifully and rather disconcertingly (because I need it for Sweden) it kept slipping in a convincing snatch of quail mimicry. Nice morning.

Coenagrion pulchellum is much more frequently encountered in Sweden than it is in the UK (where it is rather local)

Small heath

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Birding - 20/05/09 and garden tick!

Take the honey and run. Shot these from the hip, just one bird through early this morning at Ripagården.

Will try and do better photos in the autumn when birds come through in bigger numbers, or may score tomorrow, who knows?

Overnight rain ensured that I was up and about early again this morning. Revisited the coast between Ripagården and Hovs Hallar but things were deadly quiet. A few yellow wagtails flying over and grounded and the latter included both flava and thunbergi males. No sign of yesterday's big warbler in the reedbed. Marsh warblers are definately 'in' now. A single male honey buzzard migrating low overhead and pictured above was the highlight.

Back at home I was quickly stuck up a ladder and from this high vantage I could hear a thrush nightingale in the woods behind the house (I cannot believe these Rob Fray tactics work). Superb and a garden tick. Mrs B had told me about the bird yesterday and I went to listen for it in the evening. Today it (or another) had moved within earshot of the house and the rest is history.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patch tick - great reed warbler!

Painted lady - new in on southerly winds that brought the patient birders of north-west Skåne the first stone-curlew for 53 years! [I did not go but after ten years without a stone-curlew I might be tempted]

An early start got me in the field before another DIY session on the house... Ripagården is always a good bet for migrants so I headed there as usual. Things looked quiet initially but when I got to the reedbed I quickly became aware that in amongst the reed warbler song was the testosterone-charged gruntings of a great reed warbler. A bird that may not have been recorded in the municipality before and was certainly a patch tick for me - result!

Spurred on I searched all the way to Hovs Hallar for other migrants but came up with nothing. A pair of red-backed shrikes have taken up residence though. Always great to see these birds.

Took the kids, Mrs B and the in-laws on a wild spoonbill chase in the afternoon to Trönninge ängar. The bird had flown and the other two potential year-ticks were nowhere to be seen either! Good birding on the beach nearby though with turnstone (1 - scarce this spring), 32 ringed plovers (migrants?) and great numbers of sea-duck offshore. Also here the first painted lady of the year. The best bird came as we drove away from the site and stopped to look at a migrating ringtail hen harrier (getting late for them here).

Nipped out in the evening for a quick look at Ranarpstrand and Glimminge, ignoring the news that a stone-curlew was 45 km away... Not much doing at either spot but as I drove home I stopped first for a long-eared owl being harrassed by a crow. Nice. Stopped again when a male merlin whipped in front of the car and wheeled about to give great views. It then headed for a female merlin that was carrying prey - do not ask me what was going on, I was astonished. Merlin do not breed on the patch so what were they up to? Do far northern breeders pair up en route? [Apparently merlin have a strong monogamous pair bond and have been recorded wintering together as pairs - these birds were presumably migrants stopping off en route north.] Great day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birding - 18/05/09

With Mrs B at work and Numbers 1 & 2 shopping with the in-laws, it left me and Number 3 with the weekly shop and pilgrimage to Sandön/Rönnen. En route two sizeable flocks of barnacle geese crossed the road heading NE. Sandön was fairly quiet with knot (3), little gull (2) and grey plover (2) as the highlights.

Things got more interesting at Rönnen however. We jammed in nicely on a marsh sandpiper twitch and had great views. Finding a nice summer-plumage broad-billed sandpiper however took somewhat longer; lots of rocks and dunlin were involved and then great range came into play and I fear I may have damaged my relationship with Number 3. I could tell things were bad when she started eating mussel shells. Other birds here included little stint (6), Temminck's stint (16+), curlew sandpiper (5) and a superb red morph female cuckoo.

Spent the remainder of the afternoon in the garden hoping for barnacle geese or some of yesterday's honey buzzards. There was a big movement of honey buzzards yesterday which I completely over-looked, not for the first time I found myself wishing that HB's had a loud nasal "ka-karr...ka-karr" migration call. The day ended with an evening session together with Mrs B down at Eskilstorps pools. En route I screeched to a halt as a honey buzzard overtook us heading east. In the next couple of minutes another five came through on the same track and then it was over. Result.

The pools had some migration going on over it with 60 eider east and another good flock of barnacle geese, otherwise things were quiet enough. The grasshopper warbler reeled away and a wood sandpiper brightened the place up. Drove back home through a spectacular localised electric storm that dumped a lot of rain very quickly.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Birding - 17/05/09


Geum rivale - at Ripagården

Kicked off this morning at Ripagården and Hovs Hallar. Ripagården produced the year-ticks with singing garden warbler (finally) and icterine warbler. Marsh warbler is also in here too and three thrush nightingales were in full song. It was a joy to be up and about in the sun this morning.

Hovs Hallar was good with some vismig action (15 yellow wagtail and a few swifts). I suspect I should spend more time here. Offshore a single summer-plumage black-throated diver was distant but nice. Suddenly there was a sound like tearing canvas and a flock of tufted duck shot over my head going hell for leather. As I locked my bins on them they were already heading out to sea and I just caught the peregrine as it came out of its unsuccessful stoop. Superb.

The view south from Hovs Hallar

Taking up a short watch over a patch of scrub at Hovs Hallar I was pleased to find my first male red-backed shrike of the year. Also here was a female cuckoo.

Green tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris) at Haga - one of two species active in the lovely weather we are getting at the moment. Terry and I had Cicindela hybridus in the dunes on Thursday.

Picking up Mrs B and the kids we went exploring in the woodland up behind Hovs Hallar, accessed from Haga. The kids did well to get round the long trail here and it was very worthwhile. I cannot believe I have never checked it out - it looks fantastic for firecrests. Near a clearing I was stunned to hear two quick 'kru-eck' calls followed immediately by a short burst of churring. Nightjar! Calling in the day! I waded in and flushed it for great flight views. Beetles occupied us greatly for the majority of the walk but towards the end I listened in disbelief to my first singing patch wryneck. As we recorded the song, a black woodpecker flew past... Nice to have a patch with five woodpeckers. Very successful family outing with another two year-ticks, one of which (wryneck) I managed to miss last year. The kids were rewarded with burgers and cakes and went paddling in the sea at Tönnersa. A great day.

Lily-of-the-valley - posted for my Mum!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Birding - 16/05/09

A short session in the morning around Vasaltheden and Torekov rev was surprisingly quiet. Swift (1) at Öllovstrand was a BK year-tick. Three velvet scoter at Vasaltheden were close in and gave great views. There was a lone greenshank at Glimminge and that was about it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birding - 15/05/09

First wall brown of the year

Mrs B had a lie-in this morning, but after she was up and about, and bearing in mind the news from Kullen (at least four bluethroats...) I headed out to stagger around Ripagården. Not much evidence of a fall here sadly but plenty of new arrivals since my last visit with more common whitethroats in and reed warblers and thrush nightingales very noisy. A single sub-songing sedge warbler was presumably in transit. The bird of the morning was undoubtedly my first red-backed shrike of the year - a female. A single bugle overhead heralded the passage of eight cranes heading north - getting late for them now. I also went north a bit into Hovs Hallar hoping to dig out something for my troubles. Not much doing here but a bean goose tried to sneak north in a group of greylag - strange. Walking back spooked a grass snake that shot off at an unbelievable speed.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The big day - birding with TT

A three kilometre sandy beach with no-one on it!

Tawny pipit habitat

Today I showed Terry Townshend around a few sites in NW Skåne and neighbouring Halland and we had a great day. Terry lives in the middle of Copenhagen, but (like me) is a Norfolk boy, so I tailored a day to show him some good wader action and then get him into some dunes (to make him miss Winterton) and finally show off some great beech woods. It worked really well, but lets start at the beginning.

Before I picked up Terry at Ängelholm station I nipped into Ranarpstrand for a quick look - this move was repaid with four avocet and a peregrine streaking towards Kullen. Terry's train was on time and we headed off to Sandön. No sign of yesterday's white-wingers but a fantastically obliging grasshopper warbler demanded our immediate attention. See Terry's blog (no doubt) for photos. Highlights here included gadwall (male), 8 little gulls (one adult), grey plover (9), two fishing ospreys and swift (1 & year-tick).

Next stop was Rönnen and a spring wader bonanza. Our Temminck's stint count hit 15 but they were thinly spread out and there may well have been more. We kept getting diverted by the stonking little stints (3) and curlew sandpipers (3 & year-tick). Also here were fluffy lapwing chicks (first of the year), a single whooper swan, ruff (8), wood sandpiper (7) and dunlin (19 - scarce this month so far).

Last stop along this stretch of coast was Farhult. Here it transpired we either just missed or horror-of-horrors overlooked a white-winged tern! We did see knot (1), little ringed plover (pair) and had a brief encounter with a marsh warbler. Despite Terry's early start he was keen-eyed and alert and showed me most of the above birds. This theme continued through the day...

A short drive up the motorway took us to a quiet stretch of the Halland coast. Here we put Terry's dune-birding prowess to the test and he eventually found me my first Swedish tawny pipits. [I was starting to feel like a chauffeur at this point]. Excellent result (the bird not the chauffeur bit) and we were both chuffed. The pair showed really well, allowing us to enjoy the subtle but nevertheless attractive plumage, and the male made an effort and started some desultory singing from a nearby pole. Superb! A few scoters floated offshore and a couple of goosander slept along the beach.

Last stop of the day was the hugely impressive Dömestorp beech wood where we lunched. Here we hunted down a feisty little male firecrest, that eventually gave good views. The site also produced abundant wood warblers, pied flycatchers and a pair of hawfinches. A great day out, thanks to Terry for great company and for proving emphatically to me that I should get some sleep (....but it's MAY!!!...).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Double whammy!

On the pretext of doing some reconnaisance ahead of tomorrow's trip around NW Skåne with Birding Copenhagen, Mrs B, Number 3 and I headed out to look for 'other people's' dotterel and great white egrets. I should know better by now I guess. Twitching is best left to the experts. We failed to find the dotterel in a very empty field, three golden plover were a small consolation indeed.

We then headed to Allerumskog. Mrs B's map-reading allowed us to take in the sights and sounds of rural Skåne at some length until we finally arrived at the wetland that has hosted a pair of great white egrets for the past five days. Imagine our pleasure when on arrival we found two dogs swimming lazily in the lake... This site was however interesting for other reasons and soon it was heads down checking out invertebrates (the egrets were probably sky-dancing above us). The easy highlight here were my first Swedish map butterflies.

The kind of maps Mrs B enjoys. Map butterflies colonised SW Skåne in the early 90s and are obviously spreading north. Not sure if they have got to BK yet?

The pool here was also good for dragonflies with teneral four-spot chasers much in evidence and a few hairy dragonflies flying about through the marginal vegetation. Nice one.

Hairy dragonfly - a Skåne tick for me

Driving home with a double-dip safely in the bag we decided to lunch at Farhult - knot (1) was a year-tick.

Farhult

Penultimate stop of the day was at Sandön where we were gob-smacked to find two white-winged black terns. [It transpired that other birders had seen them earlier but still self-found in my book]. A good reason not to carry a pager! Also here were at least eight little gulls, including a spanking adult.

video

Last stop of the day was a quick check on Ranarpstrand - nothing doing here really in a very quick check.

micro-tern

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birding - 12/05/09

Invertebrate activity has dropped away slightly with the colder temperatures we have had recently

Had dawn and dusk sessions today. The morning was spent around the Vasaltheden area. Thrush nightingales have arrived in force, heard four males during the morning. Cuckoo and spotted flycatcher were also new in here. Nearby at Glimminge had two 2K little gulls, wood sandpiper (1) and a singing sedge warbler (in transit).

The evening was spent at Petersberg - fairly quiet although plenty of hirundines but none of the hoped-for swifts. Did get another sedge warbler here (another transiting bird), as well as singing redpoll and a black woodpecker. Drove on to Eskilstorps pools and had a hobby from the car - this bird showed on and off during the session often at very close range. Also here yet another sedge warbler, wood sandpiper (1) and a male cuckoo. Driving home a goshawk crossed the road in front of the car. Not a bad day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Birding - 11/05/09

One of fifteen Temminck's stints seen this morning

This morning Number 3 and I headed out for a spot of birding before the weekly shop. We headed out to Sandön first and had a small group of nine grey plover - they looked splendid in summer plumage - a year-tick. Otherwise quiet here with high water levels reducing the area available to waders. Next stop was Rönnen here we had only a short time but were rewarded with 15 Temminck's stints and a single superb little stint (the latter a year-tick and always good to see in spring). The supporting cast included eight wood sandpipers and a single whimbrel. Nice little session.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Redstart - RIP

Tragic!

Number 1 made a grim discovery this morning. Our redstart male had collided with a window and died. The female was out and about feeding herself and the pair had adopted a box next door - not sure what stage they were at (eggs?). Presumably they will fail. Gutting. Maybe we will get another male, but the garden sounds quiet without him for now. The kids insisted on a full state funeral of course, with decorated coffin and flowers... By the way the nest-box I put up for the redstarts was nicked by a pair of pied flycatchers and they look pretty pleased with themselves. Had two males squaring off on the TV aerial today!

In the afternoon we went out to Torekov rev hoping for some waders. There were two bar-tailed godwits resting out there but no sign of yesterday's reported turnstone or purple sandpipers. A quick look in the wood produced the first spotted flycatchers of the year.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Bird day - 09/05/09

Started my birthday off with an early morning session at Ripagården. A strong SW wind was blowing and things looked interesting on the sea. Casual watching produced 47 barnacle geese north, at least 12 gannets, two Arctic terns and a brace of shoveler north. Divers were evidently on the move, but most at long-range, a few red-throats and two nice black-throats came by closer. The high water levels had got under the weed mats on the beach and a few gulls and waders were in; little ringed plover (2), greenshank (1) and common sandpiper (1) were the highlights. Left before the pomarine skua went through...

Cochlearia officianalis at Ripagården

Gannets are more exciting here than in the UK, their presence can indicate good sea-watching conditions. It is always hard to spot good sea-watching days here though because the volume of birds is so much lower. No fillers in-between the good stuff. You might see nothing for half an hour and then a Leach's petrel flies past. Takes a bit of getting used too. I walked away too early this morning too...

Our afternoon walk was scheduled to allow me to see another pomarine skua seen heading south near Gothenberg at 1000. I reckoned on four and half hours to Hovs Hallar. So we walked from Yttre Kattvik to Hovs Hallar after a picnic lunch. Plenty of gannets about, many feeding in the lee of the peninsula. A peregrine was nice - hard to find at this time of year on the patch. At Hovs Hallar we waited and waited but examining the pager messages as the bird was tracked south, it just disappeared an hour north of us. Probably stopped or went inland or did I miss out during one of the spells when Numbers 1 & 2 were using me as a trampoline? The easy highlight here though was the splendid dark phase adder we found on the way back.

Nice dark adder, hissing away and impressing the kids

Too fast for me - it's the advancing years...

Friday, May 8, 2009

One good tern...

News of a white-winged tern at Sandön got me a little edgy. Having seen black tern today - it had a certain symmetry about it to go see a white-winged too. Mrs B gave the OK (an early birthday present) and I headed out the door. As I was driving past the turning to Ranarpstrand however, an inner voice told me to just check it out. I did this and found four avocet by the car park, they are regular here in early May it seems but never stick long. A patch year-tick. Driving off I felt a little better about leaving the patch to go twitching again - twice in one day.

video

Arriving at Sandön I was slightly concerned to find the site devoid of birders. But then I remembered I was in Sweden and went and found the bird. In the UK if the car park was empty on arrival at a twitch you would know that the bird had been killed by a cat/car/sparrowhawk or simply flown off! Here you just get to find the bird yourself. Twenty minutes later I was back on the road. First stop was on-patch at the new wetland at Klarningen. A few birds are being attracted in to the shallow pools that are already present. Highlights here were a couple of wheatears (breeding?), a pair of curlew and a single little ringed plover.

Klarningen - under construction and already attracting birds

Last stop of the day was nearby Eskilstorp pools where the grasshopper warbler was reeling away and the big surprise was an early marsh warbler.

Birding - 08/05/09

Up at the crack of dawn this morning for a check around some likely firecrest spots on-patch. Some have been reported very close by along the Hallandåsen (the ridge I live on) recently. No joy with firecrest (a sporadic breeder in these parts) but did hear lots of wood warblers and goldcrests, as well as the first cuckoo for the year on the patch. I eventually slipped off-patch and tried at the site where firecrests have been reported this week. Nice walk, through fantastic beech forest dotted with small conifer plantations but no sign of any 'crests. Looking down from the ridge Skottorps våtmark glinted in the middle distance. I fancied checking out this site whilst I was here but I had a DIY appointment back at the house. Little did I know I would soon be there...

Chickweed wintergreen - just out and joining the abundant wood anemone and Oxalis in the forest floor flora

After DIY'ing, checked the computer to find that a black tern had been found at Skottorps våtmark. Bundled the kids into the car and we all headed out to check it out. Amazingly for a family trip we connected well. Nice site. We finished the day by trying for firecrest again but despite plenty of birdsong, no sign of the target.

Big news after DIY was this black tern, just off-patch at Skottorps våtmark


Number 1 pointed this green-veined white out to me and demanded that I take a photo

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Birding - 07/05/09

With Mrs B at work and Numbers 1 & 2 at nursery school, Number 3 and I headed out into the wet, grey yonder to look at birds. We started with a quick look on-patch at Eskilstorps pools. Here we heard the grasshopper warbler again and had 75 golden plover streaking north overhead. Number 3 especially enjoyed the big 'dozers working on the new Klarningen wetland reserve that the council are building across the river just for us!

Number 3 was bouncing about in her pram when this bulldozer came in for good views. I must admit I was nearly as excited. Look at the laser-levelling gear... Takes me back to my RSPB days, except then I had to refrain from making macho hippo-like noises whilst watching heavy plant. No such restraints now.

From here I could not resist driving north to Trönninge ängar which is the nearest thing to what the new Klarningen wetland will be like when it is finished. Waders were much in evidence here, including breeding avocet, redshank, lapwing and oystercatcher, as well as passage ruff, whimbrel and greenshank. Three 2K little gulls loafed on an island - a long overdue year-tick. I had hoped to connect with a male garganey that has been hanging around or perhaps the pair of penduline tit, but no joy. They may have been scared off by the loud snores coming from Number 3 as she settled into the cosy hide. Two grey-headed wagtails were a small consolation. Anyhow the idea that we may have such a reserve on our door-step by next spring is mouth-watering.

Trönninge ängar

We drove back to meet Numbers 1 & 2 and take them to play in the park in Ängelholm. Here we watched five free-flying mandarin come in to the daily feed at the duck-pond. This species is not Cat C in Sweden for some reason - surely there is a self-sustaining population around here? A wood warbler sang along the river and then it was time to pick up Mrs B from work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poland

Nice beaver

My mate Lukasz showed me my first European beaver on a trip to Poland in 2007. I hope to travel with him again this year. He has set up a great website. If you are thinking of going to Poland for the birds (or other taxa), check it out and get in touch with him!

Birding - 06/05/09

Dropped Ma B off at the station for her journey back to the UK and decided to try some sea-watching. The wind had picked up to quite a westerly blow during the day. Three hours at Yttre Kattvik, sitting in the car produced a few things but nothing exceptional. Twelve gannets drifted through and a summer-plumage black-throated diver on the sea was nice. I suspect a morning session would have produced more migrant waders and ducks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Birding - 5/5/09

Whilst Ma B and Mrs B went on a shopping spree at the local shopping centre, Number 3 and I went for a wet and windy walk around Hasslarps dammar. Number 3 was alright, tucked up snug in a waterproof buggy, but I must admit I started to miss the blue skies of last week a little. It was mostly wader action here today with little ringed plover (1), ruff (14), wood sandpiper (7) and common sandpiper (3), but other interesting birds included a singing thrush nightingale.

On the way home we all dropped in on Sandön for about 8 minutes (we were on a deadline). In my allotted 8 minutes I managed to see 12 resting barnacle geese, 22 greenshank, three sleeping goosander, one bar-tailed godwit and a fishing osprey. Water levels were up and a vicious westerly was blowing in.

In the afternoon, picked up Numbers 1 & 2 and took them to the sea at Yttre Kattvik. Whilst they refuelled I had ten minutes looking out to sea and scored a single gannet (much scarcer this year than last). Spent the rest of the walk minutely examining slugs with the kids and clambering about on rocks.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When the kids are united...

Took the kids to Rönnen this morning for a quick look. But the brisk westerly took us all by surprise and we chilled down rapidly. Managed a few birds before things ground to a halt. The best being a brace of Temminck's stints and four wood sandpipers.

When the wind dropped away unexpectedly in the evening I went out with Mum for a quick look around Eskilstorps pools. We hoped for great snipe but got grasshopper warbler and roding woodcock instead. Will have to keep trying, the site looks excellent for corncrake too...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Birding - 03/05/09

An early morning session at Toreov was fairly quiet. Two little terns rested out on the rev, a couple of common sandpipers were goofing around and 55 barnacle geese migrated past. Nearby Flytermossen produced the first patch reed warbler of the summer and a squealing water rail.

Small copper - first of the year at Grytskaren

In the afternoon we had a BBQ on the beach. Ranarpstrand producing single whimbrel and greenshank. At Grytskaren two flocks of barnacle geese, totalling 190 birds went through north.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Birding - 02/05/09

The last two summer's have been so poor - that this green hairstreak was a patch tick for me

Libellula quadrimaculata - flying on the patch today

Not much birding today. Took the kids and Mum for a walk around a nice little wetland at Bösketorp. Plenty to see in a small site here, with a crane skulking about, a displaying green sandpiper, a few snipe and a pair of little grebe. Green hairstreak and Libellula quadrimaculata were superb. Insects have been so poor both summer's that I have lived here, that it is amazing to see what is here at last.

In the afternoon, whilst the kids played on the beach I checked out Petersberg, pretty quiet although a fly-over black woodpecker was nice and several common whitethroats and whinchat were singing away. A teneral Enallagma cyathigerum was a surprise so early in the season.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Birthday - part 2

Kåseberga bunker - a fantastic migration watch-point and the home of Sven Splittorff!

After a fitful night's sleep in the tent we eventually dragged ourselves out and off to the bunker. Here we found the great Splittorff in residence and he did not disappoint. This guy must be the most dedicated patch-worker in Europe, let alone Sweden. Anyone know any different? He sits at the bunker from dawn for six hours every day making meticulous counts of everything moving. We spent a pleasant but rather chilly hour at the site and watched a few things go by at close range and in excellent light. Highlights were the 8 black-throated divers (adults and 2K birds) and the two hobbies that came in-off. Topped up with local gen we headed off and quickly added corn bunting and serin to our Swedish lists - thanks guys!

My first Swedish serin - a fantastic moment, I love these birds

Krankesjön

On the way home we stopped off at Furuhus Mosse, hoping for a garganey. We failed in this endeavour, but enjoyed this little site with its three black-necked grebes and large group of gadwall (22). Stopped in again at Vombs ängar and this time found 11 cranes and at least one white stork. No sign of any ruff today though, instead a single wood sandpiper. The flooded grassland looked epic for garganey but no joy here either. Nearby Krankesjön was much the same as the day before, although a singing grasshopper warbler near the car park was new for us.

Last stop of the day and close to home was Sandön. Here we had good numbers of waders, including greenshank (60), avocet (24), common sandpiper (1), spotted redshank (1) and little ringed plover (3). The best bird here though was the first singing cuckoo of the year. Excellent mini-break.