Friday, December 31, 2010

Last hour of birding for the year

Had an hour on the ice at Segelstorpsstrand today with the kids. The sea was mushy ice for as far as the eye could see and understandably there were few birds about. A red kite floated over, two whooper swans and a couple of goosander floated too and a grey heron sat hunched on some rocks. Kicking off a decent year-list is going to be difficult tomorrow...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Smew Smew Snow bunting too...

Not one for the mantlepiece! Several dead mallard at Torekov today.

Nipped out for a couple of hours today. Checked Torekov's sewage works for a grey wagtail reported yesterday, but it was probably feeding in the works itself which are off-limits. Plenty of raptors greeted me at the site with goshawk (1K), rough-legged buzzard and red kite all in the air on arrival. The coast was quiet with wigeon (1), teal (2) and goosander (2) and little else. Checking Torekov I could not find any shags or purple sandpipers but did have two redhead smew, only my sixth patch record of the year and rounding off an excellent year for this species.

A tramp around Ripagården produced no birds of note but the field at Vråen had a single snow bunting. I failed to locate the yellowhammer flock and so did not connect with the Lapland buntings.

The coast is freezing really fast now, how long before we can get on the ice?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Removing the lard

Waxwings continue to add-value during the cold winter we are experiencing at the back end of the year.

Trapped indoors for days by mountains of food and with sub-zero temperatures outside it was time to get back out today. We did have a quick look at Båstad yesterday, feeding a big flock of 110 mallard and noting two whooper swans and 40+ goldeneye. Arriving back at home we had 16 waxwing in the garden.

Today we went out for a more ambitious walk, doing the Gröthögarna circuit. More waxwing here (39) - a good-sized flock for mid-winter in this neck of the woods. Otherwise very quiet with just single buzzard and kestrel and a scattering of greenfinch, blackbird and fieldfare.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

With the festivities out of the way yesterday (Swedish-style) there was a little time to get out with the family today. Sledging in the village produced five fly-over waxwing and then we headed out to Torekov after lunch for a freezing cold half hour session that netted one red kite, one adult shag and a purple sandpiper.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chasing a Siberian pipit

News filtered into my brain yesterday that a japonicus buff-bellied pipit had been spotted down the road at Viken! Initially identified as meadow pipit on Sunday, it almost slipped through the net until photographs of the bird allowed a re-identification but unfortunately too late for birders to get to the bird yesterday. japonicus is a splendid candidate for a split I think and although I have seen it in Japonica, I thought it might be more than educational to have a good look at this one. [I am so far out of the loop re Swedish vagrants I had no idea there were prior Scandinavian records of japonicus].

I never twitched to excess in the UK, compiling a very modest list of just over 400 in thirty years, and do even less in Sweden now that BK-listing has taken a grip, but it still excites me. The anxious feeling in the pit of the stomach as soon as you realise that you are going for a bird was still there. I was not confident of seeing the bird but the reality was rather worse...

Hitting Viken at 0900 it was apparent that there were very few birders chasing this mega today and that it was too cold (minus 13) to wait around looking at an empty beach for too long. I worked the beach south towards Domsten without scoring the pipit but did pick up 35 coot (my first since October), a redshank and 25 woodpigeon.

Teaming up with Mikael Olofsson and the rest of Team Lund I headed north to check out a Mediterranean gull reported at nearby Lerberget. No sign of the gull when we arrived but it was immediately apparent that an exciting number of pipits were present. We started going through them and I had a brief glimpse of a possible japonicus candidate but it quickly disappeared. We spent two hours trying to pin it down before I had to head off. In that time two of us had another inconclusive view of the possible japonicus before I located the Med gull hunkered down in a stream outflow and we at least got a good view of that. Very frustrating to see the pipit so fleetingly that we could do nothing with it. UTV! Of course by the time I got home in the late evening at least two observers had seen the same bird at Lerberget, one well enough to claim it as the buff-bellied. I know where I am going tomorrow...

Friday, December 17, 2010

A walk with Ma B produces the goods

Headed out in the morning for a walk with my Mum, and we drove to nearby Glimminge plantering. Offshore the sea was icing up quite splendidly but this spectacle failed to divert my attention from a lone pipit on the shoreline - a water pipit. Is this species actually going to arrive in the usual numbers now or has this bird been lurking nearby all winter and finally given itself up? Nearby, but by no means associated with it, was a single meadow pipit - equally scarce this winter. The sea was devoid of interest apart from a tight bunch of ten cold-looking teal.

Out on Vasaltheden we worked some open water areas but no snipe could be found. Overhead we had single fieldfare and jay. Back in the woods at Glimminge we found four wood pigeon (scarce at the moment), another jay, heard coal tit, and had a flyby flock of siskin (also scarce at the moment). Nice walk.

After lunch a pheasant walked into the feeders in the garden - a soft garden tick but most welcome.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More snow

Lots of snow through the day, which made driving dicey unless necessary. Just 11 waxwings in the garden to brighten up the day (as well as the long-awaited arrival of Ma B for Christmas of course...).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walking

Headed out for a walk between Rammsjöstrand and Dagshög. En route I was amazed to find a flock of 12 grey partridge in someone's garden at Rammsjö! The walk was rather quiet, highlights included a scattering of goosander, two white-tailed eagles, a dozen fieldfare, three rock pipits, two meadow pipits and a flock of 23 starling.

Headed round to Torekov next. Påarps mal was devoid of cormorants and very quiet, just goshawk (1), kestrel (1), fieldfare (7) and redpoll (15). I decided to check the rocks south of the harbour next and this was indeed where all the cormorants were. Going through the group produced 11 shag (including 2 1K and 1 2K), as well as two purple sandpipers. Out over Hallands Väderö the two white-tailed eagles were hunting duck. A quick look at the rev produced another 1K goshawk but no more purple sandpipers. The latter seem to be very mobile at the moment.

Last stop of the day was a quick look for the flock at Vråen, near Ripagården, a few redpoll were noted but by this stage of the day I was ready for lunch and headed home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wizard day

Had an hour in the field on a brutally cold morning during a busy day with Mrs B. We tried to locate the big finch flock at Lönhult but somehow we could not find it (hard to miss a flock of 300+ goldfinch but we did). We did find the female-type merlin that has been attending to the flock for the last few weeks though, my first in December. Merlin is a rare winterer here. Also in the neighbourhood were a white-tailed eagle and a rough-legged buzzard.

The low sun made working the circuit north to south rather hard work and once again we failed to find a golden eagle. We ended up near the farm at Västraby going through a good-sized flock of Canada geese (350); a few greylag (50) and just one taiga bean goose. Driving south we had a flock of at least 10 waxwing at Fleninge.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lucky shrike

Sorry for yet another white-tailed eagle shot, they are the only things slow enough and big enough to photograph in the current hand-chilling conditions!

Nipped out for a walk with Mrs B this afternoon. We walked between Kattvik and Yttre Kattvik. Blue skies, brisk N wind and about minus 7 degrees. Not many birds about but that said we found yet another great grey shrike, ripping up a small mammal and looking at home in the freezing conditions. Few other birds of note during the hour, just one great crested grebe and one red-throated diver on the sea. Alcids seem to have vanished (along with Slavonian grebes) this winter.

On the way home we checked out Båstad harbour, picking up another white-tailed eagle for our troubles.

Winter is taking it's toll.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thaw - God of sogginess

We had above zero temperatures today and a pretty good thaw to go with it. Made being out in the field rather unpleasant. I managed a couple of hours at Båstad and Hemmeslövsstrand in the morning, around my taxi duties. The sea had nine whooper swans, 30 tufted duck and at least 170 scaup. A mooch around the back along the river failed to produce a kingfisher but I did get tawny owl and goshawk for my pains.

Back in the garden a fieldfare and a hawfinch were nice and then we headed off in a brisk NW wind to see how long we could last at Vejbystrand before dusk. Half an hour! It was worth going but rather painful. This spot is one of the few places locally that is holding any dabbling duck but is sadly just off-patch. Ducks here included wigeon (40), teal (10) and best of all a single female pintail. Hope it freezes again soon...

Later on in the early evening we drove back from Ängelholm in the dark and once again had a very obliging hunting long-eared owl perched in the headlights near Ängeltofta. Must be the same bird again I reckon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Birds everywhere

I must admit I have been thinking that things have gone a bit quiet birdwise here in BK of late. But yesterday when I read Leif Dehlin's returns from Ripagården, I was pleased to note that I may well be wrong and not a little gripped off too. So with a free morning together Mrs B and I headed out that way.

Only my second Gröthögarna great grey shrike, showed well but briefly before melting away.

First stop of the day was at Vråen, just before Ripagården, the bunting/finch flock was right up against the farmhouse this morning but behaved reasonably well and luckily the farmer here is happy that the crop sown for birds attracts both birds and birders! We got a few glimpses of Lapland bunting as the birds repeatedly spooked into the trees and then two flew out over our heads, calling away and landed conveniently on the road for 'scope views. Also here five reed buntings. The rest of a chilly hour here was spent cursing at a flock of 40-odd redpoll, sure enough after an hour a good Arctic redpoll had been processed but as always I wonder how many there really were. I am not sure there is a more frustrating exercise than trying to determine Arctic from mealy redpoll. Mrs B could be heard chortling behind me as my invective got steadily more fruity.

A young white-tailed eagle, up in the air over Ripagården with an adult this morning.

Ripagården had a big flock of 200 mallard which included just one teal and two wigeon. A snowy walk around Gröthögarna produced more notable birds; red-throated diver (1 south), redwing (2, my first for ages), goldcrest (5) and best of all a great grey shrike. Out on Tjällran was at least one purple sandpiper. Back at Ripagården a scan of the bay revealed a black-throated diver (1), two splendid white-tailed eagles and in the wood behind we could hear black woodpecker. Driving back past Vråen we had a gang of four snow buntings and nearby a single skylark, the latter looking set to overwinter. Great walk, packed with great birds.

The adult white-tailed eagle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trilling stuff

More work in the garden today, and the car at the doctor's so no birding for me again. Quieter today with just 100 Canada geese south and a single waxwing flew by. Have hung some apples up to see if I can tempt it into photographic range.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garden vismig

Did not get out of the garden today, plenty on the move though with cormorant (4), Canada goose (450), greylag goose (75) and hawfinch (5) - all heading south.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Off-patch in the snow

We had our heaviest snowfall of the winter overnight and it lasted well into mid-morning, which effectively scuppered my plans to search out the gyr falcon today, the backroads would have been a bit dicey before the ploughs got out I reckon. But with a trip to Ängelholm in the morning, it was only natural for Number 2 and I to get out along the coast between Farhult and Sandön before lunch.

We had a quick look at Rönnen, no sign of the gyr at roost, but inevitably we had a couple of bullfinches and a handful of bramblings at the feeder near the KOF shed. Next stop was Farhult, hoping again to catch the gyr at another of its regular haunts. No dice. Highlights here were a single dunlin, four redpoll and a reed bunting.

Last stop of the tour was Sandön where we were treated to a close flyby by a ringtail en harrier, had two kestrels heading south together (never too late to migrate) and another reed bunting.

Later on in the day caught up with nine wood pigeon (heading south) at Karstorp (on-patch), a red kite over the garden (scarce at the moment) and two starlings in Laholm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking stock

Had a dozen waxwings streaking south during the school-run this morning, they have got much scarcer up here of late.

After completing my chores I headed out to have a look at Eskilstorps dammar. The weather ameliorated slightly toda and the temperatures went over zero for the first time in ages. No thaw though but it felt positively balmy. Wading through the snow I bumped into a trio of redpoll, they too have become much scarcer as the cold weather has got a grip. Raptors dominated the avian fare as usual during the walk with goshawk (1), sparrowhawk (1), buzzard (2), rough-legged buzzard (1) and kestrel (1). The star bird though was my first December stock dove (1), looking a little lost but joining the finches and buntings in the large game cover crop of maize and sunflowers that is a feature of this site in the winter. The passerine flock consisted of about 70 brambling, 30 chaffinches and 35 yellowhammers. Also spotted whilst I did the circuit were marsh tit (1), nuthatch (1) and jay (1).

Stopped in on Petersberg for bullfinch (2) and a flock of at least ten redpoll. Nearby at Hemmeslövsstrand a flock of ten whooper swans were loafing and offshore was the flock of scaup (100) and a considerable number of velvet scoter (250+).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow

It snowed most of the day so we took a rare chance to stay at home today. Had to shovel snow though and built a sledging ramp for the kids. The only avian action was at the feeder where we had another hawfinch and a grey heron flew through later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Raptors

The feeders had two brambling and two superb bullfinches this morning.

Had a little time for birding this morning with the team. We headed to Ripagården hoping for the yellowhammer flock to be obvious but they were either hunkered down feeding or dispersed in the relatively mild -1 degree temperature we experienced today - it felt like summer after the last week. Hunting the field was the male hen harrier and a kestrel. A walk around the coast produced another raptor - an adult goshawk, but almost no passerines. The exception was a southbound flock of about 20 redpoll and the odd blackbird.

In the evening on the way home from Ängelholm, we had a splendidly confiding (starving?) long-eared owl perched beside the road at Barkåkra.

The big news locally is the triumphant return of the over-wintering gyr falcon, back for it's sixth winter. There was also a 1K bird on the 1st, perhaps this winter I will catch one in BK.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another garden tick!

Had Number 2 under my wing this morning so we went birding in the snow. We did a two hour walk along Eskilstorpsstrand. The light and conditions (light snow) were not conducive to seeing everything but luckily many of the seaduck were unusually close in. The scaup raft was right offshore and showing well, as with last year good views allowed the number of tufted duck contained within it to be assessed accurately. We ended up with about 100 scaup and 30 tufted duck. Also here 350 velvet scoter and perhaps 75 common scoter (but maybe more). One long-tailed duck flew past. We also had a strange encounter - a possible all-white velvet scoter, it was at long-range and the conditions as I have mentioned were poor, but it was all white and dived (ruling out I guess a domestic mallard, the shape was right for scoter too). Be good to track it down under better conditions but I would rather have a surf scoter.

Could not resist a look at Klarningen, whilst we were nearby but it was barely worth it, I was hoping for at least a rough-legged buzzard but had to settle for a couple of commons. In the distance in the game cover crop near Eskilstorps dammar was a big flock of at least 200 yellowhammer. Will have to trudge out there soon and check it out.

Spent the middle part of the day doing the family-taxi role thing and went shopping in Grevie after we had everyone on board. Coming out of ICA I was pleased to see a superb rough-legged buzzard flying past in brilliant light. My brain, like some shambling mammal struggling to come out of hibernation, eventually realised several things:

1) on its present course it would pass over the garden in just two minutes,

2) I needed rough-legged buzzard for the garden list and

3) I was two minutes drive from house.

We bundled into the car, lost the bird for a nerve-wrecking whole 90 seconds, turned the last corner and there over the house was the bird, looking fantastic as they do. I was pleased.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jack

Nipped out for a couple of hours in the morning and elected to try Ranarpsstrand and Segelstorpstrand. Half an hour at Ranarpstrand was enough to disturb a jack snipe from the edge of a small stream running into the sea, only my second this year. The only other bird of note was a single meadow pipit.

Segelstorpsstrand was much birdier, with a single lapwing and a redshank (very scarce this winter and only reliably spotted along this section of the coast at the moment). The woods had a single jay and calling bullfinches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gosh hawks everywhere

Today's birding kicked off at home, when perusing the birds at the feeders I was treated to a rapid 1K goshawk flyby right through the garden. Only my second garden record and it agitated the local magpies for a good fifteen minutes afterwards. Splendid.

Mrs B had homework to do so I checked out a few sites along the coast in the morning. First up was Norra Ängalag, not much here with the exception of a single rock pipit (flocks do not seem to be the done thing this year). Out on Tjällran an adult peregrine huddled in the lee of a large rock, trying unsuccessfully (like me) to find a spot out of the chilly NE wind.

Torekovs rev was just as quiet, again just one rock pipit here too (was it following me?). I quickly moved on to Påarps Mal hoping for a shag. Regular readers will no doubt have become concerned about my inability to get a shag in recent weeks, well today I scored. Just one, 1K little beauty sitting out on the rocks with about 8 cormorant. There was a supporting cast here too with another 1K goshawk and another lonesome rock pipit...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Really cold!

The coldest morning so far this winter greeted me today. Nipped out to Ripagården for an hour but it was perishing cold and not much was on show, the woods had willow tit (1) and four bullfinch. Out in the open, somewhere that was rather unpleasant in the minus ten degrees when the brisk NE wind was factored in, I managed a snipe and a kestrel before heading home to defrost.

In the afternoon I drove around the Tursköp-Lönhult area hoping for a golden eagle but failing again. Did get white-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard, hen harrier and jay though. Last stop of the day was Sandön. At the river a big raft of 21 goosander was notable and there were more or the same out on the sea later. Roosting out on Själrönnen was a motley gang of barely visible waders including at least 25 dunlin, 25 curlew and five oystercatcher. I lasted half an hour before I headed back to the warmth of the car. It seems rather quiet at the moment.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Family walk

Took the team out for a play in the snow this afternoon. We headed to Glimminge plantering and walked the coastline. Fairly quiet here with five whooper swans offshore, and just three wigeon and nine teal amongst the 100+ strong flock of mallard. Four grey herons looked fragile out on the rocks and from the woodland behind came the delightful flight call of the black woodpecker.

Walking into Vasaltheden was slow going but after an hour we walked out and had snipe (1) and hen harrier (male) on the way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feeder magic

With Mrs B pulling an extra shift to pay for Christmas, I was kid-heavy and car-light today. No chance to bird the coast. Despite this I managed two good birds, the first was a hawfinch skulking near the feeder in the garden. They fly over but seldom actually visit. Near Förslöv we watched a goshawk try and catch a duck (off a small stream) and then fly off being mobbed by a hooded crow. In the old days I would have been satisfied with hawfinch and goshawk after a day in the Brecks...

All I could get of the hawfinch today. My first this month, quiet a few went south through Falsterbo this autumn and they seem scarce around here at the moment.


Another harsh weather visitor to the feeders is the yellowhammer, as soon as it snows they arrive in small numbers.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cold!

Pancakes, anyone? The sea is starting to freeze at Båstad, wrecking my hopes of finding a kingfisher in the harbour.

Harbour slush patterns, no open water in the harbour today, will have to look for kingfisher elsewhere but hope that they have the good sense to head south. We have negative temperatures forecast for the next ten days at least and more snow on the way.

Nipped out for a morning's birding and headed first to Båstad to see what was going on there. Båstad is not a bad winter bird location and produced some good birds today although visibility offshore was hampered by 'heat-haze'. At least 28 whooper swans noted, two long-tailed ducks and a flock of at least 150 velvet scoter (with perhaps many more further out). Flying about were seven redpoll and a massive flock of 15 bullfinches.

Next stop was Torekov rev, pretty quiet here but dug out two sleeping purple sandpipers and found a small number of both rock and meadow pipit (why are they so scarce this winter?). The best bird was a monstrous adult goshawk flushed from the bushes near the point.

Last stop of the day and just before I started to get really cold was Ripagården. I only got as far as the field sown for finches and buntings, because I was greeted with a flock of 250 yellowhammers near the road there. Last year this flock produced Lapland bunting so I parked up (getting close views of a male hen harrier and offering cover for a successful hunting sparrowhawk) and patiently inserted myself into the flock. The big surprise was a good number of redpoll (40) and I spent most of my time looking through these. Most redpolls encountered so far this year have been very flighty and hyperactive, an consequently difficult to pin down and look at. In the sturdy presence of so many yellowhammers they behaved themselves and I was able to get down to the baffling task of searching for Arctic redpolls. There was one excellent candidate - a male - and one (perhaps two) first-winter 'types'. I will try and get photos this weekend if I can. Also in the flock a single skylark, a handful of brambling and chaffinch and 2-3 reed buntings.

Driving home the snow made searching out grey partridges much easier than normal and I found a covey of eight near Grevie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Garden tick - redpoll

Not much time for birding lately (busy in house) or much inclination either for that matter (two days of snow, negative temperatures and road chaos). Put out more food at lunchtime for the huge, mixed sparrow flock that eats me out of house and home in the winter and was quickly rewarded with my first ever redpoll in the garden. No surprise I suppose considering the huge influx this winter.

Someone reported a pine grosbeak the other day at Vejbystrand...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow - winter arrives

It snowed overnight and the high bits around Älemossen were a bit tricky to drive this morning, we even had to cut up a tree that had fallen across the road at one point.

Number 2 and I headed out to Klarningen to see what was about this morning. Wildfowl numbers have dropped away to just seven mallard and one tufted duck, the next step is total freeze over and the long wait for spring. More excitingly a 1K goshawk put on a show, and there was also a flock of 100+ fieldfare, ten redpolls and seven starlings. No snow at sea-level, just persistent sleet but we climbed up the the ridge to the south and soon we were sliding about. Let 2 out for a quick play at Älemossen but we had to move on before things got worse on the road. No birds of any kind noted up here. I am glad we have a coastline nearby, because birding gets a bit thin inland in winter.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Me and Mrs B

Had a nice few hours alone with Mrs B in the field today, which was a bit novel. We went south and looked at Hasslarp - almost devoid of bird interest although the flock of 30 redpoll were annoyingly hard to go through as is so often the case and then equally typically vanished.

Did the 'eagle circuit' picking up waxwing (25) in Kattarp, a superb adult white-tailed eagle at Tursköp and a rough-buzzard at Lönhult. No sign of a goldie. Hit the coast at Farhult for ten Slavonian grebes and finished up at Sandön where we found single bar-tailed godwit and oystercatcher. Pleasant day but birds rather thin on the ground. I am not used to being around at this time of year, but it just feels like it is about to go very cold and stay that way for some time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Walking the coast

Spent the morning with Number 2 happily pottering along the coastline between Rammsjöstrand and Dagshög. Number 2 distinguished herself by conjuring up the lower jawbone of a wild boar for the growing museum back at home! Birdwise we could have done better though. A flock of pipits near Rammsjöstrand contained both rock and meadow (both surprisingly scarce on the patch this autumn); a single pipit flushed later which flew miles north may well have been last month's water pipit. Walking the Dagshög stretch a mild raptor passage was evident and two goshawks went south (presumably migrating). Walking back we spotted two mistle thrushes (another scarce bird at the moment).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dipper!

Not only did I manage to see a dipper today (year-tick) but it actually gave amazing views. You forget how hyper-active and splendid they are when you only see them occasionally.

Dropped off the team this morning and had 43 waxwing in Förslöv, still some around. Had an hour in the field afterwards and elected to go for dipper at Axeltorpsravinen, one of the more picturesque spots in BK. It took just half an hour to find dipper here, some have bounced back from last winter's weather. Great encounter, the bird shooting upstream and landing right in front of me. Also here redpoll (25) and the ever-present sounds of bullfinch.

In the afternoon I walked the stretch of coast between Stora Hultstrand and Lervik. Pretty quiet here with just four Slavonian grebes, a curlew and a white wagtail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ängelsbäcksstrand

Managed to get out yesterday for 20 minutes at Segelstorpsstrand but felt kind of blue, so went home again. Did manage a nice flock of 14 snow buntings on the beach and a flock of 25 redpoll before I crawled off.

Returned today feeling better and walked between Ranarpsstrand and Segelstorpsstrand. No wind and a mirror calm sea produced three Slavonian grebes and a guillemot. Pretty quiet then, The woods had black woodpecker (1), coal tit (1), redpoll (3), bullfinch (1). Walking back I had a gang of seven meadow pipit (really very scarce at the moment) and a white wagtail flying north (always good after October, a few over-winter usually).

In the afternoon I managed to get an hour at Klarningen. No geese today, water partiallly frozen over. Waterfowl included; Canada goose (23 flying over), wigeon (20), teal (5) and tufted duck (1). Raptors were better with hen harrier (male), rough-legged buzzard (1) and kestrel (1).

OMG!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walking

Had a rainy, wet walk with the team from Kattvik to Yttre Kattvik and back along the top today. Not much doing here, very quiet. Just two Slavonian grebes at Kattvik and two long-tailed ducks and a black guillemot past at Yttre Kattvik.

There is a yellow-browed warbler in nearby Ängelholm, it's still not too late for one in BK...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Windy weather

As usual at the weekends, my activities in the field were somewhat curtailed by the requirements of the rest of the team. The wind was blowing well from the SW though and a few good birds were spotted by others in BK today (including two great northern divers - which I still need for the year). I managed an hour sea-watching at Malen, not much coming past close here, most of it was cutting the corner but did get two Slavonian grebes, a gannet and 8 kittiwakes. The Halland flock of scaup (120) was skittish and flew about a bit before returning north.

After picking up the team in Båstad we all headed for Klarningen for a quick look. Loads of geese here with at least 650 greylags and 200 Canada, did not have long to search through them but one barnacle and 24 whooper swans were also present.

A final hour of the day sea-watching at Hovs Hallar produced just one red-necked grebe and three bullfinch...

Friday, November 12, 2010

An hour with the kids

Took the kids out to look out over Sandön this afternoon. The weather has gone horrible and hardly anyone is in the field, or like me they are not finding much. Our wander about netted us a few bearded tits, an oystercatcher and a handful of redpoll and bullfinch. Hopefully this is just the calm before the storm...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wild finch chase

Managed to get out for three hours in the afternoon and headed for Ripagården. On arrival a big flock of 85 redpoll swept past over the bay and appeared to land at Dalen. I gave chase south, but never caught up with them. They are so flighty and hard to pin down. Whilst here I did the Gröthögarna circuit, rather quiet; a few whoopers south (9), four grazing barnacle geese and just two goldcrests and a song thrush. The best bird was an adult peregrine tucked away out of the wind on Tjällran.

Back at Ripagården the carpark alders had a flock of 30 redpoll... I was just getting to grips with them through the scope, when the whole flock lifted in panic and headed off. Buggers. Other birds here included the willow tit (heard) and a flock of 25 waxwing over Hovs Hallar briefly before dropping back into the juniper. No sign of the red-backed shrike...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off-patch snapshot

Got a couple of hours birding in the afternoon after a relaxing morning with Mrs B. Headed straight for Farhult; scanning the bay at the start produced at least 25 Slavonian grebes. Also offshore nine whooper swans and four great crested grebes. Waders were few and far between, one disappearing grey plover was nice, otherwise just four snipe and 27 curlew. Walking the beach produced a single snow bunting and the reedbed I had at least 10 bearded tits and a single reed bunting. Jumping the fence into the wet field behind resulted in my first wellyful of water in many years. I squelched along after that and failed to add materially to the list; I was hoping for a jack snipe. Back at the car a big flock of redpoll (65) left the nearby alders flying off east and I could hear a bullfinch in there too.

My schedule allowed half an hour at Rönnen. Notable birds noted in this short time-frame included brent goose (5) and ten butch-looking twite. I wonder if the gyr falcon is going to make it back this winter? Lastly I stopped for four minutes to look at Sandön from the main road. More grey plover here (3), a single bar-tailed godwit and the village had a dozen waxwing. Out on Själrönnen a cluster of 50+ dunlin were roosting. Like many birders in southern Sweden I am looking out for the Norwegian stilt sandpiper, which left it's last known location two days ago. You gotta dream!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Klarningen clear-out

Busy most of the morning, but dragged the kids out kicking and screaming into the dull, rainy weather and chill easterly wind. After some hardware shopping we headed to nearby Klarningen, here the kids managed to flush all the geese and ducks before we had even got out of the car. I guess I know now to shut the windows as we approach. At least 500 greylag again, no chance of going through them today though! A flock of 22 whooper swans did stick around though and a few duck drifted back; wigeon (27), teal (10), mallard (68) and tufted duck (1). Just two lapwing and two starling remain, but best of all was 15 waxwing flying by - my first for the site.

After loafing in the tower for an hour we headed back towards Hemmeslövsstrand and took a walk down the Stensån for an hour. Another 20 waxwing here and the woods were crammed with bullfinch, we saw 8 but their calls could be heard all the time and I wonder how many there really were?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Irruptive behaviour

Checked out Eskilstorpsstrand this morning. Frost overnight again and a cold start to an otherwise sunny day. The wind has gone east, can it produce? I searched anyway. The sea had 100+ scaup (mostly off Skummeslövsstrand) and good numbers of velvet scoter (100) off the patch and many more off Skummeslövsstrand. More bullfinches again today with 13 seen, many of which were flying over giving the 'eastern' call. Thirteen waxwing south too. The coastal strip of vegetation produced nothing else of note apart from two coal tits, but as I was getting in my car I noticed a small flock of redpoll feeding in an alder with individuals occasionally dropping to feed on the ground. Unlike previous flocks this autumn, they were settled and allowed a good going through. Of the twenty birds present one showed a good white rump and I focussed my attention on it - another Arctic redpoll! It behaved really well, but as the flock flew south, I wondered how many of the twenty had been Arctic, or had I chanced on the only one? Difficult birds to pin down on your own, mostly because they are hyperactive!

Naturally I visited Klarningen briefly on the way home. Water levels are at an all-time high and so were goose numbers. At least 500 greylag in. A thorough search revealed 46 Canada geese, three white-fronts and a single tundra bean goose. Superb. Duck numbers are dropping though as the temperatures plummet; just 15 wigeon and 8 teal remain. A kettle of eight migrating buzzard and a single hunting rough-legged buzzard were the only raptors today. The huge flock of starling present recently had dwindled to one today! Best bird though was my first bullfinch for the site...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No diver!

Frost this morning and flat calm at Kattvik. Could I find the great northern diver? No!

Kicked off at Kattvik at dawn. Great birding here, as is often the case, one of the many places in BK that I do not get to enough. Highlights here included; goosander (1, west), Slavonian grebe (2), little gull (1K, west), black woodpecker (1), waxwing (30) and rock pipit (1). Eventually I conceded that the diver was not present and went searching for it towards Yttre Kattvik; more divers here with black-throated (2) and red-throated (4) but no joy with GND. Another 35 waxwing flew over west and best of all I found a chiffchaff feeding along the road (my first in November). Whilst these guys are still around, my dreams of a Sibe this autumn are intact... Checked out Norrviken too for the diver but just rustled up a bunch of red-necked grebe (4) and another rock pipit.

Gimpy, the red-backed shrike, is adopting an over-wintering strategy, I do not fancy the odds.

In the afternoon I escaped out again and headed for Ripagården. Bumped into Mikael Olofsson and had a chat and he pointed out another chiffchaff. Afterwards I followed this bird up and found another close by that looked good for tristis, but views were brief and the bird failed to call. Moving on I headed for the red-backed shrike, it was showing well, left wing still drooping and it looks like this bird will not be heading south this year. My first record in November. Will it make it into December? Other birds here included; black guillemot (1), grey wagtail (1) and crested tit (1).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekend birding

Dead quiet on the stretch of coastline I walked this morning.

Had a little time in the field today but missed all the good birds in BK today. Two great northern divers and a very late red-backed shrike were gripping. The shrike is doubtless the same slightly damaged individual that has been seen on-and-off at Ripagården during the late autumn. Might be able to catch up with the diver tomorrow hopefully.

Did get an hour walking between Vejbystrand and Ranarpsstrand in the morning. Surprisingly little of note. Two rock pipits at Vejbystrand underlined how scarce these birds are so far this season. A few flocks of greylag geese drifted south, at least ten barnacles in one group too. A dead 1K kittiwake was a reminder that autumn gales are not always fun. The only redshank seen were two at Lervik, again this species is scarce this season. Also two dunlin here and two snipe at Ranarpsstrand. So a fairly quiet walk.

In the afternoon I took the team out to try and show them a little auk, that was showing well yesterday at Torekov harbour. No joy sadly. Offshore a gannet and a couple of kittiwakes remained from the gale though. Driving away Perstorp produced a single jay, much more notable than they were two weeks ago.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Son of Seawatch

Did DIY in the morning, the wind having dropped slightly, but after lunch it strengthened again and so had a couple of productive hours at Eskilstorpsstrand in the afternoon. This spot is not the most comfortable of locations in a strong westerly but the views can be stunning and so it was today.

I could not have ordered a better set of birds to parade past. Within the first 25 minutes I had seen not one but two Leach's petrel (year-tick) and the first of perhaps four northern fulmar (ditto, at last!). Both species coming through close in the surf and giving spectacular views. I have never seen Leach's petrel so well before - fantastic. Just 8 kittiwakes went through during the session. Otherwise (!) apart from another close Leach's petrel it was rather quiet, very few alcids and just one gannet and one little gull.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Seawatch

The wind was not as fierce as predicted yesterday but a reasonable blow from the west all the same, which saw some birds going past. I managed to miss a Leach's petrel though...

Kicked off at Båstad, it seemed quiet at first but then a little auk went through, followed quickly by an adult and a 1K little gull. Quieter today though for auks in general and only five kittiwakes and five gannets in total in 2 hours. Other things noted included; black-throated diver (1), red-necked grebe (1), Slavonian grebe (2), sparrowhawk (5) and dunlin (1).

Fancied a break and took a quick lunch at Klarningen. The swan flock along the access track held 13 tundra swans and five whoopers. Plenty of birds using the wetland with over 450 lapwing, 300 starling and smaller numbers of wildfowl. The mute swan flock has hit 3! Raptors stole the show though with hen harrier (ringtail), goshawk (1K), red kite (1) and rough-legged buzzard (1) all using the site.

I arrived at Eskilstorpsstrand for more seawatching just in time to miss a sooty shearwater and left just before a Leach's went through! Did get great views of two close little auks though, plus a brent goose going north. Left early to drive over the top and have a look at Älemossen on the way home. This paid off with nutcracker (1) and great grey shrike (1). Nice end to the day but that Leach's would have been nice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's gone west!

Had lots to do this morning but managed a quick look at Klarningen before lunch. Highlights were few and far between; 4 whooper swans, 51 wigeon, 150 starlings and 25 skylarks in fifteen minutes of spotting. It was worth going out though to realise that there was a strong SW wind blowing and that sea-watching might be on the cards.

I managed to nip out for the last couple of hours of the day and parked up at Yttre Kattvik. Stuff was definitely moving with guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes passing regularly. Had to wait 45 minutes for my patch year-tick little auk and then had another straight afterwards. Other highlights included long-tailed duck (1, my first of the autumn), gannet (5), and purple sandpiper (1, west). Just before heading back, what was arguably the bird of the day whizzed east towards Båstad - a fantastic sooty shearwater.

Nice little session and bodes well for tomorrow, the winds forecast veering westerly overnight and blowing well at least through the morning. Other observers nearby had puffin, pomarine skua and great northern diver, so plenty of stuff to aim for tomorrow. Where to go?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bits of birding

The invasion continues.

It was Number 2's birthday today so we had a great time celebrating. I managed a few birds from the car - rough-legged buzzard hunting at Hasslarp and 70 waxwings in Ängelholm.

Did get fifteen whole minutes at Sandön, whilst the kids decompressed in the car. Hard to cover in fifteen minutes... The 'highlight' was an aberrant 1 or 2K black-headed gull, with full black hood and dark bill, had me going for a split-second as I dreamed of Franklin's. Redpolls were heard and waders included a single bar-tailed godwit and at least nine grey plover out on Själrönnen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Arctic roll, sir?

This monster was new for my steadingly growing Klarningen list today.

The background track to today's birding was yet again the calls of the bullfinch. The overhead migration has stopped pretty much but birds have dropped out all over. Walked Hemmeslövsstrand to Eskilstorpsstrand. Walking through the houses at Hemmeslövsstrand produced long-tailed tit (10), crested tit (2) and eight flyover parrot crossbills. On the beach near the river mouth was a skittish flock of redpoll, working through them took some time, especially as I kept attracting peoples dogs and inane comments. I eventually found one convincing Arctic redpoll! Not a male, so not that simple, but I was happy.

Walking onto to Eskilstorpsstrand, I amazingly found another flock of redpoll feeding. They all sat up and there looking down at me was a pristine male Arctic redpoll, this one needed no head-scratching and careful checking. Superb. Offshore a whooper swan and a tundra swan cruised together.

Last stop of the morning was Klarningen. The access track fields produced 12 tundra swans and 4 whoopers. The trees at the end had a noisy black woodpecker, an expected addition to the Klarningen list but always fantastic to me. The tower produced a single whooper swan and tundra swan (surely the same birds as seen earlier at Eskilstorpsstrand?). Six redpolls flew in but still no bullfinch. Great morning.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bo**ocks!

Headed out a bit late this morning to look for yesterday's reported great snipe at Ripagården. Arrived just in time to see someone with the same idea flushing a dark, chunky-looking snipe, the notebook reads:

"flight only (no plumage details...), flushed at close range, looked solid, heavy and pot-bellied in level flight (more reminiscent of woodcock than snipe), no rocking in flight, no call heard. Flew SW and lost to sight in the fog over Gröthögarna."

Almost certainly a great snipe, but it got away... Whilst here I did a circuit of the site picking up waxwing (46 south), chiffchaff (1, easily my latest bird on patch), willow tit (1), crested tit (1) and four bullfinch.

In the afternoon we had a grilling session with some friends at Grytskären. A few good birds here including a shag offshore on the islands, more waxwing (30), nine superb long-tailed tits and two snow buntings. We walked into Ranarpsstrand for a Slavonian grebe before it was time to go home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bullfinch bonanza

While the family snoozed and had a late breakfast, I got out and walked the stretch of coast between Rammsjöstrand and Påarps Mal. I neglect this bit and I hoped that a water pipit might be lurking there, in that I was right but the real excitment was the number of bullfinches on the move. I did not get big numbers (nearby Kullen had over 3000 through today!!) but it was a great spectacle nevertheless. Bullfinch is a species that I scratch around for most of the time and I usually see a few more in the autumn on the coast. The scale of this years movement is unbelievable. They can be heard over the garden almost all the time...

Highlights of the walk included white-tailed eagle (1K?, Burensvik), goshawk (1, Burensvik), Slavonian grebe (1, Dagshög), waxwing (60+), water pipit (1, Burensvik, great bird and first of the season), bullfinch (total of 34), parrot crossbill (5 south, Dagshög) and snow bunting (1 south Burensvik). Also small numbers of redpoll, twite and yellowhammer on the move. Great stuff.

After lunch took the team for a drag up the beach at Hemmeslövsstrand and Eskilstorpsstrand. A few bullfinch still on the move and five more parrot crossbill (do I keep seeing the same five everywhere?). Otherwise the best of the rest was a superb kingfisher (my first sight record this year...), at least 75 scaup and two Slavonian grebes.

Noctule-type bat hunting during the afternoon at Hemmeslövsstrand.

Last stop of the day was Klarningen (of course), the access track produced a patch year-tick (5 tundra swan), a great way to end a satisfying day in the field. The weather was nice too.

A family party of five tundra swans at Klarningen was a great way to end the day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quick look outdoors

Not much time for birding today but got out in the morning and spent 45 minutes at Klarningen. Highlight here was a 1K peregrine sitting in the field to the north. Just one whooper swan today, 17 wigeon, 20 teal and one tufted duck.

On the way home stopped at Tvehöga by a flock of 40 redpoll (they vanished quickly) and 7 bullfinch. Bullfinch were obviously on the move today, had another 6 at Atteköp and could hear more from the garden, including one nasal 'northern' calling bird. The next patch tick is going to be finchy I reckon. Pine grosbeak would be nice.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's all gone a bit finchy

It's pretty and it's got wingbars but I am sadly no closer to my dream Sibe.

In a rare gap in the rain this morning, I did a four-hour walk between Ranarpsstrand and Öllövsstrand. BK has gone a bit quiet lately but I managed a few good things. Ranarpsstrand was quiet, duck numbers are up though with 85 wigeon, 150 mallard and eight teal about. Six snipe flushed as I walked. Segelstorpsstrand was a bit more interesting with 40 waxwing charging about, four redshank hiding out and five parrot crossbills south.

It had been finchy so far, plenty of greenfinch and siskin about but Öllövsstrand was excellent. The weedy beet field had a flock of 35 mealy redpoll, which included one twite and two goldfinch. Following 'Stoddart's Rule' there should have been 3.5 Arctic redpolls too. Sadly the 'polls were feeding in weeds being thrashed about by the strong southerly wind. But I do not think any Arctics were present; but this winter looks like it could be good for this species. Lots of mealy's are on the move. I need it for the patch list...

Thrashing back to the car I had time for the now obligatory flock of long-tailed tits at Segelstorpsstrand and managed another flock of 40 waxwing at Förslöv.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pouring with rain

It hammered down today, without stopping. I did some work on the house but fitted in two little sessions around my driving duties for the team. Spent half an hour looking at the 'big field' at Ljungbyholm. Not much doing here but a big flock of 235 fieldfare was nice (just three redwing in tow) and also 67 golden plver here too.

In the afternoon, Number 1 and I went shopping at the hardware shop and nipped up to Klarningen. It was blowing a gale from the south with plenty of rain. Despite this we notched up three whooper swans, 20 wigeon, no teal and a single tufted duck. Seven snipe charged about in the sky and a flock of at least 25 skylark were either side of the access track. A dull day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rapid assessment

Sped around a bit today trying to track down various things reported recently. As a gambit it failed completely but I still managed a few good birds of my own.

Started off at Klarningen, thin skim of ice on the place but a bit of open water which holds a dwindling number of wildfowl. Just two wigeon and nine teal remain, but one whooper swan was new in. Waiting patiently for all of 20 minutes (!) produced a large group of migrating greylag geese, that included some yelping white-fronted geese (at least 9). The flock headed west and looked interested in Laholmsbukten so I headed off to the north end of Eskilstorpsstrand. A big flock of greylag geese were out on the sea and sure enough there were 13 white-fronts in amongst them. This species has been much easier on the patch this autumn, reflected by the elevated numbers through Falsterbo this year. Also here three Slavonian grebes.

Next stop was Båstad, no sign here of any scaup or kingfishers, just two white wagtails. Moving on quickly to Ripagården, spent some time here but the site was disturbed by men with guns and dogs and more burning bushes. They have finally removed the bush that the red-backed shrikes nest in... Somehow the covey of 12 grey partridges escaped the shooters and their dogs. Over Hovs Hallar a nice rough-legged buzzard laboriously hovered.

Last stop of the day was Påarps Mal, a quick look for shags was again a failure but a kittiwake sauntered south and a superb great grey shrike was terrorising the place. Nice end to the day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

15 years ago this week

Stuck in the house doing DIY today (one hawfinch over...), so here is a little something from the diary (North Uist, October 1995):

"We were not prepared for the 20th and its events, after what was a very quiet first half of the month. Arriving at Clachan Farm I stopped by the gate and saw to my disbelief a small Catharus thrush at the end of the caravan. It hopped off and I told Cath who did not believe me. It took us 2 hours to relocate the bird in what is a very small plantation. I got two tantalising glimpses during this period and had narrowed it down to either veery or (less likely) wood thrush! Just as we were about to give up we walked towards the caravan on our way out and the bird flew up and perched in the lower branches of a pine. I locked on and finally identified it as a veery (4th for WP, 3rd for UK and 1st for Scotland).

Veery, my best UK find. Nicked this image off the internet (it's an adult).

An active little bird, which then started feeding around where we had collapsed (often down to 4 metres). Superb. Warm brown uppers, grey lores, lack of buff eye-ring, gold-tipped coverts, greyish flanks all led to identification of the bird as a veery. The bird was difficult to see after the first day – I never saw it again! Tim (Dix) and Paul (Boyer) both managed to see it over the next two days and Paul saw it once more on the 28th. Only four birders saw it in the end, no one making the effort to get over from the mainland."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slow Sunday

Excitement today at Klarningen, the first stock (Polish red cattle) are on site, it looks more like Biebzra than BK!

Nipped out pre-breakfast to Kattvik, but the little auk was nowhere to be seen. Spent the day with the kids whilst Mrs B got on with some homework. After swimming we found a flock of 11 waxwing in the car park in Laholm. It was mild and many of them were fly-catching from the treetops.

On the way home we dropped into Klarningen. The highlight here was the arrival of the first stock on site, already at work grazing down the grass before winter and giving the sward some much-needed heterogeneity. Birds noted here included wigeon (26), teal (38), ruff (1) and snipe (2).

One last stop saw us searching for the red phalarope at Båstad, I was hoping for a better photo but the bird had disappeared. Just two Slavonian grebe (2) and one white wagtail of note here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mopping up?

The plan this rainy morning was to cruise around the peninsula picking up the birds I missed yesterday that may have been wrecked in the gale. The plan worked well at Båstad where a short search revealed the presence of a reasonably confiding red phalarope, pedalling along the shoreline at Skansenbadet. Patch year-tick and a great one to pull back. A search of the shoreline to the east produced a single chiffchaff but no other seabirds.

It was dark and the bird was flighty, this was the only shot I got!

Next stop was Kattvik harbour. I was pretty sure a little auk was holed up here but despite a good search of the harbour from various angles and walking the rocks to make sure it was not close in and out of sight I could not find it. It must have been asleep amongst the boats or even under the jetty because I walked away empty-handed only to discover later in the day that it was being seen and photographed. It looks tired so hopefully will carry on recuperating, allowing me to see it tomorrow. Also here black-throated diver (1) and another chiffchaff.

Last stop of the morning was a quick look at Torekov rev, just five grey plover (late this year) and one redshank of note.

In the afternoon we gathered up the kids from their grand-parents and took them for a detox walk between Vejbystrand and Ranarpsstrand. I invariably start this walk just off-patch from Vejbystrand, this allows walking the whole stretch with the light behind you, it would also be churlish to avoid the stretch of beach north of the harbour, it may be off-patch but it is good. Another reason is that occasionally as you walk north you can flush something good into BK. It did not work that way today, ten metres before the fence that marks the boundary a shorelark picked up and flew into the southerly wind away from BK... Rats! Walked back to get a good look at it, nice bird but just metres away from being excellent. Still it was a year-tick and my first self-found Swedish bird too.

Scuttling into BK before something worse happened, we walked the beach at Stora Hult, nothing doing here just a curlew and a red-necked grebe. Ranarpsstrand also had a red-necked grebe (arrival yesterday?), a grey plover, five snipe and three redshank. Great day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Windy weather

A 1K little gull one of the highlights of today's seawatching action.

At last a gale from the west, albeit short-lived. I had to fit two sessions in around my domestic duties today but was pretty happy with the rewards. Kicked off about an hour after first light at Yttre Kattvik. We did poorly here for an hour and a half, getting gripped off from both Båstad to the east and Hovs Hallar to the west. It was nice to be able to sit in the car during the windy squalls that came through though! Highlights here included a close Slavonian grebe flying past, at least 40 kittiwake, ten guillemot and 50 razorbill.

When the rain stopped I headed over to Båstad and straight away we were into new birds. Far out my first sooty shearwater of the day was shearing madly (perhaps three during the session to midday). Also here the only gannet of the day, one adult little gull west, and more kittiwake, guillemot and razorbill. Walking back to the car, I searched the shoreline finding two more little gulls and about a dozen kittiwakes loafing about (all offering photographic possibilities at last).

Adult little gull

Most of the kittiwakes involved in the today's action were 1K birds as usual.

Had to nip back to do the school run and then Mrs B and the team dropped me off at Eskilstorpstrand for the final late-afternoon session. Missed the red phalaropes at Båstad by making this decision but as ever Eskilstorpsstrand produced some great birds; had a pomarine skua going high east and a puffin north almost straight away but the wind was dying and things quietened down a lot after that. A solitary snow bunting kept me company.

Happily ignorant of the red phalaropes at Båstad I checked out Klarningen last thing. The wind had dropped away to almost nothing, and so have the numbers of wildfowl at Klarningen. I think the site must be being disturbed. Just 25 wigeon and 25 teal this evening. The four tufted duck remain, as do the pair of mute swan (no doubt having arrived they will never leave).

First snow bunting of the season all on its own at Eskilstorpsstrand this afternoon.

Not a bad day, dipped little auk (small numbers through during my midday break) and the two grey phalaropes. Will try for both tomorrow, they may hang about...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chuffing freezing

Had a waxwing in the garden briefly this morning. After dropping everyone at school-work I went ot Segelstorpsstrand and had a kick about. Still two chiffchaff here, despite the sub-zero temperature, but my Sibe hopes are receding as the winter seems to be taking an early grip on the land. Vis mig was apparent this morning with plenty of chaffinch on the go, also a few skylark, brambling, greenfinch and yellowhammer in the mix. When it's cold like this morning you really get a feeling that these migrants are fleeing ahead of something bad, occasional hordes of jackdaw going south looked panic-stricken. The beach had one curlew and five redshank (the latter have been scarce in BK this autumn and this is the largest gathering I have seen for some time). Looking north on to Öllövsstrand produced one sorry-looking barnacle goose. Walking back to the car I bumped into another autumn flock of long-tailed tits (10).

Dodging the hail squalls I drove up to Torekov for a quick look at Påarps Mal. Had a great flock of 120 brambling on the ground feeding in a recently harvested maize field. They stuck close to the car and were spooky but still one managed to get taken by a sparrowhawk... Påarps Mal produced no shag, my main reason for going, but a black guillemot (1) and a black woodpecker (heard only) made the trip worthwhile.

Back on the school-run I had a blackcap at Förslöv (my latest patch bird but with me at home all autumn, I am sure I can do better).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Båstad!

Busy day today but had to take Number 2 to the dentist in Båstad, which allowed time for duck-feeding (Number 2) and searching for yesterday's reported little auk (me). The birding started at the dentist's though with 35 excellent waxwing in the 'garden'. Being a UK-conditioned birder I still take an inordinate amount of pleasure from seeing things like waxwings, hawfinches and rough-legged buzzards. It's great! The harbour later had black-throated diver (1K), great crested grebe (8), gannet (2) and nine razorbill (but no micro-auk or even the long-tailed duck of yesterday...).

Nipped into Klarningen quickly en route to our next assignment. Been watching this site for over a year as it has developed and filled up with water and finally a pair of mute swan have deigned to visit. They must be really fussy, the first whooper swan arrived when it was just a muddy idea of a wetland! Obviously wildfowl are still moving, four tufted duck were new, otherwise wigeon (50), teal (67) and goldeneye (4) numbers were stable. They are still working on the bird tower but it is starting to look like we may be able to take up residence soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dirty twitcher!

Addictive stuff this twitching, instead of thrashing the patch this morning I let myself down gently after Öland by going to see the pectoral sandpiper at Rönnen. Had to do the school run first though and had five waxwing new-in on patch at Förslöv.

The pec was a great bird. Also here a lone shelduck, one dunlin, two greenshank and four curlew. Pretty quiet. Checked Sandön on the way home for hen harrier (1), grey plover (3), waxwing (15) and bullfinch (2). Managed 20 minutes on-patch at Ranarpstrand before the DIY beckoned. Very quiet here with just teal (5), wigeon (30), snipe (4) and linnet (1).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hat-trick on Öland

We all went to Öland for three days and it was fab!

The main drag through the Ottenby reserve down to the southern tip of Öland is excellent for getting close views of stuff - this fantastic grey grey shrike stopped us in our tracks as we headed down for the accentor on Day 1.

The star of our long-weekend was this MEGA black-throated accentor! It stayed just long enough for us to get amazing views down to two metres on the Friday and then disappeared overnight in time for the Saturday crowds (sounds familiar...). Team Benstead does not twitch much but this bird was truly splendid.

We rounded off Day 1 by finding this skulky reed warbler (in October!) at Sebybadet. The weather had gone wrong for continuing arrivals of Sibes sadly but the family appreciated the incredible blue-sky birding.

Sebybadet also produced my first waxwings of the autumn, they should be on-patch now too I reckon.

The highlights of Day 2 included my first Swedish dusky warbler (Triberga läge) and also my first steppe eagle (here with a white-tailed eagle). After ignominiously dipping one in Skåne with Terry on New Year' Day, it was a wonderful moment when this sub-adult bird appeared overhead with four white-tailed eagles at Ottenby.

Other highlights included a strong supporting cast of stuff at Ottenby including a good red phalarope, purple sandpiper, black redstart and bearded tit, an Arctic redpoll at Kapelludden and rough-legs were on the move throughout the island. We also saw more birders than I have seen all year. Great trip!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick look at Klarningen

Number 2 and I checked out Klarningen this morning. They are still working on the tower hide so we went for a walk. The wetland has gone quiet, just 50 teal and four goldeneye. The silage bales still scattered about probably spook the geese I guess. The walkabout produced 18 snipe, including one with an odd nasal call (?). Quite a few finches around including six twite, two redpoll and 65 brambling. The best bird though was a late wheatear (1K).

Stopped briefly at Båstad, a brisk NW wind produced three guillemot and a red-throated diver in 20 minutes and probably deserved more time but we were on a mission...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Garden tick!

Spent the morning in the garden, doing autumn jobs. My main hope was that I would finally secure a jay out of the big influx this autumn for the fledgling garden list. Sure enough at 11 o'clock two flew north quite high. Result!

After lunch I nipped out for a couple of hours and had a look at Ripagården. No wind and the sea mirror calm. Still struggling for alcids though, just one great crested grebe of note on the sea. Two grey wagtails were feeding in the harbour area. A thrash around in the woods and bushes produced blackcap (1), chiffchaff (3), willow tit (1), coal tit (1), jay (1) and redpoll (2).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hard work!

Did plenty of walking along the coast today hoping for a Sibe - no joy. Still confident, goldcrest numbers are climbing and there are a lot of chiffchaff around...

Kicked off the day with a little light garden work, repaid with a lesser spotted woodpecker nearby. Light movement of fieldfare and redwing evident too.

Took Mrs B and Number 2 out for a quick walk around Glimminge and Vasaltheden in the morning. We were hoping to cosh off the black redstart reported yesterday but my relationship with this species on the patch remains poor (yet to be self-found, miss half the ones I twitch). At Glimminge, greylags were still on the move and curlew (1) and redshank (1) were on the shore. The cover at the edge of Vasaltsheden had three jays and a chiffchaff and a lone crossbill flew south. Back inside the plantation we found a big flock of 30 goldcrests.

In the afternoon I was dropped off for a four-hour walk between Segelstorpsstrand and Rammsjöstrand. Segelstorpsstrand produced a huge total of nine chiffchaff, as well as one blackcap and another party of long-tailed tits. Öllövsstrand had four chiffchaff, a few goldcrests but was swarming with finches and sparrows. A flock of 50 brambling were feeding along the shoreline here, also big flocks of greenfinch (50) and tree sparrow (200). But the best was a flock of 40 twite feeding on weeds in a crop of beet. Vasaltheden was hosting some thrushes with plenty of blackbirds and fieldfares and a few song and mistle thrushes. A second look at Glimminge produced a jay and two bullfinches. Finally I found a good flock of tits near Rammsjöstrand but the best it could come up with was one coal tit. Walking out I discovered a small, newly-created wetland just back from the coast. Might pull in birds but is sure to be interesting for dragonflies when it matures.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Twite!

Three twite at Ranarpsstrand today were a nice little bonus. I saw so many recently in Georgia that it took me some time to realise that it was a BK year-tick (210).

Checked Ranarpsstrand again this morning. Been very quiet here for wildfowl lately but still two greenshank and a grey plover knocking about. Wildfowl were migrating through though with lots of greylag heading south after the last two nights of frost and a nice flock of seven bean geese sneaking past too. The almost flat calm sea and great light allowed good viewing of three Slavonian grebes and a razorbill. Out on Grytskären an imperious peregrine kept a look out, occasionally sallying out to persecute some passing migrant (unsuccessfully). Three twite came to see me at the end of the watch, tame little fellahs.

Spent just over an hour walking Segelstorpsstrand hoping for something special. More greylags going over. Also migrating rough-legged buzzard (1, 1K) and woodlark (1). Worked hard for a total of five chiffchaff and double-figures of goldcrest.

Picked up the kids in the afternoon and whisked them off for 45 minutes at Påarps Mal in the sun. No sign of any shags again, I seem to be struggling to connect at the moment. Did see one grey plover and a big flock of feeding golden plover (285) nearby at Slätteröd.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Foggy Sunday

Did a short session before breakfast at Påarps Mal, but a hard frost overnight meant that the coast was fog bound. As I drove towards the site at dawn I was constantly dodging grounded robins and song thrushes. The car park had a good number of calling brambling too. Out in the gloom I could hear small numbers of grey and golden plover and a lone dunlin.The fog lifted briefly and I enjoyed hunting amongst the goldcrests in the coastal juniper - just one chiffchaff and one blackcap.

After lunch we all went out to check Klarningen to find Martin Åkesson on site, we had a pleasant chat which made up for the low number of birds on site. The geese seem to have gone through and we could only scare up about 100 wigeon, 32 golden plover, a dunlin and 8 ruff. Buzzard migration was obvious though with 55 through in an hour. Big day for them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Leave calmly by the nearest available exit

Plenty on the move today, Sweden is being inexorably drained of migrants. Walked the coast between Norra Ängalag and Ripagården this morning. Raptor migration was noticeable straight off with rough-legged buzzard (1, my first of the autumn) and at least 32 sparrowhawks all in-off. A short stop at Gröthögarna to enjoy this spectacle resulted in five brent geese past close-in and 100+ barnacle geese in a high flock south. Several flocks of jackdaw too this morning. Ripagården had a few birds on the ground, including; lesser black-backed gull (1), grey wagtail (1), blackcap (1), long-tailed tit (8, my first BK birds since January!), willow tit (heard), crested tit (1) and the red-backed shrike (1). Walking back I had a hunting ringtail hen harrier at the back of Gröthögarna.

Picked up the team and we went for a picnic at Dagshög. Not much happening here until a Lapland bunting flew past calling away. Afterwards we checked Torekov harbour (2 guillemots) and the rev which had a single brent goose, four grey plover and a bar-tailed godwit (my latest patch bird). [Others had pale-bellied brent and curlew sandpiper during the day, which would have been nice.]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Big vis mig missed this morning but caught the back-end somehow

Worked in the garden this morning, there was no indication of the epic vismig going on further north and I was happily clueless. We did get out after lunch though and walked Segelstorpsstrand with the kids. There were a few things knocking about here, a wood lark over was nice and redpoll (2), common crossbill (12) and parrot crossbill (7) were all recent arrivals.

Much later Mrs B and I went for a therapeutic walk without the kids between Stora Hultsstrand and Ranarpsstrand. During the walk we had a total of wood lark over south. Big day for wood lark with over 150 south from nearby Grötvik. Other highlights included; barnacle goose (5), red-necked grebe (1), oystercatcher (1), curlew (2), snipe (4), greenshank (1), grey plover (2), wheatear (1) and mistle thrush (7 south). Just one chiffchaff during the day and still no sign of any Siberians.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bawling bairns

Had a noisy and wet hour and a half at Klarningen with a disgruntled and rather stroppy child (Number 2) this morning. When things returned to calm, normality we had a pleasant time watching a small flock of golden plover (60) wheeling in the air above the car, our only refuge from the rain. Also on the ground here were; wigeon (70), teal (60), ruff (2) and snipe (at least 10). You do not have to spend too long at Klarningen before something flies in or past and this morning we were rewarded with 10 white-fronted geese which pitched into the stubble just north of the wetland.

On the way home we stopped off at the top end of Eskilstorpsstrand for red-necked grebe (2), common and velvet scoters and three cracking black-throated divers.

The kids kicked up a rumpus in the afternoon too, so I packed them in the car and we headed out for a walk around Öllövsstrand. This is a lovely bit of countryside, coastal and packed with cover and one day I will find something good here! This afternoon's highlights included fourteen grey partridge, a redstart and a flock of 50 linnets.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Patch tick!

I am not sure my thrash-birding approach to getting over this cold virus is working but at least I am seeing some birds. Kicked off this morning by walking Ripagården to Hovs Hallar, hoping as ever to hear a Siberian warbler or pipit to add to the patch list. No joy on the scarce migrant front but did get some good birds. The best thing was my latest ever red-backed shrike (1K), feeding quietly but looking a little tired (origin?). My first in October. Also here a monumental 10 jays, five over-flying parrot crossbills, a redstart (another October first) and a close white-tailed eagle.

This white-tailed eagle flew up from the beach on the way back to the car at Ripagården this morning.

Drove to Torekov next and was passing the golf course when I saw this hunting...

Ooooh, a 1K red-footed falcon, perhaps only the second recent BK record and an excellent patch-tick.

Yep, a red-foot, got really close and took some truly awful flight images (not the above, took that later...), before it flew off east and away. The photos were so poor, I almost bought a DSLR on the spot. Another day. Headed to the rev next and was surprised to find very few birds on the ground; grey plover (3), dunlin (1) and bar-tailed godwit (1). Had a good look in the woods which produced a few goldcrest, more jays and a nice green woodpecker. As I walked back a lonely brent goose batted past north.

Driving home I could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted this on roadside wires just outside Torekov...

The same wires that gave me a hawk owl last year... It was equally tame and allowed a swift redress of the photographic balance. Sweet!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sandön calling!

Limax maximus - the leopard slug, out during the day at Hasslarp.

Panic on the streets of Sandön.

The culprit, a 2K+ white-tailed eagle.

If these SE winds keep blowing we will be able to walk to Denmark soon. I have never seen Sandön so low.

With errands to run off-patch it was time to hit the coast between Farhult and Sandön in a flurry of flying visits. Also managed to squeeze in a short look at Hasslarps dammar first off. Pretty quiet here despite a good number of wigeon (185), as well as shoveler (10), gadwall (1) and little grebe (1). A few song thrushes knocking about and small flocks of chaffinch were often spotted flying south.

Tried Rönnen first, lured by tales of the flock of little stints that have taken up temporary residence. Six! Fantastic. Also here white-fronted goose (2), ruff (1), spotted redshank (2) and greenshank (1). As I walked back to the car a slow procession of an eventual total of 8 migrating jays drifted west just inland.

Farhult was fabulous. On arrival a very close 1K hen harrier appeared over the dunes and fought with the local crows. All the geese went up - white-tailed eagle and before I could look at it, I noticed a migrating short-eared owl going west offshore. Spoilt for choice, I opted for the owl (a year-tick) and watched its leisurely progress abruptly interupted by a group of greater black-backed gulls. Meanwhile the eagle was casually checking through the geese for the odd lame duck. The geese included a further 12 white-fronts. Plenty of waders here too with oystercatcher (10), avocet (1), ringed plover (3), grey plover (10), knot (2), dunlin (150) and bar-tailed godwit (1). As I trudged back to the car, my peripheral vision noted an Arctic skua harassing a common gull, it quickly gave up and flew off south and inland. Not a bad 55 minutes.

Last stop of the day on this whistle-stop tour was Sandön. The place was packed with geese, all up in the air, as the same white-tailed eagle did the rounds. Fantastic numbers and if I learnt one thing in Norfolk it was how to go through geese. The majority were greylags, but with perhaps 2500 barnacle geese in attendance. It did not take long to get to a count of 23 white-fronts and more diligent searching unearthed two tundra bean geese, a cackling goose (plastic) and best of all a single pink-foot. Gone are the days of the easy pink-footed goose year-tick. Each one is lovingly appreciated and enjoyed nowadays. Other notables here included; water rail (1), grey plover (4), knot (1) and coal tit (1). As I drove back home, the white-tailed eagle followed me into Ängelholm, a huge companion on a great day of local birding.