Sunday, May 9, 2010

A small spring fall, a pine marten and a self-found birthday treat

Marsh sandpiper was the first rare bird I ever saw - 18th August 1979, a first for Norfolk (back when they were rare in the UK). Great to find one today.

It has long been my custom to spend my birthday birding and today was a great day in the field (good to be born in May, thanks Mum!), although the weather left a little to be desired it did result in a few birds dropping out of migration.

Started off with a morning on my own in BK, first stop was Torekov rev. Large numbers of blackcap and willow warbler in every tree and bush. Searching the woods and coast here produced the first wood warblers of the year, plus two more spotted flycatchers. As I walked to the car, I spotted another year-tick streaking past, a splendid hobby (better late than never). Checked Flytermossen next, the harsh conditions of the last few days have made things hard for migrant insectivores and many are feeding in unusual locations, basically anywhere with concentrations of invertebrates. At least five whinchats were feeding in the reedbed here. Four water rails squealed away and both reed and sedge warbler were singing.

Surprisingly things were a lot quieter at nearby Ripagården, although some blackcap, a pied flycatcher and about seven yellow wagtail were evident. A single green sandpiper was either a late migrant or possibly a failed breeder (autumn already?). A large gathering of 150 barn swallows hawking over the sea here was yet another sign of the appalling weather we are having at the moment. Best 'bird' here though was a superb pine marten seen briefly but well on the edge of the wood - only my third sighting in Sweden. Walking on up to Hovs Hallar was mostly just good exercise, although another large flock of 100 barn swallows contained house martin (20) and sand martin (1).

After lunch took the team off-patch for a look at what was about at Sandön and Rönnen. Sandön was superb, the first birds to be spotted were the four, epic black-tailed godwits that arrived yesterday. Out on the exposed flats with them there were at least five spotted redshank and a single dunlin. Working through the numerous redshanks and greenshanks I was surprised to find a mint-condition adult marsh sandpiper in my 'scope. Bonus! Put the news out (thanks Mikael) and then enjoyed close-range views of this slender little gem. I see plenty of marsh sandpipers most years, but always in winter, so getting good views of this summer-plumage bird was fantastic. Overhead an osprey fished and my first swifts (2) of the year whizzed north. Sublime.

Last stop was Rönnen where the pool held a superb, rather gingery summer-plumaged Temminck's stint, one ruff and six wood sandpiper. A nice end to a day which actually produced some sunny weather towards the end.

I just popped my head out the Velux window whilst on the phone and had a roding woodcock fly by and could also hear a thrush nightingale singing up the hill. Sweet!

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