Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Sitting at Heathrow at the start of a fifty hour nightmare journey to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. I hate travelling but I like to get there! Here is something from 20 years ago, would love to revisit Australia sometime...
7/1/89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
Cath did it again, surprising a striated grasswren in amongst a flock of variegated wrens. I did not see it, having to be content with the regular white-fronted honeyeater. The afternoon session was more like it however, located 3+ striated grasswrens and had superb views of one male as Cath drove them along. Fantastic birds. As usual their call was familiar, also shy hylacola (1). Having succeeded we went back to Hattah Lake; blue-faced honeyeater (3) and pink cockatoo (4).
8/1/89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
Enjoying the place so much, decided to check out ‘Beesite 8’. An area where the traditional bee-keeping in the mallee persists despite it being in a National Park. It is a lucrative business apparently. More mature, taller mallee trees here with more leaf litter and less spinifex. Picked up yellow-plumed honeyeater which were common in this type of mallee. Also yellow-rumped pardalote (+).
Then came the big surprise, located a black-eared miner (1) a bird I was so convinced we would not see I was not even bothering. The bird showed a uniform grey mantle and rump, very little white in the tail, underparts paler grey, fading paler towards the vent. Overall impression was of a grey bird reminiscent of noisy miner rather than yellow-throated. Facial pattern more extensive on ear coverts than yellow-throated. According to my criteria, this proved to be a pure black-eared miner! Another could be heard nearby but was not seen. The bird showed no sign of shyness until pushed hard. Cath got a photo which will be interesting to see. Told the ranger who was quite excited, so gave him all the details to forward to researchers working on the birds. In his gratitude he told me where an ‘easy to find’ malleefowl mound was.
Located the mound eventually, couldn’t get the van up the track, so walked in and past the mound. When we eventually found it, watched it for four hours, hearing a male but not seeing it. We were however rewarded with two striated grasswrens right on dusk. One bursting with curiosity came out in the open to inspect us! You spend three days looking for a bird and then it comes and looks at you. Camped overnight on the track which was a bit naughty. I’d love to know what the bird that landed on the roof in the night was.
9/1 /89 Hattah-Kulkyne National Park è Vaughan Springs
An early morning stake-out did the trick, after a brief look at us, two birds came out and started work on the mound. However I think we disturbed them and they melted away into the mallee. So we left them to it and after thanking our ranger headed for Bendigo. Got there at 4 pm but could not raise our contact who lived nearby so we headed for Vaughan in the hills east of the Castlemaine-Daylesford Road. Nice to see fuscous honeyeater (+) and brown treecreeper (2+) again.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Last day on patch before my next big trip. Got out with the kids for fifteen minutes at Kattvik in the morning. They only lasted this long before the bitter wind started to compromise their life support systems. Ice forming offshore meant that most birds on the sea were distant, but included; great crested grebe (1), long-tailed duck (7) and a few tens of velvet and common scoter.
After lunch I nipped back to Ripagården for a crack at Lapland bunting again. Saw two easily and well this time with no fuss, mousing about amongst the yellowhammers. Fantastic birds. Also in the neighbourhood, a persistent male hen harrier, white-tailed eagle (overhead, 10m views), redshank (2), bullfinch (4) and as I drove home a single snow bunting in the yellowhammer flock.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Walked down the hill to meet back up with the crew. They were enjoying the snow and ice as usual and had had a close encounter with a grey heron. The harbour area held little grebe (1), coot (29), white-tailed eagle (1) and bullfinch (2).
After lunch I took Numbers 1 & 2 down to Båstad to feed the ducks. Offshore a reasonable selection of wildfowl including; little grebe (4), long-tailed duck (7), velvet scoter (25) and common scoter (75). The whooper swan flock has got to 44. On the way home we stopped off at Axeltorpsravinen, hoping for dipper, but we had to make do with five long-tailed tits (it took me until August to find them last year!).
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Kicked off at Grytskaren, where a flighty water pipit flew south after I flushed it near the car park. I was hoping for shorelark but a walk south to Stora Hultstrand failed to find them. Plenty of brambling on the move though with 3000 south during the two hours along this stretch. A call from Mikael informed me that the shorelark were heading south towards me, in the company of 15 skylark. Sadly they never made it to me and we could not relocate them. Also here red-necked grebe (1), goosander (2), one purple sandpiper (on the closest island at Grytskaren), redshank (1), dunlin (29), redwing (12), fieldfare (250), starling (40) and parrot crossbill (5).
Mikael then told me about a huge flock of yellowhammer at Ripagården, found on the 2nd, that included at least one Lapland bunting and some linnet. I headed that way but failed to locate the flock before heading down to the coast. Ripagården was quiet but produced little grebe (1), teal (2), redshank (1), coot (13), dunnock (1) and bullfinch (male).
Next stop was Flytermossen, where a brief look produced goldfinch (15) and redpoll (4). The phone then went and it was Mikael again. He had found the flock at Ripagården, so off I went back. How I missed the flock I will never know. There must have been 700 birds, mostly yellowhammers, but good numbers of tree sparrow (150), as well as reed bunting (15), brambling (15), greenfinch (1) and linnet (1). Had a glimpse of a possible Lapland bunting but the snow was appalling and my optics were soaked so I headed home for an early bath. Will try again tomorrow.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Team Benstead relocated back to a snowy NW Skåne today. We could not resist another go at the grosbeak at Vaggeryd on the way home though and this time half an hour was enough to secure the bird and get some record shots of it at the feeder. If only all journeys with the family could be so blessed. Great bird.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
A freezing (-13!) dawn greeted me at Tranebo, a lookout over the north end of the huge Dumme Mosse (peat bog), near Jönköping. I lasted just under an hour. Frost was forming on my telescope and my eyelashes kept freezing to my hat! But occasional scanning finally revealed a female black grouse feeding high in a distant birch tree - my target bird, in all its glory. Also here the feeder attracted a number of species including bullfinch (3), brambling (1), nuthatch (1), marsh tit (1) and jay (7).
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Arriving late in the day at Vaggeryd was chancy, but it only took me 45 minutes to track the pine grosbeak down. What a bird, well worth the wait, you can check it out here. I think it is a first-winter male. I have seen grosbeaks before, but they never fail to impress. Also here the usual mass of bullfinches and fieldfares and a single redwing.
Typically the target of yesterday's abortive search (the steppe eagle) had plenty of visitors today and showed quite well... I will have to find the time for a crack at it again - and perhaps search for the nearby short-toed treecreeper too.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Met up with Terry again this morning. A very cold dawn greeted us at our rendezvous at Lund and we quickly made our way to the nearby area that has been frequented by a young steppe eagle this winter. Our strategy was that on New Years Day, there would be heaps of birders eager to get this rare on their year-list and we would benefit by a quick find by spotters who knew this bird and its habits and be on our way. We saw no-one for three hours! We also managed to miss the steppe eagle, having to make do with a couple of white-tailed eagles instead. However the area was not a bad place to kick off the year-list and we saw some nice birds including; white-fronted goose (8), taiga bean goose (4+), barnacle goose (175), goshawk (1) and common crossbill (15).
Leaving the area we drove north onto more familiar territory, the arable fields south of Rönnen, to hunt for golden eagle and perhaps the wandering gyr falcon. We had no trouble finding a golden eagle last time we tried here but we failed today. The good news though was that Terry spotted the adult gyr falcon perched just 50 metres from the road at Lönhult, no doubt his blog will feature the photos he managed from the car shortly (go look). The bird sat nicely for us for five minutes, moved to another perch further way and then did a huge circuit around us heading for Farhult. Fantastic encounter. Also on the circuit we had a 1K goshawk (our second of the day), rough-legged buzzard (2) and a few redwing.
In the last light of the day we checked Farhult quickly (two Slavonian grebe and a frozen bay) and then Rönnen (the last white-tailed eagle of the day). But after a brave struggle against sleep deprivation and the -8 degree temperature (with added wind-chill), Terry started to look a bit peaky; it was time to get him back on the train to Denmark! Another good day out.