Friday, March 26, 2010

The king is back!

Warm and fine today, our first chance to appreciate the warmth of the spring sun. Did a bit of essential gardening in the morning. Two white wagtails went low over the garden before lunch.

In the afternoon we went to Haga for a walk but surprisingly little was moving (not just the garden then), one chiffchaff was singing and song thrushes were evident too. Quickly moved on to Kattvik and Yttre Kattvik but very quiet here too, just a few black guillemots bobbing on a mirror calm sea. Visibility was awful though so I soon got itchy to move again.

Next stop was Ripagården which at least had some birds to look at. At least five chiffchaffs here, they really have come in strongly over the last two days. Also a pair of wheatears (yesterday's bird was my earliest Swedish bird so far) and a couple of white wagtails. Just as we arrived home I got an SMS from the excellent Martin Åkesson, a king eider had been found at Grytskaren. It was the work of just half an hour to nip up and cosh it off and get back for tea. Shame I didn't find it (thanks again Håkan), but I am not grumbling, a great bird!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stuff is moving

Got out on my own this morning about 2 hours after first light for a thrash around the Halland part of BK. Kicked off at Eskilstorpsstrand for an hour to see what was moving. A lot of wildfowl on the go with whooper swan (14), wigeon (31), teal (37), pintail (6) and tufted duck (4) all heading through. A few passerines over too, mostly chaffinches but also rock pipit (1), white wagtail (1), mistle thrush (1), a flyby chiffchaff and common crossbill and brambling heard.

Lots of cranes migrating today. These two were part of a total of 14 through Klarningen this morning.

Petersberg was still completely frozen over but a few birds moving through here too. Again mostly chaffinch but also white wagtail (2), mistle thrush (3), brambling and linnet. A singing chiffchaff here was nice and there were at least three more feeding along the river. Other residents included a host of reed buntings, a redpoll and a dunnock.

No surprises that Klarningen was next on the list. The thaw here is more-or-less complete and birds are dropping in. Wildfowl included shelduck (4), wigeon (4), teal (130) and goosander (5). Along the access track on on the pools were my first green sandpipers of the year, a total of 8 in all. Snipe (16), white wagtail (1) and linnet (20) are back on site too. Fourteen cranes drifted through. Walking around I was able to view across to Eskilstorps dammar and find an amazing array of wildfowl; wigeon (6), teal (50), pochard (4), tufted duck (2) and best of all a superb pair of smew. Good morning out.

In the afternoon we all went out for a play at the seaside. En route Ljungbyholm had a good flock of golden plover (136) and 13 whooper swans. Ranarpstrand was quiet but did have gadwall (3), white wagtail (2) and the first wheatear of the year. Up at Segelstorpsstrand a single Slavonian grebe was close in and Number 1 pointed out a flock of 16 cranes going north.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Not much birding - 24/03/10

Not much time for birding today either, just half an hour split between Ljungbyholm in the morning and Sandön in the afternoon.

The field at Ljungbyholm continues to hold birds; whooper swan (38), oystercatcher (4), ringed plover (6), golden plover (60) and curlew (1). Still no sign of any Bewick's swans on the patch though.

Sandön in a quick look produced a good number of avocet (41) and six redshank dropped in. No sign of any ospreys yet though for me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bits and bobs - 23/03/10

Five redwing over the house in the morning were the first of the month for me.

Not much time for birding today but managed a half hour visit to Hasslarpsdammar which is defrosting nicely. The Egyptian goose had moved from Sandön to here just to pollute my optics again. Not much doing here, I was hoping for an early chiffchaff. A buzzard movement was evident overhead and included at least one sparrowhawk. A cold looking redshank huddled on the edge of the water looking lonely and yet another single meadow pipit was recorded. It seems ages since I saw a flock of meadow pipits. Reed bunting sang from the reedbed and coot and tufted duck jostled on the open water.

On the way home we stopped at Ljungbyholm where the flock of 29 whooper swans were present together with curlew (3), ringed plover (6), golden plover (20), dunlin (2) and oystercatcher (1). With tractors still unable to work the land this field could be excellent over the next few weeks.

The weather looks good for spring over-shoots on Thursday and Friday so could be a good weekend in southern Sweden.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Birding with Mrs B - 22/03/10

Mrs B and I headed out for another walk between Lervik and Ranarpsstrand this morning. En route we checked the big field at Ljungbyholm again and were rewarded with not one but two year-ticks. First up was an adult lesser black-backed gull, resting by the side of one of the many pools in this poorly-drained field. Nearby a flock of at least fifty golden plovers provided our second year-tick. Also here at least 100 lapwing, a single curlew, seven oystercatcher and a small flock of whooper swan (19, increasing to 31 on the return journey).

The coastal walk was good too, with the sea flat-calm. Eider were everywhere, at least 1000 between Lervik and Grytskaren. Lervik produced two redshank and a surprise purple sandpiper. Ringed plovers were displaying and overhead a few reed buntings were heard as they migrated north. A flock of 80 starling was easily the largest of the year so far.

Grytskaren was rather quiet, examination of the eider flock again drew a blank for other eider species but turned up a solitary Slavonian grebe. Behind us a green woodpecker called. Ranarpsstrand produced a third year-tick, a fine pair of gadwall. Two cranes silently flew north.

In the afternoon we took the kids out for a run to Glimminge. Highlights here included at least 12 Slavonian grebes (they are obviously on the move) and seven common crossbill. The ugly male wigeon x mallard hybrid was still around.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday outing

With a brisk westerly ruling out a comfortable walk by the sea, we headed inland to Älemossen this morning. En route we spotted bullfinch (1), hawfinch (2) and a flock of perhaps 500 woodpigeon.

The first birds at Älemossen were a pair of jays, quickly followed by the bird we hoped to see - a splendid great grey shrike. A pair of red kite prettied up the place and we also heard a calling green woodpecker. Sadly the snow was too deep and underlaid by water so we abandoned our walk and headed to Klarningen.

Klarningen was being raked by the wind and we did not last long here. Two curlew and a reed bunting were new-in but most of the action was overhead. In the short time were here a flock of 35 eider came over, taking the short-cut to the Baltic and a very high flock of 100 jackdaw flew over north-east.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring has sprung!

The feeders had a single dunnock this morning at breakfast, a sure sign of spring hereabouts. We managed to get out of the house before nine for the first time in a long time this morning. We headed off-patch to Sandön, stopping briefly at Ljungbyholm en route for four fantastic, but skittish, white-fronted geese.

Sandön was very good, the sea-ice has broken up, open water is everywhere and more signs of spring were evident here too. A flock of 16 avocet was a most welcome sight, even if against a backdrop of gulls floating past on chunks of sea-ice. I found an Egyptian goose almost straight away - this scarce species seems to plague me here, my ability to find them only matched by my hatred for them. Still if you are micro-birding, they all count and so it went out on the pager system (via Mikael Olofsson, who was finding real birds down south). Other notables at Sandön included smew (pair), goosander (16), bearded tit (heard) and singing reed buntings.

Next stop was Farhult, good birding here too, the highlights here; pintail (1), pochard (pair), smew (pair), oystercatcher (79), avocet (1), dunlin (1) and white wagtail (1, and perhaps the fourth year-tick of the day).

On the way home picked up mistle thrush (1) at Södra Utmarken and stopped again on-patch at Ljungbyholm for whooper swan (16) and oystercatcher (8).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bad twitch and great patch birding

With the now-usual pre-twitch feeling of foreboding, we all drove up the E6 to Falkenberg on a mission. A ring-necked duck had been spotted yesterday and we fancied a go. Although the bird was apparently present in the morning, we failed to connect with it in a cold and foggy couple of hours at the site. I got bored about the same time as the kids and we drifted back south. Plenty of birds on the move today though, with flocks of lapwing flying up the E6 and plenty of evidence of movement by reed bunting, chaffinch and skylark. If we could just shift the remaining snow and ice, it might start to feel like spring.

Rough-legged buzzard on the deck at Eskilstorpsdammar.

On the way home we stopped at Klarningen. The access track produced 11 bean geese, which flew over to Eskilstorpdammar and a host of skylark (65) and a single meadow pipit. Klarningen is starting to defrost and had a flock of 20 starling and a scattering of lapwing and greylag on it. Seeing a flock of mallard take to the air over at Eskilstorpsdammar had us trudging over for a better look, the kids enjoying the experience greatly. We were rewarded with at least four white-fronted geese, the bean geese (13) and seven migrating cranes. Patch is best as usual.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The purple sandpipers are back in town -17/03/10

Mrs B and I had a quick look at Torekov this morning. The rev was looking pretty good with 11 purple sandpipers back on station. Also oystercatcher (25), ringed plover (4), dunlin (1) and redshank (1). Looking from the harbour we had three razorbill - a year-tick (at last).

After more firewood exercise we took lunch at Grytskaren, pretty quiet here, still nothing in amongst the big flock of eider but a single meadow pipit was noteworthy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Odd and sods - 16/03/10

Grabbed a few minutes birding in a busy day today. The garden had four lapwing over north in the early morning and unusually siskin (2) were present at the feeder. Drove through Barkåkra twice today, picking up a hunting rough-legged buzzard on the first pass and two grey partridge on the way back.

Dragged the kids out kicking and screaming in the afternoon to Önnarp, but they soon settled happily into a half hour snow games session. Over the din I could just hear a black woodpecker calling near the army camp.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Walking the coast again - 15/03/10

Another white-tailed eagle today, they have been plentiful on-patch this winter.

We took the loop walk between Grytskaren and Vistorpshamn this morning. A bitter NW blowing in off the sea made for a chilly coastal section and we probably missed stuff. Ranarpsstrand was good, we imediately dipped-in on a superb adult white-tailed eagle, which flew off south. Also here were two female smew, a few teal and oystercatcher, plenty of singing skylarks and single rock and meadow pipit. On the way back we flushed the first song thrush of the year from a roadside garden. Grytskaren was quiet apart from the flock of eiider (350) and a single goldfinch.

We took lunch out at Hovs Hallar. Two red-throated divers were offshore - amazingly my first of the year. Also here a superb hunting peregrine, trying to get the better of a very plucky lapwing, which eventually made good its escape

Hares are busy displaying at the moment, but I failed photograph any of the action.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birding solo - 14/03/10

The lone goldfinch was at the feeder this morning. The team decided that they wanted to go into town by bus today so I opted out for a long walk along the coast. Driving in I stopped at Ljungbyholm, the huge field here is often good for swans and geese and produced a few birds today; whooper swan (8), Canada goose (121), lapwing (12) and skylark (50). Birds are setting up territories despite 30-50% snow cover, spring will arrive.

Walked the stretch from Vejbystrand to Grytskaren, a blue sky day with a light NW wind. Highlights included Slavonian grebe (1), good numbers of shelduck and teal, small numbers of wigeon, oystercatcher and ringed plover, as well as curlew (2) and dunlin (2). A calling green woodpecker at Vejbystrand was nice to hear and I flushed a single meadow pipit (very scarce at the moment). Grytskaren was busy with eider (at least 400), a few go-throughs produced nothing unusual, apart from six coot. Walking back a few migrating raptors were evident, including two superb strandline-hugging red kite and a single sparrowhawk.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hot dogs on the beach - 13/03/10

We all headed out for a trip into Halland this morning. First stop was Lagaoset, the mouth of the Lagan river. I do not get up here much, it is off-patch, but it is a cracking site and gets good vismig in spring and autumn. Quiet today though, with just some obvious skylark movement overhead and a few goldcrest and common crossbill knocking about.

We took lunch at Trönningestranden, more skylarks on the move, a pair of common crossbill in the pines and a few shelduck. Temperatures above freezing at last but the snow seems reluctant to leave us.

Last stop of the day was at Klarningen where in 20 minutes on my own I managed to cobble together a few good birds. A huge flock of 42 stock dove flew east. Overhead a few skylarks were singing and more passed north overhead, together with the odd buzzard. A couple of lapwing were on site too, together with one of the regular rough-legged buzzards. The best bird was a single woodlark, calling as it flew overhead - not many moving at the moment, so a bit surprising.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nelly B

We received the preliminary results concerning Nelly's death this week. Nelly tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - as did our other two children. All were quite poorly with this common winter virus, but for some reason Nelly could not cope with it and died in her sleep just hours after being checked out by our GP. RSV can be bad in small babies but is rarely fatal. There was presumably some hidden defect in Nelly that led to her death, but I suspect we will never know what it was.

Defect or not, for me Nelly was a perfect little daughter and I cannot describe how much we all miss her. She completed our little gang when she arrived in 2008, in a way we could not have anticipated. Beautiful, bright and easy-going, her death has left a huge void in our lives and things will be a struggle for a long time to come I suspect.

Thanks to everyone who has dropped in, called, written and sent messages of support, I will get round to writing to you all soon. Nelly will be cremated quietly next week, no fuss, and we hope to have a gathering to celebrate her short but happy life in the summer.

Out with the kids - 12/03/10

Took the kids for a walk this morning. Malen was quiet, scoping over to Båstad produced seven oystercatcher and the same number of goosander. The woods produced calling goldcrest and a few siskin. Further along in Hemmeslövstrand a feeder produced my first crested tit of the year. On the way home we stopped very briefly at Klarningen. It was too foggy to stay long but we lucked out by flushing a goshawk we perched briefly for views by the track.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Birding - 11/03/10

The harsh winter continues, it is hard to believe that white wagtails and chiffchaffs are on their way here.

More misty, grey weather today but we headed out for more walking anyway. Tramped around Ripagården for an hour and as usual it was good. Two mistle thrushes remain along the shoreline and we found a lonely goldcrest and heard both bullfinch and common crossbill. Best bird though was a single snipe, they are very hard to find at the moment.

Had a quick look at Torekov rev, pretty quiet today although wader numbers were up with oystercatcher (32) and ringed plover (8). No sign of any purple sandpipers but I am sure they will stop by as they pass north later on in the month. On the way home we stopped at Flytermossen to go through a big flock of 75 siskin, just one redpoll being our reward.

Later in the day took the kids to Segelstorpstrand, managed to find two coot, a curlew and four redshank, whilst playing in the snow and ice.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More walking - 10/03/10

We all headed up to Önnarp this morning, it was good to others at the weekend, but the mist and cold and hint of snow did not do us any favours today. We trudged around a nice snowy circuit but the place was practically birdless. Just towards the end we came across a flock of tits that included three fantastic and annoyed coal tits, complete with little spiky crests. Coal tit was a patch year-tick for me, they are rather local on the higher ground in Bjäre.

Next stop was more wood-gathering at Lervik and Grytskaren. Good numbers of eider here (700), plus oystercatcher (1), lapwing (1) and curlew (1). Back at home I picked up the kids and walked back the long way around the village. It was pleasing to pick up three bullfinches and a single hawfinch. A flock of 30 brambling were around the garden today.

We had the famous white buzzard at Ängelsbäck on the way home, all white apart from a brown nape patch. Looked good in the snow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quick birding - 09/03/10

Not much time for birding today. On the way home from Helsingborg, we headed for Sandön, picking up a 2K white-tailed eagle overhead at Välinge. Sandön was like an Arctic wasteland, just one reed bunting (heard) and two goosander in a very short session.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Birding - 08/03/10

Whooper swan on ice at Båstad this afternoon.

We all got out of the house in the morning for more firewood and birds. We walked the shore between Lervik and Ranarpstrand, hoping to connect with the elusive trio of shorelark that have been lurking all winter. I do not know where they get to, but they were not present this morning. Failing to see these ensured a quiet session, with a smattering of shelduck, as well as ringed plover (2), curlew (1), oystercatcher (1), skylark (50) and just six rock pipit.

In the afternoon whilst the team shopped and ate cakes I walked from Axelstorps Ravine into Båstad. No sign of any dippers throughout the walk sadly. The sea at Båstad was kinder though with whooper swan (6), tufted duck (8), scaup (3) and long-tailed duck (5) of note.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Walking it off - 07/03/10

Klarningen got a new windpump whilst I was away.

More fresh air and exercise to keep the demons at bay for me today. Whilst the team went swimming I did a big walk from Klarningen to Båstad. The track to Klarningen is passable now, but Mrs B dropped me by the road and I walked in. Six taiga bean geese rested in the field on the way in, stuff is on the move. Also here my first patch rough-legged buzzards of the year, two young birds (photos below), lapwing (10), skylark (8) and treecreeper (1).

Walked the river past Eskilstorpsdammar. Long range viewing of the site produced whooper swan (7), greylag goose (60) and a flock of at least 16 stock dove. The crow trap had at least two buzzards in it, I wonder what will happen to them? Nearing Eskilstorp I was surprised to see a female smew on the ice before it flew downriver. Trudging on to Petersberg across the fields I was rewarded with a grey wagtail and a singing green woodpecker. Mrs B picked me up on her way through and we stopped just once in Båstad, for a flock of 19 waxwing.

3K rough-legged buzzard, probably male. Mewing away and interacting with the other bird present on site.

2K rough-legged buzzard.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Birding - 06/03/10

Another day out in the field with the family, more blue sky and sunshine. Kicked off at Torekov sewage works, which produced some great birds. The best was a crane, which was circling out to sea on our arrival before drifting off slowly south, perhaps the first in NW Skåne this year (?). Also here teal (7), smew (1 female), grey partridge (2), lapwing (1) and grey wagtail (1). Walking south to Påarps Mal, we had lunch in the lee of a pillbox and spotted a few things on the sea. Three red-necked grebes were new in (no doubt) and just one Slavonian grebe underlined how scarce this species has been in Bjäre this winter. Out on Hallands Väderö, all the birds got up as two white-tailed eagles flew about a bit.

Moving to the harbour produced a couple of black guillemots and four goosander. A long-range effort looking over to the rev from here secured shelduck (29), velvet scoter (1, scarce at the moment), coot (9), oystercatcher (16) and redshank (1, very scarce at the moment). Our last port of call was Rammsjöstrand, because yesterday I had noticed from Glimminge that the eider flock was building up nicely. Last year there was a king eider here so it seemed like a good idea to check the flock. At least 650 eider just offshore which was nice but plenty of scanning failed to reveal anything else. Also here; greylag goose (150), shelduck (37), teal (4), goosander (2) and coot (19).

Friday, March 5, 2010

The bright day is done...

A firewood-gathering session at Glimminge with all the family this morning, was hard work but produced a few good birds in passing. Two white-tailed eagles easily stole the show, we are being spoilt with these at the moment. Also here shelduck (9), goosander (1), lapwing (1), starling (25) and crossbill (heard only). No doubt more was present but we were too busy to look.

Our first sausage BBQ of the year took place at Hållehallstugan at lunch time and passed without any birds of note!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Village people - 04/03/10

Mrs B and I went for a walk in the morning around the village and down Sinarpsdalen. Pretty quiet although a single hawfinch was nice and we flushed a big owl (eagle?) but could not relocate it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birding - 03/03/10

A clean 2K white-tailed eagle, one of two spotted flying together over the village this afternoon.

Mrs B and I were out again this morning, walking the coast between Lervik and Ranarpstrand in the sun. A few great crested grebes were moving north offshore. Wigeon have been hard to come by lately, so 14 along this stretch were notable. Migrants were evident too with three shelduck, one ringed plover and a flock of 60 skylark during the walk. Grytskaren was hooching with birds that looked eager to get on with breeding. A flock of 200 eider was moored offshore and herring gulls were on site. Passerines were present too with at least 40 starlings, seven fieldfare and three rock pipits feeding along the foreshore. The best bird came at the end when a male peregrine cruised along the coastline from the south and dropped in for a rest.

Later whilst driving home we had two superb 2K white-tailed eagles near the village and a single migrating sparrowhawk. In the afternoon, I went out alone, for the first time since Nelly died. I checked out Glimminge and Vasaltheden and ended up sawing up strandline firewood and humping it to the car. Nice lot of birds on show with more shelduck (13) and ringed plover (13). A weird-looking mallard x wigeon hybrid was present again, with two wigeon and a handful of mallard. The south-facing pines on Vasaltheden had a few siskin, two curlew fed along the coast and a single stock dove batted south. Walking back through the plantation had a single treecreeper, over 50 siskin and another three stock dove. Birds are on the move and it lifts my spirits as usual.

Adult red kite, hunting over Vasaltheden today.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birding - 02/03/10

Plenty of goosander on patch at the moment, this male was with a female at a potential breeding location.

Out the door again for some exercise and fresh air, our only solace at the moment. Stomped about in the snow in the woods between Frestenfälla and Älemossen, but very little noted. A jay called in the distance and a few blue tits were singing. Birds are hard to come by on the patch after nearly three months of snow on the ground. The track to Klarningen was still blocked so we headed to Kattvik next. Very quiet here too, good numbers of great crested grebe (12) offshore, but nos sign of any scoters and just 35 eider.

Later in the day Mrs B and I had a quick walk at Hemmeslövstrand, where there was no sign of yesterdays buildup of goldeneye in a a biting westerly. On the way home drove up Sinarpsdalen and had a pair of Canada geese on the ground in the valley mire. Hard to spend so much time in the field without seeing something good, but we managed to do it today!