Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Micro-session

Managed a little bit of time in the field today. Checked the beaches at Vejbystrand and Stora Hultstrand, both have been remodelled by the recent gale and held just a few ringed plovers and crowds of white wagtails. A single adult red-necked grebe looked good in the sun.

Ranarpsstrand was another story though. An skulking Acro in the ditch on the way to the car park was a surprise reed warbler. Wildfowl were present in reasonable numbers with 90 teal, 19 wigeon, three shoveler and four pintail. A 1K little grebe was a surprise, my first at the site. But it was the same story with waders here with just one greenshank, 24 golden plover and 18 dunlin. Over the blue sea a dark phase Arctic skua harassed a common gull. Then it was back to my domestic chores.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Raptor watch

News that a black kite was heading south towards BK took me out to Klarningen in the afternoon to see if I could pick it up. No joy on the black kite front but nine honey buzzards south, a peregrine and a hunting goshawk (1K) were good reward for the effort.

Low diversity but high numbers of birds on the wetland. Large numbers of lapwing and greylag goose remain on site. Teal numbers have dropped to about 80 though. The ruff flock has hit 20, but there were just single snipe and greenshank otherwise. The access track had a total of nine whinchat and two wheatears.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Duding about on a Sunday

Got out before breakfast and had a look at Klarningen. More greylag geese in (650), with many feeding on spilt grain in the stubble next door. Wigeon numbers have hit the heady heights of 12, just one pintail remains but the shoveler gang is up to at least six birds and the lone tufted duck remains. Waders have reduced slightly with just 6 ruff, three dunlin, snipe (20), curlew (1) and wood sandpiper (2). The lapwing flock is increasing though with 500 present today.

All these birds were unconcerned when a hobby flew through but pandemonium ensued half an hour later when a peregrine flew south over the site.

Spent the rest of the day with the family - a light honey buzzard passage evident over Hallandåsen, coal tit and osprey at Hemmeslövsstrand and a black woodpecker calling near Cafe Utsikten.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quiet morning

Nipped out early to check out Torekov and Glimminge. All the lovely rotting weedmats along the coast have been re-organised and replenished by the recent gale and no longer offer easy feeding opportunities, so there were few waders feeding at the rev. Wigeon are on the move, with ten in this morning. Waders present did include knot (7), dunlin (32), bar-tailed godwit (2), curlew (11) and greenshank (3). No visible passerine migration obvious this morning.

Påarps Mal next, quiet here too with just 30 golden plover, a couple of dunlin and redshank and a greenshank. A single pintail was nice and offshore an adult razorbill and its youngster were cruising about.

Last stop of the morning was a quick look at Glimminge. This produced the only decent bird of the session, a resting 1K little gull. Also here red-necked grebe (1K), ten snipe, bar-tailed godwit (2) and greenshank (2).

In the afternoon we all went for a walk around Vasaltheden, still quiet, no passerines lurking anywhere and little on the move. A flock of 16 goldfinch was the only notable record.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day out with Mrs B

Had a day out with Mrs B after an appointment in Helsingborg. We did Hasslarp first but high water levels (after all the rain) had put most of the waders off. I got unreasonably excited when I realised that for once Klarningen was better value than Hasslarp for waders and ducks! The easy highlight was a gang of 3 honey buzzards drifting south with a sparrowhawk.

Sandön next, reasonably quiet here too though a 1K Caspian gull was briefly spotted before it flew north perhaps to Själlrönnen. Also here water rail (1) and calling bearded tits.

We saved the best for last though with a couple of hours at Rönnen. Lilla Viken was fantastic. First up was a fine 1K red-necked phalarope, and then closer examination revealed a superb broad-billed sandpiper, a little stint and a Temminck's stint. All at close range in splendid light, no hide, no other birders. Just superb! It was so good we had a snooze on the grass in the sun.

Geography and geomorphology have conspired to create an excellent wader pool, Lilla Viken at Rönnen. If there is a more exciting wader location in NW Skåne I would be amazed. I just wish it was in BK! It had a mouth-watering array of waders this afternoon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 2 of seawatching - 26/08/10

Day 2 was a much more relaxed affair, especially as I had Number 2 with me for the whole day, joined by Number 1 in the afternoon. Yttre Kattvik is the only choice when you want to seawatch with kids so back we went. The wind had kept strong west through the night but slowly died during the day. Light and sea-state were conducive to viewing and whilst the number of birds had declined the views were good

The morning session was excellent, a packed carpark was attained shortly after arrival but the number of observers had dwindled to just me and the Klinteroth's by the time two superb 1K long-tailed skuas powered past about 150 metres out. Superb and beyond doubt, I had plenty of 'maybe' views yesterday! Also an osprey, a collection of waders including 4 curlew sandpipers and a Temminck's stint, a nice 1K Arctic skua and 22 1K little gulls and a razorbill past.

Had an hour and a half after lunch at Yttre Kattvik too. Two adult Arctic skuas topped the bill this time and then exhausted we went to check Klarningen to see if the gales had brought anything new. Klarningen was packed with birds. I have become quite accustomed to the site only holding 20 birds that to see over a thousand here is a splendid novelty. The majority were made up of greylag goose (450), teal (200) and lapwing (350). The lapwing flock included a curious yellowish, leucistic bird. Peregrine food. The pintail flock has reached 11, other wildfowl included the two whooper swans, six shoveler and a couple of wigeon. A solitary tufted duck was my first at the site. Wader numbers were also up; ruff (15), curlew (13), spotted redshank (1), greenshank (2) and wood sandpiper (4). The access track had a big haul of five wheatear and six whinchat.

Day 1 of seawatching - 25/08/10

The much-anticipated gale arrived, huge westerlies thrashing the sea into a maelstrom. I had to fit several short sessions in around my domestic duties but although I missed a lot of birds, my species tally at the end of the day was OK. Many birders had come to BK from a great distance and they like I were probably slightly disappointed, especially when the news of a great shearwater on neighbouring Kullaberg hit in the mid afternoon (great shearwater is an extreme mega here). I made one 'greenhorn' error, the seas were so big I should have gone to Hovs Hallar to get on higher ground, there is a reason everyone heads there after all! Yttre Kattvik is right next door but you are almost at sea-level there and we failed to pick up a huge number of birds today that were spotted at neighbouring Hovs Hallar.

Anyhow, I started the day with a pre-breakfast session at Yttre Kattvik, the easy highlight was a close adult pomarine skua just before I headed home. Probably my best view in Sweden. Also on the move small numbers of pintail, common scoter, ringed plover, knot, dunlin, whimbrel, tirnstone and lesser black-backed gull.

An hour and 20 minutes later I was back at Yttre Kattvik, having missed little in my absence. Alarm bells were ringing but I stuck it out, what amazed me most about the day was the lack of gannets and appreciable numbers of kittiwake. It is so hard to second-guess what will turn up in a given gale. Gannets have been in short supply all year for some reason.

This second session produced my first Arctic skua of the day, as well as a single kittiwake (1K) and at least 10 1K little gulls. I got itchy feet later and tried Båstad for a couple of hours. There was nothing obvious stuck in the corner, just a couple more Arctic skuas and two more 1K little gulls.

My last session of the day was at Ripagården, in the teeth of the gale. I hunkered down in the lee of the northernmost bunker and finally got gannet (2) for the year! Also here incredible views of two great skuas as they steamed past together and two more kittiwake (1K).

So at the end of the day I had not done too badly, dipping Manx shearwater and long-tailed skua but doing OK.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A glorious mixed-bag and a patch tick too!

A classic patch day and a sure sign that autumn is upon us, managed a few little mini-session and amassed a great haul of birds. Nipped out in the morning after sorting out the team and checked Ehrenstorp. This site has been good for wryneck in August in the past and it did not disappoint this morning. I had a wonderful ten minute encounter with one of these crazy woodpeckers - a patch year-tick.

Not sure what went wrong with this one, it was quite dark but perhaps I shouldn't have had the camera on the 'fireworks' setting. It was a great bird!

Also here one very close migrating honey buzzard, a dozen mistle thrushes and both spotted and pied flycatcher. Although BK has 55 kilometres of coastline, in August you are better off looking for common migrants on the higher ground. A quick look at Klarningen in strong SW winds and occasional heavy showers produced two whooper swans, shoveler (3), ruff (6), greenshank (1) and wood sandpiper (4).

In the afternoon I had 20 minutes at Vejbystrand and neighbouring Stora Hultstrand, the wind was very strong and the sea was incredible. Waders were clinging on at Vejbystrand with knot (2), curlew sandpiper (2, 1K), dunlin (4) and bar-tailed godwit (3). Right by the fence that marks the boundary between the two minicipalities was a beautiful broad-billed sandpiper - just 30 cm off-patch! Not to worry though, I flushed it south and poked my telescope over the fence to look into BK and there were two more on Stora Hultstrand. Result, my first patch 'flock' of these northern beauties. Also here knot (1), Temminck's stint (1) and curlew sandpiper (1, adult).

Arriving home later after the school-run, I realised rather late in the day that sea-watching was happening. The wind was strong but I thought it was too SW for seabird action. Things were happening to the north though, so I gave it a couple of hours at Yttre Kattvik at the end of the day. Just terns moving for me, but quite big numbers and it was no surprise when an adult black tern came past close-in. Patch tick! There have been so many around this month that is was slightly inevitable but still a great moment. Tomorrow looks monster for sea-watching and I will be squeezing in sessions around my various domestic duties and hoping for the best...

Monday, August 23, 2010

A few dragonflies

Not much birding today, busy in the house. Did manage to get out for a couple of hours looking at a few dragonfly sites. The ponds near Lindab in the village were surprisingly good value with 9 species of Odonata, including another Sympetrum flaveolum. Also here three grey wagtails, presumably local breeders dispersing as a family group.

Checked out Hålehallstugan too, more common dragonflies on the wing and a surprise Calopteryx splendens here (another late record). The tufted duck flock has reached 21 and then it was time to return to domestic duties.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Could not get out of bed this morning, eventually got out for the tail-end of the windy weather at Yttre Kattvik for a mid-morning session with the whole team. The results of the hour-long watch, whilst not stunning did suggest that I should have made the effort to get out earlier! A big surprise was a female scaup, belting past in the company of a female tufted duck. Other good birds included a flock of six 1K little gulls, a 1K kittiwake, a single knot and a whimbrel.

After lunch I nipped out on my own to look at Torekov and Ripagården. The rev was excellent but once again the birds were distant and spooky (too many raptors around, including an excellent 1K peregrine). Best of the waders; knot (8), sanderling (1), little stint (1 - patch year-tick), Temminck's stint (2), curlew sandpiper (1 1K), dunlin (68), ruff (3) and turnstone (2). A few passerines dropping out too with lesser whitethroat, whitethroat and yellow wagtail evident. Had a recce around the back of Flymossen enjoying a food pass between an adult and a juvenile marsh harrier and adding a few dragonfly species to the fledgling square list.

Last stop of the day was at Ripagården. The beach had knot (3) and bar-tailed godwit (7) and the bushes had at least one red-backed shrike. It was eyes down for dragonflies though and I may have glimpsed a male Sympetrum striolatum (scarce here). Did see a few definite Sympetrum vulgatum. and some other common species.

Sympetrum vulgatum male.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birding - 21/08/10

Nipped out to Torekov before breakfast. The rev was busy but many of the birds were roosting out of view and it was hard counting them. The highlight was my first patch sanderling of the year, other waders present including; grey plover (1), knot (8), curlew sandpiper (1), dunlin (36), ruff (1), bar-tailed godwit (3) and turnstone (1). A huge movement of tree pipits evident with perhaps 400 flying past in just over an hour. A few grounded tree pipit and yellow wagtail about too.

A pair of cranes south whilst we were at Klarningen this morning, plenty of other migrants on the move too.

Took the kids out of the house after breakfast to allow Mrs B to take it easy and recover from a nasty cold. Klarningen was the chosen spot and we had an entertaining two hours here. After all the recent rain and windy weather the water levels were up nicely and there were plenty of birds about. Big flocks of greylag (450), teal (180) and lapwing (250) contributed to the almost bustling feel to the place. The pintail flock has grown to nine birds and single shoveler was also present. Despite the good numbers of teal I could not find a garganey. A 1K goshawk entertained us, sitting up to be admired and occasionally sparring with hooded crows and a marsh harrier and also making more serious efforts to kill a common gull. Other raptors included up to five marsh harriers and two red kite. Two cranes drifted south and there were four whinchats on the fence. Waders were present in a reasonable variety and the raptor action ensured that most were flushed for views at some point or another. Hightlights included golden plover (1), Temminck's stint (1), ruff (1), snipe (10), curlew (8) and wood sandpiper (4).

Be nice to see Klarningen bank-full one day but things are moving on nicely, it is a delight to watch the gradual colonisation of the site by aquatic macrophytes and water quality seems good.

Before lunch we just had time to nip into Petersberg and look for a few dragonflies in the sun. We got eight species, including a single male Lestes virens (over-looked in the last three years evidently...), a nice male Aeshna cyanea and two late Libellula quadrimaculata. The kids enjoyed a big longhorn beetle we found (Aromia moschata).

Aromia moschata or musk beetle at Petersberg today.

Southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea), my first at Petersberg.

Two late Libellula quadrimaculata were flying at Petersberg too.

After lunch we headed out again this time to twitch a broad-billed sandpiper reported yesterday at Stora Hult. No problems with this bird, it was one of the few waders present at the site and good views were had. Walking on to Vejbystrand we were rewarded with close views of three 1K curlew sandpipers and a dozing 1K little gull. Last stop wasa quick look at Ranarpsstrand, a few waders here including; dunlin (2), snipe (6), spotted redshank (2), greenshank (4), green sandpiper (1) and wood sandpiper (9).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two year-ticks today!

This male Lestes virens was just one of a swarm noted at an off-patch site near Gånarp.

Mmmm, nice! Mrs B is starting to call me a nerd when I whip out my hand-lens and start looking at anal claspers...

The site at Gånarp, it looks very good and I will try to get back next year. Not got much of this kind of habitat in BK but searching it out is a priority. We found two possible contenders today.

After dropping off Number 1 at school the rest of Team Benstead headed off to scope out a few dragonfly sites for next year. [I have taken on 8 BK squares for the 2009-2014 Dragonfly Atlas of Skåne, which is why there has been so much dragonfly action of late.] Our first stop was Gånarp and a beautiful little site crammed with Lestes virens. One on patch last week and now this! Too much. Afterwards we headed back on patch to check out a few sites that might offer the same biotope, we kind of succeeded but no sign of any more virens. A single honey buzzard (probably a resident) was our only birdy reward.

Aeshna mixta (female) at Rönnen.

In the afternoon I jettisoned the team (who were going shopping) and headed out to do the nearby coast from Sandön to Farhult. Sandön had a scattering of waders, best of the lot was my first sanderling of the year but also notable were; grey plover (1), knot (10), dunlin (60), ruff (2), bar-tailed godwit (2), curlew (58), redshank (6) and turnstone (1).

Rönnen was quiet, the geese had taken over and I could not avoid flushing 850 barnacle geese from the paths where they were happily grazing. Clearly no-one had been birding much today, which was why I could roll up and find these dollying about on the water...

Surprise of the afternoon was not one but four red-necked phalaropes at Rönnen, my first multiple encounter in Skåne and a year-tick to boot! There are three in this photograph (honest!), taken at long range on macro setting...

Other waders at Rönnen included; avocet (13), knot (1), another sanderling, Temminck's stint (1), three spotted redshank and at least 15 wood sandpipers. Last stop of the day was Farhult, thrashed about behind the reedbed for dragonflies and then did the birds. Waders again providing the interest. Another single sanderling made me wonder if I was being followed. Also here; avocet (4), grey plover (3), knot (21), curlew sandpiper (1), dunlin (105), bar-tailed godwit (20, most flying past including one with an orange leg flag - French?), an impressive 57 redshank and 14 greenshank.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More dragonfly action

Didn't get out this morning, instead checked the garden before breakfast. A single garden warbler was nice and appropriate too.

Number 1 started school today so I whisked Mrs B off for a walk so we could have a cry - they grow up so fast! Påarps Mal had a big flock of 350 golden plover, as well as four greenshank and a couple of green sandpipers. A mild westerly meant we should really have been somewhere more useful but we still managed 13 grey plover south at fairly long range.

1K curlew sandpipers are such smart birds.

Next stop was the rev, packed with birds and some of them were waders. Five 1K curlew sandpipers were good and the supporting cast included; grey plover (1), Temminck's stint (2), dunlin (30), ruff (2), bar-tailed godwit (2), redshank (10) and turnstone (3). Still no sanderling... The bushes had a few migrants in them and would have repaid a little effort no doubt. But we moved on to Flytermossen for some dragonflies. Amongst the common stuff was my first Sympetrum flaveolum on the patch (my 36th BK Odonata species and the last of those on the current list that I had not recorded).

A hastily snapped photo of the male Sympetrum flaveolum at Flytermossen today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sun!

Another pre-breakfast session saw me checking out Storahultsstrand, Vejbystrand and Ranarpsstrand. Storahult had three Temminck's stints that were quite confiding and a scattering of other waders including 25 common sandpipers and a single bar-tailed godwit. Walking off-patch to Vejbystrand produced my first 1K curlew sandpiper of the year (together with an adult and 20 dunlin). The weed was covered in white wagtails and at least four yellows.

Last stop before home was Ranarpsstrand, fairly quiet there though three shoveler, eight greenshank and 15 wood sandpipers were nice.

After breakfast we went to Bösketorp and checked out the wetlands, mostly for dragonflies. Birds appeared inevitably though with a fast hobby through at the start (always a good sign on a dragonfly mission), four excellent and small 1K little grebes, a honey buzzard (possibly migrating), a single green sandpiper and a couple of 1K red-backed shrikes.

Bösketorp had four half-pint little grebes, the first time I have proved breeding in BK. I am not very familiar with this plumage, which seems strange but is very true.

Female Sympetrum vulgatum. Oooh, look at the vulvar scale on that!

Dragonflies here were predicatable enough with a single Anax imperator taking the honours, amongst a collection of commoner species.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Number 43 - so soon!

Examination of the few Odonata records from BK on the national database over the last few days, threw up the shocking discovery that Ischnura pumilio is present in BK! I have presumably been overlooking them because armed with this knowledge I found one this morning at Klarningen.

Mmmm! Orange! A fresh female Ischnura pumilio, another Swedish dragonfly tick (my third this week!).

The black 'hour-glass' shape on the orange pronotum (between thorax and head) is a good diagnostic feature of pumilio.

Anyway to start at the beginning, I nipped out for another pre-breakfast session to Klarningen this morning. Grey overcast skies as usual lately, but not a breath of wind just after dawn. Dragonflies were surprisingly active and as well as the splendid pumilio I found the Coenagrion pulchellum pictured below, and plenty of Aeshna mixta.

Broken humeral stripes and the weird 'Y' S2 marking reveal the identity of this Coenagrion pulchellum.

Plenty of birds about at Klarningen too. The main bit of water had a flock of at least 87 teal, a scattering of mallard and my first pintail (5) at the site. With this many birds around, I decided to leave out the southern section and just walk the northern half. Eventual totals for the two hour session were; lapwing (40), dunlin (1), ruff (4), snipe (6), spotted redshank (1), greenshank (2), common sandpiper (1) and wood sandpiper (15). Tree pipits and yellow wagtails were much in evidence overhead, a redstart was calling along the river and the access track had four wheatear and two whinchat.

After breakfast I checked out Vasaltheden hoping for more dragonfly action, but it started to drizzle. I poked about a bit looking hard at the wetter parts of the site, just one red-backed shrike and three yellow wagtails surrendered.

In the afternoon Mrs B and I dropped in quickly at Malen and had a neat little gull (1K) feeding along the shoreline and in the distance behind another at Stensåns mynning in neighbouring Halland.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Swedish tick - Erythromma viridulum!

Nipped out pre-breakfast for a look around Torekov this morning, strong easterlies blowing but still overcast and very muggy. The rev was fairly quiet and the waders were a bit jumpy. A 1K goshawk steamed in at one point from the direction of Hallands Väderö, which may have explained this behaviour. Migrants mostly consisted of waders with; ringed plover (30), dunlin (29), ruff (8), bar-tailed godwit (1), redshank (8) and greenshank (3). A nice 1K red-backed shrike was by the car as I left.

The quest for a good fox photo continues... This was just one of a string of predators scaring the birds at Påarps Mal this morning.

A quick look at the sewage works area, revealed that it was being disturbed, just 2 greenshank flying away and a depressed-looking kestrel were present. Påarps Mal was better, although in the 50 minutes I was there the plover flock was put up by buzzard, sparrowhawk and a fox. This allowed me to estimate the number of golden plover present at about 300 though. Also here; lapwing (80), snipe (6), redshank (4), greenshank (2), green sandpiper (2) and common sandpiper (3). Driving home for breakfast I stopped briefly at a potato field near Dagshög for a big flock of 60 linnets and at least 8 yellow wagtails.

In the afternoon, Mrs B dropped me and the kids at Hasslarp for an hour while she went on to Helsingborg. Hasslarp was good today. The easy highlight was a single male Erythromma viridulum and a range extension for this recent colonist. Is there a colony at the site already or is this the vanguard of the inevitable invasion?

Dragonfly species number 42 for my Swedish list and probably a good find too. Erythromma viridulum has been spreading from the extreme south of Sweden, where it was first recorded in 2004. This sighting may be the most northerly in Skåne and may also be the first in NW Skåne, there are no other records in the excellent national invertebrate database anyway. I reckon I will find it in BK this year if I look hard.

X marks the spot! One of the diagnostic features of Erythromma viridulum is the black cross incised into the blue of S10 (the apical segment of the abdomen).

Birds were good too, with a garganey, a superb broad-billed sandpiper and a good scattering of common migrant waders including a splendid 26 wood sandpipers and 11 spotted redshank.

Number one modelling this year's Aeshna mixta (female) at Hasslarp today.

Last stop of the birding day was an hour at Sandön. The easterly winds had cleared a lot of water off the site and birds were abundant. Wildfowl included wigeon (2), gadwall (2), pintail (1) and shoveler (1). The mudflats held waders galore with three superb broad-billed sandpipers being the best of it, but also knot (6), Temminck's stint (2) and curlew sandpiper (1). From the island the gull and tern roost contained two 1K and two adult black terns, as well as two dinky 1K little gulls. Walking back the reed edge revealed two skittish water rails and a couple of feeding bearded tits. Two ospreys hunted overhead and an adult hobby shot past. A superb day out.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dragging with the team

Went off-patch today with the team to have a look around the nearby Rossjön area with dragonflies in mind. The weather was overcast, muggy and with occasional showers but we had a good look at some interesting sites near Lärkeröd. Very few species on the wing, but we saw a nice selection of common species.

Sympetrum sanguineum - a diminuitive little jewel of a libellulid.

Teneral male Sympetrum danae, we saw a few mature black individuals too.

On the way home the kids went swimming at Västersjön and I spotted three goosander and a family party of great crested grebe.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dragonfly tick!

Nipped out this morning briefly to check Eskilstorpstrand (hoping for little gull or black tern, both reported nearby and just off-patch recently) but nothing seen of note. Also spent an hour up the tower at Klarningen too before breakfast. The teal flock has reached 51 and a few fieldfare, yellow wagtail and tree pipit were on the move. Waders were not very obvious but I scraped up ringed plover (2), golden plover (6), lapwing (75), snipe (1) and curlew (2). On the way home drove over the top but the high ground was too foggy to bird.

In the afternoon we all checked out the loop trail near Killeröd, which I thought we had walked before but actually was new! Nice walk, mixtures of different conifer species and plenty of softwood too. Some nice wet hollows choked with Sphagnum as well. Despite the overcast conditions we did well for dragonflies; recording Aeshna grandis, Aeshna juncea, Sympetrum danae, Sympetrum vulgatum, Sympetrum sanguineum and best of all a single female Lestes virens (a lifer). Birds did not feature much although we did get a pair of bullfinch and a female red-backed shrike.

Aeshna grandis, lots of these guys on the wing at the moment. One of my favourite dragonflies.

Lestes virens a female, my first in Sweden or anywhere for that matter. I originally mistook this for dryas but the pterostigma was brown with pales sides and the ovipositor sheath (although not pale but bicoloured, contra Dijkstra and Lewington) was gently pointed.

A rather cross grass snake I showed the kids, they were quite keen until it stank the place out by voiding a cloacal secretion that smelled strongly of rotten garlic. Who needs poison?

Female Aeshna juncea in the hand - such good views allow the diagnostic yellow costa and yellow spots behind the eyes to be appreciated.

On the way home we quickly checked Hålehallstugan hoping for more dragonflies but the weather had deteriorated too much. Big flock of tufted duck here though (19) and a single little grebe.

Friday the Thirteenth

Did a bit of birding at Ranarpsstrand this morning before dropping the car off for routine maintenance at the doctor's. Nothing much doing at Ranarpsstrand this morning; goosander (3), golden plover (47), snipe (4), spotted redshank (1), green sandpiper (1), wood sandpiper (6) and 80 Sandwich terns.

Walking back through the village later had my first patch lesser spotted woodpecker of the year (calling), as well as common crossbill (5) and grey wagtail (1). Autumn is upon us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another day out with the kids...

Four days in a row! Birding kicked off in the garden this morning over breakfast. The garden has been very quiet in the last fortnight, but this morning we woke to find at least four redstarts, a pied flycatcher and a couple of robins hopping about. Migrants or just our breeders returning to fatten up from the woods nearby?

The kids have been great this week and did not grumble at all when they got themselves ready for another day in the field. We did not get far before we pulled over to look at a migrating honey buzzard. Before going off-patch we dropped in on Ranarpsstrand quickly. A 20 minute survey revealed that the garganey was still present and a loud trilling revealed that I had over-looked a Temminck's stint that was now noisily making its getaway. Other notable birds here; golden plover (13), dunlin (2), spotted redshank (3) and wood sandpiper (4). At least five yellow wagtails flew south whilst we sat.

Our next stop was Hasslarps dammar. Not been here for a while and it was full of birds that are hard to find in Bjäre as usual. Notables here included; shoveler (5), pochard (1), tufted duck (25), little grebe (3), Temminck's stint (3), curlew sandpiper (1), ruff (47), spotted redshank (10), greenshank (13) and wood sandpiper (12). A few dragonflies on the wing too in the sultry weather; I checked carefully through the small numbers of Aeshna mixta that were flying hoping for an affinis (Sweden's first records have come this summer, part of a widespread invasion of northern climes this year). Also here Aeshna cyanea, Aeshna grandis, Sympetrum vulgatum and Enallagma cyathigerum.

On our way back from Helsingborg we dropped in on Sandön but failed to make any serious contribution. Highlights were; wigeon (2), pintail (1), goosander (7), knot (13), ruff (6) and bar-tailed godwit (14).

Got home to find that Olofsson had seen a 2K female Montagu's harrier in BK this morning!! Had I hastily mis-identified my ringtail hen harrier of yesterday? I had forgotten that Monties had an identifiable 2K plumage in females, what a dude! I am checking my photos and trying to get the gen from Olofsson. I have an uneasy feeling, just off to read Forsman now...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grey day

Took the kids to Klarningen this morning for a walk round. The highlight was an early hen harrier (1K), Also here; teal (17), ruff (4), snipe (4), curlew (3), wood sandpiper (2) but no sign of yesterday's bar-tailed godwit (nice one Jens!). A quick feeding of the ducks at Båstad produced three goosander, the sea surprisingly bare of birds.

A dull evening walk from Öllövsstrand to Glimminge in showers and a strong southerly produced a 1K red-backed shrike, a couple of goosander and a smattering of waders. Hope this weather changes soon, it is starting to feel really autumnal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another great day out with the kids

Osprey at Sandön, we had a superb adult white-tailed eagle over at Farhult today but I was too busy enjoying it to get a photo...

Headed off-patch with the kids this morning, picking up a female grey wagtail at Lindab in the village. Our first port of call was Sandön, water levels were high after the recent westerly winds but dropping already under the calm and sunny weather we enjoyed today. The forecast looked grim on Sunday, a full week of rain but we somehow got lucky. Predicting the weather in this neck of the woods seems to be fraught with difficulties.

Sandön was great. Viewing from the flagpole produced a good number of waders, including; grey plover (4), knot (11), bar-tailed godwit (17) and spotted redshank (5). Far out at sea I watched a beautiful 1K little gull messing about with the terns and it slowly made it's way to the island and dropped out of sight. We headed that way over the bridge and were treated to great views of this mint little bird, and nearby rested an equally enjoyable 1K black tern (this was one of the targets for the day, there having been up to 9 here recently - we just scraped this one in!). A single pintail was most welcome too. Bearded tits called in the reeds as we walked back to the car and Number 1 fell into the sea...

Rönnen was great too. Wildfowl included a big flock of 400 barnacle geese, as well as single shoveler and wigeon. The sandflats to the west of the island were crowded with geese and with a little patience produced some good waders. The highlight here was the brace of broad-billed sandpipers, but a little stint made me smile too. All three fed at great distance, ignoring the presence of the 50-odd dunlin feeding right beside the path... Also here; avocet (3), ringed plover (75), Temminck's stint (3), ruff (15), spotted redshank (3) and wood sandpiper (5).

Last stop was Farhult, which hosted a large crowd of barnacle geese (250), as well as plenty of sun-bathing people. We waded off down to the river-mouth end of the beach and looked around. It was hard to get close to the birds without causing disturbance but this soon became unimportant when a white-tailed eagle cruised past and put very single bird up! Great bird and nice to see in the summer. Other highlights here included a single (2K?) black-throated diver, avocet (8), grey plover (7), knot (12), ruff (1), bar-tailed godwit (11) and spotted redshank (4).

On the way home we stopped quickly at Sandön again to check for new arrivals and found a single ruff and two golden plover in residence.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sea-watching with kids

With a reasonable 6 metres per second westerly forecast it was time to get out and see if anything was moving this morning. Dragged the kids out late (0830) to Yttre Kattvik in the rain and settled them in the back of the car with the seats down, in a big nest filled with books and toys. It worked quite well...

No proper seabirds noted but the first hour of the three was not bad for passage waders and also had a total of 31 common scoter, one velvet and two smart summer-plumaged black-throated divers. Waders past included a superb flock of fifteen grey plovers, six dunlin, a whimbrel and two redshank. A single razorbill was a notable, they have become scarce since the local birds fledged young.

Later after tea I nipped out quickly to check Stora Hult and Ranarpsstrand. Stora Hult had many of the same waders as the other day with the adult curlew sandpiper still present, along with seven snipe, three wood sandpipers, over 20 dunlin and a Temminck's stint on nearby Vejbystrand. Three bar-tailed godwit were also present. A very quick look at Ranarpsstrand revealed an absence of Caspian or black terns (my next most likely patch-ticks now that garganey has fallen) but did produce at least 25 teal, three snipe, one 1K spotted redshank, two greenshank and nine wood sandpipers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rain at Klarningen

Mrs B and I packed the kids off to the grand-parents and grabbed an hour and a half at Klarningen this afternoon. Lately we have made a real effort to find time to talk, whilst at the same time checking out a few birds! We sat in the new tower hide to get out of the persistent rain. The view from the tower is not bad, but water levels are low and there was surprisingly little on show. Birds gave themselves up slowly as they were flushed by raptors or deer and we saw the following; teal (20), golden plover (2), snipe (1), ruff (1), spotted redshank (1), redshank (2), greenshank (2) and wood sandpiper (1).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

21 species of wader and a patch tick!

Worked the patch hard today for a total of 21 species of wader, nothing unusual amongst the haul but it was a good day. This barwit was almost eating out of my hand...

Nipped out early for a go at Torekov and Gröthögarna in the hope of a few waders and had a nice little session. En route a sparrowhawk crossed the road at Dagshög, one of three seen today. As I approached Påarps Mal a bank of fog rushed to meet me and I spent the first fifteen minutes listening to waders. Spotted redshank (1, 1K) and greenshank (3) were very vocal. Slowly the fog parted and I could look around, and discover that there was not actually that much about. The best bird was the 1K spotted redshank but also found; ringed plover (7), golden plover (11), snipe (4), green sandpiper (3) and common sandpiper (4). As I turned to leave a grey plover called and I managed to pick it up as it flew past south (patch year-tick at last).

Påarps Mal may be good for roosting shags and golden plover but I always think that the rev is more of a magnet for waders and so it proved this morning, with the following spotted; ringed plover (40), grey plover (1), dunlin (18), ruff (3), bar-tailed godwit (5, another patch year-tick), whimbrel (1), curlew (1), spotted redshank (1, 1K), redshank (8), greenshank (2) and common sandpiper (24). A trawl of the woods produced very little, just two marsh tits of note.

Last stop before heading home to pick up the team was a quick look at Norra Ängalag.On arrival two peregrines were dog-fighting offshore, an exhilarating display of their prowess in the air. Also here two marsh harriers drifting north (?), another grey plover and bar-tailed godwit and a little tern (which may prove to be my last of the year).

The team were raring to go, picnic at the ready and so off we went. We lunched at Ranarpsstrand and this proved to be a great move. Within ten minutes I was watching my first patch garganey, a female (high on the most-wanted list and a great moment). Also here as we tuckd in to our lunch were; goosander (3), golden plover (1), dunlin (1), snipe (1), redshank (1), greenshank (2), green sandpiper (1), wood sandpiper (8) and common sandpiper (4). Moving on to the beach at Stora Hultstrand, I checked out the seaweed pool briefly. It has been looking good and the birds obviously like it; more waders here with little ringed plover (1), curlew sandpiper (adult) and four Temminck's stints being new for the day and taking the total of waders spotted to 21. Nice one!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kingfisher!

Pheosia gnoma or lesser swallow prominent, found in the house today. I like the Princess Leia hair-do.

After a day working on the house (chopping out an oil-tank...I may never hear goldcrests again), I nipped out for more saw-blades and a look at Klarningen. Not much water and the whole site has been mown, flocks of crows and at least two red kites were picking through the short sward for dead things. The tower is nearly finished though, I wonder who will cut the ribbon?

A few birds about, although most of the resident waders have moved on, hopefully the fledglings got off safely last month. A big flock of 150 lapwing was present and smaller numbers of other migrants; snipe (2), greenshank (3) and wood sandpiper (2).

Halfway round I was stunned to hear a kingfisher travelling up the river. Ever since the long, hard second winter period I have been hoping for one and this was amazingly my first of the year. They must have been hit awfully hard by all that ice, maybe I will get a dipper too this year after all.

Over on Eskilstorpsdammar a single osprey drifted past, there were also a small number of buzzard that may have been migrating in a rather languid fashion. The final highlight came in the form of a female red-backed shrike, sitting next to a bush with some rather noisy (and rather late) nest-bound youngsters. Nice one!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Picnic at Påarps Mal

Took the team for lunch at Påarps Mal today. The first shag of the autumn was predictable enough (oo err missus!). A few waders also with ringed plover (10), golden plover (95), lapwing (50), snipe (2), redshank (1), greenshank (3), green sandpiper (2), common sandpiper (3). Plenty of gulls about too, they are on the move. The black-headed gull with the unreadable white darvic ring was taunting me again, I think it is a very old ring, it looks like crazy-paving rather than digits or letters. A quick look at a busy rev produced big numbers of Sandwich tern (70), common tern (3) and dunlin (6).

A swim at a deserted Ripagården on the way home produced just one common sandpiper.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back on patch

After driving from Holland yesterday, there was just enough energy available to walk from Vejbystrand to Ranarpsstrand this afternoon. The patch has been quiet in my absence, the hot weather continued for a while and then broke down. A good blow at the end of July produced a few good seabirds and someone reported a serin at Torekov too. Waders have also been more in evidence with a good spread of species, many of which would be patch year-ticks. With this in mind I headed out.

Starting my walk at Vejbystrand was always going to be risky, it is just outside the patch, but it is a good stretch so it would be churlish to avoid it. I BK-tick using UK county rules (ie the bird has to be in or over the patch to count), Vejbystrand has made me curse in the past and it did not disappoint today. Not one but three would-be patch year-ticks (bar-tailed godwit, two grey plover and two knot) sat on rocks just yards from the BK border...

Walking on into the patch I hoped to claw them back but a single knot at Ranarpstrand was my only reward. Big numbers (55) of common sandpiper present along the coast today. Also small numbers of wood sandpiper and ringed plover, as well as green sandpiper (1), golden plover (2), whimbrel (2) and greenshank (3). Two adult Arctic terns at Ranarpsstrand were my first of the autumn. Good to be back.

Postcard from the Île de Ré

Spent an enjoyable five days on the Île de Ré, near La Rochelle recently. Great to have big tides and a big sea for a change. The island offers good birding. I enjoyed the Category C sacred ibises (!), Mediterranean gulls, Scops owls, bluethroats and fan-tailed warblers.

More Île de Ré birding info at Nick Ransdale's website.

Black-winged stilts, it was great to be out in tidal saltmarsh habitat again. The absence of any meaningful tides in our part of Sweden meant the kids got to go rock-pooling for the first time ever too!

White-spotted bluethroat (1K male) - I have not seen enough white-spots in my life. The marshes of the Île de Ré support a healthy population of these birds.


Postcard from the Elbe

Stopped off in the middle Elbe in Germany on our recent foray into France. The idea was to chase a few dragonflies, but other stuff kept getting in the way. This section of the Elbe was one of the few remaining strongholds of the European beaver before their successful re-introduction to parts of their former range. It was surprising though to be watching a huge adult down to less than 2 metres (with the kids perched on our shoulders) within half an hour of arrival... (my camera was in the car!)

Distant white-tailed eagle, one of a pair harrassing wildfowl along the river.

One of the obvious differences in the bird fauna compared to southern Sweden was that black kites were numerous.

Somatochlora metallica

A good population of white storks is found along this stretch of the Elbe.

Of the 16 species of dragonfly encountered the most pleasing for me was a small population of Erythromma viridulum. Not seen these guys since I left the UK. Our target species Ophiogomphus cecilia eluded us...