Thursday, September 30, 2010

Redwings!

Me and Number 2 went for a walk this morning around the Killeröd loop track. Quite a few birds as usual and plenty on the move. Migrants going over included woodpigeon (18), tree pipit (1), meadow pipit (2), my first redwing (2) of the season and brambling (1). In the woods we could hear crossbills and jays, and in the clearing we had a deja vu moment when a nutcracker flew on exactly the same track, equally stuffed with nuts, as the last time we did this walk. Thrushes were noticeable with at least five song thrushes and two mistles.

We took our packed lunch back to Ranarpsstrand, hoping for a migrant or two. In just over an hour and a half we managed; gadwall (1), Slavonian grebe (1), grey plover (1K), greenshank (1), lesser whitethroat (1) and redpoll (3). Siskin were moving in small groups past us almost continously, but most of the other vismig was going on just a little bit inland this morning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maggots!

With Number 2 still 'off sick', we headed out with her wrapped up in the back of the car in a big duvet nest. We tried Yttre Kattvik, but after our first frost overnight, the heat-haze off the sea was appalling...

Moving on we tried Klarningen (my 100th visit!), plenty of birds here but we had hardly started when we discovered that Number 1 had left her coat in the car... Notable birds we managed to see before leaving to go back to school were; barnacle goose (40, still present), wigeon (90), teal (90), pintail (2), hobby (1K), dunlin (3) and ruff (20+).

In the afternoon I pronounced Number 2 fit for light duties and we went out into the fantastic blue-sky weather to check out Ranarpstrand for an hour. A few barn swallow, skylark and buzzard on the move. Notable birds included; red-necked grebe (1), golden plover (1), grey plover (1K), dunlin (9) and greenshank (1).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scratching about

With Number 2 off her food and slightly feverish yesterday, it was time to take things easy. We did head out in the afternoon though and squeezed in half an hour at Sandön before some shopping. Sandön was quiet with oystercatcher (1), dunlin (2), snipe (4) and bar-tailed godwit (5).

I nipped out for the last couple of hours of the day on my own. Tried Klarningen, forgetting that the sun would be right in my eyes. Couldn't use the tower anyway because of the ongoing work, so went for walk. Water levels have gone up again since my last visit and are starting to look respectable. The birds like it too with the following counted; barnacle goose (40), wigeon (94), ruff (33), snipe (12) and best of all a late spotted redshank (my first this month). A few passerines knocking about including a lone brambling, 15 skylark and seven fieldfare.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow morning

Windy from the north-east today. Checked out Ripagården in the morning. It was surprisingly quiet considering the huge numbers of migrating birds reported a little to the north at Grötvik. A light siskin and meadow pipit passage was evident and a male and 1K hen harrier came in-off together at one point. The woods held no obvious migrants, other than a single goldcrest.

Tried Torekov rev next and there were a few more birds of note here including my first Slavonian grebe of the autumn and 6 1K grey plovers. A quiet morning.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back home

Water levels are high at Klarningen attracting good numbers of teal and other wildfowl.

Home again, having missed some stupendous sea-watching and at least one pallid harrier on the patch during my absence. Went for a look at Klarningen with the family this morning, water levels are up again and there were good numbers of teal (180) and wigeon (57). Also pintail (2), goldeneye (2), little grebe (1), dunlin (9), ruff (27) and greenshank (2). On the fields to the north a single snipe and nine golden plover.

A quick play at Eskilstorpstrand produced a calling crested tit and a flyby dunlin. We drove home past Älemossen and had a flock of 8 mistle thrush.

Looks like the disagreement between the council and the contractors has been settled and they are working to address the various issues with the bird tower. The bad news is the stairs have gone for the moment...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Postcard from Georgia

It's a steep learning curve for me on this trip, lots of new things encountered in the last few days and no doubt more to come. Pleasingly we have got to grips with one of the two potential new birds for me on the trip, my fifth lifer of 2010. Migration is in full swing, raptor passage is especially good, but many of the passerines are hard to find and may already have gone south.

Yesterday I finally unblocked Caucasian black grouse (my most wanted chicken). Had three males scooting about on the other side of a valley above Bakuriani just after dawn. My fourth time in habitat, so this bird was becoming very important! Whilst we watched we counted no less than 8 pallid harriers flying from roost on the slopes above us and heading over the pass and south. Mega! [Image nicked from BirdLife website]

Another new thing yesterday was a colony of social voles (Microtus socialis) up on the hills beyond the Javakheti Pass.

One of our target species above the Javakheti Pass was the impressive Colchicum speciosum. The supporting cast here included huge flocks of hundreds of twite and a few shorelark.

Rana macrocnemis - a new amphibian for me. Hundreds of tiddlers along the shore of Lake Tabatskuri yesterday.

Today we walked in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. Here we encountered Aeshna mixta in enormous numbers, some clearings having 500-600 hunting individuals as the sun dropped.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Doh!

Predictably with me on the first day of a trip to Georgia, there was a monster sea-watching session in BK today. Sabine's gull, Leach's petrel and sooty shearwater; all of which would have been patch year-ticks... Still mustn't grumble, although we spent most of today either shopping in Tbilisi or relocating to the hills, we did OK for birds. The oak forest above Tbilisi at Kodjori proved to be good for red-breasted flycatcher and green warbler and we had a few migrants including incredibly a female Menetrie's warbler, as well as a nice gang of ortolan! In cool, overcast conditions there was little evidence of raptor migration, although there were a number of grounded buzzards along the way. It should be a good trip.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two hours at Yttre Kattvik

Number 2 and I were back at Yttre Kattvik for two hours mid-morning in strong south-westerly winds. Johan Stenlund and another birder were already in position and reported that not much had happened so far. As I sat down though after converting the car into a play-pen, they called the first skua, the first of five Arctics. As usual some of the birds were educational... Also noted were migrating common scoter (44), velevet scoter (5), black-throated diver (3), great crested grebe (1), gannet (1), peregrine (1), lesser black-backed gull (2), comic tern (10), Sandwich tern (25) and finally some guillemot (10), that latter have been rather scarce of late.

Just as I was packing up to go, a great skua was called and I got onto it as it went through low at medium range. Nice end to the seawatch but Georgia beckons and I literally had to get packing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An hour at Yttre Kattvik

Busy in the house most of the day - a few migrants knocking around in the garden including this redstart and a spotted flycatcher.

At the end of the day, with breezy SW winds blowing, Number 2 and I headed out for an hour at Yttre Kattvik to see if any of the seabirds reported further north were coming within range down in BK. We managed one pale phase Arctic skua and ten common scoter - so pretty quiet!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waterfowl survey - Dagshög to Torekov

With rainy weather and brisk southerlies forecast I nevertheless headed out to survey another 5-kilometre stretch of the Bjäre coast this morning. The weather did not disappoint and I got very wet but there were some good birds to be had, although there were even fewer waterfowl about to count than yesterday. The survey returns were as follows; grey heron (1), cormorant (69), mute swan (8), mallard (61), wigeon (29), teal (12), eider (43) and goosander (2). So not much! Waders were likewise in short supply with totals of; snipe (4), greenshank (1), knot (1), dunlin (4) and common sandpiper (2).

Otherwise things were more exciting than I was expecting. On the way north I picked up a superb female 1K goshawk and a single Arctic skua. The real excitement though came on the heinous trudge back against the wind and rain, when I arrived back at Påarps Mal to find two more skuas close in. Both flew a short way out and landed on the sea and although one was another Arctic, the other was a 1K long-tailed! Had reasonable views of it flying around and on the sea, nice one. Do I now have to add strong southerlies with lots of rain to my autumn sea-watching calendar?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Waterfowl survey - Torekov to Hovs Hallar

A 10 km coastal walk in September is always going to produce a few good birds. Today was rather quiet, but two superb Lapland buntings at Gröthögarna on the trek back to the car more than made up for it.


Walked the coast from Torekov to Hovs Hallar today to count waterfowl. As usual the September count was easily done as there were very few waterfowl around! The five-kilometre stretch of coast produced the following; grey heron (3), cormorant (239), mute swan (10), mallard (110), wigeon (48), gadwall (1), teal (6), common scoter (3), eider (82), goosander (1) and red-breasted merganser (5).

During the count I was entertained by a merlin (catching and then drowning an irate starling, before settling down to a messy breakfast), a couple of lesser black-backed gulls, good numbers of wheatear and smaller numbers of rock pipit and whinchat. The bushes were full of common migrants this morning but nothing of note appeared.

It was the walk back that produced the bird of the day when I was jolted out of my reverie by a couple of Lapland buntings on the path. It was one of those occasions where you find yourself looking at a great bird through your bins without knowing quite how you became aware of the bird in the first place. Auto-birding!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swedish tick - ortolan bunting!

Out before first light this morning in an attempt to catch up with yesterday's bluethroat at Ripagården. Nothing doing on the bluethroat front though, despite a good kickabout. A few migrants on the ground including a tight flock of seven blackcap and one garden warbler, two lesser whitethroat, two whitethroat and single sedge and a few reed warblers in the reedbed. As I turned to leave a calling bird flying over low got my attention pretty quickly - an ortolan bunting. I have listened to the flight call 158 times according to itunes and finally it has paid off!

Nipped back to feed the team and packed them in the car for the short walk around the Killeröd loop track. This walk was really birdy today, producing a hatful of birds that I do not see so often. Jays (6) were calling in abundance and we even managed a single nutcracker (and perhaps another later) flying past a clearing with a bulging crop. Bird flocks contained crested, willow and coal tits and even a few migrants.

Checked the ploughed fields around Ljungbyholm in the afternoon. Huge numbers of wheatear (69!), as well as golden plover (135), red kite (2), a zippy merlin (1) and bizarrely an adult osprey resting in the middle of one huge field.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A day out

Kicked off at Klarningen this morning for the first three hours of daylight. Not much on the site but plenty flying over during the session. The best of the vismig included merlin (1), red-throated pipit (1), grey wagtail (1) and common crossbill (9). Good movement of tree pipit, chaffinch and siskin evident. Siskin seem to be calling everywhere at the moment and are obviously really moving this autumn. The wetland had a few notable things; wigeon (17), pintail (2), shoveler (1), golden plover (3), dunlin (1), and ruff (3). A 2K goshawk perched up and looked menacing for a while before drifting away.

For lunch we all went out to Grytskären for a hot-dog grilling session. Not much in the trees but the walk up to Ranarpsstrand produced a few waders; golden plover (2), knot (1), dunlin (15), a superb flock of 18 bar-tailed godwit and single redshank, greenshank and common sandpiper.

Nearly went to Ripagården this morning and dipped a bluethroat. I know where I'm going tomorrow!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rainy Ripagården

Red-backed shrikes have got a bit scarce this month - this 1K bird was my first and indicative of a slight fall of migrants at Ripagården.

Had a mid-morning walk around Ripagården, with Number 2 and Mrs B today. Light rain fell throughout and it was grey and miserable. A few birds around though. A red-backed shrike in the car park suggested that there might be a few migrants about and there were, but only in low numbers. Highlights included a hunting 1K goshawk, a bar-tailed godwit, one sand martin sitting in the rain with 50 swallows, a garden warbler and two sedge warblers in the reedbed. The crested tit remains in the wood, in a flock of its colleagues. Whinchats (4) and wheatear (1) featured at Ripagården, and many more had dropped out overnight on the high ground along our meandering route home through the hills.

Mystery bird photo - I seem to specialise in these.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Subarctica in Skåne!

One of at least three red kites flying through Klarningen this morning. Clean look, shallow tail fork and pale-tipped greater and primary coverts make this a 1K bird.

My first male hen harrier of the autumn, a fly-through at Klarningen. One day my pallid will come.

Number 2 and I headed for Klarningen tis morning for a two and half hour session in a brisk easterly. A few raptors on the move with red kite (3-5), marsh harrier (3), hen harrier (male), sparrowhawk (1) and kestrel (1). A flock of five barnacle geese dropped in briefly before heading off again - my first at the site. Otherwise wildfowl numbers have dropped away with just one greylag, seven wigeon and 47 teal. Likewise waders are getting scarce with just ruff (3), snipe (2) and greenshank (2) and no lapwing! A little passerine vismig noticeable this morning with small numbers of tree pipits, yellow wagtail, chaffinch and siskin evident. A short walk secured a fine male Sympetrum flaveolum but no sign of the recent red-throated pipits. The numbers of wheatear (9) and whinchat (5) along the access track continue to build.

After lunch we all headed out to check a likely wetland near Bränneslätt, it proved to be a little gem of a bog pool, complete with a pack of male Aeshna subarctica. Also here Aeshna cyanea, Sympetrum danae and Lestes sponsa.

My recent prediction that I would sadly be unable to find Aeshna subarctica in the Skåne part of BK has been shown to be so much b**locks, and all in just five days! I am often wrong but rarely demonstrate it so quickly... A great find though.

Across the road at Bjäred våtmark we found a good number of Aeshna juncea and small numbers of Enallagma cyathigerum and Sympetrum sanguineum and vulgatum flying and brought the Odonata daylist to 9 species.

Across the road in Bjäred våtmark Aeshna juncea was flying - allowing a timely comparison.

An egg-laying female Aeshna juncea was hard to resist - I am not that familiar with this plumage.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Glorious Klarningen

I could not get a picture of today's star bird at Klarningen due to a camera malfunction when it was sitting on a fence in plain view, but here is a shot of one of last year's individuals. Makes a nice mystery bird photo...

Dropped Ma B off at the train station for her flight home to Norfolk and took the opportunity to visit nearby Klarningen. Met up with Johan and Bengt, who were making their first visit to the site, they seemed impressed, despite the fact that management work had seen off all the birds! They did however point out a curlew sandpiper whilst we chatted - a new Klarningen bird for me.

With the site so disturbed I had no crisis of conscience about walking the northern half and I was pretty sure that I would find a red-throated pipit. Sure enough within ten minutes I heard the electric 'pssiiiiih' call and flushed not one but two. Just like last year and in almost exactly the same spot! A meadow pipit was with them and when it perched on the fence it did not take long for one of the the red-throats to join it. Superb 'scope views. I fumbled for my camera, but my battery was dead... So no photo today on the blog either, I cannot believe that the first good bird to stray into range for ages got away. Walking around I flushed my latest ever Temminck's stint (1), other waders today included greenshank (1) and ruff (2). As I drove away a splendid adult goshawk (male?) shot past. At least five wheatear along the access track today. Nice little session.

On the way home dropped in quickly at Petersberg, more wheatear (3) here and a two flyby common crossbill.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A day out with my Mum

With the kids at school and Mrs B at work, it left Ma B and I with a chance for a day out. In amongst a bout of shopping we managed to spend some time at both Hasslarp and Sandön in search of birds. Hasslarp was fairly quiet, just one ruff on the wader front. But a migrating osprey, two feeding swifts and a calling brambling were notable.

Sandön was great with at least six water rail feeding along the edge of the reedbed and a single spotted crake. Many more waders here than in BK with; knot (6), little stint (1), dunlin (132), bar-tailed godwit (2) and greenshank (9). A single bearded tit was tracked down on the island.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Torekov wih the team

Had a picnic lunch at Torekov with the team. Very quiet birdwise with just nine wigeon, ringed plover (2), golden plover (19), dunlin (2), redshank (1) and razorbill (1).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Subarctica!

Nipped out before breakfast for a quick look at Ripagården and this proved to a be a good idea. Not much vismig on the go, but a few low-flying and grounded migrants. The easy highlight was a red-throated pipit low over the site gong north, plenty of swallows going north too this morning and a grey wagtail... A noisy black woodpecker was present and gave fleeting views along the hedgeline. The reedbed had a large and vociferous roost of 3000 starlings, that left as soon as the sun hit them.

After I had shovelled hot pancakes into the ever-hungry brood at home, we all headed out to Älemossen on the usual combined blueberry/Odonata walk. A few birds about (willow tit calling and single honey buzzard migrating) but the dragonflies stole the show. Perhaps 7-8 male Aeshna subarctica on the wing, the most I have seen here. No sign of any females though. Also ovipositing Aeshna grandis, two Sympetrum danae and two male Aeshna cyanea.

It always surprises me to find Aeshna cyanea in peat bogs, but two males were flying today.

The dark destroyer - Aeshna subarctica, one of the better dragonflies on the kommun list and apparently discovered by me! Due to BK's hybrid nature (one of the the seven parishes is in Halland, the rest in Skåne) this species and Somatochlora arctica are unlikely to feature in my Atlas returns sadly.

Catching Aeshna subarctica is always a high-risk occupation. They only occur in areas with liquid 'Sphagnum soup' pools on floating bogs!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A quick look at Ranarpsstrand

Number 2 and I managed an hour and a half out in the field at Ranarpsstrand this morning on an otherwise busy day. The star bird was a close flyby by the dark phase Arctic skua that has taken up residence in Skälderviken, a 1K bird. A few duck about with 20 wigeon, seven pintail and one tufted duck notable. Waders represented by single greenshank and common sandpiper, 32 golden plover and about a dozen dunlin.

'Scoping out to Grytskären produced some distant waders, two of which were turnstone, another common sandpiper and about six dunlin. No sign of any early purple sandpipers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chaos at Klarningen

Spent a couple of hours with Number 2 at Klarningen this morning. There were very few birds about and those that remained were very jumpy. The best bird of the session, an adult cuckoo, caused mayhem when it overflew the wetland. This was my first September cuckoo in Sweden. Clearly something had disturbed the birds before our arrival, probably raptors.

The pair of whooper swans remains, along with wigeon (4), teal (63) and shoveler (5). Raptors were on the move again with marsh harrier (3), hen harrier (1K), red kite (1) and sparrowhawk (1) through. Waders gave a poor show, apart from 150 lapwing, there were just six snipe and one greenshank.

A quick look at Petersberg produced a flyby black woodpecker and a little grebe (only my second at the site). On the way home we scored a swift travelling up Sinarpsdalen, swifts have got very scarce lately as usual and are always nice to see in September.

From Copenhagen to Beijing

Terry Townshend - you'd smile too if you looked like Timothy Dalton's lovechild and had just been transferred to China for a year.

Fans of Terry Townshend's Birding Copenhagen blog will be delighted to hear that he is up and running at his new location - Beijing! Catch the new blog and a great start to his birding in China at the new site.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A new month

The garden was busy this morning with a few migrants about, a spotted flycatcher (1K), a willow warbler and a blackcap all present during a frenzied window-cleaning session. Also trapped a robin in the conservatory!

Spent four hours out today, checking Ripagården, Torekov and Glimminge. Ripagården was quiet with some stuff moving - osprey (1), marsh harrier (1), curlew (4) and a few flyover tree pipits and yellow wagtails. Walking back through the wood I pished in a tit flock that contained marsh tit (1) and a surprise crested tit (my first at the site) but no migrants.

I do not know if I have ever seen Torekov rev quieter, this fine, calm weather is just perfect for migration and everything is bugging out. Evidence of migrants here too with willow warbler, lesser whitethroat and whitethroat on the beach and the first rock pipits (3) of the season. Next up was Påarps Mal, a big flock of 450 golden plover was roosting, six winter-plumaged black guillemots were offshore and the dark phase Arctic skua of yesterday gave another performance, chasing a Sandwich tern out of sight to the north.

A quick check of Glimminge produced the only greenshank of the day and just one ringed plover. Waders have vanished, seemingly overnight.