Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Really cold!

The coldest morning so far this winter greeted me today. Nipped out to Ripagården for an hour but it was perishing cold and not much was on show, the woods had willow tit (1) and four bullfinch. Out in the open, somewhere that was rather unpleasant in the minus ten degrees when the brisk NE wind was factored in, I managed a snipe and a kestrel before heading home to defrost.

In the afternoon I drove around the Tursköp-Lönhult area hoping for a golden eagle but failing again. Did get white-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard, hen harrier and jay though. Last stop of the day was Sandön. At the river a big raft of 21 goosander was notable and there were more or the same out on the sea later. Roosting out on Själrönnen was a motley gang of barely visible waders including at least 25 dunlin, 25 curlew and five oystercatcher. I lasted half an hour before I headed back to the warmth of the car. It seems rather quiet at the moment.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Family walk

Took the team out for a play in the snow this afternoon. We headed to Glimminge plantering and walked the coastline. Fairly quiet here with five whooper swans offshore, and just three wigeon and nine teal amongst the 100+ strong flock of mallard. Four grey herons looked fragile out on the rocks and from the woodland behind came the delightful flight call of the black woodpecker.

Walking into Vasaltheden was slow going but after an hour we walked out and had snipe (1) and hen harrier (male) on the way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feeder magic

With Mrs B pulling an extra shift to pay for Christmas, I was kid-heavy and car-light today. No chance to bird the coast. Despite this I managed two good birds, the first was a hawfinch skulking near the feeder in the garden. They fly over but seldom actually visit. Near Förslöv we watched a goshawk try and catch a duck (off a small stream) and then fly off being mobbed by a hooded crow. In the old days I would have been satisfied with hawfinch and goshawk after a day in the Brecks...

All I could get of the hawfinch today. My first this month, quiet a few went south through Falsterbo this autumn and they seem scarce around here at the moment.


Another harsh weather visitor to the feeders is the yellowhammer, as soon as it snows they arrive in small numbers.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cold!

Pancakes, anyone? The sea is starting to freeze at Båstad, wrecking my hopes of finding a kingfisher in the harbour.

Harbour slush patterns, no open water in the harbour today, will have to look for kingfisher elsewhere but hope that they have the good sense to head south. We have negative temperatures forecast for the next ten days at least and more snow on the way.

Nipped out for a morning's birding and headed first to Båstad to see what was going on there. Båstad is not a bad winter bird location and produced some good birds today although visibility offshore was hampered by 'heat-haze'. At least 28 whooper swans noted, two long-tailed ducks and a flock of at least 150 velvet scoter (with perhaps many more further out). Flying about were seven redpoll and a massive flock of 15 bullfinches.

Next stop was Torekov rev, pretty quiet here but dug out two sleeping purple sandpipers and found a small number of both rock and meadow pipit (why are they so scarce this winter?). The best bird was a monstrous adult goshawk flushed from the bushes near the point.

Last stop of the day and just before I started to get really cold was Ripagården. I only got as far as the field sown for finches and buntings, because I was greeted with a flock of 250 yellowhammers near the road there. Last year this flock produced Lapland bunting so I parked up (getting close views of a male hen harrier and offering cover for a successful hunting sparrowhawk) and patiently inserted myself into the flock. The big surprise was a good number of redpoll (40) and I spent most of my time looking through these. Most redpolls encountered so far this year have been very flighty and hyperactive, an consequently difficult to pin down and look at. In the sturdy presence of so many yellowhammers they behaved themselves and I was able to get down to the baffling task of searching for Arctic redpolls. There was one excellent candidate - a male - and one (perhaps two) first-winter 'types'. I will try and get photos this weekend if I can. Also in the flock a single skylark, a handful of brambling and chaffinch and 2-3 reed buntings.

Driving home the snow made searching out grey partridges much easier than normal and I found a covey of eight near Grevie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Garden tick - redpoll

Not much time for birding lately (busy in house) or much inclination either for that matter (two days of snow, negative temperatures and road chaos). Put out more food at lunchtime for the huge, mixed sparrow flock that eats me out of house and home in the winter and was quickly rewarded with my first ever redpoll in the garden. No surprise I suppose considering the huge influx this winter.

Someone reported a pine grosbeak the other day at Vejbystrand...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow - winter arrives

It snowed overnight and the high bits around Älemossen were a bit tricky to drive this morning, we even had to cut up a tree that had fallen across the road at one point.

Number 2 and I headed out to Klarningen to see what was about this morning. Wildfowl numbers have dropped away to just seven mallard and one tufted duck, the next step is total freeze over and the long wait for spring. More excitingly a 1K goshawk put on a show, and there was also a flock of 100+ fieldfare, ten redpolls and seven starlings. No snow at sea-level, just persistent sleet but we climbed up the the ridge to the south and soon we were sliding about. Let 2 out for a quick play at Älemossen but we had to move on before things got worse on the road. No birds of any kind noted up here. I am glad we have a coastline nearby, because birding gets a bit thin inland in winter.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Me and Mrs B

Had a nice few hours alone with Mrs B in the field today, which was a bit novel. We went south and looked at Hasslarp - almost devoid of bird interest although the flock of 30 redpoll were annoyingly hard to go through as is so often the case and then equally typically vanished.

Did the 'eagle circuit' picking up waxwing (25) in Kattarp, a superb adult white-tailed eagle at Tursköp and a rough-buzzard at Lönhult. No sign of a goldie. Hit the coast at Farhult for ten Slavonian grebes and finished up at Sandön where we found single bar-tailed godwit and oystercatcher. Pleasant day but birds rather thin on the ground. I am not used to being around at this time of year, but it just feels like it is about to go very cold and stay that way for some time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Walking the coast

Spent the morning with Number 2 happily pottering along the coastline between Rammsjöstrand and Dagshög. Number 2 distinguished herself by conjuring up the lower jawbone of a wild boar for the growing museum back at home! Birdwise we could have done better though. A flock of pipits near Rammsjöstrand contained both rock and meadow (both surprisingly scarce on the patch this autumn); a single pipit flushed later which flew miles north may well have been last month's water pipit. Walking the Dagshög stretch a mild raptor passage was evident and two goshawks went south (presumably migrating). Walking back we spotted two mistle thrushes (another scarce bird at the moment).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dipper!

Not only did I manage to see a dipper today (year-tick) but it actually gave amazing views. You forget how hyper-active and splendid they are when you only see them occasionally.

Dropped off the team this morning and had 43 waxwing in Förslöv, still some around. Had an hour in the field afterwards and elected to go for dipper at Axeltorpsravinen, one of the more picturesque spots in BK. It took just half an hour to find dipper here, some have bounced back from last winter's weather. Great encounter, the bird shooting upstream and landing right in front of me. Also here redpoll (25) and the ever-present sounds of bullfinch.

In the afternoon I walked the stretch of coast between Stora Hultstrand and Lervik. Pretty quiet here with just four Slavonian grebes, a curlew and a white wagtail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ängelsbäcksstrand

Managed to get out yesterday for 20 minutes at Segelstorpsstrand but felt kind of blue, so went home again. Did manage a nice flock of 14 snow buntings on the beach and a flock of 25 redpoll before I crawled off.

Returned today feeling better and walked between Ranarpsstrand and Segelstorpsstrand. No wind and a mirror calm sea produced three Slavonian grebes and a guillemot. Pretty quiet then, The woods had black woodpecker (1), coal tit (1), redpoll (3), bullfinch (1). Walking back I had a gang of seven meadow pipit (really very scarce at the moment) and a white wagtail flying north (always good after October, a few over-winter usually).

In the afternoon I managed to get an hour at Klarningen. No geese today, water partiallly frozen over. Waterfowl included; Canada goose (23 flying over), wigeon (20), teal (5) and tufted duck (1). Raptors were better with hen harrier (male), rough-legged buzzard (1) and kestrel (1).

OMG!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walking

Had a rainy, wet walk with the team from Kattvik to Yttre Kattvik and back along the top today. Not much doing here, very quiet. Just two Slavonian grebes at Kattvik and two long-tailed ducks and a black guillemot past at Yttre Kattvik.

There is a yellow-browed warbler in nearby Ängelholm, it's still not too late for one in BK...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Windy weather

As usual at the weekends, my activities in the field were somewhat curtailed by the requirements of the rest of the team. The wind was blowing well from the SW though and a few good birds were spotted by others in BK today (including two great northern divers - which I still need for the year). I managed an hour sea-watching at Malen, not much coming past close here, most of it was cutting the corner but did get two Slavonian grebes, a gannet and 8 kittiwakes. The Halland flock of scaup (120) was skittish and flew about a bit before returning north.

After picking up the team in Båstad we all headed for Klarningen for a quick look. Loads of geese here with at least 650 greylags and 200 Canada, did not have long to search through them but one barnacle and 24 whooper swans were also present.

A final hour of the day sea-watching at Hovs Hallar produced just one red-necked grebe and three bullfinch...

Friday, November 12, 2010

An hour with the kids

Took the kids out to look out over Sandön this afternoon. The weather has gone horrible and hardly anyone is in the field, or like me they are not finding much. Our wander about netted us a few bearded tits, an oystercatcher and a handful of redpoll and bullfinch. Hopefully this is just the calm before the storm...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wild finch chase

Managed to get out for three hours in the afternoon and headed for Ripagården. On arrival a big flock of 85 redpoll swept past over the bay and appeared to land at Dalen. I gave chase south, but never caught up with them. They are so flighty and hard to pin down. Whilst here I did the Gröthögarna circuit, rather quiet; a few whoopers south (9), four grazing barnacle geese and just two goldcrests and a song thrush. The best bird was an adult peregrine tucked away out of the wind on Tjällran.

Back at Ripagården the carpark alders had a flock of 30 redpoll... I was just getting to grips with them through the scope, when the whole flock lifted in panic and headed off. Buggers. Other birds here included the willow tit (heard) and a flock of 25 waxwing over Hovs Hallar briefly before dropping back into the juniper. No sign of the red-backed shrike...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off-patch snapshot

Got a couple of hours birding in the afternoon after a relaxing morning with Mrs B. Headed straight for Farhult; scanning the bay at the start produced at least 25 Slavonian grebes. Also offshore nine whooper swans and four great crested grebes. Waders were few and far between, one disappearing grey plover was nice, otherwise just four snipe and 27 curlew. Walking the beach produced a single snow bunting and the reedbed I had at least 10 bearded tits and a single reed bunting. Jumping the fence into the wet field behind resulted in my first wellyful of water in many years. I squelched along after that and failed to add materially to the list; I was hoping for a jack snipe. Back at the car a big flock of redpoll (65) left the nearby alders flying off east and I could hear a bullfinch in there too.

My schedule allowed half an hour at Rönnen. Notable birds noted in this short time-frame included brent goose (5) and ten butch-looking twite. I wonder if the gyr falcon is going to make it back this winter? Lastly I stopped for four minutes to look at Sandön from the main road. More grey plover here (3), a single bar-tailed godwit and the village had a dozen waxwing. Out on Själrönnen a cluster of 50+ dunlin were roosting. Like many birders in southern Sweden I am looking out for the Norwegian stilt sandpiper, which left it's last known location two days ago. You gotta dream!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Klarningen clear-out

Busy most of the morning, but dragged the kids out kicking and screaming into the dull, rainy weather and chill easterly wind. After some hardware shopping we headed to nearby Klarningen, here the kids managed to flush all the geese and ducks before we had even got out of the car. I guess I know now to shut the windows as we approach. At least 500 greylag again, no chance of going through them today though! A flock of 22 whooper swans did stick around though and a few duck drifted back; wigeon (27), teal (10), mallard (68) and tufted duck (1). Just two lapwing and two starling remain, but best of all was 15 waxwing flying by - my first for the site.

After loafing in the tower for an hour we headed back towards Hemmeslövsstrand and took a walk down the Stensån for an hour. Another 20 waxwing here and the woods were crammed with bullfinch, we saw 8 but their calls could be heard all the time and I wonder how many there really were?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Irruptive behaviour

Checked out Eskilstorpsstrand this morning. Frost overnight again and a cold start to an otherwise sunny day. The wind has gone east, can it produce? I searched anyway. The sea had 100+ scaup (mostly off Skummeslövsstrand) and good numbers of velvet scoter (100) off the patch and many more off Skummeslövsstrand. More bullfinches again today with 13 seen, many of which were flying over giving the 'eastern' call. Thirteen waxwing south too. The coastal strip of vegetation produced nothing else of note apart from two coal tits, but as I was getting in my car I noticed a small flock of redpoll feeding in an alder with individuals occasionally dropping to feed on the ground. Unlike previous flocks this autumn, they were settled and allowed a good going through. Of the twenty birds present one showed a good white rump and I focussed my attention on it - another Arctic redpoll! It behaved really well, but as the flock flew south, I wondered how many of the twenty had been Arctic, or had I chanced on the only one? Difficult birds to pin down on your own, mostly because they are hyperactive!

Naturally I visited Klarningen briefly on the way home. Water levels are at an all-time high and so were goose numbers. At least 500 greylag in. A thorough search revealed 46 Canada geese, three white-fronts and a single tundra bean goose. Superb. Duck numbers are dropping though as the temperatures plummet; just 15 wigeon and 8 teal remain. A kettle of eight migrating buzzard and a single hunting rough-legged buzzard were the only raptors today. The huge flock of starling present recently had dwindled to one today! Best bird though was my first bullfinch for the site...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No diver!

Frost this morning and flat calm at Kattvik. Could I find the great northern diver? No!

Kicked off at Kattvik at dawn. Great birding here, as is often the case, one of the many places in BK that I do not get to enough. Highlights here included; goosander (1, west), Slavonian grebe (2), little gull (1K, west), black woodpecker (1), waxwing (30) and rock pipit (1). Eventually I conceded that the diver was not present and went searching for it towards Yttre Kattvik; more divers here with black-throated (2) and red-throated (4) but no joy with GND. Another 35 waxwing flew over west and best of all I found a chiffchaff feeding along the road (my first in November). Whilst these guys are still around, my dreams of a Sibe this autumn are intact... Checked out Norrviken too for the diver but just rustled up a bunch of red-necked grebe (4) and another rock pipit.

Gimpy, the red-backed shrike, is adopting an over-wintering strategy, I do not fancy the odds.

In the afternoon I escaped out again and headed for Ripagården. Bumped into Mikael Olofsson and had a chat and he pointed out another chiffchaff. Afterwards I followed this bird up and found another close by that looked good for tristis, but views were brief and the bird failed to call. Moving on I headed for the red-backed shrike, it was showing well, left wing still drooping and it looks like this bird will not be heading south this year. My first record in November. Will it make it into December? Other birds here included; black guillemot (1), grey wagtail (1) and crested tit (1).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekend birding

Dead quiet on the stretch of coastline I walked this morning.

Had a little time in the field today but missed all the good birds in BK today. Two great northern divers and a very late red-backed shrike were gripping. The shrike is doubtless the same slightly damaged individual that has been seen on-and-off at Ripagården during the late autumn. Might be able to catch up with the diver tomorrow hopefully.

Did get an hour walking between Vejbystrand and Ranarpsstrand in the morning. Surprisingly little of note. Two rock pipits at Vejbystrand underlined how scarce these birds are so far this season. A few flocks of greylag geese drifted south, at least ten barnacles in one group too. A dead 1K kittiwake was a reminder that autumn gales are not always fun. The only redshank seen were two at Lervik, again this species is scarce this season. Also two dunlin here and two snipe at Ranarpsstrand. So a fairly quiet walk.

In the afternoon I took the team out to try and show them a little auk, that was showing well yesterday at Torekov harbour. No joy sadly. Offshore a gannet and a couple of kittiwakes remained from the gale though. Driving away Perstorp produced a single jay, much more notable than they were two weeks ago.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Son of Seawatch

Did DIY in the morning, the wind having dropped slightly, but after lunch it strengthened again and so had a couple of productive hours at Eskilstorpsstrand in the afternoon. This spot is not the most comfortable of locations in a strong westerly but the views can be stunning and so it was today.

I could not have ordered a better set of birds to parade past. Within the first 25 minutes I had seen not one but two Leach's petrel (year-tick) and the first of perhaps four northern fulmar (ditto, at last!). Both species coming through close in the surf and giving spectacular views. I have never seen Leach's petrel so well before - fantastic. Just 8 kittiwakes went through during the session. Otherwise (!) apart from another close Leach's petrel it was rather quiet, very few alcids and just one gannet and one little gull.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Seawatch

The wind was not as fierce as predicted yesterday but a reasonable blow from the west all the same, which saw some birds going past. I managed to miss a Leach's petrel though...

Kicked off at Båstad, it seemed quiet at first but then a little auk went through, followed quickly by an adult and a 1K little gull. Quieter today though for auks in general and only five kittiwakes and five gannets in total in 2 hours. Other things noted included; black-throated diver (1), red-necked grebe (1), Slavonian grebe (2), sparrowhawk (5) and dunlin (1).

Fancied a break and took a quick lunch at Klarningen. The swan flock along the access track held 13 tundra swans and five whoopers. Plenty of birds using the wetland with over 450 lapwing, 300 starling and smaller numbers of wildfowl. The mute swan flock has hit 3! Raptors stole the show though with hen harrier (ringtail), goshawk (1K), red kite (1) and rough-legged buzzard (1) all using the site.

I arrived at Eskilstorpsstrand for more seawatching just in time to miss a sooty shearwater and left just before a Leach's went through! Did get great views of two close little auks though, plus a brent goose going north. Left early to drive over the top and have a look at Älemossen on the way home. This paid off with nutcracker (1) and great grey shrike (1). Nice end to the day but that Leach's would have been nice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's gone west!

Had lots to do this morning but managed a quick look at Klarningen before lunch. Highlights were few and far between; 4 whooper swans, 51 wigeon, 150 starlings and 25 skylarks in fifteen minutes of spotting. It was worth going out though to realise that there was a strong SW wind blowing and that sea-watching might be on the cards.

I managed to nip out for the last couple of hours of the day and parked up at Yttre Kattvik. Stuff was definitely moving with guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes passing regularly. Had to wait 45 minutes for my patch year-tick little auk and then had another straight afterwards. Other highlights included long-tailed duck (1, my first of the autumn), gannet (5), and purple sandpiper (1, west). Just before heading back, what was arguably the bird of the day whizzed east towards Båstad - a fantastic sooty shearwater.

Nice little session and bodes well for tomorrow, the winds forecast veering westerly overnight and blowing well at least through the morning. Other observers nearby had puffin, pomarine skua and great northern diver, so plenty of stuff to aim for tomorrow. Where to go?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bits of birding

The invasion continues.

It was Number 2's birthday today so we had a great time celebrating. I managed a few birds from the car - rough-legged buzzard hunting at Hasslarp and 70 waxwings in Ängelholm.

Did get fifteen whole minutes at Sandön, whilst the kids decompressed in the car. Hard to cover in fifteen minutes... The 'highlight' was an aberrant 1 or 2K black-headed gull, with full black hood and dark bill, had me going for a split-second as I dreamed of Franklin's. Redpolls were heard and waders included a single bar-tailed godwit and at least nine grey plover out on Själrönnen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Arctic roll, sir?

This monster was new for my steadingly growing Klarningen list today.

The background track to today's birding was yet again the calls of the bullfinch. The overhead migration has stopped pretty much but birds have dropped out all over. Walked Hemmeslövsstrand to Eskilstorpsstrand. Walking through the houses at Hemmeslövsstrand produced long-tailed tit (10), crested tit (2) and eight flyover parrot crossbills. On the beach near the river mouth was a skittish flock of redpoll, working through them took some time, especially as I kept attracting peoples dogs and inane comments. I eventually found one convincing Arctic redpoll! Not a male, so not that simple, but I was happy.

Walking onto to Eskilstorpsstrand, I amazingly found another flock of redpoll feeding. They all sat up and there looking down at me was a pristine male Arctic redpoll, this one needed no head-scratching and careful checking. Superb. Offshore a whooper swan and a tundra swan cruised together.

Last stop of the morning was Klarningen. The access track fields produced 12 tundra swans and 4 whoopers. The trees at the end had a noisy black woodpecker, an expected addition to the Klarningen list but always fantastic to me. The tower produced a single whooper swan and tundra swan (surely the same birds as seen earlier at Eskilstorpsstrand?). Six redpolls flew in but still no bullfinch. Great morning.