Friday, December 31, 2010

Last hour of birding for the year

Had an hour on the ice at Segelstorpsstrand today with the kids. The sea was mushy ice for as far as the eye could see and understandably there were few birds about. A red kite floated over, two whooper swans and a couple of goosander floated too and a grey heron sat hunched on some rocks. Kicking off a decent year-list is going to be difficult tomorrow...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Smew Smew Snow bunting too...

Not one for the mantlepiece! Several dead mallard at Torekov today.

Nipped out for a couple of hours today. Checked Torekov's sewage works for a grey wagtail reported yesterday, but it was probably feeding in the works itself which are off-limits. Plenty of raptors greeted me at the site with goshawk (1K), rough-legged buzzard and red kite all in the air on arrival. The coast was quiet with wigeon (1), teal (2) and goosander (2) and little else. Checking Torekov I could not find any shags or purple sandpipers but did have two redhead smew, only my sixth patch record of the year and rounding off an excellent year for this species.

A tramp around Ripagården produced no birds of note but the field at Vråen had a single snow bunting. I failed to locate the yellowhammer flock and so did not connect with the Lapland buntings.

The coast is freezing really fast now, how long before we can get on the ice?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Removing the lard

Waxwings continue to add-value during the cold winter we are experiencing at the back end of the year.

Trapped indoors for days by mountains of food and with sub-zero temperatures outside it was time to get back out today. We did have a quick look at Båstad yesterday, feeding a big flock of 110 mallard and noting two whooper swans and 40+ goldeneye. Arriving back at home we had 16 waxwing in the garden.

Today we went out for a more ambitious walk, doing the Gröthögarna circuit. More waxwing here (39) - a good-sized flock for mid-winter in this neck of the woods. Otherwise very quiet with just single buzzard and kestrel and a scattering of greenfinch, blackbird and fieldfare.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

With the festivities out of the way yesterday (Swedish-style) there was a little time to get out with the family today. Sledging in the village produced five fly-over waxwing and then we headed out to Torekov after lunch for a freezing cold half hour session that netted one red kite, one adult shag and a purple sandpiper.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chasing a Siberian pipit

News filtered into my brain yesterday that a japonicus buff-bellied pipit had been spotted down the road at Viken! Initially identified as meadow pipit on Sunday, it almost slipped through the net until photographs of the bird allowed a re-identification but unfortunately too late for birders to get to the bird yesterday. japonicus is a splendid candidate for a split I think and although I have seen it in Japonica, I thought it might be more than educational to have a good look at this one. [I am so far out of the loop re Swedish vagrants I had no idea there were prior Scandinavian records of japonicus].

I never twitched to excess in the UK, compiling a very modest list of just over 400 in thirty years, and do even less in Sweden now that BK-listing has taken a grip, but it still excites me. The anxious feeling in the pit of the stomach as soon as you realise that you are going for a bird was still there. I was not confident of seeing the bird but the reality was rather worse...

Hitting Viken at 0900 it was apparent that there were very few birders chasing this mega today and that it was too cold (minus 13) to wait around looking at an empty beach for too long. I worked the beach south towards Domsten without scoring the pipit but did pick up 35 coot (my first since October), a redshank and 25 woodpigeon.

Teaming up with Mikael Olofsson and the rest of Team Lund I headed north to check out a Mediterranean gull reported at nearby Lerberget. No sign of the gull when we arrived but it was immediately apparent that an exciting number of pipits were present. We started going through them and I had a brief glimpse of a possible japonicus candidate but it quickly disappeared. We spent two hours trying to pin it down before I had to head off. In that time two of us had another inconclusive view of the possible japonicus before I located the Med gull hunkered down in a stream outflow and we at least got a good view of that. Very frustrating to see the pipit so fleetingly that we could do nothing with it. UTV! Of course by the time I got home in the late evening at least two observers had seen the same bird at Lerberget, one well enough to claim it as the buff-bellied. I know where I am going tomorrow...

Friday, December 17, 2010

A walk with Ma B produces the goods

Headed out in the morning for a walk with my Mum, and we drove to nearby Glimminge plantering. Offshore the sea was icing up quite splendidly but this spectacle failed to divert my attention from a lone pipit on the shoreline - a water pipit. Is this species actually going to arrive in the usual numbers now or has this bird been lurking nearby all winter and finally given itself up? Nearby, but by no means associated with it, was a single meadow pipit - equally scarce this winter. The sea was devoid of interest apart from a tight bunch of ten cold-looking teal.

Out on Vasaltheden we worked some open water areas but no snipe could be found. Overhead we had single fieldfare and jay. Back in the woods at Glimminge we found four wood pigeon (scarce at the moment), another jay, heard coal tit, and had a flyby flock of siskin (also scarce at the moment). Nice walk.

After lunch a pheasant walked into the feeders in the garden - a soft garden tick but most welcome.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More snow

Lots of snow through the day, which made driving dicey unless necessary. Just 11 waxwings in the garden to brighten up the day (as well as the long-awaited arrival of Ma B for Christmas of course...).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walking

Headed out for a walk between Rammsjöstrand and Dagshög. En route I was amazed to find a flock of 12 grey partridge in someone's garden at Rammsjö! The walk was rather quiet, highlights included a scattering of goosander, two white-tailed eagles, a dozen fieldfare, three rock pipits, two meadow pipits and a flock of 23 starling.

Headed round to Torekov next. Påarps mal was devoid of cormorants and very quiet, just goshawk (1), kestrel (1), fieldfare (7) and redpoll (15). I decided to check the rocks south of the harbour next and this was indeed where all the cormorants were. Going through the group produced 11 shag (including 2 1K and 1 2K), as well as two purple sandpipers. Out over Hallands Väderö the two white-tailed eagles were hunting duck. A quick look at the rev produced another 1K goshawk but no more purple sandpipers. The latter seem to be very mobile at the moment.

Last stop of the day was a quick look for the flock at Vråen, near Ripagården, a few redpoll were noted but by this stage of the day I was ready for lunch and headed home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wizard day

Had an hour in the field on a brutally cold morning during a busy day with Mrs B. We tried to locate the big finch flock at Lönhult but somehow we could not find it (hard to miss a flock of 300+ goldfinch but we did). We did find the female-type merlin that has been attending to the flock for the last few weeks though, my first in December. Merlin is a rare winterer here. Also in the neighbourhood were a white-tailed eagle and a rough-legged buzzard.

The low sun made working the circuit north to south rather hard work and once again we failed to find a golden eagle. We ended up near the farm at Västraby going through a good-sized flock of Canada geese (350); a few greylag (50) and just one taiga bean goose. Driving south we had a flock of at least 10 waxwing at Fleninge.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lucky shrike

Sorry for yet another white-tailed eagle shot, they are the only things slow enough and big enough to photograph in the current hand-chilling conditions!

Nipped out for a walk with Mrs B this afternoon. We walked between Kattvik and Yttre Kattvik. Blue skies, brisk N wind and about minus 7 degrees. Not many birds about but that said we found yet another great grey shrike, ripping up a small mammal and looking at home in the freezing conditions. Few other birds of note during the hour, just one great crested grebe and one red-throated diver on the sea. Alcids seem to have vanished (along with Slavonian grebes) this winter.

On the way home we checked out Båstad harbour, picking up another white-tailed eagle for our troubles.

Winter is taking it's toll.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thaw - God of sogginess

We had above zero temperatures today and a pretty good thaw to go with it. Made being out in the field rather unpleasant. I managed a couple of hours at Båstad and Hemmeslövsstrand in the morning, around my taxi duties. The sea had nine whooper swans, 30 tufted duck and at least 170 scaup. A mooch around the back along the river failed to produce a kingfisher but I did get tawny owl and goshawk for my pains.

Back in the garden a fieldfare and a hawfinch were nice and then we headed off in a brisk NW wind to see how long we could last at Vejbystrand before dusk. Half an hour! It was worth going but rather painful. This spot is one of the few places locally that is holding any dabbling duck but is sadly just off-patch. Ducks here included wigeon (40), teal (10) and best of all a single female pintail. Hope it freezes again soon...

Later on in the early evening we drove back from Ängelholm in the dark and once again had a very obliging hunting long-eared owl perched in the headlights near Ängeltofta. Must be the same bird again I reckon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Birds everywhere

I must admit I have been thinking that things have gone a bit quiet birdwise here in BK of late. But yesterday when I read Leif Dehlin's returns from Ripagården, I was pleased to note that I may well be wrong and not a little gripped off too. So with a free morning together Mrs B and I headed out that way.

Only my second Gröthögarna great grey shrike, showed well but briefly before melting away.

First stop of the day was at Vråen, just before Ripagården, the bunting/finch flock was right up against the farmhouse this morning but behaved reasonably well and luckily the farmer here is happy that the crop sown for birds attracts both birds and birders! We got a few glimpses of Lapland bunting as the birds repeatedly spooked into the trees and then two flew out over our heads, calling away and landed conveniently on the road for 'scope views. Also here five reed buntings. The rest of a chilly hour here was spent cursing at a flock of 40-odd redpoll, sure enough after an hour a good Arctic redpoll had been processed but as always I wonder how many there really were. I am not sure there is a more frustrating exercise than trying to determine Arctic from mealy redpoll. Mrs B could be heard chortling behind me as my invective got steadily more fruity.

A young white-tailed eagle, up in the air over Ripagården with an adult this morning.

Ripagården had a big flock of 200 mallard which included just one teal and two wigeon. A snowy walk around Gröthögarna produced more notable birds; red-throated diver (1 south), redwing (2, my first for ages), goldcrest (5) and best of all a great grey shrike. Out on Tjällran was at least one purple sandpiper. Back at Ripagården a scan of the bay revealed a black-throated diver (1), two splendid white-tailed eagles and in the wood behind we could hear black woodpecker. Driving back past Vråen we had a gang of four snow buntings and nearby a single skylark, the latter looking set to overwinter. Great walk, packed with great birds.

The adult white-tailed eagle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trilling stuff

More work in the garden today, and the car at the doctor's so no birding for me again. Quieter today with just 100 Canada geese south and a single waxwing flew by. Have hung some apples up to see if I can tempt it into photographic range.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garden vismig

Did not get out of the garden today, plenty on the move though with cormorant (4), Canada goose (450), greylag goose (75) and hawfinch (5) - all heading south.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Off-patch in the snow

We had our heaviest snowfall of the winter overnight and it lasted well into mid-morning, which effectively scuppered my plans to search out the gyr falcon today, the backroads would have been a bit dicey before the ploughs got out I reckon. But with a trip to Ängelholm in the morning, it was only natural for Number 2 and I to get out along the coast between Farhult and Sandön before lunch.

We had a quick look at Rönnen, no sign of the gyr at roost, but inevitably we had a couple of bullfinches and a handful of bramblings at the feeder near the KOF shed. Next stop was Farhult, hoping again to catch the gyr at another of its regular haunts. No dice. Highlights here were a single dunlin, four redpoll and a reed bunting.

Last stop of the tour was Sandön where we were treated to a close flyby by a ringtail en harrier, had two kestrels heading south together (never too late to migrate) and another reed bunting.

Later on in the day caught up with nine wood pigeon (heading south) at Karstorp (on-patch), a red kite over the garden (scarce at the moment) and two starlings in Laholm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking stock

Had a dozen waxwings streaking south during the school-run this morning, they have got much scarcer up here of late.

After completing my chores I headed out to have a look at Eskilstorps dammar. The weather ameliorated slightly toda and the temperatures went over zero for the first time in ages. No thaw though but it felt positively balmy. Wading through the snow I bumped into a trio of redpoll, they too have become much scarcer as the cold weather has got a grip. Raptors dominated the avian fare as usual during the walk with goshawk (1), sparrowhawk (1), buzzard (2), rough-legged buzzard (1) and kestrel (1). The star bird though was my first December stock dove (1), looking a little lost but joining the finches and buntings in the large game cover crop of maize and sunflowers that is a feature of this site in the winter. The passerine flock consisted of about 70 brambling, 30 chaffinches and 35 yellowhammers. Also spotted whilst I did the circuit were marsh tit (1), nuthatch (1) and jay (1).

Stopped in on Petersberg for bullfinch (2) and a flock of at least ten redpoll. Nearby at Hemmeslövsstrand a flock of ten whooper swans were loafing and offshore was the flock of scaup (100) and a considerable number of velvet scoter (250+).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow

It snowed most of the day so we took a rare chance to stay at home today. Had to shovel snow though and built a sledging ramp for the kids. The only avian action was at the feeder where we had another hawfinch and a grey heron flew through later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Raptors

The feeders had two brambling and two superb bullfinches this morning.

Had a little time for birding this morning with the team. We headed to Ripagården hoping for the yellowhammer flock to be obvious but they were either hunkered down feeding or dispersed in the relatively mild -1 degree temperature we experienced today - it felt like summer after the last week. Hunting the field was the male hen harrier and a kestrel. A walk around the coast produced another raptor - an adult goshawk, but almost no passerines. The exception was a southbound flock of about 20 redpoll and the odd blackbird.

In the evening on the way home from Ängelholm, we had a splendidly confiding (starving?) long-eared owl perched beside the road at Barkåkra.

The big news locally is the triumphant return of the over-wintering gyr falcon, back for it's sixth winter. There was also a 1K bird on the 1st, perhaps this winter I will catch one in BK.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another garden tick!

Had Number 2 under my wing this morning so we went birding in the snow. We did a two hour walk along Eskilstorpsstrand. The light and conditions (light snow) were not conducive to seeing everything but luckily many of the seaduck were unusually close in. The scaup raft was right offshore and showing well, as with last year good views allowed the number of tufted duck contained within it to be assessed accurately. We ended up with about 100 scaup and 30 tufted duck. Also here 350 velvet scoter and perhaps 75 common scoter (but maybe more). One long-tailed duck flew past. We also had a strange encounter - a possible all-white velvet scoter, it was at long-range and the conditions as I have mentioned were poor, but it was all white and dived (ruling out I guess a domestic mallard, the shape was right for scoter too). Be good to track it down under better conditions but I would rather have a surf scoter.

Could not resist a look at Klarningen, whilst we were nearby but it was barely worth it, I was hoping for at least a rough-legged buzzard but had to settle for a couple of commons. In the distance in the game cover crop near Eskilstorps dammar was a big flock of at least 200 yellowhammer. Will have to trudge out there soon and check it out.

Spent the middle part of the day doing the family-taxi role thing and went shopping in Grevie after we had everyone on board. Coming out of ICA I was pleased to see a superb rough-legged buzzard flying past in brilliant light. My brain, like some shambling mammal struggling to come out of hibernation, eventually realised several things:

1) on its present course it would pass over the garden in just two minutes,

2) I needed rough-legged buzzard for the garden list and

3) I was two minutes drive from house.

We bundled into the car, lost the bird for a nerve-wrecking whole 90 seconds, turned the last corner and there over the house was the bird, looking fantastic as they do. I was pleased.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jack

Nipped out for a couple of hours in the morning and elected to try Ranarpsstrand and Segelstorpstrand. Half an hour at Ranarpstrand was enough to disturb a jack snipe from the edge of a small stream running into the sea, only my second this year. The only other bird of note was a single meadow pipit.

Segelstorpsstrand was much birdier, with a single lapwing and a redshank (very scarce this winter and only reliably spotted along this section of the coast at the moment). The woods had a single jay and calling bullfinches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gosh hawks everywhere

Today's birding kicked off at home, when perusing the birds at the feeders I was treated to a rapid 1K goshawk flyby right through the garden. Only my second garden record and it agitated the local magpies for a good fifteen minutes afterwards. Splendid.

Mrs B had homework to do so I checked out a few sites along the coast in the morning. First up was Norra Ängalag, not much here with the exception of a single rock pipit (flocks do not seem to be the done thing this year). Out on Tjällran an adult peregrine huddled in the lee of a large rock, trying unsuccessfully (like me) to find a spot out of the chilly NE wind.

Torekovs rev was just as quiet, again just one rock pipit here too (was it following me?). I quickly moved on to Påarps Mal hoping for a shag. Regular readers will no doubt have become concerned about my inability to get a shag in recent weeks, well today I scored. Just one, 1K little beauty sitting out on the rocks with about 8 cormorant. There was a supporting cast here too with another 1K goshawk and another lonesome rock pipit...