Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shelducks!

Managed to spend the morning in the field today, despite the evil easterly wind. Headed over to Klarningen first to to check the fields for swans and geese. Nothing doing on the ground but a lot of birds flying east - Canada geese (695), greylag geese (65) and whooper swan (2) in 45 minutes. Two stock doves over on Eskilstorps dammar were my first for the year.

Checked out Eskilstorpsstrand next and was unsurprised to find a large flock of Canada geese (500) in the bay. Also here tufted duck (9), scaup (40), common scoter (20) and velvet scoter (25). The bushes produced a noisy flock of 6 bullfinches. Walking south produced a single long-tailed duck off Båstad.

Drove over to Torekov next chcking the rev for shelduck (5), smew (1), purple sandpiper (14) and black guillemot (2). Not a sniff of a passerine on the shore, a cruel hard winter. Three white-tailed eagles mucked about over Hallands Väderö.

In the afternoon I squeezed in half an hour at Vejbystrand and Stora Hultstrand for shelduck (5), wigeon (31) and goosander (1). No sign of this weather breaking so I guess I will have to get used to it. It is amazing to me that shelducks are turning up when the weather is so poor. Last months lapwings obviously decided to head south again, will these shelduck melt away too?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brass monkeys in BK

Back from India and suffering jetlag and huge weather-related re-acclimatisation issues. Going from 30 degrees to minus 5 is not nice and the wind is blowing hard adding to my woes. The winter seems to have continued harsh in my absence and I even missed a good blow which brought a few seabirds in. Have not missed anything major though, so all is well. No sign of this wretched weather bringing anything tasty to us yet but there is still time for that snowy owl.

Yesterday I checked out Båstad briefly and found a flock of 35 whooper swans in residence but nothing else of note. Today the kids and I checked out Ranarpsstrand for half an hour, which was about as long as we could last in the bitter SE wind that was blowing. Nothing doing here either with just 17 wigeon and three greylag of note.

Postcard from India

A comedy of errors on the prelude to a tour to Central India saw me arriving days after the rest of the group having had visa difficulties that saw me camped in London for two days at the start. The pain did not stop there as I managed to get robbed within days of arriving too... That said (!) the tour went very well and although we missed leopard and wild dog we did hit all our other targets and saw some good birds and dragonflies too.

I arrived in time to catch the last two lions of the trip at Gir Forest, two males that walked close by the jeep in the halflight of dawn. So close we were enveloped in lion odour, certainly wakes you up. Gir also produced up to five forest wagtails a day, a scarce bird in Gujarat normally and two white-bellied minivets.

In previous trips Velavadar has been unkind to us, but it came up trumps this year with a splendid sighting of an adult striped hyaena and three pups at dawn.

Velavadar kept on giving, half an hour later we had tracked down a superb wolf, driving past a rock eagle-owl to get to it!

Velavadar was not finished, first one and then two Amur falcons turned up hunting insects over the wetland as we enjoyed a walk after all the mammals. This is a tough bird to find in India.

We had an excellent couple of night sessions with Raj from Desert Coursers at Zainabad (Little Rann of Kutch). This Indian nightjar posed nicely, we also had 8 Sykes's nightjar and a superb encounter with a desert cat.

Pallid scops-owls are showing well near Zainabad this year. One of nine owl species seen during the tour. Mottled wood-owl still eludes me though...

No interest in Odonates on the tour, but I plugged away picking up 24 species including one of my favourite damsels, Rhodischnura nursei.

Six days at Kanha at the end of the trip produced four sightings of tiger but most were brief. We had 3-4 minutes with this female but suffered from several dry days when no-one was seeing or getting close to cats.