Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A bit of a raptor watch

No sign of yesterday's common seal pup, perhaps his Mum picked him up...

Had just over two hours in the field this morning and elected to check out Eskilstorpsstrand again. Although still westerly the wind and the sea had calmed down considerably and there was little moving on the sea. Overhead though was a different matter and raptors were on the menu instead many cutting across the bay in front of me to make landfall at Båstad. Two close ospreys kicked things off nicely and I saw another later far out to sea doggedly heading south. Sparrowhawks were coming through at a rate of at least one every five minutes and in amongst them two honey buzzards and three marsh harriers.

Out at sea a massive total of 23 little gulls headed south, the majority in one loose flock. Three shelduck were my first for a while too. The beach produced a nice mixed flock of five waders; two dunlin and single ringed plover, knot and sanderling. The latter always notable in BK. Nice little session.

Marsh harrier - 2K male heading south.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A bit of a seawatch

With strong westerlies arriving as per forecast I dropped the kids off at school and headed out for a sea-watch at Yttre Kattvik. Here I met Leif and Bengt, who had little to show for the previous two hours and promptly departed. Not auspicious. I stuck it out for two hours and although things were slow I enjoyed it. Highlights here included: seven black-throated divers loafing offshore; a few waders past including ringed plover (1), golden plover (1), knot (6), dunlin (3) and redshank (7); a trickle of terns including one adult Arctic tern and three guillemots.

After two hours I moved and had a quick look at Klarningen - very little - and then moved to Eskilstorpsstrand for another hour of seawatching. This was much better with first a great skua and then a probable Arctic showing distantly. The wind was strong but had backed SW. Waders come in close and fast at this site and I was pleased to catch a few flocks that included more knot (7), dunlin (12), ruff (1), redshank (2) and turnstone (2). A heavy shower eventually sent me scuttling for the car and home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Icecream and hedges

Spent most of the day either gardening or attending children's parties. Did manage to slip away with Mrs B for an hour and a half at Ranarpsstrand. A brisk SW wind was in operation and a few waders were flying by including golden plover (30), knot (2), bar-tailed godwit (3), spotted redshank (1) and a massive nine greenshank. A 1K red-backed shrike skulked about in the bushes. Tuesday is looking good for a sea-watch, I love August watches with the mad, southward dash of Arctic waders brightening up the long periods between real seabirds.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stormy weather

Got up early this morning but was pinned in the car during the mother of all thunderstorms. Really impressive show. Eventually the lightning drew away and the rain stopped and I could get out and check the weed between Vejbystrand and Stora Hult. Still plenty of waders here but no notable increases; oystercatcher (2), knot (5), Temminck's stint (4), little stint (4), curlew sandpiper (12) and ruff (4) being the best of it. A surprise goshawk male headed south and then I headed up to check the Hålehallstugan area.

Pretty quiet up here but I did hear crossbills briefly. The lake shore produced a red-backed shrike and a honey buzzard appeared overhead as it migrated south. No sign of any Lestes virens here, just a few Enallagma and lots of sponsa.

Picked up the team for a walk between Båstad and Malen. Nothing moving and little on the ground, just three grey wagtails of note. A quick look at Klarningen produced single spotted redshank and greenshank, as well as a handful of whinchat and single red-backed shrike and wheatear.

Friday, August 26, 2011

virens!

Sandön is always good for an osprey or two.

Number 2 and I headed out to work the coast between Sandön and Rönnen this morning. Sandön was packed with birds and very exciting. Ducks were few and far between but did include five pintail. Waders held my attention for longer with a large flock of calidrids including a number of great birds. Two sanderling darting about quickly caught my attention and skulking in amongst a huge flock of over 100 snipe was a single dark and mysterious adult broad-billed sandpiper. It stuck out like Johnny Cash at a Hari Krishna get-together. Amazing numbers of little stints too with 17 counted and probably more. Just six curlew sandpipers and a small flock of 35 knot rounded off the action. Overhead two ospreys searched for fish and a 1K black tern hawked about.

Rönnen in a quick look produced more waders, notably a single avocet and eight curlew sandpipers.

After lunch we all went for a quick look at the sedge-mire at Gånarp. Fifteen minutes here was enough to secure Lestes virens for the year-list. Plenty of Aeshna juncea flying here too despite light rain and overcast conditions. A pleasant end to the day.

Lestes virens is a smart little damselfly. I just need to find a colony in BK...

Mmmm... stunted lower appendages!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two bar!

A really exciting day today with plenty of milestones achieved. BK delivers the goods in spades as usual. Kicked off in the rain at Stora Hult. This stretch of beach has plenty of rotting weed and will be worth keeping an eye on this autumn. Plenty of waders shared between here and neighbouring (off-patch) Vejbystrand; totals included ringed plover (90), golden plover (145), knot (7), little stint (4), Temminck's stint (4), curlew sandpiper (12), dunlin (90), ruff (2), greenshank (1) and spotted redshank (1). Curlew sandpiper was my 200th bird species in BK this year.

A wander between Grytskären and Ranarpsstrand produced a few oystercatchers, three more spotted redshank, four greenshank and plenty of common sandpipers but the site was disturbed by fishermen.

After a lengthy spell of housework I nipped out again in the afternoon, chasing Aeshna subarctica. Despite overcast conditions there were a few males patrolling at the site at Bränneslätt when I arrived and eventually one found it's way into the net. My 50th Swedish dragonfly of the year! As if this was not enough two two-barred crossbills flew over calling, they were chipping away but included at least two diagnostic nasal toots on their trumpets as they went over. BK tick!

Aeshna subarctica can be tricky to identify in flight, although with practise they can be picked out. It is much easier to identify in the hand of course and the key features are illustrated in these photos. The underneath of the thorax has two yellow stripes.

No yellow spots behind the eyes, cf juncea.

The facial suture line (between the frons and the postclypeus) widens at the base (near the eye).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hungary round-up

More images from a successful 'bat' trip to Hungary, a surprisingly enjoyable tour.

Just one Sympecma fusca was found, a fresh adult female, in the middle of a beech forest!

Fuzzy wuzzy was an owl. The easy bird highlight of the trip was a superb male Ural owl watched hunting around a forest clearing at dusk, whilst our batmen set up the mist-nets. Amazingly this was a WP tick for me.

Agile frog was nice too.

Once we dropped into the lowlands at the end of the trip we had a chance to chase a few more dragonflies. Ephemeral wetlands produced this fine Aeshna affinis, as well as Lestes barbarus but we could not find macrostigma in the short time available at the best sites.

Our last new dragonfly was Crocothemis erythraea, common at a spot we broke down at on the way to the airport on the last morning!

Female Crocothemis.

Wader go!

Terrible grey weather with occasional showers put birds back on the menu this morning. Checked out Klarningen for an hour after breakfast. Plenty of yellow wagtails (45+) and tree pipits (30+) on the move this morning, and at one point I heard crossbill calling. Quite a few birds have dropped out too with whinchat (8), wheatear (6) and red-backed shrike (1K) decorating the posts and wires. The wetland itself was rather quiet although a flock of 8 shoveler was my best total to date at Klarningen. Also here a flock of ten ruff and 4 snipe.

In the afternoon I went out to Ripagården to look again for two-barred crossbills. The woodland here was rather quiet but the beach produced a nice little stint, seven common sandpipers and a greenshank.

Torekov rev provided it's usual slow-burn. Seemingly deserted, it eventually produced a respectable diversity of waders; little ringed plover (1), ringed plover (7), golden plover (35), knot (2), little stint (1), Temminck's stint (1), dunlin (21), curlew (1), common sandpiper (1), greenshank (2) and redshank (2).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back on patch!

After nearly six weeks away I have finally made it home... Great to be back on the patch and the first job today was to look for two-barred crossbills (several have dropped in to BK in the last two weeks in my absence and I 'need' it). No chance of an early start as normal, but I got two hours in at Killeröd mid-morning. No sign of any two-bars though, but two 1K common crossbills were nice. Two nutcrackers were also welcome but failed to show well. A tit flock here included both willow and crested. Dragonflies started to appear as the day warmed. Plenty of Sympetrum vulgatum throughout and a few Aeshna juncea warming up on spruce trunks.

Aeshna juncea - several flying in the woods this morning. Lower down the hill mixta was flying.

Quick looks at Lindab (Sympetrum flaveolum) and Vysterborg (several Aeshna grandis) were useful for the dragonfly Atlas totals for that square. Last stop of the day was Mäsinge for a quick look at the pond, the easy highlight being a male Anax imperator (a recent addition to the Odofauna in Skåne). One day a female will turn up too. Fancying a bit of birding I checked out Glimminge for waders but just one common sandpiper and one greenshank kicked up in a quick look.

Aeshna mixta at Lindab today.

Just one Aeshna cyanea today, this female egg-laying at the pond at Mäsinge strand.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Postcard from Hungary

Phil is... currently enjoying Hungary.

The emphasis of the trip is on bats, many different roosts have been visited so far this week from small roof spaces and chimneys to natural cave roosts.

Any late summer trip in Central Europe is going to throw up some great encounters with splendid creatures. We visited one chalk grassland area that was hooching with wartbiters (Decticus verrucivorus).

A first for me was an adult common spadefoot, recorded after rain in Aggtelek NP one night. There are very few records for the park apparently.

Another great find was the Carpathian purple slug (Bielzia coerulans) - here in rather drab autumn plumage.

Dragonflies get a look-in of course. This Orthetrum brunneum was a nice year-tick and we are hoping for many more species when we hit some steppe plain wetlands later on in the trip.

Visiting so many bat roosts is a rare privilege, we have seen 13 species at roost or in the hand so far. Grey long-eared bat gets the comedy award.

Take me to your leader.

Reptiles are proving surprisingly elusive but sand lizards have performed, alongside common wall and green lizard.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

La glorieuse Loire

On our recent trip to France, we were allowed just half a day on the Loire on 28/7, instead of our planned 2-3 days. We had a great afternoon though and are keen to go back. Our first look at a river was a lunch stop on the Vienne at L’Île Bouchard which produced some interesting Odo’s, with Erythromma lindeni taking pride of place, alongside Calopteryx splendens, Platycnemis pennipes and Onychogomphus forcipatus. Later the kids swam at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne whilst I poked about along the bank. Amongst the numerous Onychogomphus forcipatus we did see one (probably female) Ophiogomphus cecilia. But the view was brief and no photos… Also here a single Lestes viridis and yet more Erythromma lindeni. A great insight into the joys of dragging on the Loire, I hope we return.

My first European Erythromma lindeni turned up on the Vienne and the Loire.
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Platycnemis were common along the Vienne.

Lestes viridis were on the wing along the Loire.

Onychogomphus forcipatus were very common along the Loire and Vienne, diligent searching produced a frustrating fleeting view of my first Ophiogomphus.

Number 2 found this big European mantis (Mantis religiosa) along the riverbank.