Friday, September 30, 2011

Walking in the woods

Took Number 2 out for a long walk around the woods in Killeröd and Önnarp this morning. Plenty of birds migrating overhead, mostly brambling/chaffinch and the first appreciable thrush movements of the autumn with both mistle thrush and fieldfare on the the go. Highlights came in the form of multiple encounters with two-barred crossbill (20+) and crossbill (30) and a nice acorn-stuffed nutcracker. Willow tits were calling everywhere this morning with at least six noted during the walk.
In the afternoon we headed out to Stora Hultstrand/Vejbystrand which produced three Slavonian grebes and five grey plover. The single wheatear here a reminder of how many migrants have slipped south already.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Up the rev

Had a BBQ at Torekov rev with the team at lunchtime. Lovely weather but not much doing in the way of birds. A ringtail hen harrier crossed the road in front of us on the way. Two hours at the rev produced just; wigeon (111), golden plover (111), grey plover (3 1K), dunlin (18) and a single redstart.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

All quiet in Laholmsbukten

Wrecked - guillemots are still dying along the coast in BK.

Spent the morning walking the harbour area in Båstad and north between Hemmeslövsstrand and Eskilstorpsstrand. Båstad was fairly quiet, I was hoping for a kingfisher but had to settle for a grey wagtail, a rock pipit and a 1K little gull. Further north I walked a long way and recorded just four tree pipits. All other sub-Saharan migrants seemed to have moved out overnight. On the beach a flock of dunlin contained seven 1K grey plover and two sanderling. Had time for 50 minutes at Klarningen before home. Loads of wildfowl in here now with 400 teal, 150 wigeon, 12 pintail and 2 shoveler. A family party of three whooper swans arrived whilst I was here, autumn it is. Also here little grebe (1) and ruff (5).

In the afternoon we all headed out for a quick walk between Mäsinge strand and Rammsjöstrand. A single crossbill over was the only bird highlight but we did find a juvenile or eft common newt walking along the road.

This tiny common newt eft at Mäsinge strand this afternoon was a big hit with the kids.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seawatch delivers another pallid harrier!

This gannet gave us an excellent close flyby, I don't think it was carrying nesting material! Unfortunately I suspect a hook-and-line are involved.

With Number 2 in tow and a reasonable westerly in progress we headed out to Yttre Kattvik to camp out in the car and get some seawatching done. It was rather quiet for seabirds though with just four gannets, four little gulls and an unidentified skua through in just over three hours. Wildfowl were on the move though and small flocks of wigeon produced a total of five hidden pintail. Strangely a brent goose spent most of the session floating offshore. Dunlin (40) were on the move in a small-scale way and four grey plovers also headed west.

But it was the raptors which really stole the show with two kestrels, two merlin and two peregrines in-off and then the big one. I was playing about with Number 2 when I looked around to discover a large ginger raptor was heading straight for us. I got it in the bins just as it hit the beach and turned west - another 1K pallid harrier. Number 2 giggled as I tried unsuccessfully to get my camera out in time. Well at least I thought of trying to get a photo this time. Maybe my fourth of the autumn will make a digital image! Just a superb encounter and ridiculously close yet again. Do pallid harriers have less fear of man than other harrier species?

Yesterday - more wind from the west

It started blowing westerly again yesterday and me and the kids got down for an hour at Kattvik in the afternoon. Not much moving for us but the black redstart remains in residence. More today hopefully.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waterfowl Census Part 2 - Torekov to Hovs Hallar

Kicked off the day's birding at Förslöv with a single flyover two-barred crossbill. Just wish I could see some at the coastal sites I frequent before they vanish back where they came from.

Today was my chance to finish my survey work and I could not have picked nicer weather, constant drenching drizzle throughout the morning, although it did clear up in the afternoon I was pretty wet. Started at Torekov rev which typically produced the best of the birds; two brent geese, a shoveler and four 1K grey plovers. The walk northwards produced little of note but did include a total of nearly 100 dunlin. Ripagården produced a nice adult peregrine ripping up a small bird (starling?) and I saw the presumably the same bird perched close to the road and looking fantastic against the newly-tilled soil later at Vråen. Shame my camera was drying out in the back of the car!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A quick look at Klarningen

Had half an hour in the field this afternoon and spent it at Klarningen. Water levels are high and more wildfowl are present as a result. Teal have increased to at least 200, there are 50 wigeon and a mute swan. One little grebe remains.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Waterfowl Census Part 1 - Dagshög to Torekov

This 1K golden plover hit overhead wires near Slättaröd this morning. I flash-fried the breast fillets and tiny drumsticks for a tasty snack when I got back. You would need a few for a pie though.

It's that time of year again. Time to do the September wildfowl counting. This morning I tackled the section between Dagshög and Torekov and it was rather dull really on the wildfowl front as is often the case at this time of year. The first bird I saw was a bizarre male kestrel with the chestnut back and upperwing coverts replace by the same grey as the tail. The terminal band in the tail and wingtips were perfect for kestrel but it really looked odd! The other highlight was the passerine vizmig overhead, mostly chaffinch/brambling, with plenty of siskin too and a few yellow wagtails, tree pipits and a surprising number of common crossbills. The walk also produced a single shag and the same three 1K grey plovers that were seen yesterday. A 1K hen harrier hunting the foreshore at the sewage works may also have been the same bird seen yesterday.

Duty done we headed out for a walk in the afternoon around Killeröd loop. I was hoping for more two-barred crossbill action and was not disappointed, a flock of 30 hanging around the car park were simply superb.

A flock of thirty two-barred crossbills is a good way to end the birding day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sabine's gull waits just long enough

Nipped out to Båstad at dawn to check for waifs and strays after the big blow. Walked straight to the sea and there at my feet was yesterday's Sabine's gull. Superb. Poor light so poor photos...

1K Sabine's gull - always a favourite.

Mmmm - arty.

The bird saw me and started paddling away out to sea and managed to disappear presumably by flying whilst I was scanning hopefully for the Mediterranean gull (seen again to the north of BK yesterday). Short but sweet. A reasonably thorough search failed to relocate the Sabine's but did produce a rock pipit and three grey wagtails.

Picked up the team next and we had a walk around Gröthögarna. Beautiful weather for a change but not much on the move here. Highlights included a nice 1K hen harrier and another grey wagtail. Last stop of the morning was at Påarps Mal which produced another BK year-tick in the shape of two shag. Also here three 1K grey plovers roosting.

In the afternoon I dropped in on Klarningen, plenty of water on site now and wildfowl are responding slowly. At least 80 teal, 16 wigeon and a few geese around, and best of all two little grebes. The flooded fields to the south were good too with over 200 meadow pipits and 8 dunlin.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seawatch Part 3

A couple of embayed Manx shearwaters kept me entertained throughout today's session.

Two spotted flycatchers and the pied flycatcher remained at the sheltered spot in Förslöv this morning. After my taxi duties it was off to Eskilstorpsstrand for more seawatching today. Six hours here was rather pleasant, although I failed to add either sooty shearwater (none seen in Lahomsbukten today) or Sabine's gull (a juvenile stayed further north and sadly as I write this is parading past Båstad...) to my year-list. They will come in time though no doubt.

Two little stints were on the beach today in a mobile flock of dunlin, sanderling and knot.

Little gulls were the signature bird of today's session, good numbers milling around in the bay and occasionally feeding along the surfline.

Highlights of the watch; brent goose (three south, a nice BK year-tick), fulmar (at least two, probably more), Manx shearwater (2 bombing back and forth in the bay), unidentified ringtail harriers (two, crossing the bay and frustratingly losing leeway and passing in overland further north!), merlin (7!), peregrine (1), little stint (2 on the beach), sanderling (6), Arctic skua (1) and at least 27 little gulls. Winds dropping overnight, but might still be worth a clean-up walk to check for strays tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seawatch Part 2

Day 2 of the big blow saw winds staying stubbornly in the SW, although in the afternoon it did finally veer westerly. I spent five hours at Yttre Kattvik with a large crowd and felt rather claustrophobic throughout, not to mention occasionally frustrated. The first hour or two of the morning session here were rather good with plenty of close Arctic skuas (7) but things moved offshore after that. Just one gannet through during this period - a nice dark 1K bird - and I failed to see a kittiwake. Weird. Other highlights were; fulmar (1), great skua (1) and little gull (1K). Slim pickings in other words.

With more going on on the Halland coast I cursed my decision to abandon Eskilstorpsstrand this morning and before moving on to parental duties I spent the last hour-and-a-half at Båstad trying to catch up. This worked well with the best of it being two superb lanky and grey 1K long-tailed skuas (intermediates both) travelling together and lost in the corner of the bay when I dudishly checked out a very low-flying osprey! Also here a distant and brief view far to the north of the Manx shearwater which was terrifying the inhabitants of Mellbystrand and Skummeslöv. Other stuff through included two ospreys south, a nice close merlin ditto, and at least two 1K little gulls.

Back in Förslöv, my sheltered fenceline still held three spotted flycatchers and a pied flycatcher. The latter now my latest record in BK. Will it stay another day?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seawatch Part 1

The remnants of hurricane Katia struck today and I was out at Eskilstorpsstrand after breakfast for a 5.5 hour session. It was still early days though, despite a very strong SW wind, the birds did not get down south to us before I had to leave. Finger crossed for tomorrow though. It was rather slow but the following was notable; golden plover (1), grey plover (2), knot (21), sanderling (6), dunlin (36), ruff (1), Arctc skua (two adults chasing Sandwich terns), Arctic tern (1) and guillemot (9). A swift heading south was my latest in BK but a long way from the record books!

A gang of five sanderling kept me amused.

Two knot fed on the beach and another 19 were counted going south during the session.

Picking up the kids I found a sheltered spot in Förslöv which had three spotted flycatchers and a pied flycatcher. The latter the latest ever in BK.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dose of merlin

Busy most of the day with a poorly child but we did get out to look at the wet field near the school briefly (2 dunlin) and in the afternoon we had 40 minutes at Ljungbyholm. No raptors through today in the short watch but a couple of 1K merlins livened things up. They were a male and female and perched very close to each other, they are supposed to pair up on the wintering grounds... Waders were good too with a single adult grey plover looking rather splendid and exotic out in the middle of the field and a flyby by four ruff.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pallid falls in BK!

Raptors very much on the menu today, this 2K male marsh harrier went south through Vasaltheden in the morning.

This morning I went out with the intention of bagging a BK pallid harrier and guess what, I actually did! Sweden is groaning under an unprecedented invasion of mostly 1K birds at the moment, incredibly there have been 27 pallid harriers through Falsterbo to date this autumn! The chances of finding one yourself have never been better and I got the ball rolling by finding one off-patch last week.

I started off just after dawn at Ljungbyholm. Two kestrels in the air here and quite a few more were noted during the morning at various sites, a definite influx. A merlin was still dashing about here but and hour here failed to produced any harriers, other than a single 1K marsh. Ranarpsstrand next for a quick look, two grey wagtails were nice, they seem scarce this autumn.

Last but not least I headed for Öllövsstrand and walked into Vasaltheden. A marsh harrier migrated through straight away and there was an osprey on the deck eating a fish. More kestrels (2) here and at one point a merlin dashed south with a crow in hot pursuit. The heavens opened and I just had to stand there and take it as the lightning streaked about. Afterwards I watched a great grey shrike dry himself off and start hunting - BK's earliest autumn record and a hideous reminder that winter is next.

Walking back I was dragging my heels when I was overtaken in Öllövsstrand by a superb 1K pallid harrier. Apart from the 'thing' I saw at Falsterbo I have been really lucky with my views of ringtails this autumn and this bird was very close but heading southwards on a mission. Short but sweet. Result!

Osprey south through Klarningen in the afternoon.

After lunch some of the team accompanied me to Klarningen, water levels are higher than I have ever seen them but there is little use of the site, just two pintail, one teal, three wigeon and a handful of mallard today. Overhead was better with a sub-adult white-tailed eagle and an osprey through together during the hour long watch. At least 20 whinchat on site and the fields along the access track had a dozen wheatear. A great day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gardening - oh yes!

Thought I'd better get some work done in the garden today ahead of what looks like a busy week in the field. I have been hearing crossbills occasionally in the mornings as we get into the car on the school run and it was nice to spend some time in the garden. It all paid off just after lunch when five crossbills sat up in some nearby spruce trees. I ran for the scope and the first bird I looked at was my first ever male two-barred crossbill. Red! The air was thick with expletives, what a bird! Two trees along a female. Superb and a mega garden tick. This invasion really is big.

For tea we all piled down for a BBQ at Ripagården, taking advantage of a complete lack of wind and fine, sunny weather. The obvious thing here was a huge flock of 220 siskins in the seeding spruce trees. A single common crossbill flew through and somewhere in the wood there was at least one crested tit. The flat calm sea revealed five guillemots and a 1K little gull.

Thomas Wallin worked BK during the day and reported a pallid/Monties ringtail and yet more two-barreds. I will be back out there tomorrow.

Finding Lestes macrostigma on the Île de Ré

Just a quickie with a link to the site where we found Lestes macrostigma this year on the Île de Ré. It is the small wetland nestling in the fork.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Watching the sea

The weather forecast looks incredible for next week, I could be sea-watching for days on end I reckon. So Number 2 and I got some practice in today in a light westerly. We chose Yttre Kattvik in the morning, a site that allows Number 2 to set up a camp in the car whilst I attempt to watch birds, answer questions and help with 'tent' construction.

En route we had two marsh harriers at Hov and yet another merlin (an immature male) perched close by the road at Kattvik. Two-and-a-half hours of watching here produced some good birds with the highlights being fulmar (1), arctic skua (1) and little gull (2 2K). More raptors here too with three merlins and a marsh harrier in-off crossing the bay. Other notables included black-throated diver (3 west), Slavonian grebe (2 west), Arctic tern (1 west) and at least 14 guillemot west. Along the road a steady stream of siskin passed west, they are really starting to move in numbers now.

After lunch and with Number 1 on board we headed out again, this time in the bright sunshine and therefore to the markkedly more sheltered Kattvik harbour. It almost felt like summer for a while. Four beautiful black-throated divers were in residence just offshore and stuff was still moving on the sea. A 1K Arctic skua passed by very close and a total of five little gulls went past in singles during the two hour watch. Perhaps the best bird though was the 1K black redstart feeding quietly in amongst the huge boulders that make up the breakwater at this site.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cuckoo!

I must be bonkers because it was not until after tea last night that I finally went down for the last hour of daylight and what would have been an epic seawatch if I had missed my tea and gone straight away! Highlights were my first skuas of the year, a dainty 1K long-tailed skua that angled in from the NW and bounced off again and at least two Arctic skuas. I managed to miss at least one sooty shearwater and a red phalarope, ho hum. Hopefully more of them later, if the autumn weather continues on in the same vein we could have a bumper year for seabirds. Two grey plover past close were nice. Got home to find that Martin Åkesson had found a 2K Mediterranean gull just up the beach and off-patch of course...

Today I decided to walk the beach between Båstad and Eskilstorpsstrand, in case the Med gull was still around and to see if any wrecked seabirds were present. Highlights on this long and often wet walk were as follows; osprey (1, Båstad), Arctic tern (3), guillemot (2 plus another dead), knot (singles at Båstad and Eskilstorpsstrand), little stint (1 south at Hemmeslövsstrand), sanderling (1, Eskilstorpsstrand) and little gull (4 1K birds south at Hemmeslövsstrand and another resting there on the way back). A fall of wheatears was very evident all along the stretch walked.

Moving on I headed for Torekov, picking up a cuckoo over the car at Lugnet, just outside town. The rev was looking pretty busy. At least 35 wheatears grounded here, quite a spectacle. Waders hanging about included; golden plover (84), grey plover (3), knot (1) and bar-tailed godwit (2). As I watched a magic merlin shot along just above the sea and bumped a flock of starlings feeding in the seaweed, emerging somehow with a greenfinch! A neat trick! Looking south I could see a lot of calidrids feeding on the weed by the harbour. Closer inspection revealed a flock of 60 dunlin which included four little stints. After two sparse years for this species I seem to be back on track.

Last stop of the day was Glimminge Plantering, the beach here produced a single shelduck, seven knot, five dunlin and a brace of greenshank. Then it started to rain again...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Burning up Brandsvig

With the car at the doctors having it's wheels aligned, I walked out of Ängelholm to nearby Brandsvig - a wet farmland site I enjoy birding on occasion. Plenty happening on arrival with a raptor playing merry hell with a flock of waders that included golden plover (21), knot (1!), dunlin (2), ruff (35) and greenshank (3). Not a bad little haul for an inland field. Also here a few passerines including yellow wagtail (1), redstart (1), whinchat (10) and lesser whitethroat (1).

Spent an hour at Ljungbyholm the afternoon, but nothing notable seen as I hunkered down in the wind and rain-lashed car reading the Owner's Manual...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Late Temminck's

Had the middle part of the day in the field today. Tried Klarningen hoping for a red-throated pipit but despite flushing quite a few tree and meadow pipits as I walked the northern half there was no result. The sheep pen held a spotted flycatcher that looked, well sheepish I guess. Nearby a dozen whinchat and a few wheatears looked more at home. Water levels continue to rise here and the flooding is making the site attractive to wildfowl again; wigeon (15) and teal (75) on site today. Waders included a total of 21 ruff and three dunlin together with a single Temminck's stint flew through at one point. Snipe numbers remain curiously low with just two recorded.

Raptors were on the menu again with a light passage of buzzards and marsh harriers going on and a nice adult peregrine came through too. Nearby just inside Laholm kommun whilst checking a large lapwing flock I found a fantastic adult male merlin perched up by the road.

Drove over the top to Ljungbyholm, without any birds of note. Ljungbyholm was quieter, still 80 golden plover in site and a female or immature merlin was chasing the only wheatear present all over the place.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grotty Gröthögarna

Terrible weather today, the wind went south and we were deluged with yet more rain. Got out in the afternoon for two hours and walked Gröthögarna. Plenty of migrant passerines around with good numbers of blackcaps and redstarts and small numbers of other Sylvias, spotted flycatchers and red-backed shrikes, but no sign of the hoped-for wryneck or better still a barred warbler. Overhead a 1K hobby and a swift were noted.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

BK tick - the harriers keep coming!

With strong SE winds forecast today it was always going to be interesting in BK, but could I cash-in? I tried Eskilstorpsstrand first thing for a couple of hours. Things were slow overhead here so I went for a walk north to the border and back down the road. A few things were moving notably an osprey loafing north and a black woodpecker heading south. The woods were better with a pair of crested tits and a frustrating two-barred crossbill that called a couple of times before melting away.

Klarningen next. The access track had at least 75 yellow wagtails and 11 wheatears. Water levels rising here with the electric pump on at last but no birds. Fly-through ruff (15) and golden plover rejected the place! Eventually I cracked and walked the site, this confirmed the lack of birds but did produce eight species of Odonate including six Ischnura pumilio, the first multiple occurrence in BK (and Halland). Back at the tower a pulse of raptors went through, including a nice male honey buzzard and an osprey. The phone went too, pallid harrier west through BK at Rammsjöstrand... Bugger!

Klarningen must have a colony of Ischnura pumilio, although I found no proof of breeding today. This is only the third Halland record of this species.

In the afternoon I did some taxi driving and then headed straight back to the patch and the 'big field' at Ljungbyholm. This is as big as the fields get in BK and I have high hopes that one day a dotterel will appear. Instead the first thing I saw when I set my scope up was a rufous 1K ringtail harrier passing very close to me. I willed it to be pallid, but it lacked the pale collar and boa, and instead I had to accept the fact that it was a Montagu's! Either would have been BK ticks so I could not complain. There are just five previous records of this species in BK so it is a hard bird to get. I was pleased and watched as the first of five marsh harriers came through in a busy 20-minute period. Out in the field sat two merlins. Magic stuff but things quietened down quickly and after 1.5 hours I moved on.

Last stop of the day was a date with some two-barred crossbills. They had to be in the larch trees around the Killeröd loop trail and sure enough right at the start near the green hunting hut I heard the first trumpet call. It took a full hour to track down a view but I eventually had four birds perched up in the 'scope. Also here a 1K hobby, willow tit and my best view of a nutcracker this year. A fantastic end to a great day in BK.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Aberrant guillemot

Found this dead, aberrant guillemot on the beach at Båstad on 27/8. The bare part colouration is fantastic. The bill was really pink and the legs are paler than normal too. There have been several recent records of yellow-billed guillemots in the UK in recent years. Would have been nice to see this one alive, but so many of the unusual August influx of guillemots are turning up dead at the moment.

Falsterbo!

A much slower day today with brisk SE winds coming into play. We did have a lovely pulse of about 25 honey buzzards over the heath at one point though.

A slow start to my day this morning was a bad idea. I missed two pallid harriers (including a male) and two tawny pipits at the point early on. We all had a nice time though today, watching both Nabbben and the heath for raptors and visiting the Falsterbo Bird Show. Raptor watching produced another black kite and nice views of migrating merlin and hobby.

Yesterday


Two dead guillemots at Torekov rev this morning and this one which did not look too clever.

Spent a couple of hours yesterday, with Mrs B and Number 2, looking at Påarps Mal and Torekov rev. Påarps Mal had a few grounded migrants including a nice garden warbler and several blackcap, whitethroat and redstarts. The coastline produced a flock of 210 golden plover, a ruff and ten dunlin.

The rev had more golden plover (60), six knot, five dunlin and a single guillemot (close in and looking un-oiled but poorly). A nearby freshly dead guillemot was emaciated.

In the afternoon we drove down to Falsterbo for a night's camping. We missed a cracking morning with multiple pallid harriers and both greater and lesser spotted eagles... But we did manage a few nice raptors in the closing hours of play including two 1K black kites going through together, a pallid/Montagu's juvenile and a nice selection of common raptor migrants.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Swedish tick - pallid harrier!

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I stray out of BK (my beloved recording area) grudgingly and with some trepidation. But the area just to the south of me in Skåne is very good birding and it would be churlish not to have a look occasionally... The problem is I occasionally find birds I would give my eye-teeth for in BK. Today was one of those days...

Team logistical reasons suggested a trip to work the coast between Farhult and Sandön today and the sun shone for the first time in ages. Happy days. I kicked off at Farhult just after nine o'clock and this proved to be inspired. Within ten minutes I was watching a juvenile harrier. Picked up as a rufous ringtail coming in-off - I got excited. The bird was heading away in the scope and I prayed for it to thermal and show itself well, which luckily it quickly did. Check out that boa! Pallid! Great bird, a Swedish tick and one of my most wanted BK birds. Shame I wasn't there! But mustn't grumble, I have not been troubling the scorer's much this year, so I was just glad of the find. I forgot to photograph it though, being too busy enjoying it through the scope! Quite a large number of waders here too, in amongst the 175 dunlin were; knot (2), sanderling (6), little stint (10) and curlew sandpiper (4).

Next stop was Rönnen. A huge flock of barnacle geese in here - at least 2200, and all up in the air at one amazing point. Never found the culprit, but a peregrine appeared just afterwards. Waders much in evidence here too with knot (3), little stint (15), curlew sandpiper (14), a massive 16 spotted redshank and two woood sandpipers.

Adult peregrine at Rönnen.

Sandön provided more raptors with two white-tailed eagles and my first merlin on the autumn. Osprey and marsh harrier on the move too. Waders here included nearly 50 knot and six more sanderling. Two juvenile black terns hunted just off the boardwalk.

Osprey and white-tailed eagle over Sandön.

One of two juvenile black terns at Sandön.

Decided to check Halsarevet next, a site near Jonstorp that I have never visited but that has been hosting a few red-necked phalaropes lately. The birds were apparently present earlier but I dipped badly. As I arrived a sparrowhawk did a pretty comprehensive number on the place and every wader was up and off. A few things returned including seven little stints, a wood sandpiper and a turnstone. Great site though and one I will return to.

It was time to guiltily speed-thrash a few sites in BK, quickly worked the coastal stretch from Vejbystrand to Ranarpsstrand but with little effect. Just one migrating osprey at Lervik of note.