Sunday, December 16, 2012

cake!

It all got a bit Test Match Special here in BK today. The best part of the day was receiving a cake from one of my regular readers. Superb Christmas nut loaf Janice!

Nipped out for a very rapid look at Gröthögarna and Torekov, hoping for the gyr. No joy yet again, but it must be out there somewhere.

Norra Ängalag produced nine gadwall and a peregrine was sitting on the usual rock out on Tjällran. I searched the surrounding fields for sign of the recently reported snow buntings but it looks likely I may miss this species for BK this year! Torekov rev was full of mallard and the single redshank and dunnock remained. No sign of any purple sandpipers today though, they are being rather elusive this winter.

No rain was forecast so we went for a BBQ at Ripagården at lunchtime. It started raining of course and we grilled away in drizzly rain... A short walk revealed nothing outstanding.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lapland!

After two days of working in the house I broke out today to make the most of a blue sky and almost zero wind. Things got a little chilly (-11 at dusk just off-patch) but it was a glorious day of winter birding.

Kicked off at Norra Ängalag chasing yesterday's dusk report of the 1K gyr falcon (fast becoming my nemesis BK bird). Straight off I spotted a falcon sitting out offshore on Tjällran - a female peregrine... I watched it for some time and eventually it hauled itself off the island and set off purposefully. It had it's eye on a jackdaw and unlike many peregrine chases it was quickly obvious what the outcome was going to be and sure enough after the third attempt the peregrine lightly hijacked the jackdaw and flew towards me to feed on the shore nearby. Superb. It mantled the prey and killed it and almost immediately was fending off a male peregrine (the other half) that appeared from nowhere! It was not going to share though and ate it's prize in a leisurely manner over the next hour. The male sulked over on Tjällran.

In the background during all this was a light passage of red-throated divers south and even a gannet. Walking back through the car park (which was blocked with snow) I disturbed three hawfinches from the farmyard feeders.

Next stop was Torekov rev. Stomping about here produced a few more good birds. A dunnock crept about in the snow. The redshank was still quietly feeding in the shallows and I flushed a snipe by the stream outflow. No sign of yesterday's reported water pipit amongst the meadow pipits but I did find a skylark feeding on the foreshore. Sea levels were really low (often the case after easterlies) and it was not until I was about to drive off that I noticed a small offshore table-sized reef regularly washed by the tiny waves that had three purple sandpipers on it. Offshore on Vinga an adult white-tailed eagle surveyed the sound. A quick listen at Flytermossen failed to turn up any reedbed specials so I moved on to Ripagården.

Ripagården had some good birds too, I flushed a 1K goshawk from the foreshore near the car park and a Lapland bunting flew over calling (the best bird of the day without a doubt). Also here two black guillemot, a species that seems rather scarce this winter for some reason. A great session despite the fact that gyr falcon remains to found. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another new gomphid for Greentours?

Ian Green took this shot of a gomphid during a recent Greentours trip to PNG, only one species of gomphid is known from the country and this is obviously not it!

Regular readers may recall that during a tour to Mexico in September I found what appears to be an undescribed Stylurus gomphid at Batopilas.  Well yesterday I was identifying a few Odonata photographs from Papua New Guinea for my boss, I was doing well until I checked out this gomphid. I sent Vincent Kalkman the image and he believes it is most likely to be an undescribed species. Nice one Ian!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

got jack!

Finally got a photo of an obliging jack snipe this afternoon, this was my first ever at Torekov rev and as always a really smart bird. 

Nipped out late today for a six-hour session in the snow. Checked out Glimminge first which produced another brief water pipit. Up to Torekov next. Påarps mal was rather quiet, just two dunnock along the edge of the oat crop. A quick look at the sewage treatment works produced nothing but Svarteskär had two shags. 

Then it all came together at the rev with a nice run of good birds. A redshank called as I got out of the car, a species that has got steadily scarcer in winter in BK as the recent cold winters have taken hold. A jack snipe flushed from the edge of the dunes and I tracked it to it's 'hiding place', getting a great photo at very close range. Nearby another dunnock called from deep cover. Out on the rev the best birds were a pair of gadwall. Offshore three white-tailed eagles flew north in a rather scattered but purposeful formation. A sparrowhawk terrorised the small birds eking out a living on the frozen shoreline.

My last planned stop of the day was at Norra Ängalag, pretty quiet here apart from the continued slow and steady trickle of mute swans overhead in small flocks. They never go at the same time as the whoopers!

On the way home close to dusk I got a pager message that some shorelark had been spotted at Vejbystrand. On the off chance that they had strayed north into BK I checked them out but sadly they had strayed a long way and I never found them. Maybe they are wintering?

One of three white-tailed eagles that sallied out from Hallands Väderö in the late afternoon. I caught this juvenile heading back later over Norra Ängalag.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

bah!

Had a look for pine grosbeaks today in the stretch of coast from Malen to Eskilstorpsstrand. There has been several reports of birds just off-patch to the north of here lately, so I was hoping... In vain it transpires! I did get a three hour walk under a grey sky and a brisk westerly with almost constant light snow, nice.

Birds were few and far between along the coast with a handful of tit/nuthatch flocks encountered that produced a few marsh tits, a coal tit and two long-tailed tits. Just one brambling in three hours. The best birds were a sparrowhawk (south) and a goshawk (hunting).

Nipped up to Klarningen to see if there was any open water. No - it has shut for the season leaving just raptors hanging about as usual. Today I watched the rough-legged buzzard hunting and had flyby white-tailed eagle and at least three common buzzards.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jeff Blincow's China showcase

 Tibetan fox

The recent Greentours trip to Qinghai and Sichuan was a great success. We were lucky to have Jeff Blincow on board and his hard work as a photographer produced some great photos (and great bird records). Jeff is a bit cagey about releasing his images for general consumption but if you are in the UK he is on the bird talk circuit so why not book him for your bird club meetings. All the photos in this post are his! Jeff certainly inspired me for one and I have just bought a 300mm lens for my D7. Slippery slope...

You can see more photos from the participants of the tour in the Greentours gallery.

More photos of Przewalski's pinktail - it is just a stunning bird!

Pinktail

The male Stolizcka's tit-warbler, just amazing and common too.

One of the must-see endemic species on the Tibetan plateau is the Hume's groundpecker - fortunately rather common in habitat.

I finally saw Lady Amherst's pheasant at Laba He, ending a 29-year quest to see all the birds in the front section of the old Shell guide!

Jeff gripped the hell out of us at Laba He, he spent a lot of time on his own wandering about and finding gems like this grey-hooded parrotbill.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

snowy birding

Tramped through the snow all day today looking for birds and found a few. Kicked off at Stora Hultstrand just after dawn. Geese were on the move, with Canada geese going through in small numbers with a few greylag mixed in. Offshore were four Slavonian grebes and a few velvet scoter.

The walk off-patch and into Vejbystrand produced plenty of duck, notably teal (107) and wigeon (70). The shoreline produced two meadow pipit and a handful of starling. Overhead a flock of geese consisted of 50 bean and ten white-fronted. Nice!

Next stop was a look at Lervik, after a reported water pipit, which showed quite well on the outskirts of a gang of about 11 meadow pipits. Offshore on and around the islands were at least two purple sandpipers, a tight flock of 200+ common scoter and 15 tufted duck. Walking up to Ranarpsstrand produced another water pipit, five snipe and two jack snipe (multiples of the latter are very noteworthy).

In the afternoon I checked Kattvik (too exposed) and Ripagården. The latter site was quiet but did offer up little grebe (1), white-tailed eagle (adult) and finally as I turned for home another unseasonal song thrush.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

no gyr but great birding

Headed out at first light to Torekov rev for a crack at yesterday's gyr falcon after snow overnight. No joy with any falcons and the rev was rather quiet and cold. Whooper swans were heading south in small flocks (this continued throughout the day), a sure sign that central Sweden is locking down for the winter. Other highlights were 8 bean geese south and 45 starling in the area.

Things hotted up considerably though when I dropped in on nearby Påarps mal. A woodcock flushed from the small avenue leading to the gate and then the juniper on the other side produced a short-eared owl! Two new birds for my Torekov list in five minutes. That was not all however, also here was a shag (1), golden plover (3), lapwing (3 - late), wood pigeon (5), skylark (4) and dunnock (1). A nice mix of birds that are scarce to non-existent in the winter.

Last stop of the day was Rammsjöstrand where the wet field near the sewage pump produced at least two water pipits, as well as water rail (heard), snipe (10+), grey wagtail (1) and song thrush (1). More scarce winter birds and a great end to an enjoyable session.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

walk in the woods

Finally got some sleep last night and woke up late to find snow on the ground and a couple of waxwing feeding in an apple tree near the house. Took the team for a walk in the woods around Killeröd in the afternoon. Not much doing here, willow tit predictably being the highlight.

When I finally looked at my phone I realised that the 1K gyr falcon reported whilst I was away at the end of Oct/early November had been seen again during the morning. Is it wintering? Time will tell if I can connect with this much-needed BK tick!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

white-front invasion

Finally surfaced today after a bit of a lie-in, the kids were on a day off today so we headed out to Klarningen for forty minutes before going swimming. Alright for some I guess...

Klarningen was rammed with geese, even the kids commented on the number of birds rising up in front of us as we drove up the access track. Many dropped back in on the pools and we had a chance to go through them all. Amazingly there were 84 white-fronted geese hidden in amongst the 400+ greylags, easily the biggest flock recorded in BK for some time. Also here at least 14 rossicus bean geese and a pochard (only my 15th record in BK and second this year). Nice welcome home.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Postcard from Tikal

One of the highlights of Tikal was the pilgimage to Temple IV to visit one of the more reliable orange-breasted falcon sites in the world. It did not disappoint. Thanks go to John Cahill for securing access to the back of the temple for these views.

 We worked hard for ocellated turkey in the Yucatan in 1999, at Tikal in 2012 things got ugly on every lawn...

 Collared aracari.

The outstanding highlight of the Tikal leg of the tour was the ease with which we could get good views of pheasant cuckoo. We were put onto this bird initially by John Cahill and it was superbly entertaining over the next three days.

Keel-billed toucan.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

song of the siren

There are only a few wildlife-related things on my bucket list, but seeing a sirenian was on there till today when this West Indian manatee popped up for a breather in Placencia lagoon (Belize). Just superb.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

clocking off the nightshift

 Pauraque posing

Just finished a night session in Belize. Plenty of pauraque on the roads, plus black-and-white owl and striped owl (both new species for me!). More later.

This black-and-white owl was seriously obliging. Sadly the striped owls encountered later in the session were flightier.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Postcard from Sichuan

The main target of our three days at Laba He was red panda, it took just one hour to see our first one and we had at least five individuals in the first two days. A great mammal.

Laba He



 Not sure which silk-moth this is yet. Anyone? [it is Rhodinia jankowskii btw]

Three-banded rosefinch - a great bird to finally see.

Long-billed plover on the river in Chengdu.

Postcard from Qinghai

We saw both the resident giganteus and the nominate subspecies (as above) of the Chinese grey shrike.

My last redstart - the lovely chaffinch-like pastel shades of a male Przewalski's redstart.

A walk in the Dulan Mountains was fantastic for rutting kansuensis red deer, the roars of the males providing a memorable soundtrack to the day.

Our big day walk for Pallas' cat - it produced the goods, Jesper spotted one on a nearby ridge that gave great 'scope views as it looked out over the pika colonies below us.

A new family! Przewalski's pinktail (Urocynchramus pylzowi) - just amazing and worth the price of admission alone.

 Robin accentor

Tibet

 Black-necked crane - a much-wanted tick for me. We saw over 90 of these superb birds.

Glover's pika - a cute denizen of rocky cliffs and scree slopes on the plateau.

Ibisbill

The Tibetan plateau is hooching with lammergiers - we watched birds dismantling skeletons and flying away with the bones carried fore-and-aft (like an osprey with a fish).

Tibetan wolf sightings were one of the highlights of two weeks on the Tibetan plateau. We saw 11 individuals in five contacts.

Stolizcka's tit-warbler - I never did get a photo of a male...

Henderson's ground-jay - one of the most-wanted birds for the birders on the tour and it did not disappoint.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

woodlark

Terrible weather over the weekend but we dashed out at midday for a quick walk locally, the easy highlight being a flyover woodlark at Salomonhög, a BK year-tick no less.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

all white? yeah I'm all white!

The great white buzzard of BK. This bird has been around for over 12 years now and it always amazes me how seldom I see it!

Worked quite hard today with little reward. Kicked off near Grevie kyrkby by having a look at the splendid leucistic buzzard that lives in these parts. Just a little brown on the nape, otherwise clean white. 

Spent two hours working the woods along the shoreline at Segelstorpsstrand. Bumped into a big flock of 40+ goldcrests and had one chiffchaff. Plenty of tits about too with 8+ long-tailed tits indicative of some movement (457 through Kullen this morning!!) and a few thrushes around too including my first redwing of the season. But I could not find anything good, just two grey wagtails to write about.

Tried Öllövsstrand next but same result here, the best bird a male blackcap, although a flock of 60+ tree sparrow, with a good number of chaffinch and brambling was nice to see.

After lunch I decided to try the stubble south of Klarningen, but a good boot around reveal a dearth of birds, just a few meadow pipits, reed buntings and skylarks. The flooded pools had ruff (1) and golden plover (2) and these attracted the attentions of a peregrine at one point, resulting in a tense three minute chase that had me on the edge of my seat. From the tower things looked quiet with wigeon (55), teal (55) and shoveler (3) the best of it. The lone shelduck remains on station, must be damaged.

Last stop of the day was a sunny Eskilstorpsstrand which produced four white-fronted geese and two long-tailed ducks. Winter is upon us...

One of two grey wagtails at Segelstorpsstrand this morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

seawatching with the kids

With school closed for yesterday and a good NW wind on the go, we all packed into the car and headed for Yttre Kattvik mid-morning. Busy here with plenty of observers to go round and not much got past unnoticed I reckon. Plenty of birds going past too for a change. Highlights included; black-throated diver (1), fulmar (5), gannet (30), peregrine (1), great skua (1), little gull (4) and best of all a single puffin scuttling low over the waves on it's way west.

After three hours the kids had exhausted all the in-car entertainment they could dream up and I moved to Kattvik for another 1.5 hours where they could muck about outside without annoying the rarities committee. There was a great skua loafing offshore but things had quietened down at this point. Rather nice though was a 1K Caspian gull resting offshore, perhaps the same one as reported yesterday, although several were reported on the seawatch too. Five barn swallows fed around my head and a chiffchaff called in the trees nearby. A great day in the field with the kids with three BK year-ticks under the belt.

Things are looking a bit Siberian, so tomorrow will see me once again attempting to find a BK yellow-browed warbler...

Monday, October 8, 2012

another half-hour at Klarningen

Ignoring the stream of good seabirds reported during the day I knuckled down and got my tour report finished off and all the other miscellaneous paperwork done. Then I did the weekly shop, stopping on the way back to enjoy the guilty pleasures of half an hour at Klarningen when I should have been seawatching. Nothing wind-blown to report at a rather quiet site today.

The access road had the best of it with a dunlin and a ruff amongst the small pools on the fields and a large flock of 400+ chafflings (about 50:50 chaffinch/brambling). Looks very good for the booting up Lapland buntings - perhaps later in the week... Fifty teal were new in but the wigeon flock has declined to 33. Tomorrow the weather looks good for seawatching so I may get some seabirds in after all.

05102012

It is almost a week since I returned from Mexico and I am struggling to recall a worse reaction to jetlag than the last seven days. Just managed to get my tour paperwork done today and little birding has taken place since I got back. I did get out briefly on the 5th and had half an hour at Klarningen.

A few duck about with one gadwall and nine shoveler looking good alongside a flock of 50 wigeon. A nice female hen harrier rounded off the experience and it was evident that passerines were on the move, plenty of skylark and meadow pipits calling overhead.

new to science?

 Could it be new?

I took this shot of a gomphid along the river deep in the Batopilas Canyon on my recent trip to Mexico, it mystified me (admittedly that's not too unusual). It looked like a Stylurus but my reference list of the dragonflies of Chihuahua and Sinaloa (re-worked from one of Dennis Paulson's online publications) listed no species of that genus in the region.  When I got back home I sent the image to the very same Dennis Paulson - the North American odo-guru.

Dennis responded "It looks much like Stylurus olivaceus, but there are no records of that species from Mexico. The thoracic pattern is different enough, however, that I hesitate to call it olivaceus, especially as it would be a first record for the country. In addition, and this is probably even more important, the closest record of olivaceus is many hundreds of miles away (far from the US/Mexican border), so the probability of it being that species seems very low. There is a definite possibility of an undescribed species."

Now we just need someone to go and collect one so I can add it to my list! Although it has to be said we had to endure a rather tense roadside interview with some heavily-armed narco-gangsters to get to the site two week ago...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

horny


The semi-desert NW of Chihuahua was kind to us on the last day of the tour, whilst I looked out for birds one of the clients (thank you Ann) found no less than two species of horned-lizard for us. Above is the rather splendid Texan horned-lizard (Phyrnosoma cornutum) and below the rather more subtle round-tailed horned-lizard (Phyrnosoma modestum).


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

postcard from mexico

First day of the tour to northern Mexico included my first ever encounter with the unbelievable filigree skimmer (Pseudoleon superbus) an absolute stunner.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

wildfowl count

 Two brent goose at Torekovs rev were the highlight of a rapid wildfowl count this morning. A BK year-tick.

It's that time of year again and before jetting off to Mexico I had to dash round counting the wildfowl between Dagshög and Hovs Hallar. September counts are always much lighter than January ones in terms of numbers, so this made the task easier. I normally enjoy the walk but with time running out I had to do it by car for the first time. Highlights along this stretch of coast were; brent goose (2 at Torekovs rev), pintail (2 at the rev), shoveler (2 at Norra Ängalag), bar-tailed godwit (3 at the rev) and three grey plovers (Torekov).

better than nothing

Despite good seawatching conditions at a great time of year I could only put in three hours at the beginning of the day yesterday. I spent my time at Båstad for a change. Winds were a little too light and not much came past close during the session. In these  lighter westerlies, things pop up at different locations and getting everything from one spot is difficult. I plugged away amazed by the steady passage of guillemots in a thin stream, had a couple of long-tailed skuas and enjoyed the small flock of six 1K little gulls feeding just offshore. A merlin stormed south and at least two marsh harriers came in-off. Needless to say things got much better after I left but I thankfully did not miss anything major!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

garden tick!

Had an hour at Klarningen this morning - a brief respite in an otherwise busy day. A few passerines notably some noisy skylarks, four wheatears and at least six whinchat. Waders were scarce but included one little ringed plover (my first here for some time) but otherwise just ten ruff and a greenshank present. A peregrine went through just before I dragged myself away.

Later in the day a taxi-run produced close views of a goshawk and as I locked the car a wood sandpiper called 3-4 times flying over west. Sweet, my first garden tick for some time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10092012

 Ovipositing Aeshna mixta, the most common dragonfly on the wing at this time of the year.

Had a great walk out on Monday morning last but have been too busy doing office-work and getting the garden in shape ahead of my trip to northern mexico next week to blog it out. Walked Gröthögarna up to Ripagården and back. The highlight was a poor encounter with the bluethroat near Norrebrohamn, whiclt trying to find it though a red-throated pipit flew over south. The bushes were not exactly heaving with migrants but there was a steady trickle of sub-saharan stuff and finches were noticeable for perhaps the first time this autumn...

 Aeshna mixta

 A common wasp chewing the head off a Lestes sponsa!

In the afternoon taking advantage of some quite warm weather I hunted dragonflies at a few sites around BK - Aeshnas were dominant with grandis, cyanea and especially mixta on the wing at all the sites checked. Best bird was a hobby over Vysterborg but no sign of any Sympecma here despite a good kick about.