Thursday, May 31, 2012

chilly Klarningen

Had half an hour at Klarningen this evening after having my ears checked again out by the doc. Still not got full hearing and the middle-ear pressure is hard to take at times. It is getting better though apparently so mustn't grumble!

Klarningen was pleasant although rather cool. The first brood of shelducks have hatched out. A pair of garganey was feeding along with a steadily increasing flock of 11 teal. Otherwise just two greenshank to write about, so pretty quiet. No end of May rare for me then. Perhaps the first week of June will be kinder.

whoopsie


It was cold and overcast today but I still found a great damselfly - on my computer! In 2008 I lead a tour to Turkey together with Paul Hope, expressly targeting the dragonflies of Eastern Muğla Province. We found 40 species in a week, finding several new sites for Ceriagrion georgifreyi and I found Paul a new species for the province - Leucorrhinia pectoralis. Despite all this going on, the Platycnemis dealbata pictured above slipped through the net somehow. I think this may be the only record of this species west of the Taurus Mountains. At the time I had never seen this species, but four years later just two seconds was enough to correctly identify it! I wonder what else is lurking in my photographs...

A sobering reminder that what makes observers good at finding rarities and vagrants is constantly staying alert to the possibility of actually finding one!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BK first - Sympecma fusca

 Number 2 earned herself an ice-cream by finding my first Orthetrum cancellatum of the year at Vysterborg this afternoon.

 Had an hour at Klarningen in the morning. After some overnight rain there was some evidence of an influx of Tringa and I did my best to find something exciting but had to settle for common sandpiper (1), green sandpiper (1), greenshank (3) and wood sandpiper (12+). Two male garganeys and two male gadwall floated about.

In the afternoon Number 2 and I took advantage of the sunny, albeit slightly chilly, weather and headed to the ponds at nearby Vysterborg. I started looking at this site last year as part of my dragonfly atlas work and it has produced 13 species to date. Today the big surprise was a single female Sympecma fusca. I had almost given up hope of finding this species in BK when one just flutters up in front of me. Small, drab and brown it landed on a twig close to the ground and the alarm bells rang. Number 2 obediently went into statue mode, whilst I got the all-important confirmatory photo and then we caught it for a more leisurely examination. What a result. Probably a first for NW Skåne.

 Here she is! A female Sympecma fusca, the first record for BK. When I moved here the BK Odonata list on Artportalen stood at a meagre 5 species. Since then myself and others have taken the total to 39!

Also flying at Vysterborg today were Coenagrion pulchellum, Enallagma cyathigerum, Ischnura elegans, Brachytron pratense, Libellula quadrimaculata and my first Orthetrum cancellatum of the year.

Mmmm! Abdomen tip.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

industrial lunulatum

Just had a quick 15 minutes of sunshine with the kids down at the water treatment pools at Lindab on the way back from school. We have some light industry in the village and these ponds treat the cooling water from the factory. The pools are excellent for dragonflies and today I turned up the first Coenagrion lunulatum for the site. Very pleasing. BK is proving to be a good kommun for this scarce species, this is the fourth site I have recorded this species from in the last five years and there must be many more sites still to locate. Also on the wing were Enallagma cyathigerum and Coenagrion pulchellum.

Monday, May 28, 2012

post work session

 Rhagium inquisitor - a perky little longhorn beetle seen at Bränneslätt this afternoon.

Worked for five hours gardening today before the constant bending over gave me a big headache! Ears still at 50% and painful so decided to go and look at dragonflies at Bränneslätt as you do. Plenty of Leucorrhinia dubia on the wing here, plus Libellula quadrimaculata, Cordulia aenea and Coenagrion hastulatum. No surprises then on the Odo-front. I did enjoy an encounter with a small longhorn beetle, my first Rhagium inquisitor.

Afterwards I quickly checked Klarningen. Nothing too unusual here, although stuff kept popping out of the vegetation. An osprey sat on a snag by the river, the first resting bird I have ever seen here. Wildfowl included two male garganey, two gadwall, and single male shoveler and wigeon. Waders included a fluffy curlew (after last year's fox predation, it is nice to see these birds produce young), a greenshank, a green sandpiper and a few ruff.

Cordulia aenea - one of my favourite dragonflies, this one is a female caught lurking in the woods away from the the pool at Bränneslätt.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Turkish Typhlops

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Turkey was finding a worm snake (Typhlops vermicularis); sadly recently killed on the road but it was great to examine this rarely seen reptile in detail. Sadly the group did not share my enthusiasm. "Will no-one look at my worm snake!"

Friday, May 25, 2012

aaagh!

Got up before dawn to try and check out my spotted crake 'hearing' of yesterday. No sign instead a marsh warbler with a nice repertoire. My ears are still blocked up and I have therefore re-evaluated the birds recorded yesterday... Hey ho. Lasted an hour at Klarningen before heading home. Nice to see two pairs of garganey this morning, plus two supplementary males. Also three dunlin, 18 ruff and a wood sandpiper.

The last week in May is when real rarities turn up, will I be up to the task?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

sick note

 
Great to be back in Sweden and the sun is out at last. Warmer than Turkey this is! Lots of dragonflies on the wing, including plenty of Coenagrion hastulatum to wade through to find lunulatum...

First things first this morning, having stepped off the plane in Turkey two weeks ago with ears that no longer worked and got no better it was time for a trip to the doctor's. Big infection apparently, should have gone sooner! Dosed up with antibiotics now so things should improve hopefully. Being pointed in the right direction for singing birds by sprightly 75-year olds whilst in Turkey felt distinctly topsy-turvy but I took the embarrassment like a man!

First up was a trip to Klarningen. Jan Skidell found a calling spotted crake last night and I was hopeful but not confident. Will try and get back at a better time tomorrow. Water levels have dropped at Klarningen but the birds remain. There are now a fantastic total of six garganey (one pair) and eight shoveler, also two whooper swans dropped in and a pair each of wigeon and teal remain. Waders included Temminck's stint (1), dunlin (3 and a year-tick!), at least 20 ruff and two wood sandpipers. Four black-headed gull nests have magically appeared.

The hairy one (Brachytron pratense), plenty flying at Eskilstorpsdammar today.

Walked into Eskilstorpsdammar next for dragonflies but got lucky with birds picking up the last few migrants I still need for the year. Cuckoo, marsh warbler and garden warbler were all nice. At least three red-backed shrikes and stacks of icterine warblers on site too. I also thought there was a brief snatch of rosefinch song from the riverside trees, there has been one lurking at Klarningen lately and maybe this was the same bird. Dragonflies included all the usual suspects, with eight species on the wing, including CorduliaBrachytron and a few Leucorrhina rubicunda. Also map butterfly on the wing here.

Leucorrhinia rubicunda is mostly found on the higher ground in BK but occurs in small numbers at Eskilstorpsdammar. Note the costa is yellow all the way to the base of the wing

Last stop of the day was a rapid transect through Bösketorp pools, had a quick skim through the Odonates but again no surprises and no lunulatum. Some frisky common newts though.

Watched a resident pair of honey buzzards today too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the dark side

Variable damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) is by definition a variable species, although in the west this variation is mostly exhibited by females. In Turkey many commonplace European species have strange forms but perhaps none so shocking as these incredibly dark pulchellum's!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Postcard from south-east Turkey - Odonata

Coenagrion syriacum (a puella look-alike), one of the spring dragonfly specialities in the Hatay region of SE Turkey.

Managed a couple of hours looking at dragonflies whilst in SE Turkey this week, we only looked at two sites but came up trumps with a number of the regional specialities.

Platycnemis dealbata

Trithemis annulata

Brachythemis fuscopalliata

 The splendid Epallage fatime

and last but not least the superb Platycnemis kervillei

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May seawatch

Off to Turkey this morning but could not resist sampling the first few hours of a rare May westerly gale. There was stuff moving with four pomarine skuas taking the honours, alongside a supporting cast of two little gulls, an Arctic skua, a fulmar and two gannets. I had to leave at 0700, 25 minutes before Åkesson in Melbystrand scored a Caspian tern heading towards BK (a much-wanted BK tick). It gets worse though the last message I got before crossing the bridge into Denmark was of three snow geese at Klarningen... C'est la vie.

Friday, May 11, 2012

grey plover

This lost-looking 2K little gull was resting at Torekov when we arrived.

Number 2 and I had a short session up the coast this morning. We started at Norra Ängalag, no sign of a big fallout here this morning sadly. On the 9th the car park trees were crawling with willow warblers, today almost total silence. An hour here produced a year-tick in the form of a (presumably) 2K grey plover slipping south. Otherwise it was rather quiet apart from a single honey buzzard over and a close singing thrush nightingale (not that quiet then!).

We moved to Torekov rev next. A 2K little gull was resting in the small bay at the base of the rev and a single turnstone remains. 120 barnacle geese flew through north, a peripheral flock of the huge movement of this species being reported through southern and south-eastern Sweden today.

On the way home we checked out Lönhult damm. This little pond surrounded by agriculture never fails to amaze me, this time we had great views of a female merlin and a feeding greenshank. Later whilst doing the school-run, I stopped for a harrier which proved to be ringtail hen harrier. Nice comparison with the pallid harrier of two days ago. Just need a Monty's now for the month!

10052012

Nipped out yesterday for a couple of hours birding before six hours of appalling house-work. I did so much hoovering I had to wear ear defenders and I thought the hoover would melt it got so hot!

Driving past Petersberg I picked up a migrating osprey, they seem to have been scarce through BK this spring. Klarningen was rather quiet, although a light fall of chats was evident with the recent plough attracting wheatear (6), whinchat (2) and even a male redstart. Three yellow wagtail males seem to have taken up territory. Other birds of note included a solitary male garganey, a sleeping Temminck's stint, a greenshank and two spotted redshank.

Checked Petersberg on the way home, found another great crested newt and heard a male reed warbler in the reeds.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Four-fingered salute!

Birds all over BK this morning with this wryneck at Ripagården showing well in the same bush as my first BK red-backed shrike for 2012.

I always like to bird on my birthday and today produced a great session in conditions conducive to grounding migrants. Started off with an hour at Klarningen before breakfast and the school-run. All was quiet here with the a pair of cranes, two male garganey floating about, eight wood sandpipers and a ruff. The place was nearly empty of duck, with just nine teal and two mallard remaining. I was contentedly taking in this tranquil scene when my composure was abruptly shattered by the arrival of a skinny-looking harrier! Scope on and I could hardly believe my eyes - a 2K male pallid harrier was giving me the birthday flyby! It went through on a mission, just circling once on it's way north-east. Amazingly this was the first of three pallid harriers to be seen migrating through NW Skåne today. It looks like last autumn's birds are heading back by the same route they went out. Will this species become a regular feature? A great start to the day whatever.

After my birthday breakfast and some light taxi-driving I headed over to have a look at Gröthögarna. The walk was dogged by occasional light showers but the birding was good, so I was not complaining. The highlights of nearly four hours here included three spotted redshank, five wood sandpipers, as well as my first thrush nightingale and spotted flycatcher of the year. The biggest surprise came when I flushed a jack snipe from the edge of the pool in Dalen. This is a rare bird in May here and it even called that squelchy frog-like call that is seldom heard (I've only heard it from one other individual in BK). Otherwise Ripagården provided the best action with a fine wryneck, my first BK red-backed shrike of the year and a trickle of raptors that included four honey buzzards.

A mini-flurry of four honey buzzards hit the coast at Ripagården at midday. My first of the year.

Last stop of the day was Torekov rev. Heavy rain hit as I arrived but that did not stop me spotting three turnstones flying about from the car. A chat influx was evident too, the rev heaving with wheatears and a single whinchat. Somewhere to the south another thrush nightingale was singing. Nice end to a productive day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

early icky

Two male firecrests were singing at Dömestorp after lunch.

Got out a little earlier this morning and hit Eskistorpsstrand again hoping for a flyby white-billed diver or for one of the two Yank scoters to the north of BK to stray south. None of the above happened sadly! In fact the black scoter flew north back to Påarp. They are sure to transit BK I guess but the chances of me witnessing it are slight! I contented myself with going through the available scoters and enjoying a flyby female merlin.

Onshore winds made for difficult viewing conditions and eventually I decided to have a poke around in the coastal scrub. Really quiet with no migrants at all until I reached the carpark at Mellanvägen when a short burst of song lead me to a ridiculously early icterine warbler (not the first in BK this year though, Mats L had one yesterday).

Klarningen next predictably enough. Still rather quiet but a thorough examination revealed three garganey and a nice Temminck's stint. A pair of red-necked grebe were nest-building and at least six wood sandpipers remain on site but no other migrant waders today.

Dashed back to pick up the team and we headed out to Dömestorp for a picnic. En route we checked for dragonflies at Frestensfälla (nothing doing, temperature failing to hit double figures...). Dömestorp was great with nice views of two male firecrests and a frustrating time trying to get a photo of the frenetic little buggers.

On the way home we checked Bränneslätt, no Odos here either, but my first green hairstreak of the year. Finally a great roadside hawfinch fed on the ground for us to admire as we drove through Atteköp. A better session.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

doh!

Had a couple of hours birding in the morning but critically missed dawn and thus a unbeknownst to me a brace of pomarine skuas, arriving at Eskilstorpsstrand just after the skuas had passed. There was (as usual) little to indicate potential on the sea-watching front apart from a fairly decent westerly wind. Red-throated divers were up in the air, contemplating migration, but I only logged about 50 this morning.

Moving to a more sheltered spot I tried Kattvik hamn for an hour, picking up a gannet on arrival but then struggling to add to it in any meaningful way.  I missed a Manx shearwater reported nearby at Hovs Hallar though! Not the best session of my career!

Later whilst Mrs B were down in Helsingborg shopping I tried for the glaucous gull at Kropp but the heat-haze and wind were awful and I dipped. We did get a male red-backed shrike though on the way home at Vantinge as a slight consolation.

Friday, May 4, 2012

An hour at Klarningen

Spent an hour with the kids at Klarningen after lunch. It was rather quiet today, the weather has gone chilly again and a dense blanket weed has appeared. A pair of garganey were pootling about at the back. Waders included a greenshank, two spotted redshank, three wood sandpipers and five little ringed plovers. A singing male yellow wagtail was promising, hopefully the nest will not get mowed this year...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

another ring ouzel

Did a circuit of Gröthögarna this morning bright and early. Four little terns greeted me at Norra Ängalag and during the walk there were enough grounded migrants to raise my hopes of something scarce. I was hoping for a bluethroat but instead settled happily for a short-eared owl and a great view of a female ring ouzel. Common whitethroats have arrived in numbers overnight it seems. Two common sandpipers were at Dalen. My walk takes a turn around Ilasjön at Ripagården, still no sign of any water rails here this year (bad winter for them?) but two singing reed warblers might be the first in NW Skåne this year and were my only year-tick of the day.

In the afternoon we all checked out Vejbystrand; two more common sandpipers here and a greenshank but no sign of any avocet. Driving away we had a pair of grey partridge feeding by the road in Vejby, a welcome sight, another species hit hard by the succession of bad winter's we have experienced lately.