Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aeshna viridis in Denmark

A small Stratiotes-choked pond at Ølsted Nordstrand in Denmark provided a splendid spot for me to get familiar with a new dragonfly, the spectacular Aeshna viridis.

Back in southern Sweden viridis is a scarce species because the essential component of it's habitat (the aquatic plant water-soldier Stratiotes aloides) is also scarce. By comparison nearby Denmark has numerous Stratiotes sites and these hold viridis, seem a bit unfair really!

There must have been 40+ egg-laying females at the pond at Ølsted, flying short distances and then landing and backing down the Stratiotes to oviposit into the plant. viridis only egg-lays into this one plant species in our area.

You can see my photo of a flying male in a previous post.

Fandens Hul

My first chance to photograph perched Somatochlora flavomaculata came during our recent visit to Fandens Hul (Tegelstrup Hegn) near Helsingør in Denmark.

During our recent trip to the Danish Nehalennia site we failed to locate any sprites despite walking the area thoroughly for an hour. A huge disappointment considering there were records either side of our visit. The habitat was a carbon-copy of the site I visited last year in Sweden, where I also struggled to locate this species, eventually securing a female. Consolation came in the form of some nice encounters with Somatochlora flavomaculata and Lestes virens.

Newly-minted Lestes virens were skulking around the edges of the wetland at Fandens Hul.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hawker hunter

 A quick trip to Denmark with the team secured a new dragonfly for me this week - the splendid Aeshna serrata. Males were patrolling frenetically over the Stratiotes-choked waterbody at Ølsted and the vegetation rustled with the wings of tens of ovipositing females. They may be local but they are numerous at the right location!

Next stop on our hawker odyssey was Han Vejle, a reedbed boardwalk on the edge a glorious reed-fringed lake on the Jammerbugten. A hot late afternoon here produced plenty of encounters with patrolling male Aeshna serrata but no sign of any females. I have only seen one serrata in Sweden so this was a great day as well.

A return trip at midday the following day produced a lot of Aeshna grandis but only a few serrata, perhaps they timeshare? We did see a female serrata briefly but no photos sadly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

the weekend that was

 Rhagonycha fulva (a type of soldier beetle) is everywhere at the moment in BK.

The trouble with pan-species listing is that the learning curve is so steep it makes your brain hurt a lot and the identification process for even the common things can get rather lengthy! Spent the weekend walking and photographing mostly on Hallandåsen. Did a bit of birding with Klarningen being rather disappointing on Saturday (water levels too high for waders after the rain) but had some nice encounters with young red-backed shrikes just out of the nest at Älemossen. Sunday saw some serious invertebrate searching in Sinarpsdalen near the house and we found a nice male black woodpecker (amazingly my first BK bird of the year!!) as well as a possible first for Skåne in the shape of a huge female sawfly Xeris spectrum. An afternoon picking blueberries at Älemossen produced more invertebrates including a monster puss moth caterpillar.

Nice to see a few familiar invertebrates during the weekend, such as this Coenagrion hastulatum.

Number 2 found this nice Chrysomela populi at Sinarpsdalen.

Bee beetle (Trichius fasciatus).

The big one, the nationally near-threatened sawfly Xeris spectrum, this may constitute the first record for Skåne, a great find in Sinarpsdalen yesterday.

Black woodpecker, whistled in for good views at Sinarpsdalen but difficult to capture with a macro lens!

Top beast at Älemossen was this enormous puss moth (Cerura vinula) caterpillar caught wriggling feverishly across the trail.

A presumed female ichneumon at Älemossen yesterday. Anyone?

Number 1 found me this roosting four-spotted footman (Cybosia mesomella) at Älemossen.

Friday, July 20, 2012

dipping

I call him 'Tiny' coz he's my newt. Nice comparison between the larva of common newt and great crested newt during today's pond-dipping session at Dalen. Even as larva great crested newts are noticeably darker, broader-headed and have kind of creepy thin 'Fu-Man-chu' fingers.

Another late start today saw us heading to nearby Vejbystrand chasing two reported broad-billed sandpipers. They were still there roosting 400 metres on the wrong side of the BK border and fast asleep. An osprey fishing just offshore was fun to watch.

Spent the afternoon at Dalen, the weed here produced a single Temminck's stint and a curlew sandpiper but we spent most of our time pond-dipping. Very few beetles but we caught larvae of both common and great crested newt and also the larvae of at least five species of Odonata (which have yet to be identified).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

spouting nonsense

A water spout just off Torekov was the most exciting find today, we got incredibly close being on hand when it hit land and collapsed.

Nipped out on in the afternoon on a grey day to give the kids a run out and try and find a good wader location for this autumn. Wader spots move around on the coast of Bjäre depending on where the rotting weed banks are and they can be hard work to find some years. Straight away we lucked in on a my first ever water spout, a beauty performing just offshore south of Torekov. A good start.

The condensation funnel.

Påarps Mal was rather quiet after the water spout, but there was a green woodpecker in the carpark, and a handful of dunlin down on the shore. Twenty barnacle geese was a good total and then we moved on. The rev was very disturbed and produced just 10 dunlin.

We did find a small but well-used weed bank at Norra Ängalag and on it were at least 30 dunlin, two curlew sandpipers and a little stint. Partial result, then it started to rain and we went home for tea.

Mating green-veined white at Norra Ängalag today. Invertebrates somehow manage to get on with their lives despite the revolting weather of the past few weeks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

birding!

Managed to get up this morning and checked out Yttre Kattvik for a couple of hours. Still medium-strength westerlies going on and a few waders were still passing by. The best birds were a single fulmar and a nice adult Arctic tern.

In the afternoon Mrs B and I checked out Klarningen; little stint (1) and Temminck's stint were the best birds here and I finally caught up with the little grebe (I think a pair actually bred this year but this is the first time I have seen one on site this year!).

Next stop was a rare trip outside BK to look at waders at Rönnen and hopefully connect with the reported broad-billed sandpiper and red-necked phalarope. Things were really happening here and we had a pleasant time going through the stacks of waders present along the shore. Managed some impressive totals; knot (20), sanderling (7), little stint (7), Temminck's stint (3) and curlew sandpiper (27), but the two target waders eluded us somehow. Excitingly overhead we had a nice adult white-tailed eagle and a hobby dashed through chasing swallows.

On the way home we checked out Sandön which was quiet and then a little later I went back to Rönnen for half an hour at dusk and connected easily with the phalarope and a nice adult broad-billed sandpiper!

Monday, July 16, 2012

southward bound

I have given up looking for adults and we are now familiarising ourselves with the larva of Sweden's Odonata, this one is Leucorrhinia dubia I reckon. We were just getting started on our first-ever family pond-dip in the afternoon when the heavens opened and we had to run to the car. It's starting to piss me off...

Yesterday evening we were all up at Salmon Height's enjoying a BBQ in a heinous westerly with occasional showers. Overhead a steady stream of swifts were heading west - so soon? 

This morning the westerly wind continued and after a late night the best I could do was an 8 o'clock start! Spent nearly three hours at Ripagården and was pleased to log a light passage of waders that consisted mainly of dunlin (46) but also grey plover (2), knot (10 - BK year-tick), bar-tailed godwit (8 - BK year-tick) and turnstone (1). A young peregrine idly pursued an oystercatcher past my position and then the tables were reversed and the oystercatcher chased it off. Perhaps the most enjoyable bird though was a full summer-plumage Slavonian grebe that dropped into a raft of eider just offshore and looked fantastic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another new dragonfly for BK!

Slightly worse-for-wear but they all count. This was my first silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) of the year.

The sun was sort of shining during the middle of the day so out I went, this time to check the area around Hålehallstugan. The westerly wind was appalling and there were few large odonates on the wing. I checked through various damselflies, watched an agitated male red-backed shrike, saw my first silver-washed fritillary of the year, disturbed a grass snake and then my eyes fell on a male Leucorrhinia albifrons! A first for BK sheltering in the lee of a bramble bush. I spent some time trying to get a decent photograph of this obliging individual before checking a nearby swampy bit. On my return five minutes later I expected to be reunited with the little beauty but instead it's place had been taken by a male Leucorrhinia dubia (in rather atypical habitat). Were random Leucorrhinia species blowing past and stopping briefly? Should I have waited for caudalis?

Another BK first - Leucorrhinia albifrons! Despite the poor weather the dragonflies are still providing entertainment. This bundle of fur and pruinescence is incredibly difficult to photograph well it transpires...

Last stop of the day before the weather deteriorated again and I got hungry was a look at the pools at Bösketorp. Created for crayfish and twice emptied by the tunnel construction this site was swarming with damselflies. It last emptied in the autumn, how do the larva survive such a catastrophic event? Teneral Sympetrum danae and vulgatum were available but the best find was a decidedly chilly Anax imperator which tolerated some close-up work with the camera.

It was so cold by the time I left Bösketorp that when I found this emperor on the ground, I could just pick it up and pose it for photos.

night-birding with the family

There was a big common toad (Bufo bufo) waiting for us on the front step when we got back from our first family night-birding session.

Made the most of some afternoon sun yesterday and checked out Petersberg for dragonflies (just Enallagma on the wing). Then tried Klarningen. Still waders here with the best of it being a single whimbrel that lifted off the wetland and went south calling. Also four curlew, at least eight greenshank and the usual 20-ish wood sandpipers.

We were saving our energy for the big event though, a night drive around BK looking for nightjar and the two common owls that have been eluding me successfully so far this year. The kids were very keen and we arrived early at Killeröd, getting eaten by midges as we looked through a bewildering selection of micro-moths. As dusk fell we heard at least two male nightjars and Number 1 and I headed uphill to listen to them more closely. Here we had a very close encounter with a long-eared owl that tried to land on my head and Number 1 spotted the nightjar whizzing past at close range. Returning to the car we did not have to wait long for another very good view of a nightjar, courtesy this time of Mrs B (her first in Sweden!).

The kids did not last long on the drive-round, quickly falling asleep under a pile of sleeping bags. It was eerily quiet, a few roe deer calling and a quick glimpse and a couple of calls from a 1K tawny owl. But mission accomplished - all three potential year-ticks in the bag.

Friday, July 13, 2012

patchy sun

 My first Sympetrum danae of the year appeared at Bränneslätt this afternoon.

Had half-an-hour at Ranarpsstrand in the morning and finally added avocet (1) to my BK year list, otherwise quiet with just 6 dunlin to write about.

The sun came out in the afternoon though (a very notable occurrence) so we all dashed out to pick blueberries at Bränneslätt. Managed to flush an aeshnid that would have been a year-tick but did add Sympetrum danae to the list. One side-effect of the appalling weather is a bumper blueberry harvest this year - sweet! Laden with berries we headed to our next site but the sun vanished by the time we got to Perstorp enefälad unfortunately and we searched for butterflies in vain, literally picking up an Idas blue for our troubles.

Last stop of the day was Klarningen for a quick look through the waders. Overnight rain has pushed up the water levels and there were fewer calidrids about as a result. The Temminck's stint and baout 20 dunlin remained but I could not find any curlew sandpipers. Also here a few ruff, ten greenshank and a single spotted redshank.

An Allantus sawfly spotted at Perstorp enefälad this afternoon, anyone know which one?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wader go Klarningen

Spent the day in the field but most of it was going macro with the kids - my new lens has rather rapidly turned me into some-sort of pan-species listing maniac! Will post some shots later when I have identified some of the species represented. Really enjoying the hoverflies and long-horn beetles available in BK at the moment. This could get dangerously addictive and not a little time-consuming.

Did manage some wader counting during a two-hour spell at Klarningen in the afternoon though and I am pleased to report that birds are present in hitherto only dreamed-of numbers. The waders counted included; little stint (1), Temminck's stint (1), curlew sandpiper (6), dunlin (35!), ruff (4), spotted redshank (1) and greenshank (9). This could get good and it is not too late for Klarningen's first big rare.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Curlew sandpipers going south

Had another go at cranberry blue (Vaciniina optilete) today at Bränneslätt. A better shot but still not perfect. All my stuff is handheld at the moment, I ordered a monopod from Cyberphoto last week but it transpires that they have forgotten to post it to me!!! How is that possible in this day and age?

Spent most of the day after dragonflies again, the sun this time putting on an impressive show during the swimming but clouds drifted in during the afternoon. In the morning we had a quick look at the shallow pond by the railway tracks at Ljungbyholm. The first Aeshna grandis of the year was spotted but otherwise it was quiet here.

In the afternoon I risked a mutiny amongst the troops by going once again to Bränneslätt. My idea was that with some actual sun we might be able to ascertain for sure whether Somatochlora arctica was present at the site and not just the abundant ticks that festoon our bodies after three visits. It amazes me that arctica has never been recorded here in the past, the habitat is perfect, it amazes me even more now because three were flying about when we arrived! In contrast to our previous visits there were quiet a few Coenagrion hastulatum on the wing too - recently emerged? A reflection in the pool revealed the presence of an over-flying osprey and a cuckoo winged through the clearing at one point too. Oh and the troops mutinied.

Crossing the road we checked out the nearby ponds, dodging the huge numbers of juvenile frogs and toads as best we could. Here there was plenty on the wing with seven species of damselfly including my first Erythromma najas of the year. Big stuff was on the wing briefly too before the sun went in including a nice male Libellula depressa, two Somatochlora metallica and another Aeshna grandis.

Last stop of the day was Klarningen in search of southward-bound migrant waders. No disappointment here with the site's first adult curlew sandpipers - three  - gracing the shoreline of the big pool. Also here at least 13 greenshank, 20+ wood sandpipers, one green sandpiper and two ruff.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

photo-bugging gets addictive

 A feeding Anax imperator at Lönhult allowed me to play with the higher shutter speeds available to me now and to fully appreciate the ridiculously fast motor drive on the 7D (8 frames/sec!!).

Headed out this morning with the kids to check the pond at Lönhult for dragonflies. We did well recording both Anax imperator and Cordulia aenea for the first time at the site, along with Orthetrum cancellatum. The Atlas work ticks along slowly despite the variable weather, in fact today demonstrated that it is worth getting out whatever the weather. We quickly checked the ditch at Ljungbyholm too this morning, no Odonata at all amazingly, but a few meadow browns and ringlets on the wing here.

After swim-school we headed out again under overcast conditions to check Bränneslätt again. Light rain fell scuppering once again our chances of a reasonable dragonfly survey, but we especially enjoyed the huge female raft spider found by Number 1. Last stop of the day was by the reedbed at Hulrugered which produced just one Calopteryx virgo (my first of the year in BK) and some other classy invertebrates including the splendid robberfly (Laphria flava) and a female scorpion-fly (Panorpa communis).

Number 1 earned a doughnuts for the team by finding this splendid raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) at Bränneslätt today - a big female carrying a large egg bundle.

 An Aradus bug at Bränneslätt - not sure which one yet...

The splendid Laphria flava - a beast of a robber-fly found at Hulrugered reedbed.

A female scorpion-fly (Panorpa communis) also at Hulrugered today. [check out the beak on that! honorary bird I reckon]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

the cranberries

Giggity. Lilioceris lilii in action in the garden. Worth planting some lilies for these guys if you haven't got any in your garden.

After a typically late Sunday start we all got out in the field for an afternoon session. Checked out a series of dragonfly sites but although the sun was shining, it was cool and the wind was strongish from the west. Not ideal. Had a quick look at Bränneslätt first, few Odonates on the wing here but double cranberry on the butterfly front, with both cranberry fritillary and my first BK cranberry blue flying.

Älemossen next, way too windy here and no sign of any Somatochlora arctica. Again few Odonates on the wing but did find more cranberry fritillaries and a single small pearl-bordered fritillary.Last stop of the day was at the small reserve at Ledtorpet. Just a lot of boggy grassland and one male Libellula depressa encountered.

 Leucorrhinia dubia

My first BK cranberry blue (Vacciniina optilete) appeared in front of the lens this afternoon at Bränneslätt.

Checked out the small nature reserve at Ledtorpet for the first time today. Very boggy and looks interesting, no sign of any of the good butterflies that are reported here, just a single male Libellula depressa.