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!