Tuesday, April 30, 2013

short seawatch

Busy enough today but not so busy that I could not squeeze in an hour-and-a-half watching the sea in a W7. This short watch netted a total of at least 110 gannets, a good score especially in recent times. Year-ticks came in the form of a single fulmar and a surprise great skua. Otherwise remarkably quiet with few things moving, the exception being red-throated divers (50+) which are massing in the bay ahead of their big push overland in the next few days.

Åkesson kindly sent me a text early on that a white-billed diver was heading south past Melbystrand into BK airspace but the school-run took priority sadly. I know where I will be tomorrow morning though, another attempt to get adamsii on my BK list beckons...

Monday, April 29, 2013

the year-ticks keep coming

Had a busy day today, mostly ferrying Mrs B to the dentist and back again - emergency root canal work... Had some time in the field though and made the most of it. In the morning sun I checked out Segelstorpsstrand and Ranarpsstrand hoping for some passerine migrants. It was rather quiet on the passerine front, although for the first time since I got back there were plenty of migrants singing instead of feeding desperately. Perhaps spring has arrived. The only passerine of note was my first tree pipit (1). The stuttering whistles of my first whimbrel of the year announced it's progress as it headed south... Even more impressive though was a noisy flock of migrating curlew (40).

Ranarpsstrand looked like it was going to fail on the wader front until I flushed a jack snipe (another year-tick). A few duck here though including a male gadwall and a pair of shoveler.

Later in the day I squeezed in half an hour at Klarningen in overcast, rainy and rather blustery conditions. I was hoping the rain might have knocked some birds down and sure enough three ruff were new for the year. Otherwise little new in since yesterday.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

more ouzels

Just ten in one flock today at Dagshög!

Nipped out fairly early for a sniff around after more ring ouzels and perhaps a wryneck. Walked the stretch of coast between Rammsjöstrand and Dagshög and was not too disappointed. Rammsjöstrand produced little out of the ordinary but it was a different story at Burensvik. Here I heard a ring ouzel call and tracked it down to the lawn of one of the holiday homes along the shoreline. Glancing up I noticed another sitting on juniper to the north and walked up to it flushing a total of nine from the bushes in the end. How many there really were is anyone's guess but it was great to see so many in one place. The bushes here held good numbers of redstart (9), lesser whitethroat (8) and whinchat (4)

On the way home I stopped briefly to scan Lönhult damm and picked up a cheap year-tick - a pair of moorhen.

In the afternoon we headed down to Båstad hoping for terns and were rewarded with a single Arctic tern, sitting on the rocks offshore with a brace of commons. Next stop Klarningen where nothing inspiring seemed to be occurring. Trönninge ängar just to the north is currently hosting a blue-winged teal, pink-footed geese and Bewick's swans and had a black tern yesterday and a pair of Med gulls recently... The fact that the blue-winged teal has been present since I got back from Crete and I have yet to surface a need to see it, suggests that my detwitchification is complete!

Last stop of the day was Älemossen where three kestrels were knocking about and a cursory glance around produced three whinchat. Number 1 and I searched hard for adders but dipped.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crete - Odonata


 Crocothemis erythraea - found in small numbers near water.

My recent two-week trip to Crete netted ten species of Odonata, in addition to the eight species photographed here we also recorded Anax imperator (scattered singles) and Hemianax ephippiger (recorded on four dates).  Surprisingly the latter species was the most frequently observed Anisopteran - my first sightings in the Western Palearctic but sadly no photo opportunities came my way. Found some good spots for a return trip in summer to chase after the two endemic Odonates found on this fantastic Mediterranean island.

 Orthetrum brunneum - only recorded at the stream outflow on Triopetra beach.

Ischnura elegans - the commonest Zygopteran on Crete during our trip.

Lestes barbarus - found at one ephemeral wetland near Viglotopi.

Calopteryx splendens - found on the Preveli river at the bridge en route to the monastery of that name. This individual had a malformed hindwing sadly. The cretensis subspecies may well be elevated to a full species as the genetic distance between this form and other splendens forms is apparently larger than recent splits from the complex like syriaca.

Orthetrum cancellatum - recorded at just two sites.

Sympecma fusca - just one recorded during the trip at the Petres River on the north coast.

ring ouzel madness

 In my first six years of birding in BK I recorded just seven ring ouzels, today I saw seven more!

After a lazy morning we headed out for a walk and a picnic around Gröthögarna. At Norra Ängalag a skulky ring ouzel dived into cover and disappeared. Song thrushes were everywhere. There were a few migrants around the car park here including single blackcap, lesser whitethroat and pied flycatcher. The walk around the headland was rather quiet although another year-tick finally materialised in the shape of a single confiding male whinchat.

Meanwhile Mats had found two more ring ouzels at Vasaltheden so we headed that way to check them out and get a site-tick. I braked just short of the gate because there were at least four ring ouzels grubbing about in the trees either side of the gate! In the end we counted at least six but I think there may have been more. Many moved out onto the bare fields nearby to feed, whilst others skulked inside the juniper. Superb!

Last stop of the day was Klarningen. Things had quietened down considerably here since yesterday, although it is always a difficult site to work against the light in the afternoon. Water levels continue to drop alarmingly... Best birds here were greenshank (1) and my first lesser black-backed gull on site this year.


Friday, April 26, 2013

18 BK year-ticks!!!

Barnacle geese resting at Torekov rev today.

Good to be back in BK. I missed the arrival of the early migrants whilst in Crete but caught up with a lot of the backlog today during the morning. Over breakfast I glanced out the window and got three year-ticks to get things rolling; chiffchaff, redstart and blackcap!

First stop was Klarningen which was looking rather low for breeding birds but good for wader passage. Year-ticks here were everywhere; a pair of shoveler, two noisy common sandpipers, a greenshank, seven wood sandpipers, eight swallows, two blue-headed wagtails and at least three wheatears along the access track. The wood pile had at least eight song thrushes and a wren resting in it, must remember to check it regularly.

Driving through Petersberg I was joined by two goldfinches flying alongside. A quick look at Båstad revealed two cold-looking common terns perched on the rocks near the harbour. Ripagården next, a scout around offshore revealed two adult gannets but otherwise things were quiet. I searched hoping for ring ouzels but without success. Trawling through the wood I was pleased to find my first pied flycatcher of the year and also by the stream was a lesser whitethroat. A preoccupied fox crossed the stream in front of me and sniffed about for ages just 20 metres from me before it finally made eye-contact and bolted. Magic stuff.

Torekov next on my whistle-stop tour. Flytermossen was hosting a good number of hirundines, with 20 barn swallows, five house martins and a single sand martin. The fenceline along the pond, had at least twenty chiffchaff and a few willow warblers feeding along it and later they had been joined by another pied flycatcher. I was hoping for more terns at the rev but had to settle for three purple sandpipers and a shoveler. Redstarts were singing here and a pair of wheatear were on territory.

In the afternoon we headed back out, this time to Ranarpsstrand. Curlew were on the move with 43 either flying through or resting on the rocks. No sign of any whimbrel though, just a pair of gadwall and as we drove away another pied flycatcher and willow warbler. Two more pied flycatchers at Segelstorpsstrand ended the day.

Evidence of a widespread arrival of migrants overnight, nearby Kullen had an estimated 60 ring ouzel!

Monday, April 22, 2013

my day off in Crete

A day spent ferrying various clients not coming on the Crete extension to their respective destinations gave me five hours in the field on my own yesterday and I made the most of it! First stop was Georgiopolis lake which produced some great birds in a short session. I was excited about the great views of spotted crake (1) and pygmy cormorant (1 - vagrant in Crete I think?) but then this great snipe wandered out of the Juncus briefly. I have never seen a great snipe wading about before but this might reflect the lack of suitable habitat in Crete I suspect.

Nearby Kournas Lake gave me a chance to photograph black-winged stilt.

Other birds at Kournas Lake included this greenshank and also a lone whiskered tern.

Next stop was Petres, where the sun finally came out after nearly a week of very poor weather and a wander along the river was great for invertebrates.

Petres finally produced a single Sympecma fusca for the dragonfly triplist. 

 Ischnura elegans was abundant at Petres but I am still looking for a pumilio for my Crete list.

The first of two reptile lifers at Petres came in the form of great views of Cretan wall lizard (at last!).

Thistles accommodated the splendid Cretan endemic sub-species of Agapanthia cyanarae - longhorns rock!

Been busy photographing Orthoptera in Crete and will do a separate post once I have them sorted out. Not sure on the id on this one yet...

Finally whilst enjoying watching the Cory's shearwaters and a flyby male red-footed falcon offshore I came across another new reptile on the beach - Balkan whip snake. Sweet! The day was rounded off nicely by a flyby Eleonora's falcon as I drove to my last pick-up of the day. Driving through Crete at night to get to the next hotel was excellent too with three beech martens on the road as well as nightjar and Scops owl. Great 'day off'.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crete - reptiles & amphibians

 Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata) - never easy to photograph...

After a great deal of effort today we finally got some rewards on the amphibian and reptile front. Balkan green lizards have been no problem to find since we started looking but the other reptiles have been trickier (although some of the group have had fleeting glimpses of Balkan whip snake over the last three days). Today though I managed my first ocellated skink and a nearby small reservoir contained my first Cretan water frogs.

 An endemic! Cretan water frog (Pelophylax cretensis).

Ocellated skink (Chalcides ocellatus)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Crete!

Eastern dappled white (Euchloe ausonia) one of the highlights of my first full day in Crete.

Spent yesterday looking at orchids at the famous Spili mound on Crete - the focus of this particular tour. Great flora and a few birds, butterflies and reptiles to keep me happy too.  We are way too early for the exciting invertebrate endemics unfortunately but it promises to be a pleasant trip nevertheless.

The cretica sub-species of Eastern festoon (Zerynthia cerisyi) - a potential split down the line with any luck.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

aaaahhhh!

Sometimes I have to admit that my travelling lifestyle can get in the way of normal life and birding here in BK. I am not grumbling mind you, but two weeks in Crete beckons and Sweden is about to be deluged in late 'early' migrants and the weather is finally going to get warm. With all the hold-up this spring (I have still to record a chiffchaff or a wheatear!) I reckon there might be some isostatic adjustment when these migrants make landfall literally when they arrive en masse, further exacerbating sea-level rise. As they train pulled me south the news of the first pallid harrier of the spring appeared noisily on my phone, I switched it off and instead dragged my thoughts to the delights of spring migration in Crete...

09042013

It's that time of year again here in Sweden and I dutifully toddled off to my accountant to sort out my tax return for 2012... On the way I slipped in 50 minutes at Klarningen which was well worthwhile, netting two year-ticks. First up was one of two little ringed plovers (which looked incredibly exotic to my bird-starved brain) and just as I was leaving a female marsh harrier came through on it's way north. The lovely muddy edge is producing waders, at least 25 snipe present along with six green sandpipers and three ringed plover. A light passage of chaffinch was evident through the site and just one white wagtail was present. Still no sign of any chiffchaffs or wheatears in BK!

In the way home I drove over the top, noting a light passage of buzzards and one red kite going through Älemossen.

08042013

Snatched a 30 minute birding break in the middle of the day and visited Torekovs rev. Plenty of eider (650) and common scoter (150) offshore to go through and all to the sound of singing green woodpecker and dunnock. Things are looking up slowly. 35 barnacle geese went through north but there was little else moving, just one white wagtail on the beach a miserable return for the time of year...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

goetze's chamaeleon

 On my recent trip to Tanzania one of the clients found a superb juvenile Goetze's chamaeleon (Trioceros goetzae) on the Kitulo plateau. My first and what a little stunner, I love the way it went all cryptic when put back on a sapling.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

working in the garden...

No birding for me today but managed a few migrating flocks of whooper swans over Benstead Acres and even a nice flock of 16 waxwing.

Meanwhile just to the north... It will come this way but can we find it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

reed bunting falls

Still no photos, sorry about that but there is nothing to point a camera at currently. Had a morning in the field and checked the coast between Ranarpsstrand and Lervik, hoping for a wheatear... No chance this spring it seems but I did snag a few reed buntings, some singing from suitable habitat. The only other bird of note was an invisible redshank at Ranarpsstrand, it's disembodied call floating around occasionally and defying location.

In the afternoon we had an hour at Klarningen. I was hoping for a bit of migration but had to settle for the birds on the ground which included at least 16 snipe, four whooper swans and my first migrant white wagtail of the year.

The year list stands at a mere 118. Look at the following figures for the dates 118 was attained in the five complete years I have been birding BK. 2012: 20/3; 2011: 20/3; 2010: 25/3; 2009: 9/3; 2008: 22/3. I am too tired to work out the average date. But 118 achieved roughly two whole weeks later this year compared to these figures.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

april gyr

Despite spending large chunks of the day working I ended up with three BK year-ticks - a great result and a sign that spring has indeed re-started. Working at Knallarp produced a surprise flyover green sandpiper - better late than never. A lengthy lunch at Torekovs rev finally produced crane for the year - a flock of 46 looking glorious as they headed north well offshore. The rev itself produced a nice male linnet - another first for the year.

Just before getting back to work I had time for a quick look at Norra Ängalag and Tjällran. This paid off handsomely when the gyr flew in from the south and landed on the island. Distant views but my first April bird. The big surprise came in the sprint back to the car though in the shape of two coal tits in the juniper scrub - migrants!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

pied wagtail!

Spent Easter with the team, we got out a few times but the continuing cold weather and a lack of serious effort resulted in few noteworthy birds. But things have looked up this week, it is still very cold at night but bright sunny days reign, typically though I am working with little time to get out...

Yesterday though wildfowl started moving in earnest and I finally managed my first barnacle geese (8) of the year over Torekov. Today started with two Bewick's swans north over Båstad. Over lunch I had a quick look for the hawk owl on Älemossen but failed, just a black woodpecker calling here. Later in the day I visited Klarningen, no ice here at last and at least nine snipe around a good muddy edge for a BK year-tick. Also here the first ringed plovers on site for the year and two barnacle geese. The best bird though was a pied wagtail, a good-looking male bird. I have tragic form with this species in BK, I had one rejected at the same time of year at Torekov two years ago. This bird was adjudged a probable hybrid and opened my eyes to the number of yarrelli breeding in Scandinavia. No photos of the bird today but hopefully I will get this one accepted.