Thursday, May 30, 2013

finally a full day in the field

Finally a day off and a chance to catch up with a few things that have been spotted over the last week. The day started well with an icterine warbler singing from the garden! Hit Tvehöga first and took about twenty minutes to track down the singing red-breasted flycatcher, difficult amongst the noise created by all the other songbirds in this nice patch of beech forest. A quick look at Klarningen revealed a singing marsh warbler near the tower and some fluffy moorhen chicks, but little else of note.

Driving through Hulrugered on my way to check some dragonfly sites I stopped for a roadside pair of cranes and again for a mistle thrush. Bränneslätt mire was very wet and full of Odonates, my first Leucorrhina dubia and Cordulia aenea of the year were long overdue and there were plenty of the former here as usual.

Leucorrhina dubia - my first of the year.

Next stop was the pools at Bösketorp, always good for Odonates, there was plenty to look at as usual. New for the year here were Leucorrhina rubicunda  and  Coenagrion lunulatum. Birds included my first little grebe for the year (!) and a single green sandpiper.

Leucorrhinia rubicunda - note the reddish pterostigma, completely yellow costa and the larger broader abdominal spots.

Coenagrion hastulatum
Coenagrion lunulatum

In the afternoon I searched Vysterborg again hoping for Sympecma fusca, I had one female here last year and have yet to repeat the feat in BK... Plenty of Odos though with Libellula depressa (male, first of year) and Brachytron pratense (ditto) taking the honours. Some bird breeding evidence here as well, with young coot and shelduck being my first of the year.

Brachytron pratense at Vysterborg

Last stop of the day was the pond at Lönhult, here there were two 2K whooper swans feeding on waste seed potatoes as well as more Coenagrion lunulatum and a single Brachytron pratense.

Whopper goose or whooper swan

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

a quick hour

Four days spent hauling firewood, stacking it in the basement and building a bed/den in Number 2's bedroom has left me exhausted. Today I did some gardening work and it felt like a holiday. The best bit though was getting out after some birds in the late afternoon. Chased after the weekend's big bird, a singing red-breasted flycatcher at Tvehöga but failed in a short listen (just wood warblers). headed next for Klarningen which was quiet during a 45 minute spell, just two greenshank of note.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

garden tick

A busy day but I still managed two hours in the field in the morning. I headed out to check the coast between Vejbystrand and Ranarpsstrand, picking up another marsh warbler on the way at Ljungbyholm. The coast was rather quiet and bitterly cold in a brisk westerly. Highlights included a greenshank (Stora Hult), and whimbrel and little tern (two apiece at Vejbystrand).

The best bit came at the end of the day though when a glance out of the window revealed a flock of 75 eider going over the garden. New for the garden and taking the garden list up to 106 - a low total but to be fair it is probably one of the more under-watched locations in BK.

22052013 - no savi

Over breakfast I discovered that a Savi's warbler had been reported at Klarningen. I headed that way after the school run on an awful rainy day. No sign of the Savi's singing anywhere when I visited. Highlights included a superb 2K white-tailed eagle (my first BK individual in May), as well as less exciting records of shoveler (male) and three ruff.

Late at night I returned to listen again but a good walk around produced singing grasshopper warbler and my first marsh warbler of the year.

2K white-tailed eagle and entourage over Klarningen this morning

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

nice weather for ducks

Had five minutes at Båstad this morning whilst waiting for the parcel shop to open (...Gitzo tripod, I'm in love...). Plenty of eider offshore but just a female goosander and three common terns went in the notebook.

In the afternoon it started raining and Number 2 and I headed for Klarningen for an hour. First up was a nice pair of garganey - my first BK birds this year, also the shoveler pair were showing. A couple of greenshank were the only migrant waders and that was about it barring a nice gathering of 50+ swifts.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

spoonbill hunting

Woke up late this morning and checked the computer for bird info as a matter of course. Normally there is nothing to deflect me from my intended course of action but a spoonbill was being ticked off as it flew south down the coast of Halland and an appearance in BK seemed likely. I headed for Klarningen. No sign of the spoonbill sadly, if I was on the Swedish bird alarm system I would have known that the bird had pitched in for a rest a little bit north of BK. Klarningen appeared quiet initially but birds started coming out after a while, including three Temminck's stints, greenshank (1) and a good count of four little ringed plovers.

Went home over the top and this paid off with honey buzzard (1 - BK year-tick) and a flyby common crossbill (ditto, male - incredibly scarce this year but presumed resident) at Brödalt. Lya Ljunghed was interesting with a pair of green sandpipers on site, as well as the usual displaying snipe (2 males).

With an appointment at ten at Salomonhög I headed that way and on arrival was rewarded with a singing male rosefinch. The spoonbill meanwhile pitched up just across the motorway from Klarningen in Skottorps dammar and may well have been visible in flight from BK as it made it's way there... C'est la vie.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

armatum again and again

The fantastic weather in the afternoon led to an exciting run of discoveries, with Coenagrion armatum found at two further sites in BK, this time in Skåne and therefore qualifying for the Atlas.

Had a spell birding around Gröthögarna in the early morning, on tenterhooks most of the time waiting for confirmation of my black scoter. Eventually just before 0900 the sms came through that the bird had been reported by Nils Kjellen - phew, being a single observer is harrowing at times. Birding at Rålehamn, Norra Ängalag and Ripagården was rather subdued. Barnacles were moving in a very small way, and yellow wagtails were on the ground in small numbers. Norra Ängalag produced the best birds with my first BK little tern of the year, as well as single ruff and dunlin.

 A Chrysomela populi at Rammsjöstrand brightened up the afternoon

In the afternoon Mrs B and I took advantage of the fact that the kids were at a party and got out into the unfeasibly warm weather (28 degrees, sorry of you are in the UK reading this). Dragonflies were flying and we headed first to check the pond at Glimminge. My first Ischnura elegans and Enallagma were on the wing and we did not have to wait long before a Coenagrion armatum male sauntered past! Bloody hell! Also here a grass snake and plenty of common newts and even a few great cresteds.

Checking a few wetlands around Rammsjöstrand failed to turn up any more armatum so we headed for Flytermossen. And guess what here we found seven armatum including two females! Just amazing!

Libellula quadrimaculata was a year-tick for me today (here recently emerged at Rammsjöstrand)

Flytermossen (Torekov) finally produced some female Coenagrion armatum, as well as at least five males, my first multiple sighting.

Coenagrion armatum at Flytermossen

Friday, May 17, 2013

big bird

Strong easterlies this morning, so only one option, go birding. I checked out the coast between Stora Hult and Ranarpsstrand and hit pay dirt big time. Stora Hult was quiet just a little ringed plover of note and just one redshank (they seem scarce this spring). North off Grytskären in the distance I could make out a flock of common scoter just offshore.

Moving onto to Grytskären I got out of the wind and started going through the 300-strong scoter flock. They were close and busy, feeding actively and very difficult to work through. I glimpsed a black scoter candidate but it vanished in the melee. It took one-and-a-half hours to finally clinch the identity of this bird and all the time the light was deteriorating. I would see the bird briefly and it would dive or immediately be hidden. I questioned my judgment during it's frequent long absences but thankfully did not give up. At one point the whole flock was up in the air, spooked by a low-flying crane, but mercifully circled round and landed even nearer! Finally the bird surfaced at the front of the flock and there it was, a fine male black scoter swimming along. I put the news out and walked north in a state of disbelief, I had just found a BK first.

I had gone just 50 metres when a falcon came in-off right in front of me, my bins revealed that it was a male red-footed falcon! It caught a few small insects in the lee of the plantation but hardly deviated from it's easterly track. With the realisation of the black scoter sighting starting to hit home and only my second BK red-foot under the belt shortly after, the adrenaline really hit home. What a morning!

In the afternoon we checked out Klarningen hoping for a black tern but the place was rather quiet. Just single pairs of gadwall and shoveler to get excited about, that is until a male peregrine stormed in from the west and worked the site over very thoroughly but without result.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


A better shot of the pale-bellied brent goose today, it is obviously in poor shape and may stay a while.

The school-run produced two swifts - a welcome sight in BK. Worked mostly in Torekov during the day, more swifts (2) and hawfinch (2) over during the morning. Another lunch half-hour at Torekov rev produced the pale-bellied brent goose once again but little else of note during this short session.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

lunch hour birding

Pale-bellied brent at Torekov rev - the May run of good birds continues

Had half an hour in the field today whilst labouring in the gardens of the rich and famous. Hit Torekov rev, picking up a lonely-looking female marsh harrier over Flytermossen on the way. The rev was rather quiet but almost the first bird in the 'scope was a pale-bellied brent goose! Brents are always noteworthy (under 20 records for me in BK so far) but this was my first pale-bellied in Sweden, a sub-species I am not that familiar with. No other birds of note, although a reasonable passage of yellow wagtails was apparent over Torekov during the morning.

Glorious 14th

An adult female Montagu's harrier was a nice way to start the day, it crossed the road in front of me on my way to the post office.

A busy morning in the office and running errands that started really well. After dropping the kids at school I decided to check the 'big field' at Ljungbyholm. I had not even got there when I noticed a slender harrier crossing the road, I sped up to intercept, jumped out and grabbed my camera and managed just two shots, one was terrible but I was overjoyed to see the other was the above image. After a bit of lightening up on the computer it revealed a lovely female Montagu's, only my second BK record. I gave chase as it drifted off by moving the car but lost the bird in the process... The field had two resting whimbrel but still no sign of any golden plover for my BK year-list.

The sun finally came out in the late afternoon and I headed out again to look for Odos. Temperatures remained rather low though and a check of the ponds at Vysterborg and Hålehallstugan. Vysterborg had singing garden and icterine warbler and Hålehallstugan produced the usual red-necked grebes, two red-backed shrikes and a hawfinch.

During the morning I belatedly noticed an Artportalen record of two singing great snipes at Klarningen on the 12th... I was gutted but then pleased when Johan Hamringe texted out that they were still present. So after dinner I headed out for an evening session. On arrival at Klarningen the snipe were singing sporadically - job done. Also here six Temminck's stint, hopefully part of a spring build-up in numbers. On the way home I did some owling and managed to get a tawny owl for the year. Great day, gotta love May.

Monday, May 13, 2013

woohoo! Coenagrion armatum in BK!

A dream Odo - a trip out to Eskilstorpsdammar this morning hoping for Sympecma instead turned up a single male Coenagrion armatum. I was completely stunned. A first for BK that takes my Odo list in the municipality to 41!

Heading out the door this morning to make the most of a sunny morning turned out to be a great idea, despite a huge amount on the the 'To Do' list... Checked out Klarningen first for birds, water levels continue to drop out of proportion to neighbouring wet areas, when will they fix the leaks? Birds were in short supply with a female merlin that landed briefly in the tree behind the tower the standout highlight. Also gadwall (male) and shoveler (pair).

Next I walked into Eskilstorps dammar where birds were more exciting; a singing garden warbler and a visible (for once) grasshopper warbler being BK year-ticks. Also here a nice hobby through and a singing sedge warbler. But it was the Odos that excited me. Unbeknownst to me the day I left for Öland the flood gates opened and Odos appeared en masse in Skåne, so I was rather surprised to find so much going on around the pools. Pyrrhosoma nymphula and Coenagrion pulchellum were emerging in numbers. A single Coenagrion hastulatum was perhaps the first reported this year in Sweden. Larger stuff was on the wing too but disobliging in the strongish wind, Cordulia aenea, Libellula quadrimaculata and Leucorrhinia rubicunda all gave UTVs. But the big surprise came on the return leg when a re-working of the small pools near the holiday huts turned up a single male Coenagrion armatum. Happy days, my 41st Odonate in BK, I was on cloud 9. What a stunning result.

we visit Öland and I join Club 300

 The long-staying male firecrest at Stenåsabadet was joined by a female on the 10th - I was kindly shown this bird by Markus Tallroth before he stalked off to find more birds...

10th May
Slept fairly badly due to it being the first night of camping and also because of the incessant racket from a horny black-tailed godwit which seemed to circle above the tent all night. Being a fairly unfamiliar bird vocalisation it disturbed me greatly! Great to get out early and work the campsite whilst the rest of the team slept on. Managed better views of the male firecrest and was also shown a new-in female by Markus Tallroth at one point. The photo above does not do it justice sadly. Two different male red-breasted flycatchers were singing too, one an absolute corker, the other a drab 2K trainee. My first swifts of the year cruised overhead.

 Our first day produced a flock of 26 dotterel at Mörbylånga. Eighteen of them are pictured poorly here!

Having scraped the team together our first stop of the day was nearby at Mörbylånga where a fine flock of 26 dotterel fed right beside the road. Superb. Driving south and unashamedly twitching we headed for the turtle dove at Kungsgården (Ottenby), which sat in a tree looking miserable. My first Swedish tick of the trip though! We gave Ottenby a brief drive-through but I did not subject the team to a tedious Kentish plover stake-out. This regular over-summering male was my nemesis during a previous visit to Öland with Terry Townshend in 2010 and I knew it could be tricky to pin down. No sign of it this morning so we headed north again away from the crowds.

Spent the remainder of the day checking a few sites for smooth snake but only turning up a single but very large adder and a singing wryneck. Last stop of the day was one of my favourite sites on the island - Beijershamn. Here we enjoyed a pair of garganey (FOTY) and some great waders, including FOTY spotted redshank (5) and grey plover (1). Beijershamn saved the best for last though, as we were ambling back we jammed into a superb male citrine wagtail that had just been re-located. Swedish tick number 2, which brought up the 300! [I mentioned this to Håkan J at Ottenby and he smiled sweetly and pointed out that 300 was a respectable year-list total...]

 One of the top birds during our long weekend was this fantastic male citrine wagtail

11th May
The easy highlights of my morning session around the campsite were long-eared owl (1),garden warbler (male singing, FOTY) and good views of the male firecrest feeding low down in between bouts of singing.

The sun shone so we spent the middle part of the day in an amazing limestone pavement hazel coppice area looking in vain for smooth snake again. Flushed at least three nightjars here though and heard yet another wryneck. Later on we drove north picking up three amazingly close and just mind-blowing Montagu's harriers. Last thing we headed south again to Näsby near Ottenby for our Twitch-of-the-Day - a fine lesser grey shrike that performed admirably. Nearby an ortolan bunting was a nice bit of padding to the growing list.

A highlight on 11th May at Stenåsabadet was my first owl on Öland - this cracking and inquisitive long-eared

Almost got a good photo of the male firecrest this morning, a tricky subject and the learning curve remains steep

This male ruff beside the road at Ottenby was begging to be papped

Lesser grey shrike - Swedish tick number three on this busy mini-break

12th May
On our last morning I tore myself away from Stenåsabadet and headed south bright and early to Ottenby to have a go at the Kentish plover. Here I was lucky enough to fall in with the Helsingborg's Peder Winding and Klas Rosenkvist and they found me the Kentish in fine style. Thanks guys! Swedish tick number 4 and a ghost laid to rest.

Packing up the tent we headed towards the bridge stopping at a small reservoir near Skogsby for a look at Sympecma fusca and then heading for Beijershamn for a last look at this fabulous site. We found the reported broad-billed sandpiper easily enough and were just about to leave when someone kindly asked if we had seen the spoonbill!! I dashed off to the far north of the site, walking for nearly an hour there-and-back managing just two minutes on the bird. Swedish tick number five and a great way to end the trip.

Sympecma fusca - predictably kicking off the Odo year for me here in Sweden and my first on Öland

birthday birding

Our campsite on Öland was infested with red-breasted flycatchers

Started the 9th of May with an early session around Gröthögarna and then relocated for a long weekend on Öland. The morning session produced five BK year-ticks in the shape of sedge and reed warbler, icterine warbler, spotted flycatcher and rather embarassingly redpoll! A reasonable showing and a small fall evident but no big surprises.

Travelling to Öland took up the remainder of the day and we arrived at our campsite at Stenåsabadet in time to put up the tent and connect with at least four red-breasted flycatchers and a singing male firecrest. A peregrine flew low overhead as the sun dipped towards the horizon and the coast revealed a year-tick turnstone. Stenåsabadet is located on the east coast and has a few clumps of trees that pull in the birds and is set to become a favourite location of mine when visiting the island.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Temminck's stint

Been busy lately but crammed in a few year-ticks around work on Monday and Tuesday. Driving past Karstorp in BK early on 6/5 produced a fine merlin dashing across the road. Later on in the day at dusk I was poking my head out the Velux window upstairs and had a roding woodcock and heard a distant thrush nightingale. The next morning at 0400 I repeated the process and added cuckoo to my year-list.

Today I finally got back out there and checked Klarningen hoping initially for a crack at the reported Temminck's stint and latterly for a chance of a white-winged tern (many of the latter made landfall in Sweden on the SE winds we are experiencing). No joy with the tern but after 1.5 hours the Temminck's finally crawled out from wherever it had been hiding and showed itself. It rained pretty solidly for most of the morning but little dropped in. Twelve ruff were a highlight, also shoveler (pair), gadwall (male), grey partridge (1), greenshank (2) and at least 19 assorted yellow wagtails (flava and thunbergi, the latter dominating).

Drove home over the top picking up my first singing wood warbler at Hulrugered and a fly-over crane at Ehrenstorp.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Getterön re-visited

Dropped in for lunch at Getterön on our way south today. 45 minutes here produced the Med gulls at least, I found two 3K birds and one 2K bird in the black-headed gull colony which was nice. A few other year-ticks intruded too with golden plover (40 - at last!), thrush nightingale (singing male), sedge warbler (2 males singing) and reed warbler (one male singing). Other notables included a 2K peregrine. Great spot.

On the way home we stopped off at Klarningen chasing a reported Temminck's stint but no joy. At least 31 wood sandpipers here though, as well as single greenshank and common sandpiper. Seemed awfully small after Getterön!

the epic scale of Getterön - 03052013

 Mrs B's birthday celebrations in Gothenburg this weekend allowed us to have a first look at Getterön, what a spectacular birding location! I cannot believe it has taken us nearly six years to visit. My photos do not do justice to the sweeping scale and sheer majesty of this site. There must have been 3000 barnacle geese on site and a quick look revealed a single black-tailed godwit, three bearded tit and 47 cranes, not to mention the uncountable numbers of gadwall (60+) and avocet (100+).

Had a morning hour at Klarningen, prior to relocating for the weekend. Klarningen was quiet with 10+ wood sandpiper the dubious highlight. Stopped off at Getterön on our way north and enjoyed the May sun whilst checking through a few birds. The highlights being a black-tailed godwit, three bearded tits, loads of avocet and gadwall and 47 cranes.

The huge black-headed gull colony near 'the big hide' was hosting a pair of Med gulls but we failed to find them in amongst the horde on this visit.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

red-backed shrike

Common lizards appeared today and I even had a brief glimpse of an adder. It remains rather cool though and we had frost overnight. We still have a long way to go before it feels like spring.

Had a busy morning in Ängelholm, tree pipits notable migrating overhead early on and two grey partridge at Barkåkra on the way home. Driving back into BK after lunch I headed straight for Vasaltheden where Kent had just located BK's first red-backed shrike and thrush nightingale for the year. I walked the site and nearby Öllövsstrand picking up the red-backed shrike - a lovely male. Throughout the walk I was struck by how much this spring feels like autumn, birds are coming through but not singing. Normally migrants go straight onto territory and get busy but this year birds are too busy feeding it seems. I pished a likely spot at Öllövsstrand and was rewarded with an hitherto undetected common whitethroat, my first of the year. Normally you would find these birds singing...

Other notable birds during the session were whimbrel (1) and three sand martins.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Managed to oversleep this morning but still scraped myself into the field at Eskilstorppsstrand at 0630. Not much doing here, very little moving overhead and just a gannet and a scattering of red-throated divers moving offshore.

Had two hours at Klarningen on the way home. Surprisingly few birds here too, the highlight being a 2K hobby circling around before shooting off on a mission. My only year-tick of the day. New birds in included a pair of moorhen and single ruff and greenshank remained.

Walking to the river I gazed enviously across the border in Laholms kommun. The wetland here is holding water (unlike Klarningen which is obviously still leaking badly) and a good-sized black-headed gull colony is building. Such colonies are the beating heart of any wetland, protecting other breeding birds by continual gull-pestering of potential predators. Black-headed gulls tried to breed at Klarningen last year but most nests were left high-and-dry and got predated by foxes. I cannot blame them for not trying again. Anyway the pools north of the river held a shoveler pair and I bet they will hold garganey this year, if they do not already...

In the afternoon we all headed out on a local walk around Sinarpsdalen. This proved to be rather good with a black woodpecker flying about and then three ring ouzels flew in and landed in front of us at one point. The low point was a nearly wryneck, flushed from the base of a stone wall and disappearing forever in the juniper.