Wednesday, October 30, 2013

first water pipit of the autumn

Had to stay in and clean the house whilst we waited for someone to come and assess the storm damage to the house this morning. We missed another chance to look at the pallid swift and this morning it was joined by a common swift...

We did get out eventually, looking in briefly on Torekovs rev (one redshank) during a heavy shower before heading for Påarps Mal. Here Number 2 flushed a water pipit, the first BK bird of the autumn, and there was a chiffchaff working the hedge near the house.

BK tick! pallid swift! (29102013)

Pallid swift - honest! I could probably be heard swearing in Denmark when I looked down after taking these shots to find that the mode dial had slipped again on my 7D. The lock on the mode dial of the Canon 5D Mark III is calling to me and it will not be too long before I upgrade I suspect.

We survived the overnight storm and I turned a slightly startled blind eye to the damage to our roof as I packed the car for a day out birding with the kids. It smelled of rare and we had to get out. With the kids installed in the car we headed to Yttre Kattvik, would seabirds perform? Would the kids behave? The storm damage we came across en route was jaw-dropping!

An hour at Yttre Kattvik showed that whilst gannets were moving, most stuff was distant in the SW wind, so we headed off to Ripagården  [we should have stayed!]. A two hour spell at Ripagården produced untickable views of a great northern diver which pitched into the sea before I could get to grips with it. Also here my latest BK records of shelduck (1) and oystercatcher (1) and a single little auk.

Next stop was Klarningen (partly to check the tower hide was still standing - it was) hoping for a storm-blown addition to my site list. This succeeded, the first bird in the 'scope was a common scoter! Also here were yesterday's cranes (4), gadwall (2), shoveler (5), tufted duck (5), grey heron (7), hen harrier (1), rough-legged buzzard (1), golden plover (220) and lapwing (450).

Heading to get the kids a burger for lunch as a treat I got the news that a pallid swift had overflown the observers at Yttre Kattvik... Gulp. We grabbed our lunch and drove back and had to face the grinning gallery for half an hour before the bird put in a reappearance and put my mind at rest. I cannot say I do not twitch, I just restrict my activity to a 20 minute drive from my house. Twitches are obviously rare and nail-biting events therefore but somehow I kept my cool and got the 'scope locked on to the bird to confirm it's identity. Sweet! The bird performed on-and-off for the rest of the day. Offshore anything could have been going on but kittiwakes (5) were definitely more obvious than in the morning.

A gallery in BK! Experienced Swedish/Danish observers might be able to identify these rear views of some of the local players.

Monday, October 28, 2013

wet hour at Klarningen

Had a wet hour at Klarningen ahead of the storm. Four cranes were feeding along the access track, my latest BK record. Quite a few duck in but no geese today. Duck numbers; shoveler (7), pintail (2), wigeon (50), teal (120) and tufted duck (4). A gathering of 32 snipe was notable and two 1K hen harriers put on a brief show.

News of a hoopoe at Hovs Hallar arrived far too late for anything to be done about it today but I guess we might look tomorrow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

two more BK year-ticks

An adult peregrine was scaring up the birds at Klarningen this morning. Raptors dominated the show at this site today a sure sign of impending winter.

A morning in the field felt rather luxurious after an autumn where I have been working just a little too much to keep in touch with what is going on in BK bird-wise. Decided to check for any stray seabirds at Båstad today but before that I could not resist checking Klarningen.  Plenty of water on the site and wildfowl are still a feature here. A good-sized flock of geese lifted as I arrived and I could hear at least one white-front in amongst the greylag as they departed. Around the site 90 teal, 23 wigeon and 8 shoveler were nothing unusual. Two whooper swans were my first of the autumn though. High overhead migration was happening with flocks of lapwing golden plover and wood pigeon all appearing regularly and heading resolutely south. But it was raptors that stole the show with hen harrier (1K), peregrine (adult) and two rough-legged buzzard in residence.

Båstad did not disappoint, I was hoping for some stray seabirds after yesterday's blow and perhaps a black redstart or a kingfisher for my year-list and it worked out quite well. Off the harbour a number of tired 1K gannets looked good and a few others drifted west. All was quiet otherwise until a little auk buzzed past close in going west. Nice and just what I needed after yesterday's poor decision to spend the morning at Båstad! Still no sign of a little gull for me this year though... Walking back through the harbour a silent kingfisher whizzed off, a difficult bird in BK these days. The last three winter's have taken their toll and this was my first BK bird for 21 months. So very welcome!

Before lunch I managed to fit in a quick look at Torekovs rev. Things were rather quiet here, two adult white-tailed eagles were sitting out on an island off Hallands Väderö and a gannet cruised by. Met Nick Gräntz here, he has lost his mojo this autumn but doubtless will find it again somewhere.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

seawatch at last

American mink - a regular during Båstad seawatches sadly

Westerly winds at last meant seawatching was finally on the cards. I fitted in two sessions at Båstad between my domestic duties today. Just over two hours in the morning netted two sooty shearwaters, three embayed pomarine skuas but I could not find a little auk going past despite them being reported from sites either side of me... Gannets were going past in good numbers and I also logged six scaup and three long-tailed ducks. Offshore a single black guillemot and five black-throated divers were notable. Raptors stole the show though with a merlin through and just before I headed back for lunch a superb late osprey in-off right over my head. My latest by at least five weeks (!) and the latest BK record on Svalan.

The afternoon session was rather quieter though. The three pomarine skuas were still knocking about and kittiwake (5) were coming through at last. Rather quiet (only a short spell of windy weather) but the two BK year-ticks netted were welcome nonetheless.

23102013

Got out at last for a quick look at Grytskären and Ranarpsstrand in the afternoon after looking after one of my kids who was ill for the first part of the week. Off Grytskären there were tow red-necked grebes and nearby two Slavonians. A single crossbill flew out of the plantation.

Ranarpsstrand was similarly quiet a single late lesser black-backed gull and a jack snipe were notable.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

19102013

A rather dull morning. A good look through the woods and the campsite at Torekov rev this morning produced zero tropical or short-haul migrants. Not even a chiffchaff! Both parrot and common crossbill were calling overhead as a small consolation.

Checked out Klarningen in the afternoon. Still 700+ greylag here, with three white-fronted goose in amongst. Also here shoveler (1), little grebe (1), hen harrier (1K), golden plover (450) and ruff (1).

A quick look at Båstad on the way home produced two black-throated divers and a small flock of ten redpolls. Arctic redpolls are on the move this winter so we may get some...

Friday, October 18, 2013

geese

Had a morning in the field at long last today. It was quite windy with just a hint of westerly in the northerly wind so I decided to check out Eskilstorpsstrand. On the way I picked up a nutcracker in Sinarpsdalen that flew alongside the car for 200 metres. At Eskilstorppsstrand a kittiwake floated past and got me excited but the wind direction made my the site uncomfortable so I relocated to Båstad. I swear the wind veered north whilst I drove round because when I got sat down on the breakwater I was still in the wind! Nothing doing here anyway in an hour, just ten grey heron east.

Checked out Klarningen next. Plenty of birds here with 1200 greylags topping the bill. Careful searching revealed at least eight white-fronted geese (three 1K) and four tundra bean geese. Also present were 43 barnacle goose, two shoveler and three pintail. A 1K marsh harrier here was my latest BK bird and 1K hen harrier put in a performance too.


On the way home I checked out Älemossen and was rewarded with great views of a great grey shrike, six red kite (a big migration day for them) and three jays.

In the afternoon, the kids and I just had time to check Stora Hultsstrand and kicked up two more jack snipe for the already large BK total this autumn.

Monday, October 14, 2013

13102013

Things quietened down on Sunday. I arrived at Segeltorpsstrand to find not much going on overhead, although the occasional flock of siskins swept south. I walked the circuit for a while, picking up five grey plovers and going through the meagre numbe rof chiffchaff and goldcrest present. Eventually news that the five great egrets were heading south from Torekov took me back to the coast to try and catch them as they flew past. But no joy [it transpires that they hooked back onto Hallands Väderö, because seven were there this morning!].

Later in the day I was busy in the garden and looked at my SMS's too late to notice that a single great egret was at Klarningen! I got there an hour-and-a-half after the message went out and dipped pretty easily. A late hobby was reasonable compensation though and five pintail were on site. I did not stay long and headed back to domestic chores.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

five great egrets!

Cranes have been a big feature of the last two days, smaller numbers through today though.

Three BK year-ticks today - a real red-letter day. Kicked off just after dawn at Segelstorpsstrand and although I had planned to walk about listening for yellow-browed warblers there was the obvious movement overhead so I dug in and got my ears on. Twelve twite on the beach were my first birds this autumn. Constant small flocks of chaffinch/brambling, great tit and blue tit were a feature this morning and in amongst the hordes heading south the occasional gem. Crossbills were also on the move in a modest way and I got great views of a small flock of parrot crossbills that stopped a while in a nearby birch. My first BK grey wagtail of the year was swiftly followed by the "twiddle-diddle" call of my first wood lark of 2013 too. Jackdaws filled the sky with their calls as large flocks headed purposely south. A goshawk materialised briefly. Birds were on the move. Heading home for a pit-stop I was soon back out at Klarningen picking up a jay in Sinarpsdalen on the way.

Klarningen was busy, a flock of 420 greylags included three white-fronted geese, and ten shoveler and two pintail remain. Overhead things were going on here with good numbers of buzzard through (200+ in an hour-and-a-half), one rough-legged buzzard and seven cranes. Passerines occasionally buzzed the tower including a total of 80+ redwing heading east and five common crossbills.

The SMS that five (!) great egrets were at Torekovs rev was well-received and we got there eventually to find them still present. My second BK record. Also here four twite and a flock of 30 cranes south.

Four of the five great egrets gracing Torekovs rev this afternoon. Mental!

Friday, October 11, 2013

stranded

 A crossbill feeding in the rowan in the garden had me going, but it turned out to be a common.

Mrs B managed to take my car keys to work with her this morning leaving me to work at home... Birding probably would have been good judging by the activity in the garden. An occasional watch on the fruiting rowan produced small numbers of brambling, two blackcap and in the afternoon the excitement of a single common crossbill. In the late afternoon cranes came over in numbers and I logged 950 in one hour. Not a bad garden to be stranded in I guess.

The family odo-roadtrip - the dragonfly trip report

Ophiogomphus cecilia - without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip was my first ever encounter with this species on the Örtze river in Germany. Just have to see one in northern Sweden now...

Finally got round to writing up the trip report for our three-week summer tour of western Europe looking for dragonflies. We managed to see an amazing 55 species, of which seven species were new for me, and some of those high on my most-wanted list!

Trip locations and species recorded can be found on this link. We were very lucky with the weather throughout, experiencing ideal flying conditions at all the sites visited. We missed two of our target species; Platycnemis acutipennis (too late?) and Sympetrum depressisculum at De Plateaux (although the first of the season was found on the same day by another observer at the site...). A successful trip and we are looking forward to a planned southern Spain trip next year.

Gomphus simillimus - another new gomphid, this one was scarce at the excellent Les Tourbières de Vendoire reserve in France. This site produced the most species of any we visited during our journey.

Sympecma paedisca - another much-wanted species finally tracked down in The Netherlands at Lozedijk. This species only has a few records in Sweden, all from Gotland and all by the same observer, I will try and get over there next year for another look.

Aeshna grandis

It was not all dragonflies though, this Titania's fritillary was a surprise tick for me at Riedenersee in Austria.

Coenagrion hylas proved hard to find at Riedenersee, eventually we picked up this single male. Males of this species engage in remarkably robust and rather butch patrolling reminiscent of Anisoptera.

Somatochlora alpestris - another tick in Austria at Sonnenkopf, found hawking over small wet flushes and pools in the mountains. We took a cable car stuffed with cuddly toys up to the resort area and did not have to walk far for dragonflies. A great place for kids. Aeshna caerulea was here too but not so obliging.

Somatochlora alpestris perched.

Crocothemis erythraea

Onychogaster forcipatus

Sympetrum meridionale, we found good numbers of these along the coast of Îl de Ré this year, some (like this one) carrying huge mite burdens. 
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Lestes barbarus, common as usual on Îl de Ré but not seen elsewhere.
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Aeshna affinis - another common species on Îl de Ré.
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Oxygastra curtisii - long extinct in the UK and my most-wanted dragonfly. Not anymore! We had several encounters on two rivers in France. Just need to go back to get better photos...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

calm

Had half an hour in the field at the end of the day today and hit Ranarpsstrand with the kids. It was flat calm and the conditions allowed me to see just how bird-free the sea is at the moment. Very few sea-duck or grebes. We did find five Slavonian grebes and one red-necked grebe offshore though. Walking the coast we flushed three jack snipe, my best day total in BK.

091013

No time for birding today but managed to nip down for an hour with the kids to try for the five pomarine skuas that had been hanging around off Båstad for most of the day in the stiff southerly breeze. We missed them but there were at least 15 gannets offshore and a fine female merlin came in-off whilst we watched.

081013

I took it easy on Monday to try and recover from a rather fatiguing virus but missed a great day in BK if other people's results with migrants are anything to go but. Tawny pipit, Med gull and ring ouzel all spotted by others!

The next day I had to take the car for it's MOT and made my annual visit to nearby Brandsvig. This stretch of farmland by the motorway has an occasionally wet wetland which was dry this year but the site always has good birds. In twenty minutes I enjoyed watching a 1K female peregrine flying about, as well as rough-legged buzzard (1) and a fly-through ringtail hen harrier.

The car passed and I was off to walk Gröthögarna. On the way I picked up a flock of nine jays heading south. I started at Ripagården and spent some time checking the site. Frustratingly I could hear two-barred crossbills in the plantation but could not get good views. Despite numerous encounters with this species this autumn I have yet to see one well! Otherwise migrants were rather thin on the ground; blackcap (2), chiffchaff (1) and redpoll (3) being the best of it. A full circuit of Gröthögarna produced a few other birds including redshank (1) and peregrine (1).

Typically perhaps the best sighting of the day came when I picked up the kid's in Förslöv in the late afternoon and three nutcrackers flew over the village.

Monday, October 7, 2013

061013

Struggling with a virus made for some poor birding today. I hit Torekovs rev in the morning but things were quiet (one chiffchaff) and I spent some time looking at large gulls... Later I walked Rålehamn and Norra Ängalag which was equally quiet (one chiffchaff) and four feeding curlew on the fields behind the coast.

In the afternoon I checked out Klarningen. More going on here with pintail (3) and shoveler (8) and at least 47 ruff feeding on the wetland and the former pea-field which has now been tilled. Walking the remaining stubble produced a big flock of 65 linnets and lots of skylarks but no buntings. Overhead a rough-legged buzzard went through south and buzzard and red kite were prominent. The calls of crossbill and water rail penetrated my virus-muddled mind before I headed for Eskilstorppsstrand. Here the beach was quite busy too with a single ringed plover being my latest BK bird ever and also single dunlin and six 1K grey plover. Not much offshore with flyby red-throated diver (1) and velvet scoter (5) only. Laholmsbukten has been empty this summer/autumn for some reason.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

get by with a little help

Been busy of late. Wednesday I was working and picked up at least three two-barred crossbills at Hov again. The next day I was working nearer Torekov at Varan and had my first rough-legged buzzard of the autumn through and a jay was knocking about here too. In the evening I took the kids for a quick walk along Ranarpsstrand and kicked up two jack snipe.

Yesterday we dragged a load of bedding and food down to Grytskären and spent the night in the shelter there. We have been promising the kids we would do this all summer so we decided to get it done before things get too cold! It rained overnight but this did not produce any birds in the plantation in the morning, apart form a single goldcrest and great spotted woodpecker. A flock of 11 parrot crossbills that dropped in very briefly were my first for a while though. Luckily reinforcements were in the field to help me out. Mikael Olofsson relocated the Lapland bunting at Lervik for us (as well as gripping me off with a Caspian gull...).

 A typically confiding Lapland bunting, my first of the year.

Later  Håkan Johansson texted in a red-throated pipit on the beach at Vejbystrand, so we checked Storahultsstrand on our way to checking it out. Then exhausted by our overnight activities we returned home to chill out! A goshawk burst out of a roadside hedge in Lervik as we headed home. Good session but not my own work!

It was better than this in life - honest. Red-throated pipits on the deck are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October 1st

Had some good birds at work today with a nutcracker calling briefly at Båstad and four flyby two-barred crossbills at Hov later on.

After work I chased a reported Lapland bunting between Lervik and Grytskären but it had moved on. I did get my first hen harrier of the autumn though - a stunning male.