Sunday, November 24, 2013

home again

Diagnosing myself with shingles an hour before leaving for the airport and a two-week tour of Madagascar was not ideal, but at least explained the way I had been feeling in the week leading up to departure. I visited a great doctor in the airport in Paris and had time to pick up a fistful of drugs the next day before flying. These drugs and the sheer excitement of being in the field on this fantastic island and in the incredibly knowledgeable company of Callan Cohen was enough motivation to be ready to go each morning.

A preview below of some of the birds recorded on day 2 of the tour in the Ifaty spiny forest showcases effectively the amazing bird fauna in Madagascar. Three new bird families on top of shingles and a hefty dose of opiates had me shambling about muttering to myself in no time flat. Mind-altering!

 Sickle-billed vanga - just epic!

 The amazing subdesert mesite - just weird.

Long-tailed ground roller a species that should be on every birder's bucket list.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

late birds

Had a very wet morning in the field this morning. Started off at Påarps Mal where the garden held a late male blackcap (my first November record in BK), mistle thrush (1) and bullfinch (3). Down at the sea there were a few passerines along the shoreline; meadow pipit (2), water pipit (1), rock pipits (6) and snow bunting (1). Offshore a single gannet and as I left a female hen harrier flew through.

Checking the coastline north produced a few teal and wigeon and there were five adult shags on the rocks off Torekov. The rev next in a downpour for a late lesser black-backed gull, my first BK bird in November. Last stop of the morning was an equally quick look at Norra Ängalag. More gannet (15), at least one kittiwake, another lesser black-backed gull and a snow bunting here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

garden monster

Stuck at home in the morning (waiting for builders) I was working on the computer, when a grating 'angry falcon' call drew my attention to the fact that a peregrine was in the neighbourhood and getting hassled by the local corvids. It did a lovely flyby low over the houses and looked monstrous. A big 1K female I guess and species number 108 on the garden list and the 12th raptor species...

skuas! (05112013)

The comedy moment of the seawatch today came when Bengt informed us that he had passed a brent goose on the track out to Yttre Kattvik and it was coming our way. Sure enough half an hour later it paddled west past us with great determination. No Svalan code for migrating this way funnily enough...

We were promised half-decent westerlies today so I headed out to Yttre Kattvik after my domestic taxi-run this morning. Wind direction stayed a little to the south of west I suspect and we did not get the strength that was forecast but there was still stuff to be had, including a brace of year-ticks for me.

The four-hour session was notable for the number of kittiwake out in the bay (at least 150 being logged but perhaps many more) and I counted at least 60 gannets too. Skuas were occasionally spotted feeding a long way out in the bay and dark juvenile great, pomarine and even a late Arctic were logged. The latter was a year-tick and was joined at last by an adult little gull. Everything was rather distant though and surprisingly little else was moving. Sea duck went past in very small numbers but included two long-tailed duck. Five snow buntings came in-off and a brent goose paddled past west (only my second record of bernicla this year in BK).

A 2K white-tailed eagle really tried hard to catch something at Klarningen today, putting up the best goose flock of the season in the process...

After four hours I was done and headed to Klarningen for a check, picking up a hunting goshawk on the way. The move paid off well as I connected with the four cranes (over-wintering attempt?) as they flew between Eskisltorpsdammar and Skottorp as I drove up the access track. Then at the hide I just had time to go through a large assemblage of roosting geese before a young white-tailed eagle stormed on site and put them to flight. In amongst 650+ greylag were 45 barnacle geese, at least five white-fronted geese, one Taiga bean goose and what I initially thought were six tundra bean goose were actually pink-footed geese (thanks Jan...). Amongst the geese and unafraid of the eagle was a single adult tundra swan, my first of the autumn. Later two more adults migrated past. Nice session.

On the way home I looked unsuccessfully again for the great grey shrike at Älemossen but did pick up a huge flock of 17 long-tailed tits.

Monday, November 4, 2013

new Brit birder on the block

I spent an enjoyable day birding with Paul Cook today. Paul has recently moved to Munka Ljungby and looks set to become a regular fixture of the NW Skåne birding scene. We met briefly in Israel in 1990 and have not seen each other since, so we spent a lot of time talking and did not exactly set the birding world alight as we poked around bits of BK during the morning and early afternoon!

Paul put in a request for a nutcracker first off so we headed up to walk the Killeröd loop trail. This short walk proved rather difficult after the recent storm, with many trees and even whole swathes of trees blocking the track at regular intervals. Progress was slow but a poorly seen jay prompted some tape playback and luckily a nutcracker was in earshot and flew in to check us out.

Next we hit the coast at Ripagården. Rather quiet here but a few gannet (14) and kittiwake (8) offshore and bullfinch and crossbill overhead.

Dropped in on Båstad next on our whistle-stop orientation tour and here we got the start of the light rain that dogged us for the rest of the day. The harbour area seemed pretty quiet but we found at least two Slavonian grebes offshore in a quick look.

Klarningen next, to get out of the rain and hopefully find a rough-legged buzzard (another request from Paul). We found one along the access track and counted three hen harriers from here too (one female and two 1K birds). At the tower we found Bengt and Svanberg in residence and they reported that things were quiet at Klarningen but that they had done well for skuas at Yttre Kattvik... Klarningen had good numbers of birds around but nothing really exciting. The snipe count (62) remains impressive and we estimated the golden plover flock in flight at 700 birds. Also here pintail (3), shoveler (9) and teal (200). Heading home we checked Lya ljunghed for great grey shrike unsuccessfully.

The wind is going west tomorrow, not a gale but strong enough to be exciting this autumn when westerlies have been incredibly scarce. I know where I'm going.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

snow bunting

Had a media interview today in the field which started in horribly wet conditions at Torekov. We checked the rev and it was difficult in the rain, but we could not avoid the flock of 25 snow buntings - a welcome BK year-tick and a species I managed to miss completely last year somehow!

During the morning the weather ameliorated and we checked the rocks off Torekov (six shag) and searched in vain for the water pipit at Påarps Mal (25 more or the same snow buntings here though). Next stop was a quick check of Rålehamn for a wheatear sp. reported yesterday. No sign though so  we drove over to Ranarpsstrand hoping for a late jack snipe. On the way we saw some incredible storm damage - including an entire barn pushed over by the wind near Mäsinge. Sadly it was the storm which probably denied us jack snipe as well, as the previously excellent habitat at Ranarpsstrand is now covered in seaweed! We tried Lervik too with the same result. Not a very satisfying look around BK all-in-all!

Afterwards I had a quick look in the plantation at Grytskären, nothing here though just a single nuthatch.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

loadsa snipe

Had 45 minutes at Klarningen whilst the kids ate some 'Saturday sweets' in the late afternoon. More waders than ever here, with 650 golden plover, 450 lapwing and a staggering 63 snipe; all in the fields adjacent to the wetland. The resident rough-legged buzzard and hen harrier were floating about. On the wildfowl front three shoveler, 20 wigeon and a pintail remain and teal numbers are building up (250).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Caspian gull

Got out in the morning after a very busy and wet day yesterday. Kicked off at Båstad first thing, chasing Bengt's great northern diver of yesterday. No joy but it was worth the effort. A herd of 18 gannets were plunge-diving enthusiasticaly offshore. Grebes were more obvious with at least five Slavonian and six great crested in the bay. Also a single scaup and a few red-throated and black-throated divers. Seventeen roosting grey herons was notable too. The best bird though came when I walked back to the car and found a first-winter Caspian gull perched on one of the offshore rocks. It did not stay long though before heading west. BK year-tick and my first in November!

With time running out I did whistle-stop assessments of Kattvik and Yttre Kattvik, more gannets, a single kittiwake and bullfinches are everywhere at the moment. Last stop of the morning was at Dalen, hoping for a snow bunting. No joy again but I did find a large noisy flock of 400 fieldfare and a few redwing.

In the afternoon I had time for a quick look in at Klarningen and logged a huge 450+ golden plover and 42 snipe in the wet fields. Best of it all though was the continued presence of the four cranes, my first in November.