Norra Järvafältet – 04/04/2012

What a glorious spring day, not a cloud in site, perfect blue skies, very little wind, +5°c. My wife was at the doctors conveniently near a top birding spot in Stockholm about 15 minutes on the train from Stockholm City so I tagged along, unfortunately for birding I had to take my soon to be 1 year old daughter in the pram, kind of restricts moving and walking in certain areas but it was still great. She even had some close encounters with Canada Geese and Mallards which she thought was wonderful (quack quack quack we talked as we watched them feeding).

Upon entering the reserve I seen in the corner of my eye an odd looking tree, perched on the top was a Common Snipe, first for the year. Took some long distance shots.

Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago - Enkelbeckasin

Moved on further towards 30 m-kärret (a hot spot where the birders gather), last 2 days there had been 2 Rock Pipits on site and the day before Osprey (a spring arrival). I had at one stage 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming, Long-tailed Tits and several Chaffinch calling.

No sign of the Rock Pipit at 30 m-kärret but not to worry I heard a Green Woodpecker in the distance, a few Lapwing, Starlings, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese. I decided to move on to the other side at Säby Strandäng, just as I walked away I spotted an Osprey flying right to where I previously stood (typical!). I quickly rushed back only to see everyone putting their cameras back down and looking rather pleased, the bird had flown away again.

Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus - Pilfink

Not much between there and Säby Strandäng other than Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, 3 more Long-tailed Tit and some Common Gulls flying around. Always best lighting there in the afternoon/evening, now I had the sun straight in my face when looking out to the water. I was hoping for a Black-throated Diver but I suspect it was further up in the lake (somewhere I couldn’t get to with the pram). I had some good views of a Sparrowhawk, an Osprey (first for the year) Wigeon and Teal (also new for the year), Mallards and a brief view of a male Shoveler before a White-tailed Eagle came over and not long after a female Goshawk came down in the middle of everything and lifted pretty much all the birds off the water, I later couldn’t relocate the Shoveler.

Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus - Sparvhök

White-tailed Eagle - Haliaeetus albicilla - Havsörn

Goshawk - Accipiter gentilis - Duvhök
Failed attacked on ducks or gulls.

Goshawk - Accipiter gentilis - Duvhök
Fleeing the scene - passing right in front of me

On the way back I stopped and grabbed some photos of the Tree Sparrows I passed earlier. Pretty good day with 29 species seen and 1 heard. Back again tomorrow for a full day out, should be fun!

Hjälstaviken 2012/03/26

Weather: Dry – 6°c to 10°c – Medium to Heavy wind easing off throughout the day, partial cloud in morning clearing up towards the end of the day.

Started off around 10:45 at the south end of Hjälstaviken briefly checking out the reeds at what is called the “Långa WWF-spången”. It’s a wooded walkway lifted above the ground that runs straight through the reed beds, fantastic area most of the year.

Alan Dalton and myself were hoping for a Bearded Tit (resident bird around the reeds), instead we had pretty much everything but, 2 White-tailed Eagles circled the area and at times pretty close giving us both great views in really nice light.

Havsörn - Hjälstaviken

1 of the 2 adult White-tailed Eagles circling upon arrival

Other birds around were 2 Common Buzzards, a Linnet, 2 Reed Buntings, Greylag flying over landing towards the north, Goosander, Coot, Blue Tits, Great Tits, 6 Cormorants and several Black-headed Gulls.

We done the usual and walked up to the bird tower (easiest way to the tower is from the north, there is a parking area and a large path straight down to the tower).

5 photos pieced together, view of geese in the fields behind the tower

All the ice had melted, several ducks around – Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Teal, Wigeon, Coot, Mute Swans in the distance, Mallards and a single Great Crested Grebe.

More birds seen or heard around were Meadow Pipit calling, Skylarks, Herring Gulls, 2 Gadwall, Raven Lapwing and Siskin.

Now to the geese, I very much wanted to see a Pink-footed Goose after missing it last time and I was hoping for some photos of White-fronted Goose.

We counted as many as 29 White-fronted Goose, a good 300 Greylag, maybe 50-60 Bean Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, a leucistic Greylag and a probable Canada x Barnacle Goose (common hybrid around the stockholm area).

First views of White-fronted Geese together with Greylag just off the tower.

We had fantastic views of Geese flying from water to fields and back and forth for a good hour or so.

What I was after - just 1 of many good photos

Small groups of Common Crane arriving in the area, Hjälstaviken will be covered in Cranes not long from now.

3 Common Buzzards around, 2 displaying, flying in pretty close at times.

North of lake seemed to be holding the Bean Geese, not as many down towards the tower.

2 Pink-footed Geese at the end of the day, they seemed to be with the Bean Geese and the odd Graylag at the North of the lake.

A leucistic Greylag Goose - seen weeks before.
I also seen one the year before around the same time, maybe the same? Who knows...

Eagle Owl – North Stockholm

A lifer for me and fantastic views at dusk of a male Eagle Owl displaying, wow!

Male Eagle Owl

5 minutes after arriving the bird started calling and even a possible second bird was hear briefly in the distance. Not long after a group of Hooded Crows found the male and started attacking him so much that he flew off further away from us. The calls continued and eventually the crows left the area. Then finally the bird flew back towards the original trees giving us both in flight views and full out in the open views as he perched on some old oak trees.

Eagle Owl - Bubo bubo - Berguv

He stayed there for a good 10-15 minutes before flying over and landing on a metal tower behind us and yet again giving us some very impressive views in flight. What a big bird, no wonder they are called “EAGLE” Owls.

Eagle Owl - Bubo bubo - Berguv

Goldeneye displaying – Skeppsholmen Stockholm

I haven’t been able to find out much information about this courtship display but never the less it’s pretty amazing to see.

Apparently the male has 14 different behaviors to attract the female, these are calls, flicks/splashes in the water and throwing their heads backwards as seen on the photos below.

The female then responds with up to 3 of these behaviors.

A male Goldeneye in all his glory - what a striking bird

The typical thrown head back display of the male

The male in the back trying to get the attention of the female who seems to have already picked her mate

A mid action shot, the feet and back arched down I guess to help throw the head backwards

1 of the 14 different displays, a splashing display behavior

And finally I managed to sort out the video from that day, can be view on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/DndoTtXWqWc or alternatively just press play below 🙂
You can press the “cog” button in the player to adjust the quality of the video, set at low quality by default

Skeppsholm Stockholm

Decided the next nice weather day I would get back down to my recent winter gem at Skeppsholm in Stockholm. Alan Dalton was already there and had great views of a Little Grebe. I finally managed to see it and got a few photos before we moved on carefully looking for the recent Glaucous Gull from my previous post.

Smådopping - Little Grebe - Skeppsholm

Great Black-backed Gull coming in to land

Lots of gulls and ducks around BUT the ice had melted a lot and the birds were more spread out around the area making it a little more difficult to get close to some species.

This time there was a single male Pochard present near the food float where they feed the ducks in the winter. A new bird for me this year. Lots of Herring Gulls as usual, a few Great Black-backed Gulls and big groups of Black-headed Gulls.

Brunand - Pochard - Skeppsholm - A male Pochard at close range

Goosander - Storskrake - Mergus merganser

Plenty of water bird around, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard, Coot, Goosander, Mute Swan, a single Greylag Goose was found on the other side as well as a large good of Pochard around 20+ individuals.

Common bird all over Stockholm and probably Sweden. Their feet at pretty amazing

A close up of the feet - the "scales" look more like a snake or lizard than something you would see on a bird

On the way to the other side where all the Pochard had gathered was 3 Goldeneye, 2 male and a female displaying, it was a great joy to watch and I managed to get both photos and videos.

Another thrown back head

On the way back we had a quick look for the Little Grebe hoping for some more shots and after about 5 minutes looking we spotted it swimming around, a little too far for any decent shots and in the shade.

In flight shot - Skeppsholm is a joy for photographing gulls

Adult Herring Gull - ringed in Finland - more details hopefully to follow

A male Tufted Duck coming in to land.

A female Tufted Duck - the female although rather dull is beautiful itself - one of my favorites

Then finally after all the equipment was put away a male Goshawk came floating past in wonderful light, a nice finish to a pleasant day around Stockholm with Alan, you can read his post and version of events here about the trip.

Last few days…

Spent the last 4 days just wandering around close to home (total of about 4 hours), mostly with the kids, showing them the different birds and sharing the little knowledge I have learnt so far. Nothing spectacular to report but there was some nice light and I got some common bird photos to share.

A Mistle Thrush excreting mistletoe berries, this tree is covered in mistletoe

Species list for the last few days:
Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Waxwing, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Jay, Magpie, Sparrowhawk, Herring Gull, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Hooded Crow, Jackdaw, Siskin, Hawfinch, Nuthatch,  Greenfinch, House Sparrow and Tree Sparrow.

3 Waxwings watching the moon rise

A male Chaffinch, 1 of 3 birds seen together

Extreme close up of Waxwing - the bird was about 70-80cm from me

The berry of choice today for a small gathering of Waxwings, Blackbirds and Fieldfares

This bird had trouble swallowing this berry, several attempts, re-positioning the berry and what looked like chocking at times..

Finally got it down, showing a bit of tongue.