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!

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Marsh or Willow Tit

Fantastic reading on the ID of Willow and Marsh Tits, birds I personally find really difficult to ID without clear photos. I haven’t as of yet learnt the calls but the more you hear and can visually ID the easier it is to place calls to birds.

Birding Frontiers

and other fine ‘garden birds’

Nice one- all almost all who had declared were right: it was a Marsh Tit. One of at least 2 coming to feeders right outside the kitchen window of our accommodation at Minsmere RSPB reserve (9-11 March). Good chance to check the features, and much discussed was the ‘new’ feature of pale spot at the base of the bill. This feature was very obvious on one and often hard to see on the other. Willow Tits have an all black bill with no pale bill spot. They called a fair bit and neither had an obvious pale panel over the secondaries as often seen on Willow Tit.

The ‘white spot’ feature…

… seems to be percolating through British birder consciousness. Some of us in the cottage new about it and others didn’t. In a nutshell: Marsh Tits have it, Willow Tits don’t. Aside of the white spot, Richard Broughtons’ studyplaces calls and song, and cheek pattern as the most reliable features for separating these 2 tricky species.

Marsh…

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First warm spring day

Wow at last, some warmth, I believe it was pushing on around 11-13 degrees today, the sun was shinning and very little wind. Unfortunately the wife came down sick so I had 10 month old daughter to entertain. We took a brief walk through the forest behind where we live, she fell asleep and I enjoyed some Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Fieldfare, Blackbird and a woodpecker that I think must have been a Lesser Spotted, good drumming and environment for a Lesser, I couldn’t see it but then again I couldn’t leave the pram and search.

A few photos from today: (coming later this evening)

Blåmes - Parus caeruleus

Nötväcka - Sitta europaea

Kungsfågel - Regulus regulus

Kungsfågel - Regulus regulus

Kungsfågel - Regulus regulus

Hjälstaviken – 2012/03/11

A few days behind but here is the write up on a quite interesting trip to Hjälstaviken just outside of Stockholm.

Met up with Alan Dalton and we started off at the north of the lake where lots of geese had been gathering the days before. Off to flying start with several new birds for the year, Skylark, Starling, Bean Goose, Greylag Goose and at least 4 White-fronted Goose. We then moved down the road a little to Lingbokullen and checked out the same geese, this time counting 6 White-fronted Goose. A few other birders and Alan managed to catch a Pink-footed Goose as it landed but it soon disappeared and wasn’t re-found, I will have to wait to find one another day.

Bean Goose

4 of the 600+ Bean Goose in the area

3 White-fronted Goose - Anser albifrons

We then continued to move down the lake and got several Skylark, 4 Ravens and my first Swedish Rook (seen more than enough of them in the UK but never over here).

Raven - Corvus corax

Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnus

Other birds seen around were, Blue Tit, Great Tit, White-tailed Eagle, 6 Common Buzzards, 2 Whooper Swans, 1 Goldeneye, Nuthatch, Lapwing, Hooded Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Siskin, 1 Marsh Tit and Nuthatch.

Greylag Goose - Anser anser

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis

Not a very good day for photographs but a good day never the less.

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

Norra Järvafältet

Today Alan Dalton and I made our way to Norra Järvafältet but at the top/back side, I had never been there before and thought the whole trip was quite interesting. We started off at a place called Ravalen, carefully searching for a resident Tawny Owl that had been seen the day before in it’s usual hole with no luck. We then moved towards the winter feeding station this time checking for a female Brambling that has been there all winter but again no luck. Plenty of winter birds around though, Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Blackbird.

We then moved off in search of Hawfinch but no real luck there. From there we made our way to Fäboda in Norra Järvafältet to another winter feeding station, a good 20 minutes walk from Ravalen.

Nuthatch - Common all around feeders in the winter.

The main birds we both were aiming for was Crested Tit and Hawfinch.
Hawfinch were around but not visible, eventually I managed to catch my eye on one flying away from the tops of the trees. Then 2 Willow Tits feeding within 5 minutes of arriving and were still present when we left.

Willow Tit

1 of the 2 birds in the area

A single Crested Tit made a brief appearance before disappearing in to the forest, 3 Long-tailed Tits were also coming back and forth and I got what I consider my best photos of the species yet. Other birds around the feeder were Blue Tit, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Siskin and Blackbird.

1 of 3 birds

On the way back we had a great view of a Green Woodpecker and at least 20 Fieldfare.

Not a too bad few hours even if it took the same time in travelling to get there. Off to the Eagle Owl now for what proved to be a fantastic finish to the day 🙂

photos and video coming soon…

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.