Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Autumn at Falsterbo

I think the technical term might be "working from another office", though the reality is that my "other office" currently looks like this:

I'm in Falsterbo, southern Sweden, and I'm leading a double life. In the afternoon, I'm working for BirdGuides; in the morning, I'm a ringer for Falsterbo Bird Observatory.

Falsterbo is one of western Europe's premier migration spots, both for Passerine and raptor migration. Indeed, over the last week or so I've been sat with in the garden my laptop working al fresco on a number of occasions; I've managed to notch up a list of 17 raptor species during that “work” time (Pallid, Hen & Marsh Harrier; Golden, White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagle; Osprey; Red & Black Kite; Merlin, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine; Common, Rough-legged and Honey Buzzard; and Sparrowhawk). There's the occasional non-raptor surprise mixed in too, like a flock of 26 White Storks:

For Passerines, it looks like it's going to be a “woodland winter” — large numbers of Blue Tits are already passing through the peninsula along with higher than average numbers of e.g. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nutcracker.
photo by Jan Baert

We've already caught some oddities. On 25th August we scored with a Yellow-breasted Bunting, the first record for Falsterbo and only the 34th record for Sweden.

We thought we'd stuck gold again on 16th September when we pulled this odd Acrocephalus warbler out of the nets — it superficially resembles Paddyfield Warbler but things just don't add up. A hybrid seems to be the answer, but between what is still open to debate. There are more photos of the bird online here.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Bempton cruises in September

Sail out into the North Sea into the heart of the migrating seabird action as many species pass by on their way south for the winter.  They can include Arctic Skuas and Arctic Terns, as well as Gannets, auks, Gulls, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, many of which — tempted by the ‘chum’ (cocktail of smelly fish bits!) that is thrown overboard — can be seen at close quarters right alongside the boat. Boats run on:

Saturday 8th September at 9.00am

Saturday 15th September at 9.00am

Sunday 23rd September at 9.00am

Saturday 29th September at 3.30pm

Saturday 6th October at 9.00am

As usual these will be aboard the MV Yorkshire Belle, sailing from Bridlington Harbour out into the North Sea to where the latest reports indicate there are migrating seabirds such as Arctic and Great Skuas, Sooty, Balearic and Manx Shearwaters plus many terns and plenty of Little Gulls.  They last up to 3½ hours and cost £18 per adult. Booking is strongly recommended as they can get full, and this can be done by phoning the RSPB Bempton Cliffs cruise office on 01262 850959 and paying by debit/credit card over the phone.