måndag 6 juli 2020

Record Great Grey Owl season!

The Great Grey Owl colonized this part of Sweden from the mid 1990´s and since the year 2000 we have had an active breeding site not far from Västerås. For long it´s been known as the southernmost regular breeding site in Sweden. This year (like last year) the breeding attempt failed and Great Grey Owls got difficult to see in the area. However during the summer rumours have spread about other breeding pairs and it proves that no less than 15 (!) new sites have been found in the north and west of the county - many of them found randomly and sometimes by forest workers who have been attacked by the Owl parents when they´ve come too close to chicks on the ground. Apparently there are enough voles to support them this year. Surprising since the east parts of Västmanland had very few breeding Ural owls this season for instance. Nonetheless, a pair of brothers have started a project with the ambition to ring as many as possible of the females and chicks, using a mist net to catch the adult bird. The first bird to be caught was already ringed…in Norway! Now being at least 5 years old. In total 23 chicks and 3 adults have been ringed, plus this norwegian bird "controlled" as we ringers say. These brothers - Mikael and Patrik Rhönnstad - also know to Birdsafarisweden-visitors for guiding in the area - have built and put up 38 platforms for Great Grey Owls to breed on. We now hope that this is just a building up year and next year will become even better. But nobody knows. What we have learned about Owls through the years here its how unpredictable they are. Anyway this year summarize as a remarkable record year for Great Grey Owl (and the ringing of them) in Västmanland. It´s probably a record for central Sweden in all.

Deciphering damselflies

As you might remember I was happy about finding Irish Damselfly (Coenagrion lunulatum) on a bog in my area earlier this year. The other day I went out and did my best to photograph damsels on another site. Found no less than 3 different species among only about double that amount of individuals. Arctic Bluet (Coenagrion johanssoni) was new for the site for me (and certainly one of our international attractions here) but Spearhead Bluet (Coenagrion hastulatum) was new even for my county list. There was also Variable Bluet  (Coenagrion pulchellum) which is a more common species. The others might well be overlooked though, since not many people look for them and it takes some detailed scrutiny to decipher them. Great fun nature detective work though! Below Arctic Bluet (see the "sfinx-marking" on segment 2), Spearhead Bluet (thor´s hammer on S2) and Variable Bluet (with broken shoulder line) in order of appearance.

torsdag 2 juli 2020

White-letter Hairstreak garden tick

The White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) is a butterfly not very easy to see here in Västmanland. With the Elm decease it seems to have disappeared (since Elm is the host plant for the species) from previously known areas. Although they do re-appear and sometimes in unexpected places. Last year I had one on my backyard downtown Västerås, now one specimen suddenly sat in front of me on a Jasmine-bush in my garden in Fläckebo. A first for the garden! Since there are no Elm trees nearby I wonder if they can adapt to other host plants?


Good times for Osprey

Had a really good session with fishing Ospreys on Lake Mälaren the other day. Wind and light worked to our advantage and boy did we get Ospreys coming….close and repeatedly. And the best part of the season is yet to come, soon both parents will take more active part in the fishing and in August the fledglings will appear by the boat too. If you´re interested in this unique opportunity to photograph Osprey catching fish at close distance you should consider booking a morning. There are still a few dates available in August. Read more: https://www.birdsafarisweden.com/safari__osprey.html

söndag 21 juni 2020

Yellow-spotted Whiteface memories

Yellow-spotted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia pectoralis) is a nice, not so common little dragonfly that I am lucky to know some sites for. I saw at least a dozen on a real hotspot for dragons and damsels yesterday. I remember my very first that where shown to me by some visiting british bird watchers, Glyn Sellors and his humorous, lovely bunch of guys of which sadly at least 2 are not among us anymore. Thank you for all the good laughs Mike & Mike & Glynn!

fredag 12 juni 2020

Frejas Fritillary at last

On my third attempt I finally spotted my first two Frejas Fritillaries in the county of Västmanland. It flies in the same habitat as Pearl-bordered Fritillary here, but in comparison it´s slightly bigger and duller in coloration, both features visible in flight. Only when you get a proper look you can see the different pattern and the white X on the underwing. I´ve been trying many times through the years to see this butterfly here on it´s southern limit. It´s a northern species much more common on moors and heathland up in the mountains of Lapland. Although known from only a couple of sites, with very few records per year here, this year also revealed new sites which indicates it´s likely to be overlooked after all.

måndag 8 juni 2020

Eurasian Baskettail in Fläckebo

Yesterday when doing garden work, a larger Dragonfly passed by and caught my eye. I noticed the wings where very smokey brown and it puzzled me. Luckily it landed in the rough grass not far away. I  gently approached till I could get a proper view in my bins and what I saw made me stunned. It looked like a Eurasian Baskettail! (Ephiteca bimaculata) - a species I had only seen once ever before and just flying over a river, not landing to perch. So I did not get any pictures that time. Now this guy sat still right in front of me and remained for a couple of hours, probably very newly hatched. I called my friend and dragon-enthusiast Markus Rehnberg and asked if he´d ever seen one of these in the county? He replied "I have now"! He was just standing on another spot (by a different lake some 40 km away) where he could see several specimen, also sitting in the vegetation as if newly hatched. These creatures are know as notorious "flying-dragons", very difficult to see perched. On average 3,5 records have been reported annually the last 6 years in the county. Needless to say, I was very happy to see and photograph this great looking dragonfly. Today I saw several individuals by the lake, and flying over meadows. Clearly this species is overlooked and probably much more common than we know.