söndag 26 juli 2020

Exceptional Swallowtail

The Common Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) is one of the most stunning butterflies in the north of Europe. It really looks too exotic to be flying even north of the Arctic circle…but it does. Normal years we get them from mid- late May. The cold period in May delayed them a bit this year, but they had  a very strong season anyhow. Yesterday - 2 months after the first generation started to fly - a see a newly hatched specimen in the Black River valley. I have never seen a 2.nd generation up here, although they regularly have one in the southwest of Sweden. At the same time my garden is full of Small tortoiseshell caterpillars. They normally don´t produce a 2.nd generation either. Just another 2 examples of a very different butterfly season and maybe climate related.

tisdag 21 juli 2020

Grey phalarope visit

A Grey Phalarope from some arctic shore landed on a tiny islet in the inland lake Hjälmaren and spent at least 4 days. We got lucky to see it on it´s last evening present. It´s very unusual that rare waders in summertime spend more than one or two days. Inland finds of this bird are extremely rare and it was only the 2.nd record for the county Västmanland. The bird was moulting from summer to winter plumage and seemed to loose it´s color day by day. On monday evening it was less active than in the mornings and we only saw it resting on the same rock all the time, allowing quite close approach (by boat). The tiny reef Nyckelgrundet in the middle of Hjälmaren is a bit of a bird magnet and we also enjoyed Caspian Terns (5), Red Knots (5), Black Terns (12), Little Gulls (13), Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers, etc. When an Osprey flew past, the Phalarope made itself flat, pressed on to the rock for a while. A great bird to see and a great excursion in good company this beautiful summer´s evening.

onsdag 15 juli 2020

Montagu´s Harrier breeding

After many days of unsuccessful Harrier-hunting I finally found a breeding site yesterday. Interestingly also 2 females around the nesting site at the same time and after 3,5 hours of waiting the male came around a couple of times. Above all one of the females actively hunted, caught and delivered prey to the nest about every 30 minutes. Quite a frequency! This is the first breeding I find this year and I do think there are more to come. The Montagu´s Harrier is a declining species in Sweden but they seem to have a good breeding year. Supposedly after a good winter with huge masses of grasshoppers in east Africa. Here they are on their northern limit. The counties of Västmanland and Uppland are the northernmost areas with breeding sites in Sweden. The island Öland is the stronghold for the species. I only got some distant pictures of this very capable female yesterday but maybe next time I will get the male too.

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