lördag 12 januari 2008

22 Hawfinches

10:th of January
Plenty of birds in a feeding frenzy on my Hawfinch restaurant "The 3 Finches Inn". Among at least 150 Greenfinches, 2 Bullfinches, and plenty of Yellowhammers, 22 (!) big, noisy and beautiful Hawfinches stand out in the crowd.
    Some Jays are screaming, probably over the juvenile female Goshawk, that is perched in a nearby treetop all the time during my visit. 
     I got a couple of pictures of some of the birds, but again real photographers have got better Hawfinch pix from here, once again Rebecca Nason for instance. 

tisdag 8 januari 2008

Sibejays in winterland

8:th of January 2008
Just 2 hours drive north from Svartådalen – The Black River Valley – lies the southernmost wintering area for Siberian Jays in Sweden.
     Me and my youngest son Simon (13), takes on the task to put up this winters first steady portion of fat for them.
     Up there a lot more snow has come and the landscape is the Uncle Frosts classical winter landscape we like to think of as our traditional Swedish winter scenery. Oooh, yes, we like it!
     It´s a bit of a walk, but it´s a nice one through the forest with all the snowcovered Christmas trees around.
     Well there we make a fire and grill some nice sausages, while hoping for the birds to get 
attracted by our fat. 
     First come the Nuthatches (not that common up here), then Crested Tits, Coal Tits, and finally... after quite a long time of yearning, 3 Siberian Jays that immediately start to feed on the goodies we put up for them.
    They are such loveable birds, and almost tame. You can stand a meter from them and they don´t seem to mind at all.
     Here the Crested and Coal Tits also seem very tame.

Once again, Hans Bister stand for the picture. See more of it on: www.pbase.com/bister
     Another photographer who have done great on these birds, is Rebecca Nason. Check out her pictures on www.rebeccanason.com

söndag 6 januari 2008

Lonesome swan

6:th of January 2008
Despite that winter really has arrived to the Black River Valley, the river runs open at the south end of Lake Fläcksjön. 14 Whooper Swans are feeding in the open water. 
     But why is one more juvenile Whooper all alone down by the bridge? And not afraid of humans either?

Pygmy attack

6:th of January 2008
It´s still just about about dawn. The nights snowfall has painted the forest white and sealed it with the silence only newfallen snow can create. Not many birds are awake yet.
    We have just finished some new arrangements for feeding the Nutcrackers in a photographically optimized way and we feel like we have earned a first cup of coffee.
     That´s when a tiny, but intense screem is reaching our ears. I look up in the dense spruce tree above me, and see two birds clenched to each other, just 2-3 meters up from me.
     First I get the impression that the birds are the same size and I wonder what the hell two Willow Tits are fighting about, when 2 angry yellow eyes stares down on me. 
     It´s a Pygmy Owl, with a still live and screaming Willow Tit in its claws. 
     A second later the Owl flies away, disappearing into the dark green oblivion, leaving the inferno of helpcalling  tits behind. Then everything turns silent... dead silent.  
     A Grey-headed Woodpecker is already perched in its favourite breakfast treetop. 
Great Swedish photographer Hans Bister took the above picture. See more of his excellent work on www.pbase.com/bister
     Hans Bister is also editor of the Great Swedish birding magazine The Roadrunner. Especially for those who like rare birds and twitching. Reed more on www.club300.se

Two Greyheads together

5:th of January 2008
For the first time this winter, two Grey-headed Woodpeckers are together at "the Inn" (The Nutcracker Inn that is of course). 
     They are also accepting their new log we are serving their food on; an old, fallen birch trunk, patinated by nature itself, even with a piece of lichen growing from the top of it.
     Tom Schandy and Jan Fredrik Isaksen, two bird photographers from Norway, are here to give their best shots on Nutcrackers, Tits and Grey-heads for the weekend. Tom Schandys book, The Wild Africa (det vilda Afrika) was elected Pandabook of the Year, by WWF Sweden in 2004. 
      Tom and Jan Fredrik got lucky on their first day already with some great shots on both key species. Hopefully we can see some of them here in the future. 
    Meanwhile... enjoy a nice Nutcracker picture taken at the Inn, by the Great Swedish photographer and fireman (!) Michael Bergman. (Quite a hunk!)
     Check out his website on www.bergmanphoto.se

torsdag 3 januari 2008

Snowfall and Pygmy Owl

2:nd of January
Snowfall and –5°C is creating a real sensation of winter. It´s a bit grey, windy and dusky, but the ground is covered with a 3-4 cm layer of snow. I sense flashbacks from my teen winters with constant birding efforts on bike, by skis or by foot.
     Hawfinch and Goldfinch show up on my first "bird restaurant". Maybe I´d call it "3 finches Inn" (tell me what you think!). 
     A Great Grey Shrike sits in the "Hawk Owl tree top" along the road to Fläckebo. In this clearing and that perticular treetop I´ve spotted Hawk Owls at least twice. Last winter it stayed almost 4 months!
      On my 2:nd feeding station, "The Nutcracker Inn", it´s pretty quiet, but sounds of Ravens make me look up in the moment a beautifully orange-breasted male Sparrowhawk breaks the clearing and speeds towards me in eyeheight. Just 2 meters from my face he "hits the breaks", and turns left, showing the splendor of he´s reddish belly and underwings. 
     The hunt ends fruitless for him, but for me it was quite a show.
I reach the 3:rd feeder almost at dusk, and no birds show, but I still hurry to another place. By a small forest lake some nice people feed birds in the gardens of their cottages. It´s a remote place all surrounded by forest. 
     I imitate a Pygmy Owl a couple of times, without really paying attention to the result, but as I turn to walk back from the feeder, there it sits! Quiet and still, but quite close. 
     I take some pictures, but they turn out lousy. I don´t have a very good camera. Instead you can enjoy Graham Catleys excellent picture from two winters ago. 
     Why not check out his excellent blog as well: http:pewit.blogspot.com
     Many of his pictures in this gallery (Great Grey Owl, Nutcracker, Golden Eagle, etc.) is from here: http://nycteagallery.blogspot.com