Tuesday 24 March 2020

Birding in Gothenburg

Twite Carduelis flavirostris (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Tuesday 23 March

More of Mohamed and his mountain as we in Spain continue to be house-bound and unless lucky enough to live isolated in the countryside, have an extremely large garden or overlook a birding site then most likely your current birding experience is likely to range from little to nothing!  However, we are fortunate to have friends in the Axarquia Bird Group whose countries have a different policy, at the moment anyway, to what individuals can experience away from their respective homes.

One such friend is Hans Borjesson who lives in Gottenburg, Sweden and visits his house in Nerja three or four times a year and it is always such a pleasure to enjoy his company when over here.  However, April's visit has already been cancelled so unable to take him west to find our Andalucian Great Bustards and it now looks as if it may well be late summer or even December before we once again make personal contact.

But Hans has very kindly responded to my request for birding experiences of members still able to get out and about and share their experiences with us all.  Readers are used to seeing my reports from Rutland Water, Frampton Marsh and other British sites when I am back in the UK, so here is another birding experience from a great birder.  Hans is a birder first and foremost so when he sees a lovely bird he takes out his phone and as you will see produces some excellent results by digiscoping the subject in question.

Male Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Please remember, if you are able to still undertake some birding in these worrying times then the invitation is open to all to send in a report, no matter how short, so that we can all share and enjoy your experience.  Similarly, do not worry about quality photographs, the emphasis is on sharing the birding experience and I will gladly included your photos or provide some of my own if you want help with illustrations, etc.  Go on, be a devil and send in a report!

Hawk Owl Surnia ulula (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)

Covid19 is paralyzing more or less the entire Europe and Bob has told me that it is almost impossible to get out birdwatching in Spain after the new rules about quarantine was put in place.
Here is a short report about birding during last weekend in the area around Gothenburg, Sweden. Weather has been really wet and windy from January until mid-March but the forecast for the weekend 21-22 looked promising with sunny skies and almost no wind at all.
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Saturday March 21st.  The clear skies makes it very cold and the thermometer showed -3 degrees when I jumped into the car at 06:15 AM.  My first stop was at Välen, a bay area with open areas around where grazing Highland Cattle keeps the area open from overgrowing.  Välen is located only 10 minutes drive from the center of Gothenburg and since it is only a 5 minute drive from home it is considered as my second home.  I spend around 230 days birding in this area per year.  242 species have been seen here.

Fieldfare Turdus pilaris (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
When entering “Stallberget” (a small top where you have a great view) I was greeted by two new arrivals for the year, a singing Song Thrush and a Chiffchaff.  The migration in the spring is not that impressive in Välen and my hands and feet were very cold so I decided to take a walk to check over the sea.  Barnacle, Canada and Greylag Geese were as usual overnighting in the bay.  Some of them also stay during the day feeding on the surrounding pastures.  A couple of Yellowhammers were passing as well as 2 Eurasian Jays.  A couple of Redwings were feeding together with Fieldfares and Common Starlings.  Another new arrival for the year were two Dunnocks.  One Mistle Thrush also passed while exclaiming its typical flight call.

After 1,5 hours walk I decided to re-locate to “Torslandaviken”.  Another bay area located about 20 minutes drive to the west of Gothenburg.  Around 275 species has been recorded in here and it is considered as one of the best places in the Gothenburg area.  I started by going to a small island called Skeppstadsholmen where Coal Tits was singing.  From the southern part of the island I could see 11 Purple Sandpipers together with 2 Ringed Plovers.

Later on I moved to the big lagoon “Karholmsdammen” where I spotted Great Crested Grebes, Gadwalls, Common Pochards and Smew to name a few.  Two Rooks passed together with a group of Western Jackdaws.

Female Common Scoter Melanitta nigra (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
After a good night's sleep I woke up at 05:40 and another day with sunshine was ahead.  -3 degrees this morning so yet another day I had to remove ice from the windows of the car.  I decided to copy the day before so I first took a trip to Välen.  A selection of species seen were 3 Grey Herons, 2 White Wagtails that has just recently started to arrive from winter areas.  Up in the pine forest both feeding Goldcrests were seen and also one passing Brambling.  Outside the small harbor in Välen a female Common Scoter was resting. 

White Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii  The subspecies Yarrellii is quite rare in Sweden and this individual was seen earlier last week in Välen. (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)

I then went back to Torslandaviken which is a quite big area and visited what we call “Mudderdammen” which I did not visit the day before.  At least 8 Horned Larks were feeding together with a few Skylarks.  Around 20 Twites were also feeding in the area.  At this location we have also had a wintering Little Bunting.  It was still seen on Saturday but I could not find it this Sunday.  It was most likely still present because it has been in the area for several months.

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
In the big lagoon Karholmsdammen the Smews from yesterday has got the company of a pair of Widgeon.  Four Chiffchaffs was also seen during the day.

I don’t use a camera.  Instead, I use my mobile phone with the spotting scope as the lens.  You don’t get as crisp  a shot as you would with a camera but you do get a very high magnification.  The pictures were all taken during in Välen/Torslandaviken during 2020.  

Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
/Hans Börjesson
Gothenburg, Sweden

What an excellent report Hans and it brings happy birding thoughts to us all as we await the opening of our personal birding gates in, hopefully about a month's time.  For me, pride of place goes to the Horned Lark and Hawk Owl which I have never seen and I dread to think how many decades since I last saw a Twite, once a common winter visitor to my area back in the UK if you knew where to look.

More photos from Hans:

Greylag Goose Anser anser (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Mew (Common) Gull Larus canus (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)
Magpie Pica pica (PHOTO: Hans Borjesson)

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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