Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oslo 20 August 2014 - Twitching?

Most people who know me know I don't twitch. Ever.

So is this twitching or not?:
Whilst sitting at Bergen airport waiting for a plane to Oslo I heard about the first Pallas's Gull steppemåke for Norway turning up only a few hundred metres from where I was headed. There was never any real dilemma - I'm not daft enough to walk right past such a bird just to prove a point.

First year Pallas's Gull steppemåke, Oslo opera house

And as rarities in the east of Norway, especially slap bang in the middle of Oslo are not exactly thick on the ground I had no choice but to take a fifteen minute diversion to see this cracking bird - the first I've seen since I was off Israel a few years back.....

Accidentally picked up Caspian Gull kaspimåke at the same time. Makes leaving Øygarden a little easier.

Not twitching - honest!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Solberg 19 August - Golf anyone?

Strong northerly winds all day.

Curlew storspove at Solberg.

Not out in any sense of the word. A Greenshank gluttsnipe from the house and bog-all at Solberg.

Some random moments with the scope from the kitchen window showed there were lots of Gannets havsule passing.

I'll be taking up golf and / or ending it all in the immediate future,


Monday, August 18, 2014

At home 18 August 2014 - Lucky house

Northerly winds, heavy showers during the morning.

Still no prospect of ever getting out, thankfully I live where I do and not getting out doesn't necessarily mean no birds - just not knowing what has been missed.

Hanging out the washing after the worst of the morning's rain produced a nice Merlin dvergfalk chasing Redpolls brunsisik over the garden,

Later a trip to the shops meant that I caught up with a nice mixed flock of Ruff brushane and Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Tjeldstø. If I had got as far as actually getting out of the car who knows what might have turned up....

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Øygarden 17 August 2014 - If not in this life then the next

Southerly winds with rain at times.

At Nautnes a flock of three Green Sandpiper grønnstilk and a flock of nine Ruff brushane were both new for the house list. A flock of Greylags grågås heading south, a White-tailed Eagle havørn and most of the usual suspects were also seen from the trrace.

Ruff brushane at Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø produced another Green Sandpiper grønnstilk a small flock of Ruff brushane, five Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a couple of Common Sandpiper strandsnipe, a few Grennshank gluttsnipe and generally a lot of stuff on the ground in the flooded fields.

One of three flocks of Greylag grågås seen migrating today

A late walk at Herdlevær produced more of the same including a couple more flocks of Greylag grågås on the move, a few Golden Plovers heilo, Ringed Plovers sandlo, a Peregrine vandrefalk and a few Redshank rødstilk.

All in all obviously plenty on the move and somewhat frustrating to get out birding- One day soon I'll actually get out and about.....honest!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tjeldstø 14 August 2014 - Waders on the move

Calm and sunny

A couple of Ruff brushane at Tjeldstø

Back in Øygarden at last but with no prospect of getting out and about in the immediate future. A five minute pause at Husvatnet on the way to the shops produced at least nine Ruff brushane, two Bar-headed Geese stripegås, five Teal krikkand and a Sand Martin sandsvale of note.

Back home at Nautnes the best birds were a Tree pipit trepiplerke flying over (a predictable new for the house), a Greenshank gluttsnipe and a Green Sandpiper skogsnipe along with a variety of other waders.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Skogsøy 18 July 2014

Calm and sunny.

A short seawatch 06:30 - 08:30 was fairly quiet. Probably the best bird was a single Great Skua storjo - incredibly the first I've seen this year in Øygarden. Something rather wrong there somehow. Otherwise just small numbers of Gannets havsule, a Guillemot lomvi and the usual suspects. Some light southward passage of Oystercatcher tjeld and Common Gull fiskemåke.

Gannet havsule

Oystercatcher tjeld

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Shag toppskarv

In a Skogsøy context a Swift tårnseiler was an unusual sighting. Plenty of Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and a small flock of Twite bergirisk.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tjeldstø 17 July 2014 - Welcome home!

Calm and sunny.

Bar-headed Goose stripegås

A very short stroll in the reserve produced very little but the traditional stop beside Husvatnet produced the Bar-headed Goose stripegås found a week or two ago. This is the second time this species has turned up in Øygarden - the previous occasion were a couple reported from Hernar a few summers ago.

Arriving home yesterday evening I hadn't got the key in the front door before I heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett. Not the worst welcome home....


Friday, June 27, 2014

Hernar 26 June 2014 - Summer

Calm and sunny.

In between migration seasons there was not much chance of anything special today but a rare chance to make it out to Hernar had to be taken. The highlight were a couple of flocks of Swifts tårnseiler.

Otherwise plenty of the usual Hernar stuff about with Sedge Warblers sivsanger, loads of Twite bergirisk, and Wheatear steinskvett.

Back home at Nautnes a Collared Dove tykerdue was the first I've seen in Øygarden this year and another new for the house list.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Skogsøy 24-25 June 2014 - Camping pays off....

Calm with light southerly winds.

Spent the night out at Skogsøy with the girls and no scope. The last bit was proved to not be a very sensible idea....

Not really birding on 24th but had a flock of four Whimbrel småspove heading north.

On the morning of 25th I woke early and spent a couple of hours seawatching between 0500-0700 with just binoculars. The results were well worth it - highlight was a Long-tailed Skua fjelljo drifting north just before 0600. This was followed by a couple of Arctic Skuas tyvjo which also passed within decent binocular range.

Other stuff included 14 Red-throated Diver smålom heading north, singles of Fulmar havhest and Kittiwake krykkje, a flock of six Guillemot lomvi and some movement of moulting Eiders ærfugl. Further evidence that autumn is upon us was a flock of eight Curlew storspove heading south.

Note to self: ALWAYS check ALL pictures have uploaded from camera to PC before deleting.

Skogsøy 23 June 2014 - Autumn!

Northerly breeze and sunny again.

A short and relatively late seawatch produced little movement but showed that autumn migration is underway with a flock of Oystercatcher tjeld and a lone Lapwing vipe heading south.

Peregrine vandrefalk

A Peregrine vandrefalk put in a brief appearance and there were small numbers of most of the usual suspects passing including a few Red-throated Diver smålom and a couple of flocks of Common Scoter svartand.

Frustratingly two small waders headed north just out of range - definitely felt like they could be phalaropes..... 

Tjeldstø 22 June - The Young Ones

Sunny with fresh northerly winds the last few days.

Work and family commitments have prevented any meaningful birding and certainly give a certain affinity to the many busy parent birds at the moment. Most species now have young to feed - families of Wheatear steinskvett are "everywhere" - very pleasing result this year.

Recently fledged Wheatear steinskvett

Herring gull gråmåke

A late afternoon walk at Tjeldstø produced a Golden Plover heilo as the only migrant - though it did do a display flight as well. Plenty of young Greylags grågås and Herring Gulls gråmåke and a single brood of Mallard stokkand seen.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Herdlevær 03 June 2014 - Yellow wag

Hot and sunny.

Still a struggle to get out and about in any meaningful way so hopes were not high for a quick midday walk at Herdlevær. Only bird of note was a Yellow Wagtail gulerle - I could have had good views and pinned a name on it but messed it up. I heard Yellow wag call but all I could see was a White Wagtail linerle. Thinking I'd made a mistake on the call I carried on walking and flushed the bird which was behind the rock the commoner wagtail was sitting on. Got to trust those instincts more....

Woodcock rugde still roding in the evenings over the house at Nautnes.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Solberg / Tjeldstø 02 June 2014 - the biggest Norwegian Garden list?

Not really out but a singing Sedge Warbler sivsanger and a Whimbrel småspove at Solberg were almost worth a mention.

At Tjeldstø I found two Eider ærfugl nests and several gull nests - including a Herring gull gråmåke nest where the eggs were hatching.

An almost forgotten web page on my website - the house list ranking page -  produced a very interesting result - the highest garden list in Norway that I have now heard of is 182 - Geir Mobakken on Utsira (where else?!!). I thought my old list at Tjeldstø which ended up on 167 was quite respectable but Geir's is quite possibly unbeatable in Norway......

I took a quick update on my current house list. Exactly 100 behind Mr Mobakken's.......but give it 14 years and I'll be a LOT closer!

Øygarden 01 June 2014 - Breeding Grey-headed Woodpeckers?

Sunny with light northerly winds.

Hjelme West produced little of interest - just a few Red-throated Diver smålom passing and a flock of at least 60 terns (probably Arctic Tern rødnebbterne) on one of the islands.

Elsewhere Cuckoos gjøk still being heard "everywhere" and a female Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett at a locality where a male was heard singing recently gave hope that this species is breeding in Øygarden again this year.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Skogsøy 31 May 2014 - Both geese!

Sunny with strong northerly winds.

Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås overhead

Part of the Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås flock

Pale-bellied Brents ringgås

A 40 minute seawatch at Skogsøy in the early afternoon gave some interesting results: first a flock of 60 pale-bellied Brent Geese ringgås headed north. This was only to be expected given both the date and the weather conditions.

Whilst hoping for more of the same a second flock of geese came over - this time Barnacles hvitkinngås.

Seeing both these species migrating on the same day is quite unusual - but perhaps becoming more and more likely as in recent years there has been a trend of a second later wave of Barnacles hvitkinngås.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Herdlevær 30 May 2014 - Northerly winds but no joy

Wind changed to the north but a couple of hours at Herdlevær produced little of interest, Small numbers of the usual suspects including several Red-throated Diver smålom but nothing out of the ordinary. Some Great Black-backed gulls svartbak plucked mackerel from sea with apparent ease - even leavng them on the shore whilst they went back for more,

Elsewhere a White-tailed Eagle havørn nest held one young.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Skogsøy 29 May 2014 - Sea-fog

Calm and sunny but after only an hour sea fog rolled in and reduced visibility. The same fog thwarted attempts to bird alternative localities.

A couple of small pale phase skuas were the best birds - initially resting on the sea they took off and disappeared into the fog.

Common Tern makrellterne at Nautnes

Some Oystercatchers tjeld still heading north

Red-throated Diver smålom - note last bird in non-breeding plumage

Several Guillemots lomvi, a few Black Guillemot teist and a flock of Red-throated Diver smålom were the best of the seabirds. Other migrants included Ringed Plover sandlo and House Martin taksvale.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Herdlevær 28 May 2014 - Sylvias

Calm and sunny.

Out rather later than I should have been and took a short stroll around Herdlevær. Best birds were a couple of Garden Warblers hagesanger - at least one of which was singing. A Lesser Whitethroat møller put in an appearance and both Blackcap munk and Common Whitethroat tornsanger were singing.

A quick look at the sea showed that Red-throated Divers smålom are still passing with 10 or so seen in about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Øygarden 21 May 2014 - Tedious rarity and scarce spring migrant

Light SE winds with some thundery showers.

Started the day at Herdelvær. Little happening here but a Sand Martin sandsvale or two , another Meadow pipit heipiplerke nest and a Whimbrel småspove were seen here.

A drive-by+ at Tjeldstø produced the first Ruff brushane for the this year with two females present. Four Tufted Duck toppand was an increase on yesterday. A Carrion Crow svartkråke out in the reserve was technically the best bird of the day but what a tedious rarity! Two House Martin taksvale feeding over Husvatnet were of more interest.

Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn attacking Greylags grågås - parents keep young between them for protection

The young Greylags grågås dive, parents prepare to defend

With the young still submerged both parents leap out of the water to drive off the eagle

At Nautnes a Greenshank gluttsnipe scared up by a White-tailed Eagle havørn trying to take Greylag grågås chicks was a new species for the house....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sture 20 May 2014 - just 15 minutes out

A very short stroll at Sture in the late evening produced the first Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper of the year in Øygarden. Otherwise just the usual Cuckoo gjøk etc.

At Tjeldstø the pair of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås were still present - I'm beginning to suspect that these birds are actually from one of the "feral" populations further south/ east in the country...A male Tufted Duck toppand was the first I've seen there for a while.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Skogsøy 14 May 2014 - Almost disappointing

Strong NNW winds and sunny.

Spent several hours seawatching under what should have been ideal conditions for skuas and divers. There were precious few of either - just four Arctic Skua tyvjo, singles of White-billed Diver gulnebblom and Great Northern Diver islom and only 7 Red-throated Diver smålom.

Two Arctic Skua tyvjo heading north

One of many small flocks of Long-tailed Duck havelle

Just about record shot of the only White-billed Diver gulnebblom seen today

However, all was not lost as there was some reaosnable passage of other species including the first Dunlin myrsnipe and Knot polarsnipe of the year. Around 140 Long-tailed Duck havelle, decent numbers of terns and, in the context of recent times also a decent passage of auks - including a late Little Auk alkekonge.

A second year Great Northern Diver islom was seen heading north. Initially identified (with little hesitation) in the field as a Black.throated diver storlom this bird looks like an obvious Great Northern from photos. It seemed small, with rapid wingbeats in the scope but the wedge on the neck, the size of the bill and then evenly wide neck all point towards Great Northern.

Above: second year Great Northern Diver islom

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tjeldstø 13 May 2014 - Gargany!

Calm conditions whilst I gave the reserve some good coverage. North-westerly winds later on....

Pretty much the first birds I got onto today were a pair of Gargany knekkand on Husvatnet. Unfortunately they quickly disappeared and despite a few attempts to relocate them they were not seen again.

The two Barncalce geese hvitkinngås, a female Wigeon brunnakke and a few Black-headed Gulls hettemåke were all still present.

A singing Lesser Whitethroat møller was the best of the passerines.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Øygarden 12 May 2014 - Another good morning out and about

Sunny yet again with light northerly winds.

Whinchat buskskvett

Spent a few hours in the morning checking a few localities - something that paid off very well indeed. At Breivik a couple of singing Sedge Warbler sivsanger were the first I've had this year along with a singing Whinchat buskskvett. It is not often one hears the latter species singing in Øygarden.

Whimbrel småspove

Herdlevær was relatively quiet with little in the way of migrants. As with "everywhere" else in Øygarden there were Greylags grågås with newly hatched chicks. A couple of singing Blackcap munk, a Whimbrel småspove and a Meadow Pipit heipiplerke nest with four eggs were the best of the other sightings here.

At Tjeldstø just one Black-headed Gull hettemåke present today but the two Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås were still there and a female Wigeon brunnakke put in an appearance.

Solberg produced one of the best birds of the day - a dark phase Arctic Skua tyvjo. A flock of 12 Arctic Terns rødnebberne heading north and a single Twite bergirisk were also noteworthy here.

Eagle Owl hubro
Peregrine vandrefalk
Elsewhere nice views of an Eagle Owl hubro and a Peregrine vandrefalk provided some extra excitement.

Sture 11 May 2014 - Wryneck

The calm and sunny weather continues.

Didn't really get out today. A drive-by at Tjeldstø produced a flock of six Black-headed Gulls hettemåke on Husvatnet where the two Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås were still present.

A short but very pleasant stroll at Sture in the evening provided the highlight of the day in the form of a singing Wryneck vendehals. Quite a rarity in spring in Øygarden - and singing bird even more so! A pair of Ringed Plover sandlo were incubating close by.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Skogsøy 10 May 2014 - Borderline seawatch nightmare

Calm and for the most part sunny.

Strings of fog from inland came out of the sea and cut visibility to nothing at times. Patches of fog continued through much of the morning - meaning we were happy just to be able to see at times. See this link for more about seawatching nightmares.

One of two Black-throated Diver storlom seen today

Most of the Cormorants storskarv passing today were non-breeders

A small flock of Red-throated Diver smålom

White-billed Diver gulnebblom

The day was not as productive as some recent visits (e.g. 37 White-billed Diver gulnebblom on 01 May and Surf Scoter brilleand on 03 May). However, it was far from dead with four White-billed Diver gulenbblom - three adults and a second year bird, a couple of Black throated Diver storlom and around 90 Red-throated Diver smålom. Good numbers of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a few flocks of Whimbrel småspove were the other highlights.

New for the year were a few Arctic Terns rødnebbterne and a House Martin taksvale.

Herdlevær 09 May 2014 - Killer

Calm and sunny.

The highlight of a late stroll around Herdlevær was a huge male Killer Whale offshore. Other mammals seen were Porpoise nise and Otter oter.

Male Merlin dvergfalk at Herdelvær

Birdwise it was relatively quiet but picked up a few Whimbrel småspove resting on one of the islands and a cracking male Merlin dvergfalk put in a brief appearance.

2cy Red-throated Diver smålom - picture taken from my terrace

Back home at Nautnes a nice second year Red-throated Diver smålom spent much of the day feeding right outside the house.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Nautnes / Tjeldstø 07-08 May 2014 - Not birding, just catching up

Back at last but no time whatsoever to get out for even the briefest of walks.

On 7th May a Sand Martin sandsvale over Husvatnet, Tjeldstø was the first I've seen in Øygarden this year as were two Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås at Skjold as well as a Common Sandpiper strandsnipe and a singing Lesser Whitethroat møller heard from the terrace at home.

All the new birds on the 8th were heard before I even got out of bed before 0600 - Blackcap munk, Common Whitethroat tornsanger and Cuckoo gjøk.

Hopefully there will be some time to get out and about sometime in the foreseeable future....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Skogsøy 22 April 2014 - The loonatic season commences....

Yet another day of what normal people would consider cracking weather - calm, warm and sunny.

Some of the Gannets havsule passed at close range today

Not enough wind to make for a great day's seawatching but it was still well worth the effort. Highlight was without doubt the first summer plumaged White-billed Diver gulnebblom migrating north - well worth the wait as always! The mainstay of today's migration were some 79 Red-throated Diver smålom. Small numbers of the usual suspects also passed.

On the sea a few Guillemots lomvi and a couple of Puffins lunde were present.

A migrating Willow Warbler løvsanger stopped to feed on the cliff tops shortly after dawn - first of the year for me. Other migrants included a migrating Swallow låvesvale, singing Chiff-chaff gransanger, a few Twite bergirisk and several Linnet tornirisk. A fair number of passerines seemed to come in off the sea - mostly too far off to be identified but many were White Wagtails linerle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hjelme Vest 21 April 2014

Another day of constant sunshine and little wind - though a light northerly picked up in the afternoon.

A surprise new for Øygarden for me this year was a flock of eight Wigeon brunnakke on the sea at Hjelme Vest. A Great Northern Diver islom feeding offshore was the best of the rest which included about 20 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a decent passage of Red-throated Diver smålom.

Dunnock jernspurv in the garden

Back home three Twite bergirisk fed at the feeder, a Wheatear steinsvett turned up in the garden and there was some passage overhead which included Siskin grønnsisik and Swallow låvesvale

Monday, April 21, 2014

Øygarden 20 April 2014 - Moorehen

Stunning weather!

Moorehen sivhøne at Tjeldstø

Highlight was a Moorehen sivhøne on Husvatnet - a barely annual species in Øygarden but mid April at Tjeldstø is the time and place to get this bird.

Migrating Red-throated Divers smålom

An hours seawatching at Skogsøy between 1200-1300 showed that there was a fair bit of migration today. A total of 45 Red-throated Diver smålom and 66 Common Scoter svartand headed north along with small numbers of Common Gull fiskemåke and Black-headed Gull hettemåke.

Twite bergirisk in the garden

Grilling in the garden at Nautnes in the afternoon gave superb views of a couple of Twite bergirisk - the first time I have ever seen this species at a feeder and another new for the house list.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tjeldstø 19 April 2014 - Black-tailed Godwit

Calm and sunny

Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove

Not out at all but a drive-by at Tjeldstø produced a nice Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove feeding at Husvatnet where the pair of Tufted Duck toppand was still present.

In the evening the first Swallow låvesvale flew over the house at Nautnes.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Øygarden 07 April 2014 - drive-bys

Back to sunny weather again but no time to be out and about.

A singing Wheatear steinskvett at Tjeldstø was the first a this locality this year.

Fieldfares gråtrost and Starlings stær at Breivik

At Breivik the Pinkfoot kortnebbgås remained in the "usual" place and there were good numbers of Fieldfare gråtrost and Starling stær present - perhaps hangers on after yesterday's movement.