Friday, January 30, 2015

Herdlevær 30 January - Back in business

Foul weather with strong southerly winds, rain and sleet.

A female Red-breasted Merganser siland - catching plenty of fish

Made the most of the conditions at Herdlevær. We had nice views of a Merganser siland which caught several fish in quick succession.

Eiders ærfugl

Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt

Otherwise not that much about - just a couple of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt - rather short billed.

Back home at Nautnes just the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and an Otter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tjeldstø - Nordøy 18 January 2015 - Too close to home!

Cracking weather made it all the more frustrating to be so near yet so far from home.

Sture terminal (or at least part of it!) by night

At work and on nights I spent all night and most of the day in Hjeltefjord close to Sture. Nothing much in the way of birds here - just a few White-tailed Eagle havørn knocking about.

View of the islands in the extreme north of Øygarden including Hernar and Nordøy

Later in the afternoon we sailed past most of the best bits - tantalisingly close to Hernar and Nordøy - picking up a couple of Øygarden year ticks on the way in the form of a Little Auk alkekonge on the sea and an adult Gannet havsule passing by.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oslo 11 January 2015 - Still not birding Øygarden

Depressingly quiet in Oslo so I added a new webpage - (Not) Birding Laos

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Oslo 08 January 2015 - Not Birding Øygarden

Calm and sunny.

Took a stroll around the Botanic Gardens and saw a new for the year for me - other birders and lots of them! However, it was all too "little old lady" for my tastes and I quickly gave up and went home.

However, the lack of proper birding means I have time for other things. One of the gaps in the birding coverage of Øygarden last autumn can at least in part be explained by a trip to Thailand which I have finally managed to publish - see (Not) Birding Thailand. Hope to have (Not) Birding Laos out before too long....

 Not birding Thailand

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Tjeldstø etc 07 January 2015 - Nice weather = plenty of birds

Stiff southerly breeze but more or less clear.

It always amazes me how much stuff turns up after a spell of bad weather....

A Common Scoter svartand came right past the house at first light - makes me think I should just have been staying at home recently. Incredible that this was the first for the year - normally one of the commoner seaduck in the area!

Whooper sangsvane family at Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø was full of stuff including a surprise Jay nøtteskrike. Good numbers of thrushes with AT LEAST 60 Fieldfare gråtrost - and easily twice that number - accompanied by Redwings rødvingetrost and Starlings stær. Mallard stokkand numbers on Husvatnet were up to 24 - no doubt scared there by the rather active White-tailed Eagles havørn. Four adult and one young Whooper Swan sangsvane were also on the lake,

Solber held little other than a White-tailed Eagle havørn that robbed a Great Black-bakced Gull svartbak of its prey.

Above and below - record shots of the Golden Eagle kongeørn at Rong - a lot more white in the wing than the bird at Nautnes some days ago

Decent views of a Golden Eagle kongeørn at Rong - necessitating a run back to the car to grab the camera - too little too late. This bird is almost definitely a different one to that seen at Nautnes several days ago. Also a roost of 22 Heron gråhegre here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Northern Øygarden 06 January 2015 - A couple of bonus birds

Strong southerly winds, rain and dull.

Not the best of weather to put it mildly. Started off at Hjelmo where a surprise species was an unseasonal Woodpigeon ringdue. A Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a White-tailed Eagle havørn were also present here.

Next stop was Hellesøy where I had a quick look at the sea - it was here the bird of the day turned up - a Merlin dvergfalk flew over heading north. First for the county this year.

After that things went somewhat downhill although I finally managed to see a decent flock of Long-tailed Duck havelle off Sæle and the first Chaffinch bokfink for Nautnes this year.

Later in the afternoon a more predictable new for the year was seen from the house - a Black Guillemot teist - amazingly this species has avoided detection not just in Øygarden but the whole county thus far this year!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Skogsøy+ 05 January 2015 - Regulars still playing hard to get

Not quite what was forecast - southerly winds, steady light rain and dull.

Skogsøy failed to produce the goods today (quite a rare event) with a single Curlew storspove as the best bird and a Common Gull fiskemåke the only new species for the year. Virtually nothing going on over the sea and only small numbers of Eider ærfugl, Shag toppskarv and Cormorant storskarv on the sea.

A drive-by at Herdlevær failed to turn up anything of interest - just a flock of 12 Greenfinch grønnfink.

At Tjeldstø there were the usual thrushes and a couple of Whoopers sangsvane.

Business as usual at Nautnes with White-tailed Eagle havørn, a small flock of Fieldfare gråtrost and most of the usual suspects in the garden.

Above and below: the first Eagle Owl hubro of the year

The day was saved by a sighting of an Eagle Owl hubro.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Herdlevær 04 January 2015

Light NW and for the most part sunny.

The first trip of the year to Herdlevær was reasonably productive in some ways but proved that some of the winter regulars are still proving hard to find.

A few Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke were the only new species for the year but other sightings included 8 Redwing rødvingetrost, a flock of 25 Fieldfare gråtrost, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a single Kittiwake krykkje.

The only Long-tailed Duck havelle seen today was a single on the sea at Tjeldstø

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Dåvøy and Tjeldstø 03 January 2015 - Filling in the gaps

Brisk north-westerly winds, occasional showers.

Above and below: Herring Gull with yellow legs (omissus)

Redwing rødvingetrost

Starling stær

Once again a very late start. Kicked off at Dåvøy with a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a female Velvet Scoter sjøorre new for the year. There were also four White-tailed Eagle havørn, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, Redwing rødvingetrost, Starling stær, 35 Heron gråhegre present here but the sea was again very quiet. The omissus-type Herring Gull gråmåke was among a small flock of gulls here.

At Tjeldstø another Snipe enkeltbekkasin and more thrushes including a dozen Redwing rødvingetrost.

At Skjold there were 20 Redwing rødvingetrost, a Song Thrush måltrost, 15 Fieldfare gråtrost and 10 Starling stær. A Sparrowhawk spurvehauk caught one of the Fieldfare here but for some reason let it go again.

Solberg was extremely quiet as it has been of late but an Oystercatcher tjeld saved the day here. Also at least three White-tailed Eagle havørn present here.

Bird of the day was the first January record of Dunnock jernspurv in Øygarden - seen as the light went at 15:35.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Øygarden 02 Janaury 2015 - New Year's Bird Race Day 3

Very strong westerly winds, occasional short but heavy showers.

The day started very nicely indeed with a new species for the house list in the form of a Golden Eagle kongeørn.

Unfortunately things went rapidly downhill from there. A walk at Hjelme Vest produced only a Kittiwake krykkje and a Willow tit granmeis of any interest. Heavy seas and strong winds meant that even if there was anything present it was impossible to see much....

A quick check at Tjeldstø was ruined by a thundery hail shower so little was seen there either.

Back at Nautnes again a Goldcrest fuglekonge was the only new for the year.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Øygarden 01 January 2015 - New Year's Bird Race day 2

South westerly winds and overcast but no rain until after dark.

Not a bad day at all considering the effort put in - a walk around Tjeldstø without going out into the reserve followed by a break then a short trip out to cover Solberg and a couple of other places.

At Tjeldstø the best bird was a rather unseasonal Song Thrush måltrost. Other stuff included good numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost, several Starling stær, the Greylag grågås flock and a Woodcock rugde. A couple of Willow Tit granmeis and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett were the first I've seen in Øygarden for a while.

The Nuthatch spettmeis at Nautnes remained - not always an easy species to nail in Øygarden.

At Solberg a Curlew storspove was the best observation, though three very vocal White-tailed Eagle havørn were an impressive sight.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Skogsøy+ 31 December 2014 - New Year's Bird Race Day 1 - for real this time

Fresh southerly winds, no rain.

It turned out that the dates for the New Year's bird race had changed since I last checked them so today was in fact the first day.

Once again something of a late start so only managed a trip to Skogsøy and a brief check at a few other localities.

At Skogsøy the best birds were a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of Woodcock rugde and a single Gannet havsule. Very little on or over the sea.

Breivik held a flock of thrushes and Starlings stær.

At Tjeldstø a stop at the shops produced the Greylag grågås flock that has been around for the last few days.

Bird of the day was an Eagle Owl hubro that gave cracking views at a regular roosting site.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Øygarden 30 December 2014 - New Year Bird Race Day 1

Very dull, low cloud and constant light rain.

Got off to a rather late start and checked a number of localities.

At Dåvøy the best bird was a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, small numbers of Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost in the fields.

Solberg was rather dismal with just a White-tailed Eagle havørn of any note. Poor visibility hampered things here - as everywhere else.

Next up was Tjeldstø which was MUCH better - here we managed to see a number of species which can be relatively difficult - a female Teal krikkand, a Woodcock rugde, three Snipe enkeltbekkasin, 20+ Starling stær and more thrushes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tjeldstø 29 December 2014 - The thaw continues

NW breeze, light showers.

Various errands produced a Peregrine vandrefalk over Blomvåg, a couple of Whoopers sangsvane and three White-tailed Eagle havørn together over Oen / Breivik.

Part of the Greylag grågås flock at Harkestad

Woodcock rugde in a patch of thawed ground

A short walk with the dog at Tjeldstø gave rare views of a Woodcock rugde on the ground, a couple of Redwing rødvingetrost and a Starling stær. A flock of 12 Greylags grågås divided their time between Tjeldstø and Harkestad during the course of the day - hopefully they may attract something more interesting in the days to come.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nautnes / Hjelme Vest 28 December 2014 - pre New Years bird race reccy

Calm, overcast and "mild" triggering something of a thaw.

At Nautnes the best birds were a couple of Oystercatcher tjeld on the rocks in front of the house. This can be a hard species to find here in the middle of winter - hope they are still arouind in a couple of day's time. A Nuthatch spettmeis, a Redwing rødvingetrost and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk also put in an appearance in the garden.

A stroll at Hjelme Vest showed the sea to be surprisingly quiet - perhaps stuff had been scared off by the Peregrine vandrefalk and three White-tailed Eagles havørn that were present. At least two sets of Woodcock rugde tracks seen in the woods here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Herdlevær 23 December - Christmas

Onshore winds with occasional showers.

With Christmas looming fast there was only time for a short stroll at Herdlevær - this produced a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a Gannet havsule, a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and not a lot else.

White-tailed Eagle havørn

Back home at Nautnes a White-tailed Eagle havørn came ridiculously close over the terrace - no way to get the whole bird in the frame.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hjelme Vest 22 December 2014 -The one that got away (again!)

Westerly winds, largely sunny but with some short and heavy showers.

A trip to the denstists and some last minute Christmas shopping put paid to most of the daylight. Managed a quick trip to Hjelme Vest where, whilst sheltering under some trees during a hail shower I got onto a pale wader heading inshore together with an auk. Pale and with a wingbar I got the impression that this was quite probably a Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe. Unfortunately it passed very quickly into the fjords.....

Other than that just a Great Northern Diver islom heading south and a couple of Gannets havsule offshore.

The usual White-tailed Eagles havørn from the house and right overhead at Hjelme Vest along with Sparrowhawk spurvehauk both from the house and at Hellesøy (had to go here in case the wader had landed....)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Northern Øygarden 03 December 2014 . Wasted Wigeon

SW winds, rather murky at first, clearing nicely later.

Kicked off at Hellesøy with very little indeed. A Curlew storspove, a Little Auk alkekonge, a Snipe enkeltbekkassin and a few White-tailed Eagle havørn were all of even minor interest here.

The unusual timing and location of this bird meant that it had to be looked at closely. Initial impression was cold coloured head/neck contrasting with the warmer underparts

Oddly this bird flew up and landed on the road

Patterned axilliaries meant that this was just a normal Wigeon - despite the relatively broad white wing band and "masked" look.

Next stop was Sæle where a Wigeon brunnakke was an unusual find at an unusual time of year and therefore warranted a bit of extra attention. Despite not being completely straightforward we ended up on this bird being a female Wigeon and nothing more exciting than that. A couple of Woodpigeon ringdue were the best of the rest here.

Pale-headed, long winged and "masked" this bird looks to be just a Herring Gull gråmåke. (Harkestad)

At Tjeldstø Whooper sangsvane numbers had risen to five birds including the first young bird of the autumn. Some 13 Mallards stokkand were again feeding around the swans - taking advantage of whatever it was the swans were disturbing with their feet.

Dåvøy and Sæle 02 December 2014 - Leaving it too late

Work and Christmas really putting a stop to getting out! Light rain at first, clearing up nicely later.

Views from my "office"

During the day occasional glimses out of the window at home gave nice views of an Otter and a lone Little Auk alkekonge fed in front of the house for a while.

omissus Herring Gull gråmåke

A lightening check at Dåvøy produced little other than what was probably the same omissus-type Herring Gull gråmåke. Clean white head, very yellow legs - definitely worth checking out. Other stuff here was limited to the usual winter fare - including a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a Black Guillemot teist, a flock of 20 Starling stær and a Fieldfare gråtrost.

Nice view, shame about the birds....

By the time I got to Sæle the sun was going down in the sea. Barely the usual here and the best sighting was a late Woodpigeon ringdue.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Tjeldstø 01 December - Autumn migration continues

Fresh southerly winds and chilly with it.

Mistle Thrush duetrost at Tjeldstø

Not out in any meaningful way today but a quick check at Tjeldstø produced a late Mistle Thrush duetrost - indicating that stuff is still on the move. Also of interest here was a late Wigeon brunnakke feeding with Whoopers sangsvane and Mallard stokkand.

At Solberg a first year Kittiwake krykkje was of minor interest.

Back home at Nautnes a Black-headed Gull hettemåke flew over and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk had a go at the birds at the feeder.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skogsøy 30 November 2014 - Short but sweet

Light SE winds and some very light rain.

Took a rather late and short walk out to Skogsøy. Things were generally quiet but a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn and best of all a flock of four Little Grebe dvergdykker - the biggest ever flock in Øygarden if memory serves me right.

Small numbers of Common Scoter svartand and Velvet Scoter sjøorre passed during the space of a couple of cups of coffee.

The flock of nine Pinkfeet kortnebbgås were still at Breivik.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hjelme Vest 28 November 2014

Calm and more or less sunny.

A quick check of the sea showed it to be relatively quiet but a couple of feeding Great Northern Diver islom, a Turnstone steinvender, a Curlew storspove ,s small numbers of Purple sandpipers fjæreplytt and most of the usual wintering birds were seen.

Female Blackcap munk in the garden

Back home at Nautnes a female Blackcap munk spent most of the day in the garden.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Øygarden 27 November 2014 - Good Sibe Chiff-chaffs at last

Calm and sunny.

Spent a few hours out and about at a few localities in the fantastic weather.

Started a Solberg where the calm conditions made it possible to say that there was virtually nothing on the sea. However, a late Oystercatcher tjeld, several Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a Goshawk hønsehauk meant it was far from a waste of time.

Mega-cropped record shot of the Golden Eagle kongeørn at Alvheim

Next stop was Alvheim where the sea held even less stuff than at Solberg, An adult Golden Eagle kongeørn and a flock of four Yellowhammer gulspurv flying over meant that this was a most successful stop.

This bird kept rolling its eyes back in its head to keep an eye on me....

Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett at Sæle

Just about a record shot of one of the Siberian Chiff-chaffs - rather buffy. The call was the real clincher though.

A short walk at Sæle proved really productive given the time of year. Two very vocal Siberian Chiff-chaffs (tristis) gransanger were the best of the bunch. Also seen here were a couple of Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett, a male Blackcap munk and a late Dunnock jernspurv.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tjeldstø 26 November 2014 - Parrots

Light SE, sunny then clouding over in the afternoon

A walk around the reserve produced relatively little but a flock of 19 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb turned up and another flock of around 30 Crossbills may also have been this species. As usual I didn't find it very straightforward - they seemed big-headed and bull necked and the beaks were huge (not that necessarily means anything much). Beak size and shape varied quite a bit within the flock - some of which were within the range of some of the Common Crossbills grankorsnebb that regularly turn up here.

The curvature on the upper mandible on this bird seems to start straight away

Above and below - same bird

For a Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb the bill on this one is positively dainty

A Goshawk hønsehauk flew over and two White-tailed Eagles havørn seemed to be displaying.