Saturday, April 25, 2015

Herdlevær 24 April 2015 - Skogsøy f***-up!

Light winds, light cloud cover.

Obviously misjudged the day completely. It did not look like a typical good day for Skogsøy - but it was a BIG mistake to not do Skogsøy today.

As I often try to do whenever I can't make it to Skogsøy I did a "sample" seawatch from Herdlevær after completing various domestic chores.

Between 1300 and 1400 I had a massive 314 Red-throated Diver smålom! This means that had the day been spent at Skogsøy a new county record would probably have been set! I had more in an hour today that in five hours a few days ago. However, the highlight was the first two White-billed Diver gulnebblom of the year.

Common Scoter svartand passage picked up a bit but there was little else to report. At this time of year the early hours tend to produce the action and variety and as the morning wears on it goes over to divers, divers, divers.

Gullfjell 23 April 2015 - Out of Øygarden

I don't often post on anything outside Øygarden but today errands took me into town and I took the opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds in Gullfjell - partly as recon for some upcoming guiding tours and partly because it has been far too long since I was there. It was a fantastic morning out - but lots of snow at low altitude.

Ptarmigan fjellrype

The large amount of snow still on the lower slopes may be the explanation for seeing Ptarmigan fjellrype so low down. It is not often in my hundreds of walks here that I have seen this species below Redningshytten.



The newly heightened dam

It was a relief to see that work on raising the dam is complete - looks like they have done a good job there.

Dipper fossekall

Goosander laksand

White Wagtail linerle

I picked up all the expected species including Ptarmigan fjellrype, lekking Black Grouse orrfugl, Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk and Ring Ousel ringtrost. Dipper fossekall were very obvious and many of the migrants had returned.

Best birds in a Gullfjell context were a Goodander laksand on Osavatnet and a Teal krikkand on Kurlatjern.

Tjeldstø 21 April 2015 - Slav grebe and best yet of hybrid gull

Largely sunny.

Hybrid Glaucous gull polarmåke

Really struggling to get out and about. However, a partial change of winter tyres at Tjeldstø gave me the best photo opportunities thus far with the long-staying hybrid Glaucous Gull polarmåke. Flyover Twite bergirisk also meant that changing the tyres on the car was not too bad....

The quickest of walks into the reserve produced a summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe horndykker on the sea - always a nice find.

Singing Chiff-chaff gransanger, a flock of five Swallow låvesvale and some Wheatears steinskvett were all signs of spring. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Skogsøy 19 April 2015 - More seawatching

Very light northerly winds at first, dropping off to nothing. Warm and sunny.

Another decent seawatch! Sat for just over five hours - and had company from 0700 until 0900 when yesterday's Crane's trane were refound at Tjeldstø, It would take more than that to get me to leave a good days migration so I sat it out.

 Oystercatcher tjeld numbers are dropping now

Part of a Red-throated Diver smålom flock

Some of the almost 1400 Common Gulls fiskemåke that headed north today

Migrating Shelduck gravand

Good numbers and a decent variety of stuff, nothing terribly special but a great morning all the same - almost 2000 birds on the move today!:

Red-throated Diver smålom: 249N
Gannet havsule: 5N, 1S
Cormorant storskarv: 125N, 5S
Shag toppskarv; 21N, 41S
Heron gråhegre: 1N
Shelduck gravand: 4N
Common Scoter svartand: 30N still alarmingly low numbers
Goldeneye kvinand: 3N, 1S
Merganser siland: 10N
Oystercatcher tjeld: 63N
Ringed Plover sandlo: 2N
Curlew storspove: 2N
Black-headed Gull hettemåke: 5N
Common Gull fiskemåke: 1375N
Razorbill alke: 4N

A couple of Rooks kornkråke flew over the "car park" on the way home.

Flocks of White-tailed Eagle havørn everywhere today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Herdlevær 18 April 2015 - A good diver day

Strong northerly wind and sunny.

A very late and lazy check at Herdlevær gave more than 35 Red-throated Diver smålom in less than an hour. More passing Nautnes in the evening - looks like it was a good day for diver migration.

The first Willow Warbler løvsanger of the spring sang whilst feeding - bang on time for the first of the year.

In the afternoon I heard about Cranes trane on the move and may well have seen one of the three reported flying over Tjeldstø. However, it was a view from behind of a bird losing height over the reserve and I cannot be 100% sure. Win some  lose some its all the same to me as Lenny from Motorhead would say....

Friday, April 17, 2015

Skogsøy 17 April 2015 - Diver migration picking up

Freash northerly wind again - but sitting sheltered from the wind in glorious sunshine it didn't feel cold

The first serious seawatch of the spring. Sat for getting on for five hours from 06:45 - and judging by the way the Common Gull fiskemåke passage I got there too late. I had more in the first 15 minutes than in the next hour - typical for this species.

Cormorant storskarv passage is reaching its peak

Above two: Common Gulls fiskemåke
Massively cropped record shot of three Shelduck gravand

Highlight was the first Black-throated Diver storlom of the year. A flock of Shelduck gravand were the first I've had in Øygarden this although they have been reported from both Skogsøy and Herdlevær earlier.

The only rarity was a Carrion Crow svartkråke seen flying out to sea.

Although still relatively early in the season there was a bit more variety today.

Some of the numbers:

Red-throated Diver smålom: 53N
Black-throated Diver storlom: 1N
Cormorant storskarv: 107N, 4S
Shag toppskarv: 6N, 77S
Shelduck gravand: 3N
Tufted Duck toppand: 2N first migrating birds of the year
Common Scoter svartand: 3N (normally into three figures at this time of year!)
Goldeneye kvinand: 8N
Merganser siland: 8N
Oystercatcher tjeld: 15N
Curlew storspove: 3N
Common Gull fiskemåke: 402N
Kittiwake krykkje: 1N
Guillemot lomvi: 1N
Razorbill alke: 1N
Puffin lomvi: 4N

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hernar 16 April 2015 - Macho posturing

Fresh northerly breeze and relatively overcast

Not the best of conditions to go looking for migrant passerines - but it really was a lovely day out of the wind whenever the sun got out.

Black Grouse orrfugl displaying from a rooftop - together with a Hooded Crow kråke

....and on a telegraph wire

We picked up at least two, quite possibly three, male Black Grouse orrfugl - they were displaying on anything and everything from rooftops to telegraph poles and wires. Hopefully there is a female about somewhere so that all the macho posturing can pay off.....there was some possible evidence with some feathers found that may have been lost by a female whilst enjoying the attentions of one of the boys we saw today.

Migrants were fairly thin on the ground but a small flock of Twite bergirisk, some Linnet tornirisk, a few Wheatear steinskvett, a couple of Chiff-chaffs gransanger, a male Merlin dvergfalk and several each of Redwing rødvingetrost and Goldcrest fuglekonge meant that all was not lost.

Other stuff included at least six White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Black Guillemot teist and a flock of nine Red-throated Diver smålom heading north.

Pipefish havnål

Also of interest was a Pipefish havnål which was still alive. This virtually inedible fish must have been dropped by a gull flying over. It has been quite a while since the last massive influx died off - might this be the sign of a new surge in numbers? For more details about these strange fish see this link.

Øygarden 14 April 2015 - Quiet

Onshore winds and sunny with occasional short showers.

Did Hjelme Vest after the morning school run. Nothing of note here although a small flock of Long-tailed Duck havelle were the first I've seen since I returned home.

Things went more or less downhill from there but more migrants have obviously arrived with Song Thrush måltrost and White Wagtails linerle more numerous and Wheatear steinskvett also seen at new localities.

A couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk headed over the house in the late afternoon.

Male Teal krikkand at Tjeldstø

Better luck tomorrow - anyone with a basic knowledge of Øygarden knows where I will be on a spring Thursday morning...,.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Herdlevær and Tjeldstø 14 April 2015 - Merlins / Getting everything wrong

Started with southerly winds and rain but the sun got out later.

Merlin dvergfalk at Tjeldstø

A couple of hours out and about today proved relatively productive. Normally Merlins dvergfalk are not everyday fare in Øygarden but today I had one at Breivik, another at Tjeldstø and yet another at back home at Nautnes. The one at Tjeldstø I originally mistook for a Kestrel - thankfully I photographed this one - albeit at long range.

Male Goshawk hønsehauk at Tjeldstø

Another (probable) mistake was what I thought to be a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk - having seen one fly over and stoop on some passerines only 10 minutes earlier. I took a few photographs of what I thought was the same bird - but looking at the shape of the wing and general proportions I think this must actually be a male Goshawk hønsehauk.

These images of a female White Wagtail linerle are not cropped!

Yet another mistake was what I assumed to be a female Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Sture but was in fact a White Wagtail linerle. The seemingly dark and blotchy upperparts had me fooled but the rump was not black so this will have to go down as gave superb photo opportunities which I also managed to mess up - overexposing such that the white on the face loses all definition. Partly incompetence and partly because the camera was set to overexpose in flight on raptors from below.

Male White Wagtail linerle at Herdlevær - this was involved in a dispute with a male Pied Wagtail svartyggerle which was nothing like as obliging....

Herdlevær produced a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a couple of Jackdaw kaie, a male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle, a few White wags linerle and not a lot else.

Two more male Pied wags svartryggerle at Breivik where I also heard Dunnock jernspurv singing for the first time this year.

An all dark corvid at Skogsøy got away due to traffic.

Hopefully I'll get things right tomorrow.....

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tjeldstø 13 April 2015 - First Swallow

Sunny but a brisk northerly kept things feeling chilly in exposed areas.

Swallow låvesvale

Most of today's birding was at Tjeldstø which proved quite productive. Best bird was my first Swallow låvesvale of the year. A flock of four Linnet tornirisk were also new for the year but have been seen in Øygarden for the last few days.

The Pinkfoot kortnebbgås remained in the area and a second year Whooper sangsvane on Rotevatnet was relatively late - quite possibly this is the same bird that has spent much of the winter here.

A quick look at Solberg produced little but confirmed at least that I wasn't missing out on much in the way of movement over the sea.

Other birds picked up today included an Eagle Owl hubro and a Woodcock rugde.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Herdlevær 12 April 2015 - Loads more migrants

South westerly winds and sunny

A walk at Herdlevær produced plenty of new migrants including the first Wheatear steinskvett of the year and a Chiff-chaff gransanger (the first arrived yesterday). A flock of around 25 Golden Plover heilo were also present here. A few alba wagtails linerle were heard calling but I didn't really see them well enough.

Carrion Crow svartkråke

Rook kornkråke

The area around the car park at Skogsøy produced a Carrion Crow svartkråke ,a male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle and four Jackdaw kaie on the way to Herdlevær and a Rook kornkråke on the way home again. The Carrion Crow has been around for some time but the Rook looked like it may have been a different bird than the one I saw there last time.

One of two Redshank rødstilk present at Tjeldstø

Elsewhere in Øygarden an early Swallow låvesvale was seen and a couple of Hawfinch kjernebiter were at a bird feeder at Skjold.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nautnes 11 April 2015 - Brambling

Good conditions early on but getting wetter and windier later on.

By the time all my driving and household errands were done the rain had set in. Best birds today were a pair of Brambling bjørkefink in the garden along with the usual selection of birds at the feeder.

Other stuff included a White/Pied Wagtail linerle and the first Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke I've seen from the house this year.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tjeldstø 10 April 2015 - Almost back in business

Southerly and overcast most of the day.

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås

Above and below: Yellowhammer gulspurv

Suffering from a suspected concussion I took things very easy indeed with the shortest of walks at Tjeldstø. This paid off quite nicely with the first Pinkfoot kortnebbgås for the year in Øygarden. A couple of Yellowhammer gulspurv, a scarce migrant in Øygarden, proved quite photogenic along with Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke and my first White Wagtail linerle of the year.

Hybrid Glaoucous x Herring Gull

Also present was the apparently long-staying hybrid Glaucous x Herring gull - giving me the best photo opportunities I have had with this bird.

Lots of stuff now back with Curlews storspove displaying at Tjeldstø and Nautnes, Meadow Pipits heipiplerke now widespread and most of the usual suspects.

The first lambs are out and about at Tjeldstø

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Herdlevær 24 March 2015 - Another good day in Øygarden

Calm and sunny - fantastic weather!

I started off with Herdlevær where just about the first thing I saw was the long-staying Slav Grebe horndykker. After that things went downhill although there was plenty to see generally including a Jackdaw kaie and a couple of interesting raptors which eluded identification - I'd fallen into the camera ready rather than 'scope ready trap despite having had the camera in my rucksack and my scope ready for most of the walk. Doh!

A Mistle Thrush duetrost at Skogsøy was another welcome bird - it seems like a good year for them in Hordaland and I have missed all the previous birds this year in Øygarden.

Rook kornkråke at Breivik

A Rook kornkråke at Breivik was probably the same bird that has been knocking about for the last week or so.

A drive-by at Tjeldstø gave further distant views of the hybrid gull which is undoubtedly Glaucous polarmåke from one parent. Also at this locality Lapwings vipe were being territorial, there were a couple of Skylark sanglerke present, the lone 2cy Whooper sangsvane remains but it seems the adults have left and a pair of Teal krikkand were still on Husvatnet.

Nautnes, however, was not to be outdone - just about the first bird of the day was a Jay nøtteskrike flying over but this sighting - not at all common in spring was eclipsed by a Marsh Tit løvmeis that turned up in the garden in the late afternoon.

Loads of White-tailed Eagle havørn today including this adult at Tjeldstø

Typically for the time of year and weather conditions it was a real "White-tailed Eagle day" - they were all over the place and at one point I had six in view simultaneously from my terrace.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nautnes 23 March 2015 - More incidental birds

Southerly winds and overcast in the morning. Glorious later. Not that it made much of a difference today as I was working in town all day today....

Before I left  the house for work I had two new for the year in Øygarden - a Goshawk hønsehauk flew over and there were some Siskin grønnsisik in the garden. The former was also new for the house list.

I passed Tjeldstø on the way to work and caught up with what I up to now thought was an odd-looking and rather small Glaucous Gull polarmåke but opinion seems to be coming round to a hybrid of some sort. I have to agree as it doesn't quite fit either of the two usual white wingers. More on this later if I ever get a minute.

On my way home I drove past Tjeldstø again and saw a flock of four Teal krikkand -.another new for Øygarden this year.

By the time I'd got home and had dinner it was all but dark - ideal conditions for seeing the first roding Woodcock rugde. Nice.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tjeldstø 22 March 2015 - Eh?

Strong southerly winds and rain all day.

In this posture the head looks more rounded....

A more typical view of this bird - showing a shallow sloping forehead, a beady eye and a bill length that looks good in relation to the primary projection. 

Didn't really get out today but managed to see the Glaucous Gull polarmåke at Tjeldstø again. This bird is something of a head scratcher and took some time to identify. At times it has the beady eye and shallow forehead of Glaucous and at other times looks rather more round-headed. The bill pattern looks off for Glaucous as it seems to lack the sharp contrast between the dark front third of the bill against the rest. Also the inner part of the bill is not the normal "bubble-gum" pink that is the norm for this species. The bill is, however, quite long. The bird also appears a little on the small side, being about the same size as a Herring Gull gråmåke - so perhaps a smaller female. I don't normally have much of a problem separating these two species but today I did. I am fairly sure that this is the same bird that I head yesterday and that was first reported on 19th March.

A drive-by at Skogsøy produced a couple of Jackdaw kaie as the best birds.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Skogsøy 21 March 2015 - Migration warming up nicely!

Light NE winds and sunny.

It just had to be a good day today - with rain yesterday stopping things there should have been a surge of stuff today - and there was - with almost 1300 birds passing in a little over three hours.

The mainstay was predictably Oystercatcher tjeld but also Common Gulls fiskemåke are starting to move. Highlight was a near adult Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke, Other birds of note were the first migrating Red-throated Diver smålom, Curlew storspove and Black-headed Gull hettemåke of the year. Auks put on the best show of the year thus far - still pathetic when compared to previous years.

It is a well-known fact that Cormorants storskarv "stall" or "tower" - but I don't remember seeing Shags toppskarv doing this before - here a mixed bunch "stalling".

Curlew storspove overhead

Greylags grågås

Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke - it looked better in the scope - honest!

One of the many Oystercatcher tjeld flocks today

Rook kornkråke

One of several White-tailed Eagles havørn of various ages seen at Skogsøy today. This bird appears to be in its fourth calender year.

Some numbers:
Red-throated Diver smålom N 2
Gannet havsule N 12
Cormorant storskarv N 64
Shag toppskarv N 41, S 109
Greylag grågås N 41
Oystercatcher tjeld N 608
Curlew storspove N 3 (and another couple seemingly getting territorial)
Black-headed Gull hettemåke N 2
Common Gull fiskemåke N 275
Guillemot lomvi N 1 - very sadly this was the first of the year actually identified
Razorbill alke N 8
Little Auk alkekonge N 8
Puffin lunde N 2

The only passerines of note were two Snow Bunting snøspurv heading north and a Rook kornkråke by the "car park".

Second year Glaucous Gull polarmåke at Tjeldstø

I had to fill petrol and stop by the shops at Tjeldstø - this produced a Glaucous Gull polarmåke - perhaps the same bird reported a few days ago?

Back home a Golden Eagle kongeørn from the terrace was the best of the bunch.