Monday, December 03, 2018

Øygarden 01-02 December 2018 - Typical early December birding

I covered some of the usual localities to see what was going on. It was all very typical early December with Fieldfares gråtrost (flocks of up to 50) and small numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost still around.

Common Scoter svartand


Wader wise it was almost situation normal with a few Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a couple of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt at Herdlevær and Curlew storspove from the house as I changed to winter tyres. A small wader at Herdlevær on 02 December was a lot more interesting - looking rather common sandpiper like but I didn't get good enough views to clinch any kind of ID. Whatever it was it would have been a good record given the time of year.

First year Great Northern Diver islom

A Great Northern Diver islom on the sea at Herdlevær showed well (at least in the scope) on both days.

Taiga Bean Goose sædgås

Highlight was a Bean Goose sædgås at Breivik on 01 December. Probably a "taiga" (fabalis) given the length of the beak and the general size of the bird

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Øygarden 28-29 October 2018 - Bits and bobs

Not much time spent in the field but a stroll at Sæle on 28 October produced a Treecreeper trekryper along with the more usual Blackcaps munk. There were lots (ie 100's) of Common Redpoll gråsisik heading north everywhere I went with flocks seen over my house at Nautnes, at Sæle, at the shops at Tjeldstø etc.

Male Blackcap munk at Sæle

Fieldfare gråtrost

A Tree Sparrow pilfink turned up in my garden and a Long-tailed Duck havelle put in a freshwater appearance on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø.

On 29 October I spent even less time out but the first Whoopers sangsvane of the autumn turned up on Husvatnet where the Long-tailed Duck havelle remained.

Herdlevær 27 October 2018 - Migraton

A late and lazy stroll at Herdlevær showed that things were on the move with Long-tailed Ducks havelle, Common Scoter svartand, Velvet Scoter sjøorre, Red-throated Diver smålom, a couple of Great Northern Divers islom and some auks passing.

Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Ducks havelle heading south


Razorbills alke heading north

A Peregrine vandrefalk joined the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn there.

A small flock of Goldfinch stillits showed up at Breivik on the way there and whilst taking a few shots of these a flock of 15 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb dropped in.


Goldfinches stillits at Breivik

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hjelme 26 October 2018 - Little Egret before breakfast

On Thursday afternoon I was at the office in Bergen when I received a telephone call from birders from Bergen who had driven out again to try and relocate the Little Egret silkehegre.  They had found it close to where it was initially sighted near the old church at Hjelme. Very frustrating but I felt I took it very well and kept working and planned to try for it first thing Friday....

Heavily cropped version of one of the first pictures I took of the Little Egret silkehegre





The next morning I was up bright and early and clinched the egret before the sun came up. One of the local Grey Herons gråhegre clearly didn't appreciate the competition and hassled the egret until it flew off. I soon re-found it actively feeding on the plentiful small fish and prawns in the area.

However, even this was short lived as it flew off and I did not manage to relocate it again. This pattern continued over the next day or two with some birders making repeated trips out to try and connect with the bird - some without success.



Some very approachable Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt.

Some Purple Sands fjæreplytt, a few Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb and a Treecreeper trekryper were among the other birds seen.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Øygarden 23-24 October 2018 - Little Egret - a new species for Øygarden!

Tuesday 23 October saw me spending 10 minutes at Hellesøy and another 10 minutes at Tjeldstø. The strong NW winds brought some seabirds down the fjord and Kittiwakes krykkje were seen on the inside at both Hellesøy and Tjeldstø.

Several White-tailed Eagles havørn were seen with at least four at Hellesøy and more elsewhere - including from the house as usual.

On 24 October the winds eased and I hoped for a movement of seabirds at Skogsøy. There was not a lot passing with 10 Kittiwakes krykkje and a couple of large flocks of auks (15 and 25+) heading south. A couple of probable Puffins lunde also passed. Other than that just a lone Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a Long-tailed Duck havelle of any interest.

The bird on the right looks like a normal Common Crossbill grankornebb whist the left hand bird has a much heavier bill

This one would go down as a heavy-billed Common Crossbill grankorsnebb in my book


A flock of Crossbills on the way home made for some head scratching. A couple of them were clearly Common Crossbill grankorsnebb but most looked to be Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb with massive square bills. A Sparrowhawk spurvehauk spooked them before I could get more photos.


Øygarden's first Little Egret Silkehegre. Photo: R. Hatten

On my way home I received a message about an unknown bird, possibly a Little Egret silkehegre. I checked my mail and indeed it was. I spent some time looking but saw nothing other than a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett. Needless to say the twitchers from town quickly moved in but they too failed to relocate the bird on 24 October.




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Herdlevær 22 October - The weather is here

Strong westerly gale and rather dull.

Migrating Common Gull fiskemåke



One of my favourite birds - Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt.

A quick trip to Herdlevær again with not much to see in the gale force winds which made standing up, never mind birding, something of a challenge. Highlight was a confiding Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt. Five Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke fed in the same area.

Over the sea there were just some Gannets havsule and a few Common Gull fiskemåke on the move.

Other than that the usual suspects including migrating thrushes, several Snipe enkeltbekkasin, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Herdlevær 20 October 2018 - Breakfast trip

Pleasant conditions with a light northerly wind.

Adult Great Northern Diver islom

Sparrowhawk spurvehauk

First there were two White-tailed Eagle havørn

Then there were three (fourth bird here is a photo bombing Raven ravn)

Then there were four.

Many of the birds present yesterday had obviously moved on but I picked up a couple of Goldfinch stillits and a Grey Wagtail vinterle during my usual round. A flock of 12 Crossbill korsnebb flew over but I didn't manage to identify them specifically.

A 10 minute seawatch whilst I had a sandwich and a coffee produced a Great Northern Diver islom heading south but little else. Also four White-tailed Eagles havørn present.

Then it was time to rush back home to continue cutting up and splitting the sitka spruce I have felled. Correspondingly little seen although a flock of five White-tailed Eagles havørn performed in front of the house.

A Little Bunting dvergspurv was found at Herdlevær and the long staying Rose-coloured Starling rosenstær was seen at Sæle.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Herdlevær 19 October 2018 - Jack Snipe

A quick visit just before the light went showed there were plenty of birds on the move. At least 400 Fieldfare gråtrost were feeding in the fields along with plenty of the other usual thrushes.

Common Scoter svartand

As usual I stopped for a coffee and had a 10 minute seawatch, Common Scoters svartand, a couple of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a late Oystercatcher tjeld put in an appearance.

The walk back to the car produced several Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and one Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin - the first of the autumn for me, although people who get to go birding had them at least a couple of weeks back.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hernar 18 October 2018 - Better late than never

Hardly the best conditions for migrants with a strong westerly wind blowing. However, a trip to Hernar was on the cards as I have yet to make it out there this autumn so there really was no choice.

Female Blackcap munk



Chiff-chaff gransanger

Tree Sparrow pilfink - one of the new species for the year on Hernar today

One of only a few Twite bergirisk left on the island

Wren gjerdesmett

There were plenty of birds about without anything very special. In a Hernar context a couple of Tree Sparrow pilfink may have been the best birds and were the first to be recorded there this year. A fly over Great Northern Diver islom, several each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk, a couple of Water Rail vannrikse and a few Twite bergirisk took the tally to around 40 species on the island today.

Good numbers of the usual four species of thrush, a few Brambling bjørkefink, plenty of both Robin rødstrupe and Wren gjerdesmett along with an obvious movement of tits - a flock of around 60 Blue tits blåmeis dropped in briefly and there were also both Great Tit kjøttmeis and Coal tit svartmeis on the island - in other words these birds were migrants.

House Sparrows gråspurv feeding on the harbour wall at Hellesøy

One of several White-tailed Eagles havørn seen today

Heading back from the boat to my car a White-tailed Eagle havørn gave good flight views, also had four more earlier in the day.

Skogsøy 17 October 2018 - BT Diver

Strong southerly winds but no rain.

Although the winds were strong it was nothing like as bad as my previous trip to Skogsøy and there were some birds passing. Highlight was a nice Black-throated Diver storlom - amazingly my first in Øygarden this year - just shows how little I have been out. Nine Long-tailed Duck havelle were the first of the autumn.



Gannets havsule came by at close range

A couple of Long-tailed Duck havelle



Red-throated Divers smålom

Other sightings included over 90 Gannets havsule, 24 Common Scoter svartand heading south, a lone Great Northern Diver islom heading north, several Red-throated Diver smålom, a flock of three Dunlin myrsnipe, small numbers of Guillemot lomvi and Razorbill alke, several Kittiwake krykkje and a Goldeneye kvinand.



Elsewhere plenty of birds about with 100's of thrushes in the fields. A flock of six Golden Plover heilo flew over at Breivik.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Øygarden 14 October 2018 - A day out at last!

Pretty much a full day in the field today. It would have been hard to pick a worse day for it with a southerly gale and rain for most of the day.

Despite the conditions it was magic to be out and about without having to watch the clock for once.

Dunlin myrsnipe struggling against gale force winds

First year Kittiwake krykkje.
Seems like I'm not the only one to be restricted to this species.....there are obviously some "Sabine's shadows" along the Norwegian coast


Willow Tit granmeis at Skogsøy, a relatively scarce bird in Øygarden

With the forecast telling me the winds would drop during the morning and there would be little or no rain I opted for Skogsøy. The forecast was wrong on both counts. The wind did not drop and after half an hour of seawatching the rain set in. Given the strength of the wind (I was nearly blown over a few times!) it is amazing that anything passed at all. A couple of first year Kittiwakes krykkje, a few Common Scoter svartand, a Razorbill alke and two Dunlin myrsnipe heading south were pretty much all I had to show for my efforts. A Red-throated Diver smålom fished very close in and a couple of Gannet havsule headed north. A Willow Tit granmeis was the only out of the ordinary passerine.


Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at Herdlevær
This species is all over the place at the moment - not just in its usual shoreline habitat

Song Thrush måltrost at Herdlevær
Plenty of this species on the move at the moment too

A drive-by at Herdlevær proved that things were on the move with flocks of the usual thrushes, Meadow Pipits heipiplerke, Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke, Bramblings bjørkefink and the usual.

Next up was Breivik where there were a few hundred thrushes, more Brambling bjørkefink, 40 Common Gulls fiskemåke feeding in the fields, a few Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a White-tailed Eagle havørn.

The best bird at Harkestad was a Goldfinch stillits, other stuff included yet more Brambling bjørkefink, 130 Redwing rødvingetrost, several Song Thrush måltrost, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke etc

Tjeldstø produced more of the same but with a Hawfinch kjernebiter as the highlight, a White-tailed Eagle havørn, seven Teal krikkand and seven Tufted Duck toppand were among the other sightings.

I then tried for the Rose-coloured Starling rosenstær at Sæle but just as I got onto the Starling stær flock a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk buzzed them and they, along with a 100 or so Redwing rødvingetrost fled south. A Grey Wagtail vintererle provided superb views but was impossible to photograph as it kept being scared up by an endless stream of cars and people so I just gave up. Otherwise just a couple each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk during what was a very brief check.