Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gressholmen 18 October 2017 - An unfair comparison?

Today's trip went to Gressholmen, Oslo.


A couple of views from Aker Brygge before the boat left....

Arriving at Gressholmen

This is one of my favourite places to go birding in the capital. I think of it as the nearest I can get to Hernar whilst I'm in the big city. There are many similarities - the boat trip takes the same amount of time, leaves the quayside within 5 minutes of the Hellesøy - Hernar boat, Gressholmen is of a similar size to Hernar and also has a number of other islands nearby. Habitat wise they have some similar areas but Gressholm has a nice muddy lagoon and rather more woodland. If  Gressholm could have been moved to the west coast it would be a truly mind blowing locality....

I spent almost 2.5 hours there this morning and notched up 34 species (37 all in including stuff seen on the way there and back). Best birds were a Snow Bunting snøspurv and a couple of Hawfinch kjernebiter. The last visit to Hernar produced in excess of 50 which included many of the same species.

A Goshawk hønsehauk on Hovedøya was a bonus bird and there were several auks on the fjord - with a scope they would have been straightforward enough but had to go down as Guillebills alke/lomvi today. Two species that these islands have in common on my latest visits is a movement of Blue Tits blåmeis and Mealy Redpolls gråsisik.

Gressholm has been watched with a varying degree of intensity since at least the early 80s and has a quite impressive species tally of 192, with 88 so far this year before I put in today's results. Hernar has only 179 thus far but got off to a late start having only been regularly watched since 2008 and has 96 species thus far this year.

However, although Gressholm has many good species in a local context (or that would be considered very good on Hernar) it has little in the way of rarities.

Hopefully this link will work and shows the difference between these two islands.


Nautnes 16 October 2017 - Garden birds

Calmer than of late and sunny. But no time to bird.

A couple of the 30 or so Brambling bjørkefink currently in the garden. Filmed with a point and pray during a coffee break on the terrace.


A Willow Tit granmeis in the garden joined the usual stuff i.e. Brambling bjørkefink, Greenfinch grønnfink etc etc the only birds of note were a couple of Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb at Alvheim.

However, other people were out and about reporting among other things the Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke, Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger and Red-backed Shrike tornskate

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Herdlevær 15 October 2017 - Almost not twitching

Strong southerly winds, rain at first going over to occasional showers. Very dull.


Red-backed Shrike tornskate

Willow Tit granmeis at Tjeldstø - a small influx is going on at the moment. Not normally an easy species to see in Øygarden

I had planned on going somewhere other than Herdlevær but by the time it was time to go I had a text message about a Red backed Shrike tornskate that I felt should not be ignored given the time of year.

So I headed out with Mum to try and find the thing. This was easier said than done but eventually I found it and put to rest any fears/hopes that it might have been something more interesting. Far from the best photos I have taken of this species this year but a good bird locally. Other birders who didn't connect as quickly hung around a bit longer and found a Black Redstart svartrødstjert at the same place.

A number of birders made the trip out to see the Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke and some of them were successful.

Still at least 30 Brambling bjørkefink in the garden.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Skogsøy 14 October 2017 - Seaduck moving

Very strong SW wind but clear and sunny.

Six Common Scoter svartand and a Long-tailed Duck havelle

Seven Long-tailed Duck havelle and three Common Scoter svartand


Too windy to seawatch really but I gave it an hour. Well over 70 Gannet havsule heading south along with several small flocks of Long-tailed Ducks havelle and Common Scoter svartand. Several each of Guillemot lomvi and Razorbill alke and more unidentified auks that were one or both of these species. Small numbers of Kittiwake krykkje and several Red-throated Diver smålom also passed.

A couple of flocks of tits both Blue Tits blåmeis and Great Tits kjøttmeis were blown in off the sea - obviously not able to make any progress against the gales.

A small flock of Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb also put in an appearance.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hernar 12 October 2017 - More woodland stuff on the move

Mostly light westerly winds, but briefly rather strong. Largely dry but some showers.

Five keen birders trawled the island for migrants on the almost routine autumn Thursday visit. There were loads of birds about and plenty of activity - over 1000 birds of well over 50 species were noted. Nothing very rare in a conventional context but some decent Hernar sightings.

A probable Richards's pipit tartarpiplerke would have been the best bird if confirmed. THe best of the conventional migrants were a Wryneck vendehals and a Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger that eventually gave good views to most of us.

15 Blue tit blåmeis feeding in the scrub


Goldcrest fuglekonge



Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis


The main activity came in the form of a big movement of Blue Tits blåmeis with at least 700 heading west - probably a conservative estimate of the total passing. Smaller numbers of Great Tit kjøttmeis and Coal Tit svartmeis also moved through. At least one flock of Long-tailed Tit stjertmeis spent some time on the island too. In a Hernar context a couple of migrating Jays nøtteskrike may have been the best sighting of the day - seemingly a new species for the island.

A couple of WaterRail vannriskse, two Reed Bunting sivspurv, several Goldfinch stillits, around 60 Twite bergirisk, a Ring Ousel ringtrost, a Dunlin myrsnipe, a few Blackcap munk, at least one Chiff-chaff gransanger, over 100 Common Redpoll gråsisik and plenty of Brambling bjørkefink were also present.

Other sightings of interest included the first Long-tailed Ducks havelle of the autumn and a Peregrine vandrefalk that snatched a passing Snipe enkeltbekkasin out of the air with apparent ease.


Above two pictures from yesterday


The Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke gained more cred today....

The Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke put in an appearance at Harkestad later in the day.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Nautnes 09 October 2017 - More woodland migrants

Light southerly winds and sunny.

Didn't really do much today but the terrace was quite productive in the morning with best bird a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett in the garden.

Lots of Crossbill - largely Common grankorsnebb, loads of Brambling bjørkefink and a variety of other finches also flying over. A party of six Goldfinch stillits also dropped into the garden for a short while.

Sørgardsvatnet 08 October 2017 - Vis mig

Calm and sunny.

I spent a couple of hours watching the ringing at Sørgardsvatnet. LOTS of birds on the move with at least 4000 Fieldfare gråtrost flying over - all heading north as did hundreds of Redwing rødvingetrost and a few hundred Brambling bjørkedfink.

Best bird in an Øygarden context were a couple of Willow Tit granmeis - the first of the year for me out here.
A Jay nøtteskrike, a few Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb, some flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb. Lots of Redpoll (both Lesser and Common), a Chiff-chaff gransanger, two Goldfinch stillits and a couple of Water Rail vannrikse were among the other sightings here.

A Woodcock rugde flew over my house in the morning - first of the autumn for me.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Øygarden 07 October 2017 - Shoveler

Much less wind than the last few days, warm and sunny for most of the day.

Kicked off the day with an exciting phylloscopus heard repeatedly from the terrace during my morning coffee. I dashed out to try and locate it but to no avail. Sounded like proregulus.....

Herdlevær was much quieter than expected given the cracking weather - I had expected some visible migration given that conditions had improved considerably. Barely the usual suspects but a cracking couple of hours to be out and about.

Female Shoveler skjeand

Whinchat buskskvett


Husvatnet was rather better with a nice Whinchat buskskvett giving me the run around for a while before it finally posed nicely. The female Shoveler skjeand was still present too.

A walk at Sæle in the afternoon was again very pleasant without anything very special - a flock of five very vocal White-tailed Eagles havørn, a Nuthatch spettmeis and a couple of Blackcaps munk eating snowberries were the best of the sightings.




Friday, October 06, 2017

Skogsøy 06 October 2017 - Gannets uncropped.

Another day of strong winds and showers. Today the wind was in the north and I thought Skogsøy might be worth a shot.

Something not quite right with this view....

...much more like it,






The odd one out - heading south (and not adult)


Some of the Great Northern Divers islom seen today


Once again the mainstay of the passage were Gannets havsule with the vast majority heading north at close range. Bird of the day was an adult Glaucous Gull polarmåke heading south. Virtually the only other species on the move (and able to cope with the winds) was Great Northern Diver islom with eight heading north. Most, if not all, of these were adults; another one headed south but this was a second year bird. Although eight Great Northerns is a decent enough count it is by no means a record for Skogsøy.

Other stuff included Peregrine vandrefalk, White-tailed Eage havørn and several distant auks. The only auk identified was a single Guillemot lomvi.

A trip to the shop gave me the opportunity to catch up with the Shoveler skjeand that has been seen on Blomvatnet the past few days.



Starlings stær feasting on slugs

Another interesting sight near the shops was a flock of Starlings stær making short work of slugs - showing their worth as pest eradicators. They frantically wiped the slugs on the road in an effort to get rid of the slime but still ended up with a rather rabid look - appearing to almost foam at the mouth as they scoffed the slugs down. I wish they'd come to my garden and do the same.....

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Hernar 05 October 2017 - Making the most of the weather :)

Not exactly textbook rarity conditions with strong westerly winds and although it was dry more than it wasn't there was a succession of showers, some of them very heavy. But I'm home and not working and there was no way I was giving up on a chance to be out and about....

Lesser Whitethroat møller


Yellow-browed Warblers gulbrynsanger

All in all a typical early October day with at least two Yellow-browed Warblers gulbrynsanger, a male Common Redstart rødstjert, Lapland Bunting lappspurv, a Lesser Whitethroat møller and Water Rail vannriske as the best birds.

Also Blackcap munk, Chiff-chaff gransanger, over 50 Twite bergirisk, Brambling bjørkefink and most of the usual.

After Hernar I checked Tjeldstø for the gull but found only a female Shoveler skjeand of note.

Back home at Nautnes I got in on the current Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb influx with four birds seen from my terrace.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

September 2017 - Offshore Sicily

Even less time on deck than usual but not altogether bird-free. Yellow-legged Gulls common.....





More detials on this page.


Skogsøy 04 October 2017 - AT LAST! First day home and a new county tick....

With the strong onshore winds I had to start the day at Skogsøy.






This was predictably an almost waste of time. Good numbers of Gannet havsule, a couple of adult Great Northern Divers islom, Black guillemot teist, Peregrine vandrefalk and White-tailed Eagle havørn aside the trip did not produce the species I was after.

Slightly darker on the back than the Herring Gulls gråmåke present and with no head streaking.
Also rather heavy chested look

Initially confusing I had to count and recount the primaries in these head on flight shots to make sure the pattern was right.




I checked a few localities on the way home and spent a lot of time on a gull that I initially assumed would turn out to be yet another omissus. However, it really stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the other Herring Gulls gråmåke and can really only be a real Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke. I checked artobs and found out I wasn't the first to find this thing....

I will therefore dredge up something from a couple of years ago....



On the passerine side of things plenty of Brambling bjørkefink, small numbers of Twite bergirisk and lots of Blackcap munk. A couple of House Martin taksvale with Swallows låvesvale at Harkestad were a rather late find for this species.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tjeldstø and Solberg 12 September - Green Sand & Lap Bunting

Calm, warm and sunny.

Family commitments meant that I was tied up for much of the day but I spent a couple of hours out and about in the afternoon.

First up was Tjeldstø where the highlight was a Green Sandpiper skogsnipe that flew up WITHOUT CALLING - unusual for this species. A variety of the usual waders also put in an appearance along with a Greenshank gluttsnipe. Other birds of note here were a couple of Red-throated Diver smålom that flew over the reserve calling and a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk.


Lapland Longspur lappspurv - always hidden when on the deck. Here the bird was moving into position for an unobstructed shot when a passing car scared it off.

The best I managed today, an almost clear view.

Even out in the open it managed to put something in the way - in this case trees - something there are not a lot of at Solberg.

Solberg was the next stop where a Lapland Bunting / Longspur lappspurv was the best bird. Unlike most records of this species this was not a flyover bird but was feeding in a relatively small area. It proved almost impossible to photograph though as it was always hidden behind something, scared up by a passing car etc. For other pictures of this species in Øygarden (and elsewhere) check out this page.

There were quite a lot of passerines about at Solberg - among them a decent flock of Starling stær and the four commoner thrush species, a couple of Wheatear steinskvett and a Great spotted woodpecker flaggspett.



Back in August I predicted a Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett invasion this autumn and it looks like this may be starting as I have seen this species at various places where it does not normally occur the last few days - including one in my garden earlier in the day.