Monday, February 23, 2015

Øygarden 23 February 2015 - More new in

Southerly winds, largely sunny after 10:00.

Two male Tufted Duck toppand

A errand to the southern end of Øygarden resulted in two male Tufted Duck toppand on Nordlavatnet - this locality is probably the best place to catch up with this species during the winter months in Øygarden.

Also stopped at Blomvatnet where a Moorehen sivhøne was seen yesterday but there was no sign of it.

Elswhere a lone Greylag grågås at Blomvåg and a pair beside Husvatnet, Tjeldstø were obviously new arrivals.

At another locality a number of White-tailed Eagle havørn pellets showed them to be eating large gulls - several pellets were found which all largely consisted of gull feathers. Perhaps they are collected gulls caught in netting around one of the local fish farms?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Skogsøy 22 February 2015 - First Puffin of the year

Bright and sunny with light onshore winds.

The local Ravens ravn are getting territorial

Spent an hour seawatching with the highlight being the first Puffin lunde of the year heading north. A single Little Auk alkekonge flew south and a few more unidentified auks passed in the distance. Migration was limited to several flocks of southbound Shags toppskarv. At least 20 Gannet havsule fed offshore.

Best bird was at least one, probably two Little Grebes dvergdykker on the lagoons to the south.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ono 21 February 2015 - Another new in + Northern Lights

Southerly with wintery showers, but largely bright and more or less sunny.

The Northern Lights put on quite a show again last night - I'm going to have to get a landscape lens as well as make some changes to my technique...

Started off the day quite nicely with a Great Northern Diver islom flying past the house whilst making breakfast. Species #35 from the garden so far this year....

Today's walk was a Ono where the highlights were two Meadow Pipits heipiplerke - probably overwintering birds rather than migrants although it is far from each winter I see them here. A decent roost of 30+ Herons gråhegre and at least four White-tailed Eagles havørn also here.

Nine Lapwing vipe at Tjeldstø may have been the same flock seen a couple of days back.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Herdlevær 20 February 2015 - Patch ticks

Largely reasonable weather but strong southerlies and heavy showers at times.

No new Øygarden species for the year today but plenty of "patch ticks" here and there along with some decent sightings.

Above: perfect spot for a lunch break if it hadn't been for the rain.

A couple of the Whoopers sangsvane present at Herdlevær today

Above: Further signs of spring - crocuses are now in flower and the snowdrops have been out for about a month now.

Managed a couple of hours at Herdlevær where the weather dealt me a bad card just at what I had hoped would be the most interesting bit. However, a female Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a few Whooper Swans sangsvane, an Oystercatcher tjeld which behaved as if it was new in and an increase in the numbers of Starling stær were of interest. A Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt fed well "inland" - in habitat more suited to plovers - it takes a lot to rock these hardy waders

A flock of Lapwing vipe and more Starling stær were seen near the parking area for Skogsøy.

Back home at Nautnes I had four new for the year's house list  all during enforced breaks during some software updates - it helps to look out of the window or take a coffee outside once in a while. Highlight of the day was a Merlin dvergfalk that had a go at some Greenfinch grønnfink in the garden. Other patch (read "house") year ticks included as couple of migrating Oystercatcher tjeld and a few Gannet havsule.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tjeldstø 19 February 2015 - It's spring!

Southerly winds, overcast and mild.

The first Lapwings vipe of the year

Not out in any meaningful way at all but a trip to the shops produced a few bits and bobs including one of the first official signs of sping - a flock of 10 Lapwing vipe.

There were other indications of spring movement with small flocks of Starling stær at Tjeldstø, Harkestad and Nautnes. At the latter location an Oystercatcher tjeld may also have been a new arrival - the timing is spot on for the first migrants but it could conceivably have been an overwintering bird.

Another sign of spring was that the crocuses in my garden have started to flower.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Øygarden 04 February 2015 - Freezing conditions = Water Rail

Very calm and sunny.

The cold weather continues with temperatures dropping below freezing at night. Although it was wonderful to be out and about in the fantastic weather there was nothing out of the ordinary at Herdlevær today - just the usual selection of duck on the sea and a single Black Guillemot teist.

Bird of the day was a roadside Water Rail vannrikse at Alvheim during an evening trip to the shops. The bird was very vocal which made it easy to locate.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Hjelme Vest 02 February 2015 - Finally something on the sea!

Calm and sunny!

There was much more on the sea today than on my previous visit with the highlight being a Red-throated Diver smålom, there was also a Great Northern Diver islom, several Black Guillemot teist and approximately 80 Long-tailed Duck havelle. Small numbers of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt but no other waders present today.

In the woods a Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett, a few Crested Tit toppmeis and a difficult crossbill which I put down as a large-billed Common Crossbill grankorsnebb.

A drive-by at Dåvøy 42 Heron gråhegre at the regular roost.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Ono, Rong 01 February 2015 - Snow Bunting and Northern Lights

Clear and sunny with a northerly breeze

Ono was generally fairly quiet with just the small numbers of the usual species of duck and a few White-tailed Eagles havørn. However, a nice male Snow Bunting snøspurv was a nice surprise and gave cracking views.

Above and below - male Snow Bunting snøspurv

I'd left my proper camera in the car (!) and only had my latest "point and pray" to hand - the results were surprisingly good....

Northern Lights nordlyset as seen from my living room last night

Last night the same camera was used to take a few pictures from my terrace at Nautnes - with the slowest possible shutter speed I could manage (8"). I've yet to find out about all the functions - better luck next time perhaps?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Skogsøy 31 January 2015 - "Migration"

Calm, more or less sunny with light easterly winds.

Things looked good before I even left the house with a flock of eight Waxwing sidesvans and a large flock of Fieldfare gråtrost heading south.

A Skogsøy well over 300 more Fieldfare gråstrost moved south - probably a response to the cooler weather. A Peregrine vandrefalk, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and singles of Gannet havsule and Kittiwake krykkje were among the other birds seen here.

A drive-by at Herdlevær produced more Fieldfare gråtrost and nine Starling stær

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.