Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tjeldstø / Solberg 18 January 2017

Mild and calm with light rain. All the snow and most of the ice now gone.

All I managed to day was a quick walk around Tjeldstø and an even quicker visit to Solberg.

Nothing out of the ordinary at Tjeldstø - eight adult Whoopers sangsvane and three young, a few flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and a flock of eight Chaffinch bokfink were the best of the sightings - nothing to get excited about,

Solberg was better with a Great Northern Diver islom flying in and landing as I ate my sandwiches. Also a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre (beginning to wonder if it is the same "gang of three" I've been seeing at various locations since December....), a single Long-tailed Duck havelle and a lone Common Scoter svartand.

Other sightings today included a few White-tailed Eagle havørn, a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin and Otters.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tjeldstø/Nautnes 17 January - Best bird from the house again

Fresh southerly with light rain most of the day.

Work prevented any proper trip today but a short walk at Tjeldstø produced a Woodcock rugde, a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin and the first Starlings stær I'v seen this year.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Sture

A drive-by past Sture on the way home produced a roadside Snipe enkeltbekkasin - probably one of the birds seen there yesterday.

Little Auk alkekonge from the terrace, light was going so very ISO values used

An Otter swam past whilst I waited for the auk to surface

Back home I knuckled down to work but during a telephone call stood up and looked out of the window and saw something swimming on the sea. It dived before I could reach bins or camera, as luck would have it my camera was closest. Whilst I was waiting for it to resurface an Otter turned up. Back on the surface I could confirm it was a Little Auk alkekonge -.and managed to take a couple of pictures before it dived. Amazingly this is only third Little Auk alkekonge reported in the county thus far this year - they really are thin on the ground this winter!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Øygarden 16 January 2017 - A new for the house list and lots of Snipe

Cold with SE winds. Snow on the ground and pretty much frozen over.

Today's walk with the dog was at Herdlevær - which was pretty quiet with not much of interest. A Black Guillemot teist and a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke might have raised some eyebrows elsewhere in Norway but that was about as good as it got here. Lots of Woodcock rugde and Snipe enkeltbekkasin tracks but no birds. Of almost no interest at all a couple of House Sparrow gråspurv were an addition to my Øygarden 2017 species list.

Two Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Breivik (same as video below)

Snipe #1 at Sture

Snipe #2 at Sture

Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin feeding at Breivik

Note that all the Snipe pictures and video were taken without leaving my car. Not disturbing the birds is very important - especially under these conditions.

The drive home was a lot better with two Snipe enkeltbekkasin feeding at Breivik and two more at Sture where a couple of Goldfinch stillits flew over and a Nuthatch spettmeis visited a bird feeder (a real contender for the bird of the day as this is not the commonest of species in Øygarden). A Sparrowhawk spurvehauk at Sture was another local first of the year.

Late afternoon Slav grebe horndykker - picture taken from the terrace - species #128 from the house

Back home a break from the computer produced a new species for the house list (#128 and no sign of slowing down!) in the form of a nice Slavonian Grebe horndykker on the sea off the terrace. Undoubtedly the bird of the day!

Today may have been the first day this year in Øygarden where I did not see White-tailed Eagle havørn.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hjelme Vest 15 January 2017 - WInter wonderland

First snow of the year in Øygarden (the rest of Norway will be laughing at us), A few cm of snow fell yesterday afternoon and through the night, We awoke to calm and sunny conditions,

Given the sea state and the fact that I left the dog's lead in a hard to find place at Hjelme Vest this was the only choice for today's brief outing, Work has meant that too much the weekend has been spent in front of the computer...

Birding Hjelme Vest

View to the south

....and some of the islands

Even the dog was seawatching today!

Woodcock rugde tracks in the snow

It was quite a successful trip with the highlight being a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker. Enough of the usual suspects showed to make it worthwhile with (predictably) Woodcock rugde featuring prominently with one bird seen and tracks of at least two others observed in the snow, At least five Black Guillemot teist were on the sea - another new for the county this year (the outer coast is being pretty much ignored so far - understandable give the number of Hawk Owls haukugle and other goodies inland). A Great Northern Diver islom, 25 Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and around 40 Long-tailed Duck havelle were among the other birds noted.

Last (and least) I saw my first Crested Tit toppmeis of the year. Only one White-tailed Eagle havørn here today.

My "good Dad reward" in the evening was Eagle Owl hubro - driving children around can be a good thing!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Øygarden 14 January 2017 - More new birds (and otters!)

Northerly winds with snow showers today. The sun did come out briefly a few times though.

Birds of the day were two Snow Bunting snøspurv that flew over the house whilst I was trying to decide where to take the dog out.

Slavonian Grebe horndykker - the original image

Obscenely cropped version of above - it really is a Slav Grebe!

We went to Dåvøy where I added Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and Slavonian (should be calling it Horned really) Grebe horndykker to the Øygarden year list. The Heron gråhegre roost here was an amazing 50 birds today! Otherwise fairly quiet on the sea.

A couple of Otters put in an appearance and I shot some video with my "point and pray". Turned out OK.

Otter feeding on the shore in the snow

Some shots taken with my grown-up camera:

and a random one from the superzoom:

Finally a rare shot of me in the field. And proof that the sun was out!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Skogsøy 13 January 2017 - Only a little bit unlucky for a Friday 13th

Calm and sunny as I set off but degenerating into a strong northerly gale with showers.

I wasted spent time on work for the first few hours of the day. This meant I was both late and pressed for time by the time I got out. Conditions during the morning were wonderful, although I did have to scrape a thin layer of ice off the car windows and everyone else seemed to be driving very slowly indeed for some reason.....

It was always going to be Skogsøy today - first trip of the year and I really needed the walk if nothing else. A lot of the usual suspects failed to put in an appearance (the unlucky side of the day) but it was not a total loss.

One of several northbound Gannets havsule seen today. I don't normally bother taking such long range shots of this species but since this was only the second time this year (or week really) I snapped a few record shots.

Massively cropped record of the first Kittiwake krykkje of the year

There was a light movement of Gannets havsule and the first Kittiwakes krykkje of the year for Hordaland (not just Øygarden) put in an appearance during the 40 minutes I spent seawatching. The only other stuff on the move were Herring Gulls gråmåke and Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak. Oh, and a lone diver, probably Great Northern, heading south.

Small numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle and just one White-tailed Eagle havørn also put in an appearance.

Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt

Highlight was an unusual sighting of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt - they are quite a common bird out here during the winter but this one was feeding in freshwater pools on top of the cliff where we seawatch from rather than down on the shore close to the sea where they normally hang out. Given the state of the surf I can't say I blame the poor thing but I think if I was a Purple Sand I would have moved to the east side of Øygarden out of the worst of the weather.....

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tjeldstø 12 January 2017 - Bad weather = Good birds

Strong Westerly gale with heavy hail showers.

Adult Glaucous Gull polarmåke, Tjeldstø

Not the most pleasant of weather but yesterday's optimism/prediction came true with a nice adult Glaucous Gull polarmåke as the best sighting at Tjeldstø. There are surely more white-winged gulls about....

Whitefronts tundragås, the two birds on the left are young.

The Whitefronts tundragåss (albifrons) were about again and feeding in the fields at Harkestad and the Scaup bergand remained on Husvatnet where there were also six adult and three young Whoopers sangsvane.

One of the two Greylags grågås at Breivik - they haven't managed to pull in anything more interesting yet

Probably the same Whooper sangsvane family that has been in northern Øygarden all winter

....and all the Whoopers sangsvane present at Tjeldstø today

Didn't have time to do much else,,,,,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hjelme Vest 11 January 2017 - More of the usual

Relatively calm but with rain in the morning. Very strong NW wind by the time I got out.

Conditions were rather difficult for Hjelme Vest by the time I got out - it was almost hopeless to pick up stuff on the sea. Correspondingly little was seen - just a few of the usual winter selection out here - including the first Great Northern Diver islom and Gannet havsule of the year. However, one promising aspect of this trip was that there seemed to be quite a number of large gulls out to sea and on/over the more distant islands. Hopefully they'll hang around long enough to be inspected at closer range.

Other stuff seen today included a female Scaup bergand together with a Tufted Duck toppand at Blomvatnet.

A Common Seal steinkobbe turned up in front of the house today - no doubt trying to escape the worst of the weather. A couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn flew overhead - not sure how they thought they might rob the seal of it's prey.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Øygarden 10 January 2017 - Back in business

Happy New Year!

Southerly winds, almost no rain and the sun even came out a few times.

After a relatively slow start to the birding year in eastern Norway I spent a couple of hours out and about on the home turf, had a number of good sightings and plenty of new species for the year. I didn't cover anywhere in any detail but visited quite a few places to get an idea about what is about.

The terrace provided the first birds of the year with a flock of three White-tailed Eagle havørn and a Peregrine vandrefalk - a decent way to start the day off with a mug of coffee in my hand.

albifrons Whitefronts tundragås on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø

A trip to the shop to stock up on essentials was a nice move for starters - a flock of 13 albifrons Whitefronts tundragås rested on the lake there. A rarer sighting was a Scaup bergand at the same place - not very often this species in seen in Øygarden in January,

Common Scoter svartand at Herdlevær

Velvet Scoter sjøorre with some kind of crab

After that it was the very much the usual winter suspects - a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a couple of Curlew storspove (also from the terrace), White-tailed Eagles havørn everywhere, a Redwing rødvingetrost at Hatten, a couple of Greylag grågås at Breivk and small flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb at various places (again, also from the terrace).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tjeldstsø 21 December 2016 - Much better than expected

The weather forecast predicted a storm but I got lucky with the timing of today's trip out - the wind dropped and the sun came out for the duration of my walk with the dog. I took things easy and just did a short walk through the reserve.

First year male Scaup bergand

Two of the Whoopers sangsvane present on Rotevatnet

Obligatory White-tailed Eagle havørn shot before it got too close to fit in the frame

Highlight was a first year male Scaup bergand. Singles of Redwing rødvingetrost and Fieldfare gråtrost were present and I saw the first flock of Chaffinches bokfink I've seen for a while. Other stuff included 11 adult Whoopers sangsvane, a few White-tailed Eagle havørn and the usual Crested Tits toppmeis.

Three more White-tailed Eagle havørn patrolled in front of the house at Nautnes.

Øygarden 12.12 - 20.12 - Hanging in there

Short hours of daylight, several days at the office and Christmas getting in the way of any meaningful birding.

Tufted Duck toppand pair at Blomvatnet, 20.12

Velvet Scoter sjøorre at Heggøy, 20.12

However, some species still hanging in there for an attempt at overwintering. These included a Woodpigeon ringdue and a Woodcock rugde at Nautnes, at least one flock of Greylags grågås seen at various locations, a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Herdlevær, singles of Redwing rødvingetrost, Curlew storspove etc.

Other than this fairly quiet with only small numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle, up to three White-tailed Eagles havørn at various sites, Whoopers sangsvane, Velvet Scoters sjøorre and a flock of 42 Herons gråhegre at the Dåvøy roost.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Herdlevær 11 December 2016 - These are better days

A fantastic day weatherwise - no wind at all, mostly sunny and mild.

Little Grebe
Massively cropped record shot of the Little Grebe dvergdykker

Not too bad for birds either - highlight was my first local Little Grebe dvergdykker for the year. A Slavonian Grebe horndykker also put in an appearance.

Raven ravn

White-tailed Eagle
Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn overhead

Small numbers of the usual suspects also showed including a couple of adult White-tailed Eagle havørn, two Velvet Scoter sjøorre, several Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a few Starling stær.

Common Crossbill

Common Crossbill

Common Crossbill

Common Crossbill
Random Common Crossbill grankorsnebb shots from the car park

A flock of Common Crossbills grankorsnebb with larger than normal bills foraged in trees beside the car park. Nice.

Earlier in the day a very vocal Water Rail vannrikse made itself very noticeable from my garden at Nautnes.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hjelme Vest 10 December 2016 - Where have all the birds gone?

Calm. mild and almost sunny.

It was relatively late before we got out for a walk. The sea was very quiet with just a few each of Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Duck havelle. Best bird was a Curlew storspove feeding on one of the islands.

This reduction in the number of birds, especially seaduck, reinforces the impression I have had in the few days since my return.

White-tailed Eagle

Only one White-tailed Eagle havørn put in an appearance.

Still flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb pretty much everywhere.