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.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Herdlevær 11 September 2017 - Crawling with waders

Fresh easterly breeze, overcast at first, sunny later.

I spent a couple of hours out at Herdlevær and went to my usual spot to eat my breakfast.


A small selection of the Dunlin myrsnipe that passed

Peregrine vandrefalk struggling to bring an Oystercatcher tjeld to shore (it succeeded)

One of several Sanderling sandløper that flew past whilst I ate breakfast


Plenty of waders passing today too, some at close range. Small numbers also feeding in the area. Highlights were a Little Stint dvergsnipe, a couple of Grey Plover tundralo and a Peregrine vandrefalk which snatched an Oystercatcher tjeld out of a passing flock well out to sea.


More Common Gulls fiskemåke and Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke also passing today along with Red-throated Divers smålom and a variety of other species including four Common Tern makrellterne.




Portraits of Dunlin myrsnipe - well worth lying in a rock pool for.


Having finished my sandwiches I couldn't resist crawling through some rock pools to take a few pictures of some Dunlin myrsnipe on the shore.




A couple of videos of feeding Ruff brushane

Ruff brushane eating a worm

One of this year's White Wagtails linerle - one of many feeding among the Ruff

A flock of 68 Ruff brushane fed near Tjeldstø and gave great views from the car as they fed on worms as fast as they could.

A Yellow Wagtail gulerle feeding on the shore during my morning coffee was species 129 from the house and a couple of Arctic Tern rødnebbterne put in an appearance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Skogsøy 10 September 2017 - Wader migration

Light SE changing to fresher southerly winds for the last hour. Overcast much of the time, but some sun and a couple of showers.

This picture was taken a bit too late to catch the mega double rainbow that lit up the Gannets that were pouring past at the time.

A few hours seawatching from dawn paid dividends today, largely in the form of waders. Good numbers of Ruff brushane were noted along with most of the usual autumn waders. Many flocks were too far out to identify with confidence. Wader highlights were at least two Little Stint dvergsnipe and three Grey Plover tundralo.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese ringgås

Gannet havsule - many gave great photo opportunities but there was too much else going on to take photos....

Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke were obviously on the move today

Migrating Oystercatcher tjeld

Ruff brushane (upper left), Dunlin myrsnipe (lower left) and Little Stint dvergsnipe (right)

Mixed flocks like this were common today.
Here 40 Ruff brushane, a Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove, three Ringed Plover sandlo, a Knot polarsnipe, five Dunlin mysnipe and 10 Oystercatcher tjeld


Other notable observations included a couple of light bellied (hrota) Brent Geese ringgås, a Great Skua storjo and good numbers of Wigeon brunnakke. Unusually most of the latter were males.

Four Arctic Tern rødnebbterne were relatively late and there was a noticable movement of Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke.

Peregrine vandrefalk, Black Guillemot teist, Sanderling sandløper feeding on the rocks and Red-throated Divers smålom were among the other species seen.

Red throated Diver smålom S 19
Northern Gannet havsule    N 121
Northern Gannet havsule    S 32
Great Cormorant storskarv S 78
Eurasian Shag toppskarv    N 1
Eurasian Shag toppskarv    S 1
Brent Goose ringgås           S 2
Wigeon brunnakke              S 62
Eider ærfugl                        S 4
Common Scoter svartand   S 2
Oystercatcher tjeld             S 14
Ringed Plover  sandlo        S  10
Golden Plover heilo           S  80
Grey Plover tundralo         S 3
Red Knot  polarsnipe         S 1
Sanderling sandløper         S 1
Dunlin myrsnipe                S 70
Little Stint dvergsnipe       S 2
Bar tailed Godwit lappspove S 11
Eurasian Curlew storspove S 1
Redshank rødstilk               S 2
Ruff  brushane                    S 111
Wader 105
Great Skua storjo                S 1
Common Gull fiskemåke   S 21
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke  S 13
Arctic Tern rødnebbterne   S 4
Black Guillemot teist         N 1
Black Guillemot teist         S 1

A drive-by past Breivik later in the day produced a massive flock of Ruff brushane (85) with a Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove.

Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove


Some of the many Ruff brushane at Breivik

Friday, September 08, 2017

Herdla and Tjeldstø 08 September 2017 - A great Hobby

Light easterly winds, cloudy at first, sunny for a few hours then cloudy again.

Today I was guiding again and kicked the day off at Herdla (not Øygarden but only a short distance away as the crow flies). Here there was something of a wader bonanza with highlights being a Curlew Sandpiper tundrasnipe, a couple of Little Stint dvergsnipe, a Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove, at least 120 Ruff brushane and several Knot polarsnipe among the 13 wader species noted.

Raptors were also well represented with Peregrine vandrefalk, Merlin dvergfalk, a couple of Kestrel tårnfalk and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk seen.

There were 100's of dabbling duck of the usual three speces but nothing special among these.

The best of the passerines were a small flock of Goldfinch stillits and a Yellow Wagtail gulerle.

The new hide at Herdla

The newly constructed hide proved very productive. I have often criticised the birdwatching hides in Hordaland for bad design, poor placement or both - but this one is magic - in the right place and with a good practical design too. Well done!

From here we predictably moved on to Øygarden. The action was not as thick and fast as at Herdla but Kestrels tårnfalk were seen at a couple of places, White-tailed Eagle havø!rn put in an appearance as did many of the usual suspects including Twite bergirisk, Brambling bjørkefink and more.




Hobby lerkefalk at Tjeldstø


The undoubted highlight of the day was a Hobby lerkefalk which hunted dragonflies for a short time, perched in a tree for 10 minutes and then disappeared to the north. This sighting adds more credibility to the bird I saw from my terrace a few days ago but we will probably never know. The Hobby is only the 8th record for the county and the third for Øygarden. There is now something of a peak in the occurrence between 07-12 September 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hernar 07 September 2017 - Bird of the day: House Sparrow

Light SE winds and sunny.

I spent the morning combing Hernar for migrants together with four of the keenest birders from Bergen. A decent enough species list was amassed without anything mega turning up.

Record shot of the Bar-tailed Godwits lappspove

A very confiding Ruff brushane

Yellow Wagtail gulerle


Ruff brushane

In a Hernar context the bird of the day was a House Sparrow gråspurv - it is not often this species makes the sea crossing to the island.

Of more conventional interest were Yellow Wagtail gulerle, Pied Flycatcher svarthvit fluesnapper, Garden Warbler hagesanger, a flock of six Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove, Great Northern Diver islom, a Whinchat buskskvett, around 60 Twite bergirisk and most of the usual suspects.

I had a few more Yellow Wagtail gulerle and an unidentified harrier as best sightings during the briefest of visits to Tjeldstø and another Whinchat buskskvett turned up very close to my house at Nautnes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Øygarden 05 September 2017 - Its raining Snipe

Finally some rain and southerly windsNot that I'd want that every day :)

Herdlevær was one of the obvious choices and was the first place visited today. Small numbers of Sanderling sandløper, Dunlin myrsnipe and Ringed Plover sandlo and others were present on the shore along with a single Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt.

When Dunlin myrsnipe don't have mud or sand to probe in they still use the length of their bills.....

Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt with Sanderling sandløper - although neither species is rare in Øygarden it is not often I photograph them together.


A total of around 20 Snipe enkeltbekkasin flew over here as did a flock of Ruff brushane.

Passerine wise it was much the same as usual with good numbers of Meadow Pipit heipiplerke and White Wagtail linerle feeding in the area.

Not much in the way of wildfowl with just a flock of six Wigeon brunnakke of any interest.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Tjeldstø

After this Snipe enkeltbekkasin were seen everywhere with approximately 30 flying over during a brief visit to Tjeldstø. Many more were seen feeding in the fields and elsewhere.

Flocks of Meadow Pipit heipiplerke, White Wagtail linerle, Starling stær and Fieldfare gråtrost were everywhere today along with smaller numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost etc.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Herdlevær 03 September 2017 - Should have been at Skogsøy....

Calm and sunny.

Today was never going to be a day for grounded migrants - the weather was just too nice. There was obviously a fair bit on the move but mostly at long range for Herdlevær (which is the same thing as good views at Skogsøy). Should have got up earlier and made more of an effort....

Waders were again the main thing migrating with the first thing I saw being a flock of around 200 Oysteratcher tjeld. Many other wader flocks passed but the vast majority were too far off to identify. Ringed Plover sandlo, Dunline myrsnipe and Golden Plover heilo were typically the most numerous species.



Male Common Scoter svartand

Cormorant storskarv

Shoveler skjeand (centre bird) with four Mallard stokkand

There were also some duck passing with a Shoveler skjeand together with four Mallard stokkand being the best sighting and just about close enough for a record shot. Meadow Pipits heipiplerke and Swallows låvesvale, Greylags grågås, Cormorant storskarv and others were also on the move today.

Passerine wise the best birds today were a couple of Yellow Wagtails gulerle - incredibly the first of the year in Øygarden.

Non-bird sightings of note included a school of Tuna makrellstorje beating up on some Mackerel and a couple of Porpoise nise.

Some of the Ruff brushane present at Tjeldstø today

At Tjeldstø Brambling bjørkefink were heard heading over as well as my first local Tree Pipit trepiplerke of the year. Several Ruff brushane together with a few Golden Plover heilo rested out in the reserve here.

Back home random sightings from the terrace included a Kestrel tårnfalk, at least three different White-tailed Eagles havørn, a continued passage of Swallows låvesvale and Common Gulls fiskemåke and potentially the bird of the day in the form of a Hobby lerkefalk. Had it not been for the rarity status here I would have claimed it - a falcon of the right shape, size and colour hunting Swallows couldn't really have been anything else.....

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Spanish ringed Shag in Øygarden - a first for Norway - or not

Update 31.08.2017:
Following what I believed to be the first record of a Spanish ringed Shag in Norway further information has come to light. It seems that a scheme not registered on the European Colour-ringed Birding site has been started in Rogaland using the same colours and codes as the Spanish scheme. So it is more likely that the bird mentioned below was part of the Norwegian project. To me this is a ridiculous situation as it is within the realms of possibility that birds from UK can be seen in both Norway and Spain such that there is a definite chance of overlapping ranges between these colour ringing projects. Why has the Norwegian project not been registered?  How is it possible for field observers who will probably not be able to read the metal ring to differentiate between these two schemes?

Original post:
Here is an update that I just HAD to post despite not knowing all the details yet. This is what makes birding so great - finding out about stuff like this.

The colour-ringed Shag toppskarv photographed on Saturday WAS ringed in SPAIN!!!

To quote the mail I received:

....We ringed it on 2012 at Lekeitio (Basque Country, northern Spain)......

On Saturday I had already checked a couple of ringing Atlases (both the Norwegian ringmerkingsatlas and the UK's Atlas of Bird Migration - the latter being my favourite book by the way). The Norwegian book did not mention any recoveries from Spain whereas some birds ringed in the UK have turned up there.

To make sure I have visited one of the best websites ever in the world of birding  and done some double checking.

First all the foreign ringed birds recovered in Norway (none from Spain):



and then all the Norwegian ringed birds recovered abroad:


In other words no birds from Norway have been recovered in Spain and no birds from Spain have been recovered in Norway before.

Amazing for a bird that is not considered to move very far!!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bleikenøvlingen etc 26 August 2017 - Messing around in boats

A couple of hours spent checking out the islands to the north and west of Øygarden - Bleikenøvlingen, Høgaskjeret, Høgenøvlingen etc in the evening was quite productive.

There was the usual selection of autumn waders of at least nine species including Knot polarsnipe, Sanderling sandløper, Dunline myrsnipe, Turnstones steinvender and the first Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt of the autumn.

One of two first year Black Guillemots teist seen. Presumably local breeders.
Almost impossible to photograph as they bobbed up and down behind the waves whilst we did the same



Resting migrant Common Gulls fiskemåke

Highly camouflaged Dunlin myrsnipe paid us no attention as they fed....

A curious Grey Seal havert...

Almost dream shot of Knot polarsnipe with breaking wave


Knot polarsnipe. Mostly first year birds seen today but some adults present too.


Ringed Plover sandlo

Colour ringed Shag toppskarv, Green ring with white lettering on right leg, normal metal ring on left leg
Could it be possible that this bird comes from a Spanish colour ringing scheme?!
 Cormorant storskarv in centre and another Shag on the right.


Shelduck gravand

Turnstone steinvender with Dunlin myrsnipe (and a Ringed Plover sandlo in the background)


Turnstones steinvender

One of the many Shags toppskarv seen was colour ringed - it was possible to read off the ring from photographs. Amazingly the only colour ringing project I have been able to find that fits the ring colour and coding is from Spain. I have not been able to find any details about Norwegian Shags having been found in Spain before but birds from the UK have so anything is possible. Watch this space.....

The only other birds of note were two young Shelduck gravand - presumably resting migrants.

Another bird of note for me was my first local Jay nøtteskrike of the year. This in no way reflects the status of this species in Øygarden - it is more a reflection of how little time I spend in woodland.