Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Herdlevær 24 March 2015 - Another good day in Øygarden

Calm and sunny - fantastic weather!

I started off with Herdlevær where just about the first thing I saw was the long-staying Slav Grebe horndykker. After that things went downhill although there was plenty to see generally including a Jackdaw kaie and a couple of interesting raptors which eluded identification - I'd fallen into the camera ready rather than 'scope ready trap despite having had the camera in my rucksack and my scope ready for most of the walk. Doh!

A Mistle Thrush duetrost at Skogsøy was another welcome bird - it seems like a good year for them in Hordaland and I have missed all the previous birds this year in Øygarden.

Rook kornkråke at Breivik


A Rook kornkråke at Breivik was probably the same bird that has been knocking about for the last week or so.

A drive-by at Tjeldstø gave further distant views of the hybrid gull which is undoubtedly Glaucous polarmåke from one parent. Also at this locality Lapwings vipe were being territorial, there were a couple of Skylark sanglerke present, the lone 2cy Whooper sangsvane remains but it seems the adults have left and a pair of Teal krikkand were still on Husvatnet.

Nautnes, however, was not to be outdone - just about the first bird of the day was a Jay nøtteskrike flying over but this sighting - not at all common in spring was eclipsed by a Marsh Tit løvmeis that turned up in the garden in the late afternoon.

Loads of White-tailed Eagle havørn today including this adult at Tjeldstø


Typically for the time of year and weather conditions it was a real "White-tailed Eagle day" - they were all over the place and at one point I had six in view simultaneously from my terrace.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Nautnes 23 March 2015 - More incidental birds

Southerly winds and overcast in the morning. Glorious later. Not that it made much of a difference today as I was working in town all day today....

Before I left  the house for work I had two new for the year in Øygarden - a Goshawk hønsehauk flew over and there were some Siskin grønnsisik in the garden. The former was also new for the house list.

I passed Tjeldstø on the way to work and caught up with what I up to now thought was an odd-looking and rather small Glaucous Gull polarmåke but opinion seems to be coming round to a hybrid of some sort. I have to agree as it doesn't quite fit either of the two usual white wingers. More on this later if I ever get a minute.

On my way home I drove past Tjeldstø again and saw a flock of four Teal krikkand -.another new for Øygarden this year.

By the time I'd got home and had dinner it was all but dark - ideal conditions for seeing the first roding Woodcock rugde. Nice.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tjeldstø 22 March 2015 - Eh?

Strong southerly winds and rain all day.


In this posture the head looks more rounded....

A more typical view of this bird - showing a shallow sloping forehead, a beady eye and a bill length that looks good in relation to the primary projection. 


Didn't really get out today but managed to see the Glaucous Gull polarmåke at Tjeldstø again. This bird is something of a head scratcher and took some time to identify. At times it has the beady eye and shallow forehead of Glaucous and at other times looks rather more round-headed. The bill pattern looks off for Glaucous as it seems to lack the sharp contrast between the dark front third of the bill against the rest. Also the inner part of the bill is not the normal "bubble-gum" pink that is the norm for this species. The bill is, however, quite long. The bird also appears a little on the small side, being about the same size as a Herring Gull gråmåke - so perhaps a smaller female. I don't normally have much of a problem separating these two species but today I did. I am fairly sure that this is the same bird that I head yesterday and that was first reported on 19th March.




A drive-by at Skogsøy produced a couple of Jackdaw kaie as the best birds.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Skogsøy 21 March 2015 - Migration warming up nicely!

Light NE winds and sunny.

It just had to be a good day today - with rain yesterday stopping things there should have been a surge of stuff today - and there was - with almost 1300 birds passing in a little over three hours.

The mainstay was predictably Oystercatcher tjeld but also Common Gulls fiskemåke are starting to move. Highlight was a near adult Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke, Other birds of note were the first migrating Red-throated Diver smålom, Curlew storspove and Black-headed Gull hettemåke of the year. Auks put on the best show of the year thus far - still pathetic when compared to previous years.

It is a well-known fact that Cormorants storskarv "stall" or "tower" - but I don't remember seeing Shags toppskarv doing this before - here a mixed bunch "stalling".

Curlew storspove overhead

Greylags grågås

Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke - it looked better in the scope - honest!

One of the many Oystercatcher tjeld flocks today

Rook kornkråke

One of several White-tailed Eagles havørn of various ages seen at Skogsøy today. This bird appears to be in its fourth calender year.


Some numbers:
Red-throated Diver smålom N 2
Gannet havsule N 12
Cormorant storskarv N 64
Shag toppskarv N 41, S 109
Greylag grågås N 41
Oystercatcher tjeld N 608
Curlew storspove N 3 (and another couple seemingly getting territorial)
Black-headed Gull hettemåke N 2
Common Gull fiskemåke N 275
Guillemot lomvi N 1 - very sadly this was the first of the year actually identified
Razorbill alke N 8
Little Auk alkekonge N 8
Puffin lunde N 2

The only passerines of note were two Snow Bunting snøspurv heading north and a Rook kornkråke by the "car park".

Second year Glaucous Gull polarmåke at Tjeldstø


I had to fill petrol and stop by the shops at Tjeldstø - this produced a Glaucous Gull polarmåke - perhaps the same bird reported a few days ago?

Back home a Golden Eagle kongeørn from the terrace was the best of the bunch.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nautnes 12 March 2015 - Incidental birding

Woke up to glorious sunny and calm weather.

With a mildly-put hectic morning any birding was at best incidental. But this being Øygarden means that all was not lost.

My morning coffee on the terrace produced a singing Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett and a fly-over Woodpigeon ringdue.


Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett



Amazingly, after not seeing any local GH Woodpecker for a few months  I got out of the car at Bakken to pick up one of my daughters at school and had another singing bird on a telegraph pole. A Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett sat on a nearby pole.

Elsewhere a couple of Mistle Thrush duetrost were reported from Skjold.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Skogsøy 11 March 2015 - First migration seawatch of the year

Light south-easterly winds and sunny with it.


Cormorants storskarv heading north

One of the Oystercatcher tjeld flocks that passed


White-tailed Eagle havørn are something we almost take for granted here but this cracker came right past....


Lovely weather meant that a trip to Skogsøy was a must do. It is still slightly early for big numbers of stuff but chances to get to Skogsøy early on must be taken....

A few hours seawatching from 0800-1100 produced some movement of the usual early spring migrants:

Snow Bunting snøspurv N 4+
Oystercatcher tjeld N 126
Shag toppskarv N 17 , S 124
Cormorant storskarv N 14
Eider ærfugl N 4, S 24
Greylag grågås N 2, S 2
Merganser siland S 5

In addition there were quite a lot of Gannet havsule milling around and a few Kittiwake krykkje koncking about. Several auks (Guillemot/Razorbill) flew north but were very distant.

Another very important reason that it was Skogsøy today was that I met some people who are keen to build a seawatching hide and are planning the details. There has been talk about this on and off for many years and hopes have been raised before. However, this time seems different and we can but cross our fingers and hope that something will come of it this time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tjeldstø 10 March 2015 - Short but sweet

Gale force onshore winds with occasional short showers.

Rook kornkråke at Harkestad

No time to be out and about once again so it was the trip to the shops that saved the day - a Rook kornkråke was the bird of the day at Harkestad where there was also a flock of around 60 Starling stær. The Rook was the first I've seen in Øygarden this year and although this species is pretty much annual here and the majority of records are spring sightings this bird was rather early.

A brief walk at Tjeldstø produced a Gannet havsule over Hjeltefjord and a further increase in Greylag grågås numbers - now at least 45 present.

View at Solberg today

A quick stop at Solberg produced nothing much out of the ordinary but 50 Eider ærfugl had been forced into this (relatively!) sheltered bay, there was a flock of approximately 40 Long-tailed Duck havelle and 12 Fieldfare gråtrost here too.

A ridiculous crop of 440 pixels from DSLR + 400mm telephoto lens

440 pixels from the centre of a shot taken with a compact superzoom.
Although the contrast may not be as good as the DSLR the image is pretty impressive.
With my DSLR probably on its last legs this may soon be my main camera - and it certainly does the job regarding stuff that is not moving too quickly....

This image is itself heavily cropped from a landscape image taken with the compact superzoom. I cropped it because otherwise the circle around the bird would have been meaningless - these were very distant shots indeed!

I stopped at the most regular and accessible breeding site for Ringed Plover sandlo on the way home and found one bird present - another first for the year. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Hjelme Vest 09 March 2015 - Oystercatcher influx

Southerly winds and decent enough weather.

No time to be out in any meaningful way today - just a quick walk with the dog at Hjelme Vest. Once again rather quiet with the only new stuff being an increase in Oystercatcher tjeld numbers - 22 were resting on the islands here. Otherwise just a flock of approximately 60 Long-tailed Duck havelle, a White-tailed Eagle havørn and the usual suspects.

More Greylags grågås obviously arriving daily with numbers up again on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø and turning up at other places including Nautnes where the first Chaffinch bokfink since early January turned up in the garden.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Herdlevær 08 March 2015 - Also on the right side of the country

Light westerlies becoming progressively sunnier throughout the day.

'
Record shot of the Moorehen - cropped from the already cropped version below where the bird just about be seen in the left-hand side of the picture.



First stop was Blomvatnet where the long-staying Moorehen sivhøne gave itself up. This bird may well have chosen to move to Øygarden from Oslo (or somewhere else in the east of the country). Fascinating stuff that a colour ringed bird in Bergen has been seen in Oslo in the breeding season. More info on this here.

At Herdlevær the only new birds seen on the usual walk were a small flock of Meadow Pipits heipiplerke flying over.

A brief look at Tjeldstø showed increases in the number of Lapwing vipe and Greylags grågås in as well as a small flock of Oystercatcher tjeld and a fly-over Skylark sanglerke. Other stuff here inlcuded a flock of around 40 Fieldfare gråtrost.

At least 70 Starling stær at Breivik and a Woodpigeon ringdue at Oen was further evidence that stuff is arriving.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Tjeldstø 07 March 2015 - Finally on the right side of the country?

Overcast with strong southerly winds.

Second cy Glaucous Gull polarmåke

A trip to the shops produced the bird of the day - a second year Glaucous Gull polarmåke. As I have been in the east of Norway (and the UK for that matter) it seems white-winged gulls are being seen "everywhere" that I am not. Good to be back where these things are possible....

Having said that the east of Norway produced some stuff I will never see here in Øygarden - including Siberian Jay lavskrike and Hazel Grouse jerpe.

Two of the Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø today

Two of four adult Whoopers sangsvane

Second year Whooper sangsvane - typically for the time of year this bird was no longer with the adults


A walk at Tjeldstø produced little new but there was a flock of 10 Lapwing vipe, 11 Greylag grågås and several Whoopers sangsvane present.

Larger flocks of Starling stær were seen at a few places today.

I used the Glaucous Gull polarmåke to do something of a comparison between my latest compact superzoom and my usual DSLR + 400mm lens setup. A new page is under construction for this - in the meantime the comparison between my previous superzoom can be viewed here.

All the following pictures have just been resized for web viewing unless otherwise stated:

Superzoom pics:

Lanscape mode

Slightly zoomed in to see the gull flock

A bit more zoom...Glaucous Gull now visible in centre...

Fully zoomed in.

....and with some cropping - good result

And now the DSLR + 400mm telephoto lens:

Cropped image

Uncropped version from which the above image was taken.






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.