Monday, November 23, 2020

Øygarden 21-22 November 2020 - The Weather is here / should have stayed at home

A weekend of wild weather. Gale force onshore winds with some short hail / rain showers.

On Saturday 21 November I thought I would try somewhere at least slightly out of the brunt of the weather and opted for Hellesøy. A Little Auk alkekonge, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn, a couple of Kittiwake krykkje and a Red-throated Diver smålom were the rewards here. Otter up close and personal here too.

One of the White-tailed Eagles havørn at Hellesøy

Common Gull fiskemåke

I then proceeded to pop in at various localities to see if anything had been blown down the east side of Øygarden. Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and Kittiwakes krykkje at Tjeldstø were a promising sign  (both new species for the year there) and two more Otters even more up close and personal.

Aduøt White-tailed Eagle havørn at Solberg

Otters from Tjeldstø (just some of the Otters seen today at various places)

Flocks of thrushes and Starlings stær all over the place but nothing out of the ordinary.

Starling stær (Breivik)

Back home I had a Common Scoter svartand on the sea, a couple of Curlew storspove (first of the "winter" birds which I suspect come from Iceland - just as this weather front did) and more Kittiwakes krykkje

Another highly unusual sighting were two birders checking out the promising area in front of my house. They did not see anything much of note - but someone else REALLY did. A Leach's Petrel stormsvale was photographed passing through Nautnesvågen - past my house in other words - just an hour or so before I came home.

One of the Cormorants storskarv fishing in front of my house

From artsobs (thanks for the message Rixy) :

A number of birders were out in Øygarden on Saturday - the two keenest did 2.5 hours of seawatching at Herdlevær before starting to check bays etc - including Nautnesvågen just an hour after this bird passed. Just shows how the luck of the draw affects things:)

Note to self: Do more birding from the terrace, there IS a reason behind the location. My house is not the best place for traditional seawatching but I've always thought of it as a potential spot for storm-blown bird. Next storm I'll stay at home:)

Sunday saw more of the same weather and a similar routine. Hellesøy produced little of note, just three White-tailed Eagle havørn and a couple of Long-tailed Duck havelle  among the usual suspects.

Other birds of note included a Goldfinch stillits at Toft, two Woodpigeon ringdue and a Peregrine vandrefalk at Tjeldstø where the Greylag grågås flock had increased from 19 to 22.

A colour ringed Herring Gull gråmåke at Blomvåg was not the most exciting of finds but still nice to see where the birds were are seeing come from. This particular bird was ringed in 2019 some 15km away at Å not a big mover (but this was the first sighting since it left its nest!)

2cy Herring Gull gråmåke. All the way from Ågotnes.

A short stop at Solberg gave the best sighting of the day in the form of a Knot polarsnipe - a species never before recorded in November in Øygarden together with a late Oystercatcher tjeld and a seal. The wind was so strong it was impossible to keep my scope steady so I gave up and went home.

Seal at Solberg. The flat forehead makes it look like a Grey seal havert but there was something "off" about this animal, including the buff colour and very thick whiskers.

From the still very windy terrace I picked up a Red-throated Diver smålom on the sea, a few Common Scoter svartand and several Kittiwake krykkje. My terrace provided the best photo opportunities of the day:

Common Scoter svartand
First year Kittiwake krykkje

Red-throated Diver smålom

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Skogsøy 20 November 2020 - Orcas

 Light SE winds, rather colder than of late.

Hoping for some kind of movement after yesterday's storm I headed for Skogsøy and spent a couple of hours seawatching. Birdwise there was nothing out of the ordinary but two Orcas spekkhogger heading north were well worth the effort.

Birds included a Little Auk alkekonge and a Black Guillemot teist heading north, a few Red-throated Diver smålom, a Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a variety of gulls including 14 Kittiwake krykkje heading south.

Frustratingly a white-winged gull heading south was too far off for positive ID.

On the way back to the car I picked up a Peregrine vandrefalk which was at a look out post on Herdlevær and an Otter.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Øygarden 19 November - Northerly gale and another new for the year

 Strong northerly gale with short hailstorms.

Started at Hellesøy where gulls were feeding in the high winds, mostly Herring Gulls gråmåke but a couple of Kittiwake krykkje and a few Common Gulls fiskemåke with them. At least two White-tailed Eagle havørn here.

Redwing rødvingetrost at Herdlevær

Scaup bergand at Herdlevær

Next up was a family walk at Herdlevær, here the wind was if anything even stronger. A female Scaup bergand was one of the very few birds seen here although a few Redwing rødvingetrost, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk were among the sightings.

Lots of Blackbirds svarttrost and Starling stær flocks pretty much all over.

First year Moorehen sivhøne on Blomvatnet

Best bird today was the first Moorehen sivhøne of the year on Blomvatnet.

Common Scoter svartand at Nautnes

A few Common Scoter svartand were "surfing" in front of the house when I got home.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Solberg 18 November 2020 - Another Little Gull

 Stronger S winds today and not much time to be out and about.

I sat for 15 minutes at Solberg where the best sighting was another adult Little Gull dvergmåke. Otherwise just the usual including 10 Kittiwake krykkje and a Red-throated Diver smålom.

At Tjeldstø a (or the?) female Scaup bergand was present on Rotevatnet together with a female Common Scoter svartand and the flock of 19 Greylag grågås was still there.

Adult Kittiwake krykkje passing my terrace

Another 10 minutes from my terrace produced just a steady movement of Kittiwakes krykkje heading south and a Common Scoter svartand. And the Otter which has thankfully become a daily feature again after a period of only erratic visits.

The only other thing worth mentioning was a flyover Goshawk hønsehauk at Breivik.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Herdlevær 16 November 2020 - LITTLE GULLS!!

 A great morning out in relatively calm and mild conditions.

Started off at Herdlevær with my usual round. Before I sat down for coffee and breakfast I had already picked up Slavonian Grebe horndykker, Black-throated Diver storlom, Red-throated Diver smålom and more.

Black-throated Diver storlom

Cormorant storskarv with ring - I would love to know where this bird came from!

Above two: Adult Little Gull dvergmåke

Above two: 1cy Little Gull dvergmåke

Slavonian Grebe horndykker

As usual during my coffee stop I kept my eye on the sea where there was a steady passage of Kittiwakes krykkje, Herring Gulls gråmåke and Common Gulls fiskemåke. Suddenly an adult Little Gull dvergmåke came into view, I fumbled for my camera hoping to get some record shots but was not sure I managed it until later. Frantically rescanning the sea to try and refind it I found a first year Little Gull and began to question my eyes/sanity for getting things so wrong but after a minute or so they teamed up and I saw them together:) First record this year for both Øygarden and the "county".

The way home also proved successful with a Hawfinch kjernebiter at Tjeldstø along with a flock of 19 Greylags grågås - I'm presuming these late birds are probably from Iceland.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Nautnes 15 November - Back to Eagles and Otters

 Sunny with southerly winds.

The terrnace is where I should probably have stayed all day. The Otters are now back and seen most days, today there were also the usual three White-tailed Eagles havørn. I don't normally bother photographing them from the terrace anymore but the light was nice and they were performing well so I took a few shots.

The focussing on my camera often only seems to work towards the edge of the frame. All the other shots of this Woodcock rugde well placed in the image were blurry.....

White-tailed Eagles havørn at Nautnes

In the afternoon a walk to Alvheim from Nautnes produced little more - at least two more eagles, Raven ravn, a Woodcock rugde and some of the usual woodland suspects such as Crested Tits toppmeis.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hatten 14 November 2020 - FINALLY a new Øygarden species

 Strong southerly winds, mild and overcast.

At Tjeldstø, a flock of Whoopers sangsvane attracted two Teal krikkand, three Wigeon brunnakke and 20 Mallard stokkand which typically fed on whatever the swans kick up whilst they are feeding.

I had planned to look for woodpeckers and had just got out of the car to start working the woods when I received with hot tip and jumped straight back into the car to catch up with a species I have not definitely seen in Øygarden before - White-backed Woodpecker hvitryggspett. The species is regular enough a couple of fjords to the east of us and has probably been seen out here at the coast prior to the first documented birds this autumn. 

As I have been offshore for most of the autumn it has taken a while to catch up with this species on the home turf - and today a cracking female performed well at close range, albeit in poor light.

Here together with Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett

Female White-backed Woodpecker hvitryggspett - the first definite record for me in Øygarden - although I have strongly suspected it a couple of times, most recently earlier in the autumn.
There are other potentially credible records but none backed up with documentation prior to the spate of the records this autumn. At least two birds have been seen with a male at Breivik in addition to bird(s) at Skjold and Hatten

Monday, November 16, 2020

Hjelme Vest and Sæle 13 November 2020 - A normal late autumn day

 Strong SSE winds, mild and overcast.

Hjelme Vest was pretty much as expected with an adult Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, a few each of Velvet Scoter sjøorre, Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Duck havelle, a Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn.

The woods here were typically quiet with a flock or two of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and lots of Wrens gjerdesmett.

A quick look at Sæle produced the usual autumn thrushes and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker dvergspett. A couple of Nuthatch spettmeis remained from the influx earlier in the autumn.

Goldfinch stillits, at least two White-tailed Eagle havørn and more seen from the terrace.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Solberg 11 November 2020 - Another new for the year

 Strong SSE winds, mild and overcast.

Another morning spent dropping in at a few localities with one of my daughters.

Tjeldstø produced at least three White-tailed Eagles havørn, with several more seen elsewhere included 3++ at Solberg, two at Alvheim and at least two at Nautnes.

Heron gråhegre, Solberg

Scaup bergand at Solberg

Just a few of the White-tailed Eagles havørn seen during the morning

Solberg produced the best bird - a female Scaup bergand - the first of the year in Øygarden. It swam towards us as we sat in the car but was spooked by an eagle and flew off. Several flocks of Common Scoter svartand headed south, a Red-throated Diver smålom fished offshore and a late Oystercatcher tjeld fed on the shore there.