Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Øygarden 07 April 2014 - drive-bys

Back to sunny weather again but no time to be out and about.

A singing Wheatear steinskvett at Tjeldstø was the first a this locality this year.

At Breivik the Pinkfoot kortnebbgås remained in the "usual" place and there were good numbers of Fieldfare gråtrost and Starling stær present - perhaps hangers on after yesterday's movement.

Tjeldstø 06 April 2014 - "delayed" firsts

Walked around the reserve and picked up a Reed Bunting sivspurv - the first of the year and a bird I thought I had heard several days ago...nice to get it confirmed.

The feature of the day was a good movement of thrushes with hundreds of Fieldfare gråtrost and Starling stær both moving through and feeding in the fields. Some tens of Redwing rødvingetrost and Blackbird svarttrost too.

A drive-by at Kollsnes produced a singing Skylark sanglerke - another species I have probably heard over the last week or so but always drowned out by other calls and songs.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Nautnes 05 April 2014 - Mink

Overcast with light drizzle at times

Didn't get out for any meaningful birding today. Thankfully others did and the first Ring Ousel ringtrost was reported as well as a Mistle Thrush duetrost.

Yesterday's afternoon high tide brought the corpse of a Greylag grågås floating past the house - I "had to" find out more and dragged the body ashore - with no head and a hole in it's guts I thought that a raptor had killed this bird and that the tide had floated the goose off wherever it was being eaten.

Today a Mink found the corpse - providing entertainment for the girls. For once I didn't set the dog on it. Mink are unfortunately still very common on Øygarden - despite the fact that my dog kills them regularly. I might wait until it gets even tamer before letting the dog do his worst but only after dragging the corpse further away from the sea so that the dog's chances are increased....

Friday, April 04, 2014

Herdlevær 04 April 2014 - Another cracking day!

Light southerlies and sunny yet again.

A superb morning out. The intention was to get to Herdlevær and do a short seawatch in case there was any northward movement of stuff today. On the way there a couple of Redshank rødstilk at Tjeldstø were the first of the year in Øygarden and a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik was the first I've seen here this year.

There was virtually no passage whatsoever at Herdlevær - getting there at 0900 was probably way too late in the day. However, all was far from lost with two Great Northern Diver islom together on the sea and a second year Yellow-billed Diver gulnebblom feeding nearby - this bird was at long range for photographs but gave excellent views in the scope. Second year birds like this are not a common sight in Øygarden.

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås (left hand bird) at Breivik

Tree Sparrow pilfink at Herdlevær

Second year White-billed Diver gulnebblom - this bird often had its beak open

Banana bill, pale neck with little contrast, eye prominent in the pale of the face

Here fending off a Great Black-backed Gull svartbak

One of several White-tailed Eagles havørn seen today

A single Shelduck gravand heading north, another year's first, was almost the only bird that passed. Other stuff included a Guillemot lomvi on the sea, a few Kittiwakes krykkje, Golden Plovers heilo and the usual seaduck.

A few more passerines had arrived since my last visit including a couple of Linnets tornirisk.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Hernar 03 April 2014 - Black Grouse

Very light easterly breeze, warm and sunny after a frosty start.

With the weather as good as it was today there was never going to be much in the way of grounded migrants but I was rather hoping for some movement overhead. All in all rather quiet but around 30 species seen including a number of the island specialities - Twite bergirisk were very obvious as were at least two male Black Grouse orrfugl - the first I've had in Øygarden this year.

Black Grouse orrfugl

Robin rødstrupe

Above and below Twite bergirisk

White-tailed Eagle havørn

A handfull each of Robins rødstrupe and Song Thrush måltrost along with a Dunnock jernspurv, a Linnet tornirisk and most of the usual suspects were seen.

News from Hernar included a new boat and timetable. The route is now operated by Gulen Skyssbåt Service. Sadder news was that the island shop has now closed. No chocolate or beer to celebrate good finds anymore!

Before leaving the house I had another Black Grouse orrfugl - a new species for Nautnes and for the house list.

Nuthatch spettmeis - a very scarce breeder in Øygarden

Sparrowhawk spurvehauk

An evening stroll at Sture produced nice views of a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and, of rather more interest, a pair of Nuthatch spettmeis nest building.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Tjeldstø 02 April 2014 - Good coverage pays off

Cracking weather again -. calm and sunny.

At last gave the reserve a decent amount of coverage - this paid off quite well with a few more new for Øygarden for me this year - two Mistle Thrush duetrost being the highlights (a few turned up whislt I was last away). A pair of Tufted Duck toppand on Husvatnet and a fly over Linnet tornirisk (first seen in Øygarden yesterday) were the other new stuff.

A minimum of six White-tailed Eagles havørn, 12 Heron gråhegre (the most I have seen at Tjeldstø for some time), a pair of Teal krikkand, at least eight Lapwing vipe, a few Lesser Black-becked Gulls sildemåke and plenty of birdsong from a range of newly arrived species.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Breivik 01 April 2014 - New stuff keeps coming

Sunny with more or less easterly winds.

Only had time for a quick stroll at Breivik. New birds today were a couple of Twite bergirisk and Golden Plover heilo heard. A male Wheatear steinskvett was also present here.

A general increase in the numbers of other migrants was obvious with more Song Thrush måltrost, Redwing rødvingetrost and Dunnock jernspurv about.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Herdlevær 31 March 2014 - More migrants

Sunny again but with a fresh northerly making it feel rather colder today.

A look at Herdlevær proved to be quite productive - highlights being a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk and a pair of Wheatear steinskvett - both new for Øygarden this year. A White-wagtail linerle, some Snipe enkeltbekkasin and various other migrants on the land.

Migrating Common Gulls fiskemåke

Greylags grågås

Oystercatcher tjeld
The first Wheatear steinskvett of the year

Gannet havsule

An hour spent seawatching produced a steady movement of Common Gull fiskemåke and several flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld heading north. Several Gannet havsule, small numbers of Curlew storspove, a couple of Black Guillemots teist, several other auks and a Great Northern Diver islom also passed here.

Elsewhere a Chiff-chaff gransanger fed by the road at Alvheim and feeding thrushes gave good views at Sture.

Chiff-chaff gransanger

Redwing rødvingetrost

In the afternoon a Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke flew over the house - not the first in Øygargen this year by a long way but the first I have seen.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Skogsøy 29 March 2014 - Another productive non-birding day

Calm and sunny again. The fantastic weather continues.

Kicked the day off with a very vocal Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett from the terrace at home. Some indications of passage over Nautnes too with small flocks of what were presumably Lesser Redpolls brunisik and small numbers of Meadow Pipits heipiplerke flying over. White/pied wagtail linerle also heard flying over here.

Another late and lazy trip to Skogsøy was rather more successful than yesterday birdwise with highlights being a Black-throated Diver storlom and a couple of Puffins lunde. Several Red-throated Diver smålom, a few Black-headed Gulls hettemåke and a light northward movement of Common Gulls fiskemåke. Other stuff here included Guillemot lomvi on the sea and a Razorbill alke heading north.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Skogsøy 28 March 2014 - Sunbathing

Hot and sunny!!

A late and lazy trip to Skogsøy produced virtually no migration but singing Redwings rødvingetrost were the first I've had in Øygarden this year. Curlew storspove, Meadow Pipit heipiplerke and others all displaying. Incredibly warm out at the look-out point - good for sunbathing if not birding....

Migrating Cormorants storskarv

Ravn ravn

Nautnes produced Lesser Redpolls brunsisik, a fly over Snow Bunting snøspurv and a nice Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke feeding on the shore in front of the house. In the evening a roding Woodcock rugde was a new species for the house list.

Rock pipit skjærpiplerke taken from the terrace at Nautnes

Øygarden 27 March 2014 - Catch-up

Sunny with light northerly winds

A brief check at a few localities allowed me to catch up on a few of the species that arrived whilst I was away and get one more new for the year in Øygarden - a Dunnock jernspurv. Singing Meadow Pipits heipiplerke and a Willow tit granmeis were among the other species seen here.

Greylag grågås at Breivik

The first Meadow Pipit heipiplerke of the year for me

At Tjeldstø well over 100 Greylags grågås now present and four Teal krikkand on Rotevatnet were the first I've seen in Øygarden this year.

A single Ringed Plover sandlo was displaying at the most usual breeding site for this species.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Øygarden 04 March 2014 - Pied wag and more

South Easterly winds and overcast but still calm and dry.

Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Tjeldstø

Just about record shot of Slavonian Grebe horndykker at Dåvøy

A quick check at a few localities produced some good sightings - the highlight being a male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Tjeldstø where there were also increased numbers of Greylag grågås, a flock of Starling stær and six Lapwing vipe. A small flock of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt here were also present - first I've seen on the east side of Øygarden this year.

Dåvøy produced a Slavonian Grebe horndykker - first sighting in Øygarden this year but the bird will probably have been present most of the winter. More Starling stær and another Lapwing vipe here too.

Several Oystercatcher tjeld were at Solberg.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Herdlevær 03 March 2014 - Short Seawatch

Light Easterly winds, sunny and "warm"

Mergansers siland displaying at Herdlevær

Another day of fantastic weather. A short (and late!) seawatch at Herdlevær produced a small southward movement of Oystercatcher tjeld, a couple of Guillemots lomvi and a lone Razorbill alke. Otherwise just the usual suspects.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Skogsøy 02 March 2014 - Spring

Light SE, light cloud cover and some drizzle.

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at Skogsøy

A late, lazy and short trip to Skogsøy produced the first Razorbill alke and Little Auk alkekonge of the year in Øygarden (unprecedently late!).  Small numbers of Gannets havsule passing and most of the usual suspects on the sea including a Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a Black Guillemot teist.

Some of the Lapwings vipe at Tjeldstø

Greylags grågås have arrived "everywhere" and a flock of at least eight Lapwing vipe were present at Tjeldstø. Four Woodpigeon ringdue at Breivik were another sign of spring.

Curlew storspove at Herdlevær yesterday

Spring well on the way!

A Curlew storspove at Herdlevær yesterday was probably one of the several overwintering birds rather than a migrant.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hjelme Vest 28 February 2014 - Otter and Red-necked Grebe

Relatively calm and very pleasant.

A stroll and a quick look at the sea at Hjelme Vest proved quite productive today - highlight was a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker. The supporting cast included a Great Northern Diver islom feeding offshore, a couple of flocks of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, a Curlew storspove and an Oystarcatcher tjeld.

Greylags grågås have also started to arrive on the offshore islands and were scared up by the local White-tailed Eagles havørn.

A large male Otter came ashore and spent some time marking up his territory along the shoreline.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tjeldstø 22 February 2014 - A very simple explanation to declining bird populations

If there was anything to gain by moving somewhere else I would take my not inconsiderable tax payments elsewhere - but unfortunately its the same story everywhere. Today's post illustrates the blatant disregard for wildlife (including a number of red data list species) among planners and developers. There is no way on earth they can claim they didn't know any better.

With this kind of thing going on all the time it is no wonder bird populations are declining. One of the points of the national recording system in Norway is to make information available to the relevant authorities - this kind of thing makes one feel like giving up this time consuming activity entirely. Occasionally we hear about a success story but with the constant destruction of decent habitat and with no improvements elsewhere to compensate it does't take a rocket scientist to work out what going on.

Case 1 - Tjeldstø

Right next to the nature reserve the road into the new building estate - decimating the breeding area for a few red-listed species. At the the same time more people, more traffic and more cats. Not promising for the birds that used to live here and not promising for the reserve!

Also close to the reserve this part of the development destroyed some areas vital to overwintering Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin, Common Snipe enkeltbekkassin and Woodcock rugde. The breeding sites for a number of species such as terns and Oystercatchers tjeld have also now disappeared.

Case 2 - Herdlevær
The rate of  "development" here has been rapid the last few years with progressively more houses and cabins being built. This trend continues in 2014. At this rate we'll be looking for a new place to bird within a couple of years. The most popular areas for migrants and rarities are already gone....

Small scale degradation like this pales into insignificance beside some developments but lots of small things make a big one.....

The latest two projects at Herdlevær

This used to be an area of elderberry bushes and other scrub which was popular with migrant warblers...

Bird news today was limited but some migrants obviously arriving at Tjeldstø - three pairs of Greylag grågås were acting all territorial and a flock of 40 Starling stær was the biggest flock this year. Of seven Whoopers sangsvane on Rotevatnet only one was a youngster. Not a particularly good percentage.....

At Nautnes it was a case of the usual suspects - including a couple of Curlew storspove and a Black Guillemot teist.