Sunday, May 01, 2016

Skogsøy 01 May 2016 - Enduro 2

Rain at first, then strengthening southerly winds.

I slept in today and didn't get out of bed until 05:10 - shocking given the time of year. It makes me wonder how I managed to keep going every day for 2.5 months back in 2006.

The rush to get out there was a total waste of time and effort in so many ways as it meant I arrived just as it started to rain - a band of cloud passed over Skogsøy for an hour emptying its contents onto me. Even more frustrating was the fact that there was obviously clear sunny weather inland AND out to sea. It was at this point I discovered my fjellduk (bivvy bag in English is the nearest I can get) was in my OTHER rucksack. Elementary mistake.

Wet through my core temperature dropped alarmingly and I soon lost the use of my fingers. There was stuff passing but impossible to see through wet lenses. As soon as the rain stopped there was a rush of birds all very close in but this soon fizzled out to nothing.

Bird of the day - Sandwich Tern splitterne. I think this massively cropped image just about qualifies for the term "record shot". Mr Rix might disagree though.....:)

Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås

Common Scoter svartand heading the wrong way

Gannet havsule

The first Greylag grågås chicks of 2016

White-tailed Eagle havørn - only just managed to get the whole bird in the frame

This might sound rather disasterous - but it wasn't! A Sandwich Tern splitterne put in a brief and most welcome appearance, small numbers of Wigeon brunnakke were the first for Øygarden this year and several flocks of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås headed north. The only diver of the day was a single White-billed gulnebblom.

The first Greylag grågås chicks were bang on time at Tjeldstø on the way home.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Skogsøy 30 April 2016 - Another day at the coal face

Calm and sunny with SE winds again. Actually got too warm today for the first time this year.....

Experience has shown that there are never two big days in a row so expectations were again not terribly high. Things started off quietly but the pace picked up and it was another decent day of migration.

Top of the list was a Black-throated Diver storlom heading north, along with 9 White-billed Diver gulnebblom, the first Pomarine Skua polarjo of the year, 316 Red-throated Diver smålom and a single male Orca spekkhogger.

New for the year in Øygarden for me were three Shelduck gravand, a Golden Plover heilo, There were plenty of Gannets havsule, much better numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld, a decent count of Common Scoter svartand and also more in the way of auks than yesterday.

And to show that I very occasionally take pictures that are not of birds:

Note that even the dog is staring intently out to sea.....

We had to say goodbye to our Polish friends who have been seawatching there for the last three days after hitch-hiking out to Skogsøy from the airport and living in a tent for a few days - a truly impressive feat - respect!!. Evidence that Skogsøy's reputation is known well beyond Norway.....

The day's tally was:

Red throated Diver smålom 347 N
Black throated Diver storlom 1 N
White Billed Diver Gulnebblom 11 N
Northern Fulmar havhest 1 N
Northern Gannet havsule 146 N, 6 S
Great Cormorant storskarv 6 N, 14 S
Eurasian Shag toppskarv 13 N, 15 S
Shelduck gravand 3 N
Teal krikkand 1 N, 2 S
Tufted Duck toppand 3 N
Eider ærfugl 21 N, 7 S
Long tailed duck havelle 20 N, 2 S
Common Scoter svartand 332 N
Velvet Scoter sjøorre 7 N
Goldeneye kvinand 2N
Merganser siland 11 N
Oystercatcher tjeld 231
Golden Plover heilo 1 N
Whimbrel småspove 3 N, 1 S
Eurasian Curlew storspove 2 N, 1 S
Pomarine Skua polarjo 1S
Black headed Gull hettemåke 1 S
Common Gull fiskemåke 55 N
Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje 2 N
Common Guillemot lomvi 1 N
Razorbill alke 10 N
Atlantic Puffin lunde 2 N

An Arctic Skua tyvjo was seen after I left.

Other stuff inlcuded a few Twite bergirisk.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Skogsøy 29 April 2016 - LOONatic Asylum

With weather far from what is traditionally considered good diver conditions - very light south easterlies I was not that optimistic for today. But it is the end of April and had the chance to go - and what a day it was!! Together with a couple of Skogsøy regulars (the few who can still be bothered to walk out there!) and a couple of Polish birders we experienced some of the very best diver migration I have seen.

Part of a Red-throated Diver smålom flock

Record shot of two Shoveler skjeand together with Red-throated Divers

One White-billed Diver gulnebblom

Three White-billed Diver gulnebblom

Common Scoter svartand flock

A total of 1242 Red-throated Diver smålom is the most I have ever seen in a day at Skogsøy with the best hour logged 499 birds - huge swarms of of divers poured north between 09:00 and 12:00. This may well be a day record for the county. Although not record breaking a massive 31 White-billed Divers / Yellow-billed loons was very impressive - 30 of these went through between 08:50 and 11:00 - in flocks of up to three at a time.

Local rarities were a nice Gadwall snadderand and a pair of Shoveler skjeand and Whimrel småspove were the first of the year for me. Good numbers of Common Scoter svartand and a steady trickle of other species meant that things were pretty hectic at times.

Red throated Diver smålom 1242 N
Great Northern Diver N islom 1 N
White Billed Diver Gulnebblom 31 N
Northern Gannet  havsule 17 N
Eurasian Shag toppskarv 40 N, 27 S
Grey Heron Gråhegre 1 S
Gadwall Snadderand 1 N
Teal Krikkand 6 N
Northern Shoveler Skjeand 2 N
Tufted Duck Toppand 2 N
Long tailed duck Havelle 5 N
Common Scoter Svartand 492 N
Velvet Scoter Sjøorre 3 N
Merganser Siland 15 N
Oystercatcher Tjeld  20 N
Whimbrel Småspove 9 N
Eurasian Curlew Storspove 2 N
Black headed Gull Hettemåke 3 N
Common Gull Fiskemåke 143 N
Razorbill Alke  3 N
Atlantic Puffin Lunde 1 N (several other auks were probably this species)


Unfortunately this incredible experience was dampened by the news of a helicopter going down near Turøy - we could see the smoke and rescue efforts from Skogsøy.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hernar 28 April 2016 - Barnacles moving?

Sunny with SE winds.

Part of the Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås flock that headed north shortly before I left

Lots of Meadow Pipits heipiplerke about today

Plenty of birds on the island today but all just the usual migrants - many of which were new compared to my previous visit this year. Finches dominated with Twite bergirisk, Lesser Redpoll brunsisik and Linnet tornirisk being the most obvious. A single Chiff-chaff gransanger sang for a bit early on as did the lone male Black Grouse orrfugl.

Birds heading north included several Red-throated Diver smålom and a single flock of 31 Barnacle Geese hvittkinngås - I spent most of the rest of the day inside so never found out if more flocks passed later in the day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Øygarden 24-27 April - There is no hope.

Work and other duties to mean I continue to not spend any time out and about. It feels like things have been this way forever and that there will never be a chance to get out until I either a) retire or b) lose my job. Both alternatives seem tempting at the moment, although only option b) is anywhere near likely in the foreseeable future.

On 24th April I managed a short walk at Tjeldstø, 10 Swallow låvesvale fed over Rotevatnet and plenty of other migrants had arrived here including most of the usual suspects such as Linnet tornirisk. A female Common Crossbill grankorsnebb seemed like she may well have had young in the vicinity.

Male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Herdlevær

A ringed Wheatear steinskvett at Herldevær - no doubt the result of Mr Goodgame's efforts last year

White Wagtail linerle with ring

On 25the April I made it to Herdlevær where I had at least two singing Chiff-chaffs gransanger and a Pied Wagatail svartryggerle along with evidence of Mr Goodgame's efforts last year - quite a few migrants were bearing rings . no doubt the result of the not inconsiderable efforts put into ringing at this locality last year. Twite bergerisk were another new for the year at Nautnes later in the day.

Lesser Redpoll brunsisik either collecting nest material or feeding on Rosebay Willowherb stems left over from last year - this picture taken in the garden

The 26th provided no opportunites for birding at all but a Collared Dove tyrkerdue over the house in the morning was another Øygarden year tick and a lone Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås was at Tjeldstø.

On 27 April there was was yet again virtually no time spent in the field but a roadside Stock Dove skogsdue at Tjeldstø along with the first singing Willow Warbler løvsanger of the year saved the day here. Other sightings of note at Tjeldstø included a couple of Black-headed Gulls hettemåke,

Other than that a general increase in the commoner migrants and roding Woodcock rugde from the house most evenings are the only things worth mentioning.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Skogsøy 23 April 2016 - Enduro test

Sunny to start with, degenerating into hail and snow, sunny again then yet more snow.

Goodness only knows what the wind chill factor was today but it was COLD at Skogsøy. A fresh north westerly wind kept temperatures down and when the hail and snow started the going got tough. I waited an hour before giving up only to have the sun come back out not long afterwards so I turned back for more of the same until the hail and snow started again.....

The visibility wasn't up to much at a Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås is just about visible through the driving snow....

Cormorants storskarv "stalling" on their way north

Anticipating an against the sky shot this is somewhat overerexposed but gives a nice feeling of movement

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

The view during a lighter part of the snowstorm. There was no snow or frost when I arrived....

The best bird was the first Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås of the year heading north. There was some migration with well into double figures of Red-throated Diver smålom, Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Ducks havelle on the move as well as a couple of Puffin lunde, a Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke among the usual species on the move.

Other new species for the year here included Linnet tornirisk

A brief stop at Husvatnet on the way home produced the first two Swallows låvesvale of the year - an incongruous sight as they fed over the lake in yet another snow shower. A pair of Tufted Duck toppand were also present here.

20-23 April 2016 - Back but may as well not be

One word: Work.

So much for the downturn and the layoffs.

Common Scoter svartand

Had a Common Scoter svartand on the sea in front of the house during a conversation  about rotation matrices, Woodcok rugde roding over the house in the evenings and a few migrants including Dunnock jernspurv and White Wagtail linerle.

20 March - 20 April Birding Exile

I don't think I've not been birding for as long as this in my life.

I left Øygarden and spend several days in Engerdal, Hedmark (eastern Norway) in late March where I did just about get out of the house. Here spring was not terribly obvious but it produced the usual highlights in the form of Siberian Jays lavskrike, Golden Eagles kongeørn (inlcuding three together at one point).

Dipper fossekall in Engerdal

Golden Eagles kongeørn, Engerdal

A week with the family in Northumberland at the end of March with no birding time resulted in the first Sandwich Terns splitterne of the year along with a bunch of other migrants and a few Med Gulls svartehavsmåke - but all just incidental stuff really.

A selection of Med Gulls svartehavsmåke at Newbiggin-by-the-sea, Northumberland

Things went very downhill from there......

To make matters worse I missed a Great Egret egretthegre at Tjeldstø whilst I was away. Gutted.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Skogsøy 19 March 2016 - Take what you can get.....

Light Northerly winds and overcast.

Had just about time for a little over an hour seawatching - and only by getting up at 0500. Thankfully it is now light enough in the morning.

2cy Great Northern Diver islom

Highlight was a second year Great Northern Diver islom heading north. Had I done what I normally do and check my camera when I get set up I could have had some excellent images. Instead I got these.

All in all a standard mid-March seawatch with 100 Oystercatcher tjeld heading north in the short time I sat there along with small numbers of Eider ærfugl and Merganser siland. A Red-throated Diver smålom seemed to alter course drastically as a White-tailed Eagle havørn headed its way.

Plenty of birdsong on the way out gave a definite so¨spring-like feel to the day.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Nautnes 18 March 2016 - Otter

Northerly winds and sunny.

Highlight today was seen from my terrace during a coffee break - an Otter with a butterfish it caught and ate whilst I watched. Obscenely long series of pictures taken from my terrace:

I popped out for a couple of hours and visited a couple of places. Nothing unusual bird wise but typically for the time of year White-tailed Eagles havørn very obvious all over the place. Birdwise the most noteworthy sighting was of Whooper Swans sangsvane at multiple locations - obviously on the move.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hernar 17 March 2016 - First trip to Hernar

Northerly breeze and sunny, clouding over and stronger winds later.

I just had to take the very rare opportunity to be able to get to Hernar for a few hours.

Nothing particularly exciting with 27 species including a few migrants, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin which may have been a surviving overwinterer or an early arrival, a few Skylark sanglerke heading over, 50 Starling stær and the usual suspects including a Razorbill alke, a couple of Black Guillemot teist and a Black Grouse orrfugl.

A few Rock pipit skjærpiplerke present with at least two of them singing - first time I have heard this species singing this year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tjeldstø 16 March 2016 - Shame to be inside

Calm and sunny.

What a waste of a day! Busy doing pretty much everything except being out and about as I should have been.

A Lapwing vipe seen from the kitchen window at Nautnes was a new species for the garden list.

Tjeldstø was pretty much as expected with the usual early spring migrants including Skylark sanglerke and a couple of Fieldfare gråtrost. More Greylags grågås in, displaying Lapwing vipe, a few Oystercatcher tjeld, Herring gulls gråmåke now taking up breeding territories and a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn scaring up the geese.

Herdlevær 15 March 2016 - Migrants "galore"

Light northerly winds and sunny.

Spent a whopping two hours outside - regretted it later though!

On the way to Herdlevær and picked up what was probably the bird of the day in an Øygarden context - a singing Nuthatch spettmeis. Although one of the commonest and most widespread species in Norway this is absolutely not the case in Øygarden. Small numbers breed and it is possible to see this species with a bit of effort - but normally this is something of an irruptive species. This bird was singing well away from the usual haunts,

Several Gannets havsule seen during a short coffee break

A White-tailed Eagle came pretty close

Herdlevær produced a few bits and bobs in the form of the first Skylark sanglerke and Snow Bunting snøspurv of the year - both of these species were pretty much expected. Rather less predictable were a couple of early Dunlin myrsnipe.

A light passage of Common Gull fiskemåke north and Shag toppskarv south were other sure signs that thngs were moving.

Male Teal krikkand at Kollsnes

Second year Whooper sangsvane at Kollsnes.

On the way home a couple of Teal krikkand flew in at Kollsnes after I had stopped to look at a couple of second year Whooper Swans sangsvane.

At Tjeldstø Greylag grågås numbers were approaching 90.