Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Hjelme Vest 20 March 2018 - The thaw continues

Absolutely cracking weather, mild, warm AND calm.

Insects were hatching today (even saw a moth this evening) and although the lakes are frozen the ground itself and the boggy bits that haven't been drained yet had a good thaw today. There is hope!

Spent much of the day at home with my youngest today but did manage to check out Hjelme Vest under almost ideal conditions - flat calm and bright. I was rather late so the sun gave problems towards the south.

Several Gannet havsule were close in today....

There was nothing out of the ordinary really apart from some Gannets havsule that were closer in than they tend to be at this locality. A flock of at least 85 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt was typical for the time of year -numbers often increase now. A minimum of five Black Guillemot teist, a couple of Great Northern Diver islom, one each of Guillemot lomvi and Razorbill alke along with around 40 Long-tailed Duck havelle were also present.

Grey Seal havert, Otter, White-tailed Eagle havørn, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke, a couple of Curlew storspove and a few flocks of resting Oystercatcher tjeld were among the other species seen.

Survivor - this bird has spent much of the latter part of the winter on its own. Its parents showed it a good place to try before the cold set in for real and it has stuck to it when all the other swans left. It now looks like this tactic has worked - in a day or two this swan's problems should be over. Now it is back at a more traditional place and with mild conditions forecast it should be fine...

Elsewhere Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a selection of the usual spring migrants were seen. The orphaned Whooper sangsvane was at Tjeldstø waiting for the thaw - it looks like this bird has made it on his own through the much of the winter. It is quite likely that the dead adult (still being eaten) at Tjeldstø is one of its parents....

Monday, March 19, 2018

Øygarden 19 March 2018 - Rain at last

Light rain at first, sunny with fresh northerly winds later.

I woke up to cloudy skies and light drizzle. Just what I have been hoping for as this kick starts the thaw so many birds badly need right now.

There is obviously some turnover of birds now with things changing all the time - a great time of year....

I didn't really do much birding today - just a quick stroll at Breivik and a short stop at Solberg to eat my sandwiches. Otherwise it was just a few drive-bys during errands.

Curlew storspove at Harkestad

Hopefully the thaw is not too late for these guys....

Breivik produced one each of four thrush species - with a Mistle Thrush duetrost as the highlight.

Solberg was rather windswept with just a flock of 12 Long-tailed Duck havelle and a lone White-tailed Eagle havørn of any note.

A Curlew storspove attempted to feed in the fields at Harkestad - first one I have seen away from the shore this year.

A flock of 12 Starling stær beside Husvatnet were obviously new in and the biggest flock so far this year.

Otherwise it was the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn, Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a couple of Woodcock rugde thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Skogsøy 18 March 2018 - First Seawatch of the spring

Calm and sunny. Freezing conditions overnight but once again warm and sunny during the day.

Rather predictably I decided to do my first seawatch of the year, hoping for some migration and was not disappointed. There was quite a bit of movement, though proper migrants were a little thin on the ground.

Cormorant storskarv taking off below the lookout point

One of a few Gannets havsule seen today

A few of shots of the same Great Northern Diver islom on the sea showing the effects of different lighting....

Another Great Northern Diver islom heading south

Migrating Greylags grågås

Some Shags toppskarv heading south - next stop Rogaland

Two of the morning's Shelduck gravand

Typically for the time of year it was southbound Shag toppskarv that made up the numbers (into three figures). However, there was a small passage of Oystercatcher tjeld, three species of auk, four Shelduck gravand, Great Northern Diver islom and the first Snow Buntings snøspurv of the year too, one on the way out and another migrating bird during the seawatch itself.

There was (comparitively speaking) quite a bit of auk action - but a lot of these were distant and went under guillebill. However, some 18 Guillemots lomvi, a few Razorbill alke and even the first Puffin lunde of the year were positively identified.

A few Gannet havsule passing, singing Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and a small flock of feeding Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt were among the other species noted. The sight and sound of displaying Oystercatchers tjeld warmed at least as much as the early spring sun did.

A total of 15 Blackbird svarttrost feeding in the garden is probably a new record and resulted in an increase in feeding targeted at this species.

A Gloucous Gull polarmåke was reported from Herdlevær and should also have passed Skogsøy.....
And the first Skylarks sanglerke were reported - predictably from Breivik.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Herdlevær and Tjeldstø 17 March 2018 - Spring, but only just

Calm and sunny.

Warm in the sun where ice is now melting but still freezing at night. Most freshwater still frozen and out of the sun the ground is still rock solid despite the warm sun during the day.

Oystercatcher tjeld

Ringed Plover sandlo

Had my breakfast at Herdlevær today with highlight there being the first Ringed Plover sandlo of the year. Small numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld, a Woodcock rugde and a flock of 40 Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt were among the other species seen.

Mistle Thrush duetrost

At Tjeldstø I deliberately stayed away from anywhere a mud-probing wader might be but still saw three Woodcock rugde. The best bird of the day was also seen here - a Mistle Thrush duetrost (not quite the first of the year as I also saw one at Skjold yesterday). A couple of Song Thrush måltrost along with small numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost and an increased number of Blackbird svarttrost.

Other stuff at Tjeldstø were a flock of 23 Greylag grågås which were scared up by one of two White-tailed Eagles havørn present. At least one Guillemot lomvi on the sea here too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Darjeeling and Sikkim, November 2017

Another update from warmer climes.....

A trip report is now available on the following page: Darjeeling and Sikkim. The trip last November also covered Goa and Bhutan with a total of around 190 species seen. Broadly speaking Darjeeling and Sikkim was best for number of species, Bhutan best for quality and Goa probably had the edge on photo opportunities.

Asian Barred Owlet

Himalayan Vulture

Long-tailed Minivet

Monday, March 12, 2018

Goa, November 2017

I have finally got around to sorting out my pictures from Goa last November.

Black Kite svartglente

Blue-tailed Bee-eater blåhalebieter

Greater Sand Plover ørkenlo

Green Bee-eater

Indian Roller

Kingfisher isfugl

Lesser Sand Plover

Scaly-breasted Munia

More pictures and details can be seen on the this page:

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Øygarden 05-06 March 2018 - First Song Thrush

Calm, cold and sunny. Sun warm during the day and thankfully melting snow on south facing slopes giving the birds at least some opportunity to find food.

At one place I had five Woodcock rugde feeding together, multiple Water Rails vannriske (in different locations) and most of the usual suspects. I have continued to put out food in some boggy areas  - and found that it is being eaten. Just hope that the food has been found by the target species....

Redwing rødvingetrost in mid leap

Song Thrush måltrost

On 06 March the first Song Thrush måltrost for the county turned up among Redwings rødvingetrost at Herdlevær. Spring is on its way.....just wish it would hurry up a little.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Øygarden 04 March 2018 - Supression and Eagle Owl update

The calm and sunny weather continues. Today there was a glimmer of hope for the birds - snow was melting on south facing slopes and one could really feel some warmth in the sun.

Three heavily cropped shots of  Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin.

Today was much the same as yesterday bird-wise with another attempt at feeding some of the hardest hit species. I visited a few places I haven't checked in a very long time as well as visiting a couple of my more regular spots. Today I had tracks of Water Rail vannriske at a locality I haven't seen them at yet this year, Woodock rugde tracks at a few places but only one bird actually seen, Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin tracks at two places (but only one seen) and Snipe enkeltbekkasin tracks all over the place with at least three birds seen.

Elsewhere in Øygarden the first Redshank rødstilk of the year was reported.

I received some sad news today - the Eagle Owl hubro died during the night......such a shame and something of a shock as it seemed relatively fit and healthy apart from the injury to it's left wing.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Tjeldstø 03 March 2018 - Dead stuff

Overcast with very light snowfall. Slightly warmer today and temperatures may even have risen above freezing briefly. Very light winds again.

The situation for many species remains dire so today I did what I have done in similar circumstances in the past and visited a few wet and boggy areas to feed the birds with finely chopped hot dog sausages. I have no idea if this helps and suspect only Water Rail vannrikse may benefit or even realise that this is food.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin running for cover

Snipe enkeltbekkasin tracks (not from the same bird as above)

2cy Whooper sangsvane, now all on its own.

Desparate Woodcock rugde seen in flight a few places today whilst Snipe enkeltbekkasin seem to be just about hanging in there but are now being chased by corvids when they come out in the open to feed (something they pretty much have to do).

Even the sheep are struggling - this one had attracted the attentions of Ravens ravn and Hooded Crows kråke - carrion eaters are well catered for now with two very large meals a short distance from each other.

It is not just these species that are having a hard time of things - an adult Whooper sangsvane has succumbed at Tjeldstø - possibly one of the parents of the lone youngster present today. Sheep too seem to be struggling....

Finally a short video from yesterday of a Redwing rødvingetrost mining for food in long grass.

Øygarden 02 March 2018 - Who you gonna call?

Cracking weather for humans, less so for Water Rail vannrikse, Snipe enkeltbekkasin and Woodcock rugde - all species seen today but relegated to "also ransby events later in the day.

I picked up quite a few of the usual species during shops, ice-skating and a walk at Hjelme Vest. I had just got out of the car to start some real birding when I received a call about an Eagle Owl hubro that was entangled in an electric fence.

One of the nice things about being known as the "birdman" out here is that I am called about all kinds of things related to birds (a Gannet wandering around a garden after a storm, a Merlin that has flown into a window etc etc). Today's call meant that I immediately returned to my car and sped off to assist.

Mobile phone shot immediately after disentanglement

Having freed the bird  (with plenty of assistance) I attempted to release it but it just crash landed in a very undignified manner. So it got the cardboard box treatment for a couple of hours during which it perked up considerably and also did an amazingly smelly poop. I have been crapped on by a huge variety of seabirds - ranging from Gannet, all of the auks, Wilson's Petrel and more and NONE have smelt anything like as bad as this Eagle Owl did.

Assessing damage and wing pattern (to find out more about age) 

Preparing for release

Just before crash landing....
Above four pictures: Roald Hatten

The bird seemed very healthy and not in the least malnourished - a fact confirmed by it's weight. This adult looking bird weighed in at over 2kg and thus probably a male (something also indicated by wing length). A ringer from Bergen headed out as soon as I told him what was going on and his arrival coincided with the bird really perking up. Despite an injury to to one wing, it had a good go at taking off so we felt we should give releasing it a second go. Although the bird flew much better than it did immediately after freeing it from the fence it did not manage to get far and was easily recaptured, it was therefore  sent off for a visit to the vets and further care.

The first Woodpigeon ringdue of the year put in an appearance in the garden during the afternoon.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Øygarden 01 March 2018 - Cracking weather unless you have a long probing bill

Freezing calm and sunny.

Fantastic weather for humans, less so for those creatures who like to find their food in the upper layer of the soil. Calm and sunny but frozen. It did not feel cold but it never got warm enough to thaw much even in the middle of the day.

Took a lazy walk at Skogsøy but the lagoons which were the target area today were pretty much frozen. Just a couple of Whoopers sangsvane along with the usual duck. Over the sea a solitary Gannet havsule, a single White-tailed Eagle havørn and not a lot else were to be seen.

Fieldfare gråtrost

Redwing rødvingetrost

Starling stær - probably a returning migrant and quite possibly the only time this year I will bother photographing this rather photogenic species.

A drive-by at Herdlevær gave perhaps the best photographic opportunities of the day with Starling stær, Redwing rødvingetrost and Fieldfare gråtrost feeding on a patch of ground that looked like it had a chance of thawing.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin are having a hard time of things now

Most of the Whooper sangsvane family

Whoopers sangsvane

Tjeldstø was rather better with a family of Whoopers sangsvane, at least two Woodcock rugde, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a fly-over Greylag grågås and many of the usual suspects.

Another Woodcock rugde turned up very close to my house at Nautnes. They will start dying very soon if the weather remains as cold as is forecast.....