Thursday, August 16, 2018


I was curious when I first heard about clothing made for birders and was keen to try it out. I have been using one of the Wunderbird tops for the last couple of weeks - despite the rather warm weather.

I'm now writing this up with my Gyrfalcon hoody in the washing machine for the first time - I have used it every time I've been out birding since it arrived in the post and will continue to to do so as soon as it is dry again.

Most of my birding consists of walking in rough terrain with a rucksack on my back - and this is where the top scores very well. The padding in the shoulders make carrying a heavy rucksack a lot more bearable. The other major advantage from my point of view is that binocular swing is a thing of the past - meaning that is possible to walk and climb normally without having one hand constantly on the bins - something that makes life a lot easier.

When guiding I normally carry a telescope on a tripod over my shoulder and have trialled the top under such conditions - a definite improvement. I've not been bothered too much about the weight of my rather heavy binoculars in the past but now that they sit in the high pocket I have noticed a big difference on my neck - both the reduced swinging and support help alleviate strain more than I had anticipated.

The roomy larger lower pocket is handy for phone, notebook or whatever it is you want to carry. However, a couple more zips here would probably be an improvement as things can fall out both when taking the garment off and when climbing around.

I have used the top a couple of times in light rain and it dried very quickly indeed. I ordered an XL which suits me perfectly, a very good fit with long arms. The top is very comfortable and seems like it will keep me warm when autumn finally kicks in - I received my hoody during a spell of unseasonably warm weather so I'm looking forward to using it even more in the autumn and winter, both as an outer garment and under a waterproof.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hernar 14 August 2018 - RB Fly!

Calm and sunny.

Managed a quick look at Hernar before work but didn't even do the full "short round" before it was time to leave.

Red-breasted Flycatcher dvergfalk

The island was alive with birds, largely the usual suspects but with a few additions. Of over 40 species seen by far the highlight was a Red-breasted Flycatcher dverfluesnapper - a rather unusual time to see one - being about a month earlier than they would "normally" occur.

Merlin dvergfalk

Other migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper, a Merlin dvergfalk, several Brambling bjørkefink (again rather early but I've been seeing them for a few weeks already)  and a selection of waders including Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove.

Most of the House Sparrows gråspurv

In a Hernar context an incredible sighting were seven House Sparrows gråspurv - the biggest flock I have ever seen on the island and, given that they were young birds, may well have bred on the island.

Recently fledged Lesser Redpoll brunsisik

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Around 30 Twite bergirisk, a couple of Sedge Warbler sivsanger, 200 Starling stær and several Wheatear steinskvett were among the other species seen.

Curlew storspove - illustrating at least one of the golden rules of photography - if the wing tip is missing the rest of the bird will be in perfect focus.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Skogsøy 12 August 2018 - Somewhat predictably......


The view at 08:00

Once again I made it out just in time. Just as I was about to take my rucksack off two terns came past with a small flock of Common Gulls fiskemåke. I raised my binoculars, realised immediately that they were Sandwich Terns splitterne - a rare (but probably under recorded) species here in Øygarden / Hordaland. I frantically unpacked my camera and fired off a few shots - but settings had changed and at F22 the shutter speed let me down a bit....

Record shots of Sandwich Terns spiltterne

Part of a Shag toppskarv flock

Young Wren gjerdesmett

After that it was rather downhill but still a lot more migration than the last couple of days. A steady passage of Common Gull fiskemåke, several flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld and a decent movement of Shags toppskarv made up the numbers.  Quality birds were the first (for me) Red-throated Diver smålom of the autumn, an Arctic Skua tyvjo and a Sanderling sandløper.

I glimpsed some fins which looked very dolphin-like but never refound them. However, a tuna or two put in a typically splashy appearance whilst I searched.

On my way home I saw what looked very much like a Hobby lerkefalk and went out looking for it later but found only several White-tailed Eagle havørn and decent numbers of finches included a flock of 20 Twite bergirisk and several Brambling bjørkefink.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Skogsøy 11 August 2018 - White-tailed Eagle takes on Gannet

Fresh North westerly at first, calming to virtually nothing around 0800.

The weather forecast meant that there was little choice other than to drag myself out of bed and get out there. For once I managed to get up on time, but the results were a little disappointing.

The sky gave a moody backdrop today

A steady stream of Gannets havsule was the mainstay as usual with at least 260 heading north in the almost three hours I sat there. A couple of Great Skua storjo were the best birds.

A Curlew storspove and a Whimbrel småspove flew past together providing an opportunity to take some comparison shots:

Curlew storspove - very pale underwings and no head markings
Bill length and shape not much to go on here!

Whimbrel småspove - darker underwings and head markings
Bill rather similar to above image in this case

White-tailed Eagle havørn beating up on a Gannet havsule

White-tailed Eagle havørn

It was really a day for White-tailed Eagles havørn with an adult flying over on my way out followed by a young bird trying to be a skua - it beat up on a Gannet havsule, forcing it into the sea and made repeated passes at it once the bird was down. Not a behaviour I recall seeing before. Several more were seen elsewhere including a flock of three.

Carrion Crow svartkråke

Also picked up a Carrion Crow svartkråke near Sture - probably the same bird I saw in the area earlier in the summer.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Skogsøy 10 August 2018 - Calm before the storm

Brisk northerly winds with a few drops of rain. More wind and a lot more rain later.

Took a pre-work seawatch and managed to get out of bed a little earlier than of late. However, barely the usual suspects were to be seen with Gannets havsule, a light passage of Oystercatcher tjeld, Greenshank gluttsnipe, Redshank rødstilk, a few Common Scoter svartand and not a lot else to be seen.

Green Sandpiper skogsnipe

Swift tårnseiler

Later in the day a few Swifts tårnseiler feeding over Husvatnet, Tjeldstø and the rain deposited a nice Green Sandpiper skogsnipe in the fields.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Skogsøy 05 August 2018 - Gannets, uncropped

Fresh westerly winds.

Once again failed miserably to get out of bed, perhaps not surprising given the lengths of the shifts I've pulled this week. Didn't make it out to the lookout point until late in the day - 0830 and therefore missed much of the day's action. Over 260 Gannets havsule headed north during the couple of hours I spent out there Kittiwake krykkje and a light passage of Oystercatcher tjeld were among the other birds seen.

Many came too close to fit in the frame

There were obviously fish about - many of the Gannets havsule took a dive or two....

Too close again...self-cropping

An all too common sight - Gannet havsule with polyprop rope

Some dramatic skies helped as a backdrop.

Waders passing on the walk out included Greenshank gluttsnipe and Redshank rødstilk

A stop at Husvatnet on the way home produced an adult Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove and a Merlin dvergfalk as the best sightings. The Pinkfoot kortnebbgås was still present too.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Øygarden 30 July - 02 August - No time for tringas

Late July / Early August is the best time for Green Sandpiper skogsnipe in Øygarden but I didn't find time to get out and look for them. However, roadside birds enabled me to pick them up as drive-bys on the way to and from work. I had up to four on 02 August.

Curlew storspove at Tjeldstø

Green Sandpiper skogsnipe, Hatten

Grey Heron gråhegre

Twite bergirisk

Others had more luck with Wood Sandpiper grønnstilk but I only picked up one - on the same pools as the Green Sands showed up on.

Other stuff included the long-staying Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Tjeldstø, small flocks of Twite bergirisk here and there along with most of the usual suspects.

Breakfast at Herdlevær on 30th July produced a selection of the usual waders including 17 Knot polarsnipe, a Greenshank gluttsnipe, several Golden Plover heilo and eight Common Sandpiper strandsnipe. Small numbers of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and Common Scoter svartand passed during the 15 minutes I spent eating.

A couple of early Brambling bjørkefink put in an appearance by my postbox at Nautnes on 02 August. Maybe they are breeding closer than I thought they were....

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Skogsøy 29 July 2018 - Another day, another seawatch

Sunny with strong southerly winds after some rain in the night.

I seem to have lost the ability to jump out of bed before dawn but managed to get out a bit earlier than yesterday.

Small numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke on the move

Oystercatcher tjeld

One of this years young Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke

Flock of Sanderling sandløper

 Mixed bag of waders - Mostly adult Knot polarsnipe with two Turnstone steinvender and two Sanderling sandløper

Even more cropped to show the ID better.

With the weather very different indeed there was a distinct change in the species passing. Knot polarsnipe were the mainstay with many flocks of adult birds passing - over 130 in total and thus the most I have seen in Øygarden in a day. The best sighting was a migrating Temminck's Stint temminckssnipe - thankfully one of the closest waders to pass today giving good views in the scope. This is a rare bird out in Øygarden with only three previous sightings.

Other waders included at least 13 Sanderling sandløper (the first of the year for Øygarden - and Hordaland as a whole for that matter), two Turnstone steinvender, Greenshank gluttsnipe, Ringed Plover sandlo, Common Sandpiper strandsnipe, Curlew storspove, Whimbrel småspove and Oystercatcher tjeld.

The only other sighting of note was a single Great Skua storjo, also heading south.

Green Sandpiper skogsnipe against the light

A couple of Green Sandpiper skogsnipe were feeding at Sture on the way home.