Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Skogsøy 31 May 2006

The final day! Strong north westerly winds continue; not surprisingly a similar range of species to yesterday but 255 Northern Fulmar havhest is the most I've had at Skogsøy. Also six Pomarine Skuas polarjo, 20 Arctic Skua tyvjo and a bunch more of unidentified (but probably Arctic). Ringed Plover sandlo, Red Knot polarsnipe and Whimbrel småspove among the waders seen heading north, along with a couple of unidentified stints (probably Temminck's)

Small numbers of Brents ringgås passing, but when I returned home I received a test message to let me know they will be passing in large numbers later this afternoon / evening...

During the course of the last 2 1/2 months over 60000 birds have been logged!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Skogsøy 30 May 2006 Out with a bang!

The penultimate day of the 2 1/2 month seawatching project went extremely well! Almost identical weather conditions to yesterday, but a LOT more birds! Difficult to choose a best bird today which saw almost 1000 Pale-bellied Brent Geese ringgås moving north, a pair of Greater Scaup bergand (new for the year at Skogsøy) and 26 Pomarine Skua polarjo.

The "supporting cast" included almost 50 Northern Fulmar havhest, 30 Arctic Skua tyvjo and 3 Red Knot polarsnipe. Perhaps the strangest observation was of a lone Whooper Swan sangsvane flying out to sea - there have been some exceptionally late "hangers on" this year - but why choose a gale force headwind when finally deciding to move on....?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Skogsøy 29 May 2006

With the wind from the north I was fairly optimistic on the way out to the lookout. First bird was a close range Peregrine vandrefalk flying past. Several skuas including 2 Long-tailed Skua fjelljo and a Pomarine Skua polarjo headed north early on but as the wind increased the skua passage stopped. All in all rather little passing.....

Other records included a Red Knot polarsnipe and two Ruddy Turnstone steinvender and a total of 46 Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje - an alarmingly low number for the highest day count thus far this spring! This is not the only species to have had a very poor showing this year.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Skogsøy 28 May 2006

Another very good day, despite conditions appearing far from ideal. Typically for late May the numbers were low but the quality good. British readers may laugh but best birds were a Manx Shearwater havlire heading south and a Sandwich Tern splitterne north.

More Brent Geese ringgås on the move again with over 200 flying north along with a cracking Pomarine Skua polarjo.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Skogsøy 27 May 2006 Brents

Wind from the south so it wasn't a big surprise that the first migrating Brent Geese ringgås were seen today. Just a few small flocks but this species tends to pass Skogsøy late in the day so I will have missed most of them....

Another good bird was a lone Manx Shearwater havlire, otherwise there was very little passing.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Skogsøy 26 May 2006 Geese!

Barnacle Geese hvitkingås Photo: Alf Tore Mjøs

Not unexpectedly a fresh northerly breeze brought a small number of skuas of all four species past Skogsøy today, including one Pomarine Skua polarjo and two Long-tailed Skua fjelljo. More unexpected was a relatively large movement of Barnacle Geese hvitkingås, with over 2000 passing in total. A video clip taken with a normal digital camera without tele lens is available on the Barnacle goose page.
Other good birds included two Great Northern Diver islom (and adult and a 2 cy), a flock of eight Ruddy Turnstone steinvender, a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås. Relatively good numbers of Arctic Tern rødnebbterne and Northern Fulmar havhest too.
Heading back to the car a White-tailed Eagle havørn and two Jackdaw kaie (a good bird at Skogsøy!) were also seen.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Skogsøy 25 May 2006

Generally quiet but a couple of Long-tailed Skua fjelljo kept interest levels up. Later on a few hundred Barnacle Geese hvitkinsgås came through - the latest date I have seen them passing in these parts.

Continued southward passage of Common Scoter svartand.

Whilst enjoying a few beers on my terrace in the afternoon I looked up to see three White-tailed Eagle havørn circling the house....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Skogsøy 24 May 2006

With a fresh south easterly wind blowing I was far from optmistic. However, within minutes of starting a Long-tailed Skua fjelljo headed north - a good start to any seawatch. Things quickly died off, although a White-billed Diver gulnebblom passed later on along with over 140 Barnacle Geese hvitkingås - probably the last of the spring.

Several Northern Fulmar havhest, a Ruddy Turnstone steinvender and the first Goldeneye kvinand for some time were also worth a mention - as were more Orcas spekkhoggere.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Skogsøy 23 May 2006 Skuas

Dark phase Pomarine Skua polarjo - note NO telephoto lens, just a normal camera!

Finally the wind went into the north! Within 10 minutes of starting the first of nine Pomarine Skuas polarjo and a White-billed Diver gulnebblom had passed. A superb Long-tailed Skua fjelljo, six Arctic Skua tyvjo and four Great Skua storjo also headed north; most birds came by at close range.

Once again the skuas are showing an intriguing pattern - the Pomarine Skuas seem to pass early in the day whilst the Arctic Skua take over later on. There can be a number of possbile explanations for this and I am curious as to whether similar differences in timing occur at other seawatching localities.

Green = Pomarine Skua, Orange = Arctic Skua

This is not a new phenomenon and further details can be seen here. It really does seem to be a case of "the early bird gets the pom..."

New for the year at Skogsøy was a flock of around 50 Red Knot polarsnipe heading north.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tjeldstø 21 May 2006

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Tjeldstø

A rare look at Tjeldstø. Couldn't make it to Skogsøy today but a brief look at the reserve from the cycle path gave some good results as usual. An unidentified raptor would have been the most interesting bird (possibly a Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk).

Other birds of interest included a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås beside Husvatnet and a Whooper Swan sangsvane STILL present. Several Greylag grågås families now with young. Another stroll to the quayside with the girls gave good views of Common Terns makrellterne and a close encounter with a mink...not sure if I should have had a shotgun instead of a camera with me.....

Mink, often blamed for reduced numbers of nesting seabirds

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Skogsøy 20 May 2006

Orcas passing Skogsøy today

An excellent day, although numbers were low the quality was good. Best bird was the first Long-tailed Skua fjelljo of the year passing north at close range. Other stuff included a single White-billed Diver gulnebblom and a couple of Pomarine Skua polarjo. All four skua in a day is not a common occurrence!

However, there was a lot more than birds today. In addition to the usual Porpoises nise a few family parties of Orca spekkhoggere passed through - a fantastic sight and infruriatingly difficult to photograph with "digiscoping" gear....I gave up in the end and enjoyed watching them instead.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Øygarden 19 May 2006

A very wet day with more or less incessant rain. Skogsøy was therefore predictably quiet, although a 2cy White-billed Diver gulnebblom headed south just before 0600. Otherwise just a few Great Skua storjo and a couple of Arctic Skua tyvjo passing by.

At Tjeldstø all three hirundines were feeding over Husvatnet, the Sand Martin sandsvale and House Martins taksvale are undoubtedly migrants as they do not breed in the vicinity. A pair of Tufted Duck toppand were incredibly the first I've seen at Tjeldstø this year!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Skogsøy 18 May 2006

The day started quite well with a flock of 45 Barnacle Geese hvitkingås heading north as I walked out to the lookout. These were followed by a further 780 before 0830 - just as I thought it was turning into a "big day" the passage petered out to nothing. Then it started raining and didn't stop until I arrived home.

Other than a couple of Common Swifts tårnseiler there was little exciting - precious little of anything in fact!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Skogsøy 17 May 2006 - National Day

On Norway's national day there were predictably few birders at Skogsøy. Just me. Traditionally this day is a good one for Pomarine Skua polarjo but none showed today. Generally quiet - but the first Brent Goose ringgås of the year flew in a landed on one of the island. Other good birds included a couple of Great Northern Diver islom at close range and the usual Great Skuas storjo and Arctic Skuas tyvjo.

Generally dull, espcially around dawn when I attempted to take a picture of a Black Guillemot teist resting on the sea....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Skogsøy 16 May 2006

Perhaps the quietest day thus far with no "good" birds. Just over 80 migrating Red-throated Diver smålom. Only one skua today - a Great Skua storjo heading south. Nice views of two Twite bergirisk and a Pied Wagtail svartryggerle, obviously paired with a female White Wagtail linerle by the car park.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Skogsøy 15 May 2006

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Another relatively quiet day both for weather and birds. Best birds were a total of three Black-throated Diver storlom - and all four diver species during the course of only one hour. Over 20 Velvet Scoter sjøorre were also worth a mention.

I came home to four White-tailed Eagle havørn over the garden and later found the first Common Gull fiskemåke egg of the year.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Skogsøy 14 May 2006

A couple of squalls went through early on....

A quiet start to the day but it turned out reasonably later on. Once again Pomarine Skuas polarjo were the best birds with a total of six seen, including a dark phase bird. Good numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle migrating - over 260 in all. Only one White-billed Diver gulnebblom today

A few Northern Fulmar havhest and three Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove were also worth a mention.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Øygarden 13 May 2006

limosa Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove at Tjeldstø

A superb day at Skogsøy, with a total of 10 Pomarine Skua polarjo, some of these stunning birds came by very close - if only I had a "proper" camera! A couple of White-billed Diver gulnebblom, a decent passage of Long-tailed Duck havelle and a few small flocks of Barnacle Geese hvitkingås were also worth a mention.

A quick check of Husvatnet at Tjeldstø produced a spendid Black-tailed Godwit (limosa) svarthalespove which I managed to snap a couple of record shots of. Three good birds on the last four times I looked at the place!

A Merlin dvergfalk was also reported from Tjeldstø and three Scaup bergand past Svellingen.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Øygarden 12 May 2006

Two Pomarine Skua polarjo were just about the very first birds to pass shortly before 0600. Unfortunately there wasn't much else other than a few other skuas, small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom and a single White-billed Diver gulnebblom.

A Blackap munk singing near Sæle was somewhat amazingly the first I've heard this year. Too much seawatching perhaps....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Øygarden 11 May 2006

Weather much calmer than forecast with very little wind and overcast. Virtually no migration other than the divers, with all four species seen once again. Small numbers of skuas heading north. New for the year at Skogsøy was a Turnstone steinvender, a regular species in small numbers at this time of year.

A male Pied Flycatcher svarthvitfluesnapper at Herdlevær was a relatively good find - this species is surprisingly uncommon during the spring.

Two Sedge Warbler sivsanger sang at Breivik and a Peregrine vandrefalk at Tjeldstø - possibly hoping to grab one of the newly hatched goslings there. A Collared Dove tyrkedue was the first at Tjeldstø this year - fitting neatly into the usual pattern of occurrence.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Skogsøy 10 May 2006 - Nightmare

Yet another calm and sunny day, at least to start with. A steady passage of Red-throated Diver smålom, Long-tailed Duck havelle, Whimrel småspove and the usual suspects provided the mainstay. Highlights included a cracking pair of pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo at close range.

At 12:45 the first Pomarine Skua polarjo of the year passed. Wicked. A couple of minutes later it was followed by the only White-billed Diver gulnebblom of the day - which diappeared into a bank of fog that was rolling in rapidly from the north.

Barely three minutes later there was no visibility at all - and just as things had started to get interesting....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Skogsøy 09 May 2006 - Blistering

Raven ravn panting in the heat

The smell of sun block is not what birders from the Bergen area associate with Skogsøy but it was a necessity again today. Scorching sun and no wind is not normally considered "good" seawatching weather either, but it didn't stop today being yet another memorable day.

All four diver species logged today with over 200 Red-throated smålom, 2 Black-throated storlom (an uncommon species on migration in these parts) and singles of both Great Northern islom and White-billed Diver gulnebblom.

Bird of the day was without doubt a male Marsh Harrier sivhauk that upset the local gulls and Oystercatchers as it made a pass over their breeding colony.

Other birds included the first Black Guillemots teist for a while, a Shelduck gravand, a few Greenshank gluttesnipe, small numbers of Whimbrel småspove both heading north and resting on the rocks. Two Lapwing vipe heading south may have been failed breeders.....
Click on the image below for a bigger version

Monday, May 08, 2006

Skogsøy 08 May 2006 - HOT!!

Otter oter at Skogsøy today

A red hot seawatch in all ways - baking heat, little wind and some majorly good birding.

It all started out quite normally with a few White-billed Diver gulnebblom and a steady passage of Red-throated Diver smålom and not a lot else, just a light southerly passage of Black-headed Gulls hettemåke. At 1030 I picked up what I assumed would be another Black-headed Gull - but as the bird approached I realised it seemed to have an all white head. I double checked with the scope to make sure - NO head markings. The red bill looked longer than on Black-headed and the forehead more sloping. Additionally, the upperparts were slightly paler than Black-headed Gulls passing both before and after (no direct comparison possible). The wings seemed slightly longer and the wingbeats a little shallower than Black-headed Gulls. This of course pointed towards an adult Slender-billed Gull smalnebbmåke - a first for Norway if accepted.

After that most things paled into insignificance but an adult Black-throated Diver storlom was a good Skogsøy bird and a Common Greenshank gluttesnipe was the first there this year. A Sedge Warbler sivsanger singing at Breivik was also new for the year.

As if all this was not enough an Otter came ashore and cavorted in the kelp for a few minutes before swimming off - not exactly an everyday occurrence either!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Øygarden 07 May 2006 - More Arrivals

Skogsøy was generally quiet with few birds passing, however, these included two White-billed Divers gulnebblom, a flock of five Northern Pintail stjertand and the first Common Swift tårnseiler of the year. At least one Tree Pipit trepiplerke also came in off the sea

The supporting cast included Sand Martin sandsvale (not a common bird out at the observation point), a light passage (south!) of largely sub-adult Black-headed Gulls hettemåke, Whimbrel småspove, Arctic Skua tyvjo and a Kestrel tårnfalk flying in off the sea.

At least 99 species have been recorded at Skogsøy thus far in 2006.

Elsewhere in Øygarden the first Cuckoo gjøk was heard calling and more Common Whitethroat tornsanger were reported.

Cuckoo gjøk

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tjeldstø 06 May 2006 - New for Øygarden!

Little Ringed Plover dverglo at Tjeldstø

A brief look at Husvatnet at Tjeldstø produced the unexpected today in the form of a Little Ringed Plover dverglo. This is the first record for Tjeldstø and for Øygarden - the species has only been recorded a few times at Voss and other inland sites previously. Unfortunately I only managed a couple of "record" shots before I had to leave.

The southerly winds have proved good for something!

Also present was a Wood Sandpiper grønstilk and the first Common Whitethroat tornsanger of the year (both birds have been present a couple of days....)

Skogsøy 06 May 2006

Commonly used in Finland - a binocular support can stop cramping arms.....
Deer seen by the roadside around dawn (0500)

Wind continues from the south east so correspondingly little to be seen. As always though there was something of interest - today the best bird was a Short-eared Owl jordugle coming in off the sea. Even better was the fact that it snatched a passerine out of the sky and ate it as it flew past the lookout - wicked!

Other birds included small numbers of migrating Tufted Duck toppand, around 15 Arctic Tern rødnebbterne - the first of the year at Skogsøy along with both Great storjo and Arctic Skuas tyvjo.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Skogsøy 05 May 2006

Northern Wheatear steinskvett, a common bird at Skogsøy

Common Sandpiper strandsnipe, the first at Skogsøy in 2006

The day started well but passage dropped off as the southerly wind increased. Best birds were two White-billed Diver gulnebblom and an Arctic Skua tyvjo. A distant "commic" tern was the first of the year, but was too far off to identify with certainty.

Plenty of small stuff flying over including Twite bergerisk, House Martin taksvale (unusual at the lookout point), a Skylark sanglerke (late) and the usual Wheatear steinskvett, White Wagtail linerle etc.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Skogsøy 04 May 2006

Summer plumaged Grey Plover tundralo, Husvatnet, Tjeldstø
Common (Mew) Gull, fiskemåke, Tjeldstø

Calm and very warm at Skogsøy. A fairly steady stream of birds today including small numbers of Whimbrel småspove, several Arctic Skua (only one pale phase) tyvjo and 30 Velvet Scoter sjøorre. Best birds were a pair of Northern Shoveler skjeand and a 2cy Black-throated Diver storlom heading north.
An evening stroll down to the lake outside my house at Tjeldstø produced two excellent birds: a summer plumaged Grey Plover tundralo and a Wood Sandpiper grønstilk which even gave a display flight and song!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Skogsøy 03 May 2006 - Manx

Took a late and lazy start to the day to give the family a break. Little moving over the sea other than a few small flocks of Barnacle Geese hvitkingås and the first Whimbrel småspove of the spring. During the last scan of the sea I picked up a southbound Manx Shearwater havlire at close range - this is the earliest I have observed this species at Skogsøy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Øygarden 02 May 2006

Eurasian Teal krikkand resting on the sea at Skogsøy

Common Greenshank gluttesnipe at Tjeldstø

No White-billed Diver today, and not many Red-throated either. Best birds were a party of four Northern Pintail stjertand heading north, next best was a Common Shelduck gravand (both species rarer than White-billed Diver at Skogsøy!). Good numbers of Common Scoter svartand migrating with over 660 logged today - this species is probably reaching the peak of its migration now. Nortern Fulmar havhest, Great Skua storjo and a flock of Eurasian Golden Plover heilo also noted.
A few small flocks of Barnacle Geese hvitkingås went north again today, but it seems the big numbers have yet to pass.

At Tjeldstø the first Greenshank gluttesnipe of the year sat beside Rotevatnet, where three Whooper Swan sangsvane are still present - very late record for this species.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Skogsøy 01 May 2006

Fairly uneventful migration wise - although the day started promisingly with a few small flocks of Barnacle Geese hvitkingås and a single White-billed Diver gulnebblom.

A singing Willow Warbler løvsanger was the first I have heard this year, this species was reported at Skogsøy yesterday.