Monday, January 15, 2007

The Server Tragedy, 13-15 January 2007

Today I performed a quick check of a few chosen localities in Øygarden in order to gauge the effects of the recent oil spillage from the "Server" which ran aground at Fedje during the early hours of Saturday morning.
Further details and more pictures can be found here.
Of around 200 gulls on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø at least 40 were oiled, the majority of which were Herring Gulls gråmåke, although there were also a few oiled Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak.

Oiled Herring Gull gråmåke at Solberg

At Solberg several of the 100+ Long-tailed Duck havelle and a few of the Eiders ærfugl present were obviously oiled and there were several more contaminated gulls here.

Alvheim was also affected with the first Black Guillemot teist of the year seen hauled up on the rocks desperately trying to preen oil off its plumage. This bird caught the eye of a patrolling White-tailed Eagle havørn which attempted to catch it, the auk evaded capture by jumping into the sea - not only did it escape but surfaced with a small fish in its beak!

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle havørn moving in for the kill

One can only wonder at the effect of eating oiled birds will have on the local raptors. Eagles and other birds of prey will have an easy time of catching the stricken seaduck and auks but will risk becoming oiled themselves - and will perhaps also ingest oil too.

The stench of oil was the first thing that struck me at Svellingen and nearly all the birds seen here were oiled. Contaminated birds here included 15 Long-tailed Duck havelle, at least one Common Scoter svartand, a few Eider ærfugl and a Guillemot lomvi in addition to the gulls.

Oiled female Long-tailed Duck havelle, Hellesøy

The misery continued at Hellesøy where there were two more oiled Long-tailed Ducks havelle. A female on the sea evaded capture and a male that was so far gone that I had no option but to end its suffering with a piece of driftwood I found lying nearby.

Badly oiled male Long-tailed Duck havelle

Other birds of interest today included Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a few small flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost.

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