Sunday, January 21, 2007

Øygarden 21 January 2007

The coastgaurd moving an oil boom down Hjeltefjord
Lightly oiled Red-breated Merganser siland, Alvheim

Male Blackcap munk (another through sitting room window shot)

Oiled gulls such as this Herring Gull gråmåke are still very much in evidence

I was again unable to participate directly in the rescue of oiled birds but managed to get out and assess the situation locally. Things were much the same as the last few days, it does not seem as if more birds south of the area initially hit are being affected. However, a number of oiled birds seen.

Other birds of note inlcuded an Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke at Solberg, a Glaucous Gull polarmåke was reported from Tjeldstø where I also had the first Oystercatcher tjeld of the year - no doubt one of the few overwintering birds in Øygarden.

The male Blackcap munk was still in the garden, a few Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin, several Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt, at least four White-tailed Eagles havørn and a small flock of Redwings rødvingtrost together with some Fieldfare gråtrost. The colder weather seems to have brought in some more Whooper Swans sangsvane with eight present on Husvatnet - still a low number.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Øygarden 19 January 2007

Another day spent counting and catching oiled birds, the majority of affected birds seen were still too healthy to catch (many of those that would have been catchable have been shot) but we managed to catch a few Eiders ærfugl and a Long-tailed Duck havelle and several more were on the edge of the net....
The man with the numbers

Again plenty of White-tailed Eagles havørn - seemingly feasting on the victims of the oil spill. Sparrowhawk spurvhauk, a few Curlew storspove, Ruddy Turnstone steinvender and Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt all seen as incidentals.

The male Blackcap munk turned up in my garden again and another was seen further north in Øygarden. A small flock of Redpoll brunsisik near Hjelme were the first I've seen this year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Øygarden 18 January 2007

Spent the afternoon out in a small boat attemtping to catch oiled birds without success. Numbers of oiled seaduck seemed down on earlier in the week, although it was not possible to access the worst affected areas in Øygarden due to the weather.

Great Black-backed Gull svartbak with flounder

Under other circumastances this would have been a wonderful day out with close up views of many species including Little Auk alkekonge. White-tailed Eagles havørn were, as usual, everywhere with a minimum of six seen - a couple of which scared up a male Black Grouse orrfugl from one of the offshore islands.
A couple of Eurasian Curlew storspove seen along with most of the usual Øygarden species.

At the bird feeder a male Blackcap munk was something of a surprise and was the first January record for my garden. At least three Brambling bjørkefink still present along with an ever growing flock of Chaffinch bokfink.

Male Blackcap munk - picture taken through a far from clean sitting room window

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Øygarden 17 January 2007

Red-breasted Mergansers siland

Didn't get out today, just a quick "drive by" during the usual household chores. Only a few of the 100 or so Red-breasted Merganser siland I saw were obviously oiled. Thankfully most of them keep to areas that are thus far unaffected by the recent oil spill.

Despite the snowfall many flocks were full of the joys of spring - the males cavorting around the females in full courtship displays.....

A treatment centre will open in Øygarden tomorrow to take care of oiled seabirds - I hope to be out catching them. Watch this space....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The carnage continues.....

One of many oiled Long-tailed Duck havelle in Øygarden

Predictably the carnage was even worse today. More birds have come in contact with the oil and those that were affected first are showing the effects of it. Everywhere I went today there were oiled duck on the sea and hauled up onto the rocks.

More pictures from today can be found here.

The species most affected is the Long-tailed Duck havelle with approximately 20 oiled individuals at Svelingen alone. Plenty of Eiders ærfugl are also stricken by the spill - over 25% of those I saw near Hjelme church were oiled to some degree. On the offshore islands birds are distant and hard to observe but judging by behaviour there are many more affected than the "few" I saw. Here is one female eider that will not be lining her nest with down plucked from her own chest this year:

Another oiled Black Guillemot teist was seen again today and other species covered with black oil included Red-breasted Mergansers siland and gulls.

Also at risk in the area are Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt - seen scurrying over the oiled shoreline at Svellingen today. Another species in the firing line is the local White-tailed Eagles havørn - one was seen eating what was presumed to be an oil spill victim on one of the offshore skerries and another was just as interested in catching an oiled Red-breasted Merganser siland as I was. It was the eagle that scared the bird into the sea rather than myself.

Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt at Svellingen today....

Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn on the lookout for oiled birds....

Once again not much evidence of the authorities in the places I visited today....they are no doubt prioritising areas that are stricken even more badly.

A single Northern Gannet havsule was the 15th species to be affected by this disaster.

The only other bird of note was a Kestrel tårnfalk near Svellingen.

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.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday 13 January 2007

Several oiled Herring Gulls gråmåke after the "Server" ran aground last night at Fedje seen at both Tjeldstø and Solberg.

At Solberg at least one, probably two Eurasian Curlew storspove were the first for several days, plenty of Long-tailed Duck havelle and Eiders ærfugl in the bay - forced in by heavy seas further out.

At Tjeldstø a small flock of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt were the first of 2007 and a few Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin in the usual place. Four Whooper Swan sangsvane is the highest count thus far this winter - a very poor year for this species. A few Redwing rødvingtrost joined flocks of Fieldfare (40+) gråtrost in the area.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Øygarden 11 January 2007

Wigeon brunnakke at Kollsnes

A futile attempt to defy the elements at Skogsøy in gale force winds and hail showers produced little. Only a couple of Fieldfare gråtrost blown in off the sea, a singles of Little Auk alkekonge and Guillemot lomvi.

Three Wigeon brunnakke on a pool near Kollsnes were the best birds of the day and a flock of ca 30 Fieldfare gråtrost flew south over Tjeldstø

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Øygarden 09 January 2007

Eurasian Shag toppskarv
Greylag Geese grågås at Kollsnes

Despite gale force winds a few new species for the year were found, all at "Hjelme West". These were a Razorbill alke (auks have been very thin on the ground recently), a female Black Grouse orrhøne and a Eurasian Woodcock rugde.
The Grey Heron gråhegre roost at Dåvøy numbered 48 today - this is one of a number of large heron roosts in Øygarden.
In the garden at least three Bramblings bjørkefink joined 12 Chaffinches bokfink, 10 Tree Sparrows pilfink and at least 40 Greenfinches grønnfink at the feeder.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Øygarden 08 January 2007

Whooper Swan sangsvane at Tjeldstø
Red-breasted Merganser siland

Not a bad day at all. Tjeldstø produced the best birds - a Waxwing sidensvans flying south over my garden and a Brambling bjørkefink in the garden. Four Northern Lapwing vipe also seen from the house and at least three Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin in the reserve.

At Solberg a Great Northern Diver islom fed in the bay and at least one of the Ruddy Turnstone steinvender was still present, along with a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn and most of the usual suspects.

The Greylag grågås flock is still present at Kollsnes.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Solberg 07 January 2007

Two Turnstone steinvender

Took a stroll down to Solberg without the scope (silly I know) but with my new camera. Best birds were a couple of Turnstone steinvender - where were they during the New Year bird race ?! Most of the usual stuff also present but amazingly no eagles today...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Skogsøy 04 January 2006

No rain and light winds made a pleasant change. However, things were generally rather quiet with the ONLY birds on the move being two Great Northern Diver islom heading south. Other than that nice views of at least one Peregrine vandrefalk.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Øygarden 03 January 2006

Wet and windy yet again. The flock of 13 Greylags grågås is still at Kollsnes where there were also two Whooper Swans sangsvane.

At Solberg at least three White-tailed Eagles havørn gave superb views and repeatedly scared up all the Long-tailed Duck havelle and other seaduck. Passerines unsurprisingly few and far between with just a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and three Fieldfare gråtrost to be seen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Øygarden 01 January 2007

Rather difficult conditions again, with strong north westerlies and occasional heavy showers. No sign of many of the usual suspects. However, not exactly bird-free. Best birds were a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea at Hjelme and a Carrion Crow svartkråke at Tjeldstø.

White-tailed Eagles havørn all over the place again.