Sunday, December 30, 2012

Øygarden 30 December 2012 - New Year Bird Race Day 1

Southerly gales, heavy showers at times.

Woken up by heavy thunder and a heavier hail storm my sanity was questioned as I left for Skogsøy. Given the conditions it was no surprise that passerines and raptors (with the exception of White-tailed Eagle havørn) were virtually absent.

Luckily there was some passage over the sea with around 10 Gannets havsule, 10 Kittiwake krykkje, several Little Auks alkekonge, a Razorbill alke and some other unidentified auks. Just singles of Common Scoter svartand and Velvet Scoter sjøorre.

After Skogsøy I popped in very briefly at a number of localities picking up a Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Herdlevær, a Fieldfare gråtrost, two Blackcap munk, Tree Sparrow pilfink etc at Tjeldstø.

A few adult Whoopers sangsvane at Storavatnet were the last new of the day - taking the number of species to 35.

Bird of the day was without doubt an Eagle Owl hubro.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Breivik 29 December 2012 - Strange gull?

Southerly gales, some light rain. Mild.

Thawing fast. Only bird of note was a single Woodcock rugde.

 Smaller, darker gull (top left) with Herring gulls gråmåke.

A drive-by at Herdlevær produced a strange looking gull - smaller and darker than the Herring Gulls gråmåke and with less white on the wing-tips.

The two Blackcaps munk remain in the garden.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Herdlevær 28 December 2012 - Goldie again

Strong southerly winds slowly increasing. Mainly dry, some thawing.

Golden Eagle kongeørn mobbed by Raven ravn. The split in the white wing patches on the underwing indicate that this bird is at least in its fourth year.

Curlew storspove

Herdlevær seemed rather quiet to start with but things picked up nicely in the end. Highlight was an immature Golden Eagle kongeørn, probably the same bird seen from my house several days ago. Views were not brilliant but better than last time - seems like it may be a fourth year bird or thereabouts.

Other birds of note were a fly-by Curlew storspove and at least two Woodcock rugde. A lone Starling stær was the first for a while.

The two Blackcaps munk remain in the garden.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tjeldstø 27 December 2012 - More Blackcap

Fresh north westerly wind with snow showers.

 Female Blackcap munk on one of the feeders

Amazingly yesterday's female Blackcap munk was joined by a male in the garden today.

A flock of five Waxwing sidensvans flying past were the best birds during a short stroll at Solberg. As usual a couple of Otters were present too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tjeldstø 26 December 2012 - Blackcap

Calm and mild.

A walk around the reserve produced little of interest although the family of five Whoopers sangsvane flew over - obviously hoping for some open fresh water.

Female Blackcap munk in the garden

Best birds today were both in the garden - a female Blackcap munk and a lone Fieldfare gråtrost.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tjeldstø 25 December 2012

Calm, mild and raining all day.

Took things very easy today. A stroll around the reserve produced a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Woodcock rugde - both of which should be having an easier time of things if the weather forecast holds.

Still plenty of birds feeding in the garden with around 120-130 in most days. Tree Sparrow pilfink numbers seem to have suddenly dropped though.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dåvøy 24 December 2012

Fresh south easterly with snow. Nice.

 Cormorant storskarv
 Mallard stokkand
Wren gjerdesmett

Only bird of any note at Dåvøy was a Snipe enkeltbekkasin - with the weather forecast to turn milder soon this bird should have an easier time of things for a while at least.

A quick look at Solberg produced little - just a Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a couple of Otters.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hjelme West 23 December 2012

Strong SE wind, cold

A quick trip to Hjelme West produced a Goshawk hønsehauk chasing a Woodcock rugde out over the sea as the best sighting. The Woodock escaped at great height a fair way out to sea.

Otherwise a Great Northern Diver islom, several Black Guillemots teist and at least two Otters present.

The best bird of the day, however, was picked up from my living room window - a juvenile Golden Eagle kongeørn. Also of note in the garden was the House Sparrow gråspurv flock is now up to at least 45 birds - this flock just gets bigger and bigger - wonder where they are coming from.....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tjeldstø 22 December 2012 - Parrots?

Another cold and sunny day, well below freezing.

 Large billed Common Crossbills grankorsnebb?

Not much about today, though a flock of Crossbills korsnebb in the woods proved interesting. I have to admit I don't find Crossbills easy. These looked rather large billed but somehow didn't feel quite right for Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb. I see that I will have to start with sound recording....

A couple of Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn and not a whole lot else.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Solberg 21 December 2012

Calm sunny and very, very frozen

 Heron gråhegre at Dåvøy
Raven ravn at Solberg

A quck check at Solberg produced very little - the usual Otter, approximately 20 Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and what was presumably the same flock of 11 Common Crossbill grankorsnebb as last visit.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Skogsøy 20 December 2012

Calm, sunny and cold.

A return to freezing conditions again after a welcome break.

 Whooper Swan sangsvane family at Skogsøy

Eider ærfugl

Typically for the time of year there was little passage over the sea - highlights were:

Red-throated Diver smålom 1 south
Little Auk alkekonge 3 south
Velvet Sctoer sjøorre 5 north
Gannet havsule 2 north

Other birds seen on the way out inlcuded seven Whoopers sangsvane and a couple of Waxwing sidensvans.

A Fieldfare gråtrost at Oen on the way home was the first I've seen since the snow came.

Coal Tit svartmeis

Goldcrest fuglekonge

Back in the garden a Goldcrest fuglekonge was an unusual December visitor - normally they come into the garden during migration periods. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ljøsneset 19 December 2012 - Black Grouse

Another calm and mild day.

Nothing much of interest other than a male Black Grouse orrfugl - the first I've seen for some time.

Back at Tjeldstø the party of five Whoopers sangsvane that checked the area out a couple of days ago returned and stayed to feed close to Rotevatnet, Tjeldstø - still not thawed yet!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hjelme West 18 December 2012 - Calm conditions pay off at last

Calm and mild again though most fresh water still very frozen.

The conditions were pretty much ideal for picking up stuff on the sea and, unlike yesterday, there was plenty about.

Highlights were three Great Northern Diver islom (all visible in same field of view at one point), a male Scaup bergand and two Red-throated Diver smålom.

Numbers of seaduck also up slightly with over 40 Long-tailed Duck havelle and more than 30 Common Scoter svartand. Several Black Guillemot teist and small numbers of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt also present.

A bonus bird on the way back to the car was a Jay nøtteskrike.

Popped in very briefly at both Sæle and Hjelme without seeing anything much of interest.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Øygarden 17 December 2012 - Otters

Calm and mild - the thaw continues - even insects hatching today.

 The four pictures above were of an Otter than surfaced close to where I was sitting at Dåvøy.

 In this heavily cropped image one can see an Otter between tow White-tailed Eagles havørn

Three eagles squabbling over whatever they managed to grab from the Otter.

With excellent conditions there should have been more to see today. As it was the day was dominated by Otters - with two at Dåvøy and at least three at Solberg.

The local White-tailed Eagles havørn showed one of their tricks today - stealing food from Otters. Amazingly one of the Otters sat on the rocks between two eagles - neither of which made a move on it at all.

Tjeldstø 16 December 2012 - F*****g Cats!

The main aim of this blog is to provide the latest bird news from Øygarden. Today I feel obliged to put the cat among the pigeons so to speak...

 Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin taken by a cat at Tjeldstø

A couple of days ago a cat in a nearby housing estate caught and killed a Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin - a species already struggling to survive in the freezing conditions and forced to concentrate on any unfrozen areas that remain. I was already painfully aware that the local cats were patrolling such areas but had yet to see concrete evidence of their success.

This is surely one of the best arguments against yet another proposed "development" on the edge of the local nature reserve - right among and next to some areas that remain unfrozen even during protracted periods of cold weather. Not only do the local planners want to destroy prime habitat directly but this project will also bring even more cats into the reserve. Any wonder bird populations are struggling with such incessant habitat loss and degradation compounded by artificially high number of predators?

Meanwhile the cat owners shrug their shoulders and say its just "nature's way". Imagine the hue and cry if I used the same argument to let my dog loose - a dog who is already an accomplished Mink killer and would like nothing better than to be allowed to add cats to his list of prey...."so sorry but it's just the way of nature".

The situation is bitterly unfair and the losers, as always, are the birds.

On a vaguely positive note at least this bird will end up as a valuable addition to the collection in the Natural History Museum in Bergen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Herdlevær 16 December 2012 - thawing fast

Southerly winds with light rain showers.

A rapid thaw has set in with almost all snow gone but freshwater still very much iced over.

A fairly uneventful walk around Herdlevær produced two Woodcock rugde as the best birds.

Otherwise just the usual including at least four White-tailed Eagle havørn (no adults), Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke etc.

A female Wigeon brunnakke turned up on the shore out my house later in the afternoon - obviously a continued movement out to the coast.

Finally some info about ringed birds:

The ringed Blue tit blåmeis that turned up in my garden (see this post) was indeed ringed at Lista 56 days earlier some 293km to the SSE proving that these birds moved north up the coast.

The colour ringed Sanderling sandløper mentioned in this post had been ringed in Iceland towards the end of May 2010 and had spent the following winters on the coast of south Northumberland between Newgibbin and Whitley Bay.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tjeldstø 15 December 2012 - Jack Snipe

Near gale force easterly wind, milder without feeling it.

Roadside  Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin at Hatten

Some thawing taking place today but still very frozen and snowy. By far the best bird today was a Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin spotted from the car whilst running errands.

 Ravens ravn putting on a synchronised flying display

Adult Whooper Swan sangsvane

A walk through the woods at Tjeldstlø produced little other than yet more fresh Woodcock rugde tracks and an optimistic party of five Whoopers sangsvane circled looking for a place to land.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Øygarden 14 December 2012 - Water Rail

Southerly winds, still cold.

A couple of short walks with the dogs and the usual household errands produced some quality birds in a short space of time in the failing light of the afternoon.

 Above and below Water Rail vannriske - always great to see this species

 Above and below: Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb at Alvheim

Best bird was probably a Water Rail vannrikse at Alvheim where there were also around 15 Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb.

Wigeon brunnakke landing at Solberg

At Solberg three Wigeon brunnakke were a surprise find - must be being forced out to the coast in the freezing weather. A Woodcock rugde was seen briefly here too.

Tjeldstø produced more very fresh Woodcock rugde tracks, a Goshawk hønsehauk mobbing a White-tailed Eagle havørn. Blackbird svarttrost numbers in the garden continue to increase with seven now present - all but one of which appear to be adult males.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hjelme Vest 13 December 2012

Light south-east and "mild".

 Woodcock rugde are facing an ever harder time of it - hoping for a thaw SOON

With some almost-sun shining on it Lyngøy looked like the place to be today

Temperatures hovering around freezing but not thawing fast enough for the likes of the Woodcock rugde I found by following its tracks through the undergrowth. Tracks of what was probably another bird also found.

Best bird was a rather distant Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker but otherwise just the usual suspects on the sea. Raptors today were three White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and a Goshawk hønsehauk. A flock of 12 Crossbills korsnebb in the woods were probably Common Crossbill.

Back home a Waxwing sidensvans dropped into the garden briefly before I set off.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Skogsøy 12 December 2012 - Whoopers

Light southerly winds with some light snowfall

 Some of the Whoopers sangsvane feeding in the saltwater lagoons at Skogsøy

Here the entire flock is pictured

White-tailed Eagle havørn

Took a walk at Skogsøy despite not having the time to seawatch. As expected with all suitable freshwater frozen there was a small flock of Whoopers sangsvane on the "lagoons".

Other decent birds included a Woodcock rugde and very fresh tracks of at least two more, a Goshawk hønsehauk and a Black Guillemot teist. A rather interesting, out of place, passerine that evaded ID had a Black Redstart svartrødstjert kind of feel to it..... 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tjeldstø 11 December 2012 - Still winter

Calm with light snowfall much of the morning.

Slightly milder than of late but still very frozen so many species still having a hard time of things.

 Woodcock rugde - has to be cold to see these feeding out in the open....

 Snipe enkeltbekkasin hiding away in a narrow unfrozen channel

 Hooded Crow kråke
Still plenty of Chaffinch bokfink in the garden

A stroll around the reserve produced a Woodcock rugde and a Snipe enkeltbekkasin that are (just) hanging in there on the few patches of unfrozen wet ground.

Other birds included a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn and a Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett.

A brief stop at Dåvøy gave views of a Red-throated Diver smålom and another Snipe enkeltbekkasin.