Monday, February 27, 2012

Tjeldstø 27 February 2012 - More signs of spring

Very dull with light southerly winds.

Whooper Swans sangsvane

Early Toad - a 400mm telephoto lens isn't really the best choice for this kind of shot...

A stroll around Tjeldstø proved reasonably productive with the highlight being a Glaucous Gull polarmåke which gave distant views. A second Greylag grågås joined the bird that arrived yesterday afternoon beside Husvatnet - surely the first migrant geese after a long period of no geese at all in Øygarden.

A few Starling stær, the first Oystercatcher tjeld  and a Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt were new birds and several Fieldfare gråtrost also seen. Mallard stokkand numbers increased again to 22 and a total of six Whoopers sangsvane were present (the same birds that have been here "all winter" - a family party with two young and a pair of adults).

Another first for the spring was a very slow Toad padde which was obviously just coming out of hibernation.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hjelme West 26 February 2012

Calm and sunny.

An hour or so spent looking out over the sea produced most of the usual suspects. Typically for the time of year Long-tailed Duck havelle numbers continue to increase with approximately 110 birds present.

Over 120 Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak, six White-tailed Eagle havørn and a Peregrine vandrefalk were among the other sightings. Just two Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and three Black Guillemot teist seen.

Best bird was a lone Snow Bunting snøspurv heading north - another first for the year in Øygarden.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Skogsøy 25 February 2012

Light northerly and clear skies (after a while at least)

Highlight was the first White-billed Diver gulnebblom of the year - heading north at reasonable range. For once I did not give in to photography and followed it in the scope long enough to clinch it.

Great Black-backed Gull svartbak - moving north

 Goshawk hønsehauk mobbed by Hooded Crow kråke
Kestrel tårnfalk

Other good birds included a Kestrel tårnfalk and a Goshawk hønsehauk.

Passage was limited to three Oystercatcher tjeld, small numbers of Kittiwake krykkje and a steady passage of large gulls. Amazingly not one single auk of any species passed. There was also a light but noticeable southerly movement of Shags toppskarv - spring migration.

A small pod of Orcas spekkhogger feeding offshore was a nice bonus - these animals were probably also present on Thursday but heavy swells on both days restricted views.

Two Slavonian Grebes horndykker were on the sea at Herdlevær.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tjeldstø 24 February 2012

Strong westerly, overcast with showers but quite mild

A massive Peregrine vandrefalk flying over the garden was the best sighting. On the sea a Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a Razorbill alke and small numbers of the usual seaduck.

Mallard stokkand numbers increased - could just be the weather but perhaps these were newly arrived birds. The Whooper Swan sangsvane family that has been using the area on and off all winter were back today.

A single Snipe enkeltbekkasin seen too - easier times for such species now as everywhere is thawed and waterlogged.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Skogsøy 23 February 2012 - First spring migrants!

Light westerly winds, light rain / drizzle for much of the morning.

 Geosund performing survey work off Kollsnes today
For bird photos from my most recent trip on this vessel see here.

Razorbill alke on the sea at Herdlevær

Seawatched for 2 1/2 hours early on. An excellent count of Kittiwake krykkje for recent years with 114 passing. Highlight were the first migrants of the year in the form of two Oystercatcher tjeld heading north Unusually these represent the first sighting of the species this year not just in Øygarden but also in Hordaland.

Other passage included a movement of Herring Gulls gråmåke, several Guillemot lomvi and a lone Little Auk alkekonge.

The Little Grebe dvergdykker remained on the lagoons to the south of the lookout.

A flock of 13 Starling stær near the car park were probably new arrivals (given the time of year and that none have been seen locally in recent times). Four more Starling stær were seen at Breivik.

Herdlevær 22 February 2012

Strong south westerly winds and very dull

 Hooded Crow kråke feeding in an area where the heather has recently been burnt
 Otter chomping on something it caught
Two Common Scoter svartand

A walk at Herdlevær produced little of interest although there was an otter feeding close inshore and a small raptor flushed was probably a Merlin dvergfalk.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Øygarden 21 February 2012 - Spring?

Glorious weather - clear and calm.

With many birds singing or otherwise advetising territory, snowdrops in flower and bulbs beginning to show there was a decidedly spring-like feel today.

Best bird was a Peregrine vandrefalk at Hjelme Vest, otherwise just the usual - Black Guillemot teist etc.

A Fieldfare gråtrost at Sæle along with singing Robins rødstrupe but nothing unusual.

On a darker note the regulatory plan for Tjeldstø arrived in the postbox today. One area where a number of red data species breed is paradoxically now dependent on the high voltage line that goes through it....Better to lose the odd bird to collision than build a load of new houses which will permanently destroy prime breeding habitat whilst simultaneously bringing more cats nearer the breeding birds. Tough choice.

Yet another example of wildlife being ignored - despite informing the decision makers of the value of the area. What does it actually take to protect good areas I wonder....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Skogsøy 19 February 2012

Strong northerly gale and snow showers.

Hardly pleasant conditions but an hours seawatching was well worth the walk - with a decent movement of birds heading north.

 Cormorant storskarv struggling into gale force winds
All but one of the Kittiwakes krykkje today were adults like these

In all 22 Gannets havsule, 33 Kittiwake krykkje, 10 Guillemots lomvi (first of the year) and four Razorbill alke headed north.

On the way back to the car a flock of 10 Fieldfare gråtrost flew over - the biggest flock I have seen thus far in 2012.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tjeldstø 18 February 2012 - GC Grebe!

Calm and blissfully cool compared to Rio and decidely easier to go birding...

 Record shots of the first Great-crested Grebe toppdykker for Tjeldstø

Highlight was the second ever Great-crested Grebe toppdykker for Øygarden and the first for Tjeldstø.

Other sightings included a Fieldfare gråtrost, Rock pipit skjærpiplerke, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and several Whooper Swans sangsvane.

Good to be back!

12-16 February - Copacabana blues

An impromtu trip to Rio de Janeiro proved somewhat frustrating.....

 Frigate bird, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro


A work trip gave extremely few chances to see anything much - in the end an hour in the botanical gardens in Rio de Janeiro was all I could manage. Flocks of vultures and Frigate Birds overhead constantly and obviously plenty of birds everywhere.

No idea what any of these birds are yet - a book on the birds of Brazil will be ordered soon. Looks like this won't be the last time in Rio...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Øygarden 10 February 2012

Southerly winds continue as does the very slow thaw.

At Toftøy at least one Nuthatch spettmeis was another new Øygarden species for 2012. Most of the usual suspects present here including a Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett.

 First winter Common Gull fiskemåke - quite scarce in Øygarden given the numbers in Bergen

 Herring Gull gråmåke

 This White-tailed Eagle havørn was a real frame-filler at Herdlevær - these reduced images really don't do it justice.

Common Snipes enkeltbekkasin present at Herdlevær and Dåvøy. Four Whoopers sangsvane sat on the ice at Tjeldstø later in the afternoon.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Øygarden 09 February 2012

Southerly gale with periods of snow / sleet.

Apalling conditions for the short time I managed to get outside for today.

At Breivik a small flock of Fieldfare gråtrost and a lone Redwing rødvingetrost struggled to feed in the fields. I quickly gave up at this rather exposed location and headed for somewhere more sheltered.

Hjelme produced lots of interesting footprints - mostly Woodcock rugde but probably smaller waders involved too. Three White-tailed Eagle havørn, the first Jay nøtteskrike of the year, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and another Redwing rødvingetrost were also seen here.

At Tjeldsø the best bird was another Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin along with two Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin. A single Velvet Scoter sjøorre fed on the sea.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Dåvøy 08 February 2012 - Slav grebes

Overcast with cold southerly winds. The thaw continues but very slowly with temperatures hovering just above freezing.

Heavily cropped record shot of two Slavonian Grebes horndykker

Many Herring Gulls gråmåke are well on the way to summer plumage - starting to look clean and smart

A quick look at Dåvøy produced two Slavonian Grebes (Horned Grebe these days I suppose) horndykker - a nice surprise and the first of the year in Øygarden. Also present were at least four Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke.

An adult White-tailed Eagle havørn had obviously torn something apart on the shore - chunks of meat were spread all over. Looked like it might once have been a bird of some kind.

A slight increase in the Heron gråhegre roost there - now 19 birds present.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Skogsøy 06 February 2012 - Little Grebe and more

Best weather for ages - milder conditions set a big thaw off during the night. Overcast with light southerly winds.

A roadside Water Rail vannriske meant the morning school run took rather longer than strictly necessary...

The morning school run produced the surprise of the day - a roadside Water Rail vannriske was quite confiding. It ignored passing vehicles until it was scared off by a snow plough...

Skogsøy was relatively quiet but there was a moderate passage of Kittiwakes krykkje heading north (26 in an hour). Smaller numbers of other gulls also on the move. Just one Little Auk alkekonge passed. Best bird at Skogsøy was a Little Grebe dvergdykker feeding on the lagoons to the south of the lookout point.

Woodcock rugde still very much in evidence with fresh tracks in the woods and a sighting of another bird.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Tjeldstø 05 February - Jack Snipes

Southerly gales with driving snow at times.

With most freshwater frozen and ocvered with snow I checked a few of the likely spots for waders today. This proved quite productive with a minimum of five Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and two Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin - the later two in the area that will be destroyed when the new school is built.

A second winter Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke seen from the sitting room was the only other sighting of note.

A quick look at Solberg produced more duck than of late  - no doubt forced inshore by the atrocious conditions. In the bay there were 40-50 Long-tailed Duck havelle, 25+ Eider ærfugl and a couple of Common Scoter svartand.

Very fresh Woodcock rugde tracks here too.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Øygarden 04 February 2012

Very cold due to strong southerly and temperatures below freezing.

 Above and below: third winter / 4cy Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke

Second winter / 2cy Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke

 Above and below: Red-breasted Mergansers siland at Herdlevær

At Herdlevær there was little to see with best birds a couple of Black-headed Gulls hettemåke. A Wren gjerdesmett still surviving there - just a couple more days until the weather breaks and things should become easier for this species again.

 Glaucous Gull polarmåke

A Glaucous Gull polarmåke appeared almost ghost like at Skogsøy but caught me with the wrong camera setting so pictures didn't turn out too well....

White-tailed Eagle havørn attacking a Herring Gull gråmåke

Back at Tjeldstø at least three Iceland Gulls grønlandsmåke, a third winter / 4cy, a second winter (same bird as the last few days) and a first winter quite possibly different from the previous bird put in a brief appearance but disappeared as two White-tailed Eagles havørn had a go at a Herring Gull gråmåke.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Tjeldstø 03 February 2012 - Iceland Gull

Southerly and overcast.

Confined to barracks all day again. Got out very briefly as the light went - and found the second winter / 3cy Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke with darker primaries again.

Other than that just 10 Chaffinch bokfink, a couple of Tree Sparrow pilfink and all the usual stuff in the garden.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Øygarden 02 February 2012

Bitingly cold southerly, overcast with light snow.

 Still plenty of Otters to see

Started at Hjelme Vest where seaduck numbers remain very low - with the exception of Long-tailed Duck havelle which numbered around 90. Just four Eiders ærfugl and a single Common Scoter svartand. Best bird here was a lone Curlew storspove.

Solberg was shrouded in smoke from heather burning further south at Herdlevær. Little on the sea here either.

 First winter Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke at Tjeldstø

At Tjeldstø a new Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke, this time a first winter / 2cy, joined small numbers of Herring Gulls gråmåke. I suspected a second bird yesterday but never refound it at the time.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tjeldstø 01 Febraury 2012 - Strange gulls....

Light southerly and sunny

Didn't get out for anything other than a trip "to the shop" today. However, as I had spotted an interesting gull or two from the sitting room I thought it prudent to swing by and check things out more closely. I'm no expert but this second winter / 3cy Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke looks like a candidate for kumlieni. Comments welcome...

 Possible Kumlien's Gull - dark primaries obvious but may still be at the light end of the scale?

 Above and below: these photos look very interesting - the primaries are obviously quite dark

Another gull, no doubt just some freaky Herring Gull gråmåke variant looked quite distinctive, rather dark, deep-chested, smalled-headed and long-billed.

Unusual Herring Gull gråmåke or something "off the map"?

A couple of Woodcock rugde seen in the woods as it got dark - must be starting to have a hard time of things with the ground being so frozen.

No doubts about these - a pair of Goldeneye kvinand