Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Skogsøy+ 31 December 2014 - New Year's Bird Race Day 1 - for real this time

Fresh southerly winds, no rain.

It turned out that the dates for the New Year's bird race had changed since I last checked them so today was in fact the first day.

Once again something of a late start so only managed a trip to Skogsøy and a brief check at a few other localities.

At Skogsøy the best birds were a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of Woodcock rugde and a single Gannet havsule. Very little on or over the sea.

Breivik held a flock of thrushes and Starlings stær.

At Tjeldstø a stop at the shops produced the Greylag grågås flock that has been around for the last few days.

Bird of the day was an Eagle Owl hubro that gave cracking views at a regular roosting site.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Øygarden 30 December 2014 - New Year Bird Race Day 1

Very dull, low cloud and constant light rain.

Got off to a rather late start and checked a number of localities.

At Dåvøy the best bird was a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, small numbers of Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost in the fields.

Solberg was rather dismal with just a White-tailed Eagle havørn of any note. Poor visibility hampered things here - as everywhere else.

Next up was Tjeldstø which was MUCH better - here we managed to see a number of species which can be relatively difficult - a female Teal krikkand, a Woodcock rugde, three Snipe enkeltbekkasin, 20+ Starling stær and more thrushes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tjeldstø 29 December 2014 - The thaw continues

NW breeze, light showers.

Various errands produced a Peregrine vandrefalk over Blomvåg, a couple of Whoopers sangsvane and three White-tailed Eagle havørn together over Oen / Breivik.

Part of the Greylag grågås flock at Harkestad

Woodcock rugde in a patch of thawed ground

A short walk with the dog at Tjeldstø gave rare views of a Woodcock rugde on the ground, a couple of Redwing rødvingetrost and a Starling stær. A flock of 12 Greylags grågås divided their time between Tjeldstø and Harkestad during the course of the day - hopefully they may attract something more interesting in the days to come.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nautnes / Hjelme Vest 28 December 2014 - pre New Years bird race reccy

Calm, overcast and "mild" triggering something of a thaw.

At Nautnes the best birds were a couple of Oystercatcher tjeld on the rocks in front of the house. This can be a hard species to find here in the middle of winter - hope they are still arouind in a couple of day's time. A Nuthatch spettmeis, a Redwing rødvingetrost and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk also put in an appearance in the garden.

A stroll at Hjelme Vest showed the sea to be surprisingly quiet - perhaps stuff had been scared off by the Peregrine vandrefalk and three White-tailed Eagles havørn that were present. At least two sets of Woodcock rugde tracks seen in the woods here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Herdlevær 23 December - Christmas

Onshore winds with occasional showers.

With Christmas looming fast there was only time for a short stroll at Herdlevær - this produced a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a Gannet havsule, a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and not a lot else.

White-tailed Eagle havørn

Back home at Nautnes a White-tailed Eagle havørn came ridiculously close over the terrace - no way to get the whole bird in the frame.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hjelme Vest 22 December 2014 -The one that got away (again!)

Westerly winds, largely sunny but with some short and heavy showers.

A trip to the denstists and some last minute Christmas shopping put paid to most of the daylight. Managed a quick trip to Hjelme Vest where, whilst sheltering under some trees during a hail shower I got onto a pale wader heading inshore together with an auk. Pale and with a wingbar I got the impression that this was quite probably a Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe. Unfortunately it passed very quickly into the fjords.....

Other than that just a Great Northern Diver islom heading south and a couple of Gannets havsule offshore.

The usual White-tailed Eagles havørn from the house and right overhead at Hjelme Vest along with Sparrowhawk spurvehauk both from the house and at Hellesøy (had to go here in case the wader had landed....)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Northern Øygarden 03 December 2014 . Wasted Wigeon

SW winds, rather murky at first, clearing nicely later.

Kicked off at Hellesøy with very little indeed. A Curlew storspove, a Little Auk alkekonge, a Snipe enkeltbekkassin and a few White-tailed Eagle havørn were all of even minor interest here.

The unusual timing and location of this bird meant that it had to be looked at closely. Initial impression was cold coloured head/neck contrasting with the warmer underparts

Oddly this bird flew up and landed on the road

Patterned axilliaries meant that this was just a normal Wigeon - despite the relatively broad white wing band and "masked" look.

Next stop was Sæle where a Wigeon brunnakke was an unusual find at an unusual time of year and therefore warranted a bit of extra attention. Despite not being completely straightforward we ended up on this bird being a female Wigeon and nothing more exciting than that. A couple of Woodpigeon ringdue were the best of the rest here.

Pale-headed, long winged and "masked" this bird looks to be just a Herring Gull gråmåke. (Harkestad)

At Tjeldstø Whooper sangsvane numbers had risen to five birds including the first young bird of the autumn. Some 13 Mallards stokkand were again feeding around the swans - taking advantage of whatever it was the swans were disturbing with their feet.

Dåvøy and Sæle 02 December 2014 - Leaving it too late

Work and Christmas really putting a stop to getting out! Light rain at first, clearing up nicely later.

Views from my "office"

During the day occasional glimses out of the window at home gave nice views of an Otter and a lone Little Auk alkekonge fed in front of the house for a while.

omissus Herring Gull gråmåke

A lightening check at Dåvøy produced little other than what was probably the same omissus-type Herring Gull gråmåke. Clean white head, very yellow legs - definitely worth checking out. Other stuff here was limited to the usual winter fare - including a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a Black Guillemot teist, a flock of 20 Starling stær and a Fieldfare gråtrost.

Nice view, shame about the birds....

By the time I got to Sæle the sun was going down in the sea. Barely the usual here and the best sighting was a late Woodpigeon ringdue.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Tjeldstø 01 December - Autumn migration continues

Fresh southerly winds and chilly with it.

Mistle Thrush duetrost at Tjeldstø

Not out in any meaningful way today but a quick check at Tjeldstø produced a late Mistle Thrush duetrost - indicating that stuff is still on the move. Also of interest here was a late Wigeon brunnakke feeding with Whoopers sangsvane and Mallard stokkand.

At Solberg a first year Kittiwake krykkje was of minor interest.

Back home at Nautnes a Black-headed Gull hettemåke flew over and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk had a go at the birds at the feeder.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skogsøy 30 November 2014 - Short but sweet

Light SE winds and some very light rain.

Took a rather late and short walk out to Skogsøy. Things were generally quiet but a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn and best of all a flock of four Little Grebe dvergdykker - the biggest ever flock in Øygarden if memory serves me right.

Small numbers of Common Scoter svartand and Velvet Scoter sjøorre passed during the space of a couple of cups of coffee.

The flock of nine Pinkfeet kortnebbgås were still at Breivik.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hjelme Vest 28 November 2014

Calm and more or less sunny.

A quick check of the sea showed it to be relatively quiet but a couple of feeding Great Northern Diver islom, a Turnstone steinvender, a Curlew storspove ,s small numbers of Purple sandpipers fjæreplytt and most of the usual wintering birds were seen.

Female Blackcap munk in the garden

Back home at Nautnes a female Blackcap munk spent most of the day in the garden.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Øygarden 27 November 2014 - Good Sibe Chiff-chaffs at last

Calm and sunny.

Spent a few hours out and about at a few localities in the fantastic weather.

Started a Solberg where the calm conditions made it possible to say that there was virtually nothing on the sea. However, a late Oystercatcher tjeld, several Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a Goshawk hønsehauk meant it was far from a waste of time.

Mega-cropped record shot of the Golden Eagle kongeørn at Alvheim

Next stop was Alvheim where the sea held even less stuff than at Solberg, An adult Golden Eagle kongeørn and a flock of four Yellowhammer gulspurv flying over meant that this was a most successful stop.

This bird kept rolling its eyes back in its head to keep an eye on me....

Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett at Sæle

Just about a record shot of one of the Siberian Chiff-chaffs - rather buffy. The call was the real clincher though.

A short walk at Sæle proved really productive given the time of year. Two very vocal Siberian Chiff-chaffs (tristis) gransanger were the best of the bunch. Also seen here were a couple of Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett, a male Blackcap munk and a late Dunnock jernspurv.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tjeldstø 26 November 2014 - Parrots

Light SE, sunny then clouding over in the afternoon

A walk around the reserve produced relatively little but a flock of 19 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb turned up and another flock of around 30 Crossbills may also have been this species. As usual I didn't find it very straightforward - they seemed big-headed and bull necked and the beaks were huge (not that necessarily means anything much). Beak size and shape varied quite a bit within the flock - some of which were within the range of some of the Common Crossbills grankorsnebb that regularly turn up here.

The curvature on the upper mandible on this bird seems to start straight away

Above and below - same bird

For a Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb the bill on this one is positively dainty

A Goshawk hønsehauk flew over and two White-tailed Eagles havørn seemed to be displaying.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Herdlevær 25 November 2014 - Back to reality

Calm, sunny and "warm".

After the thousands of waders at Pak Thale, Thailand a couple of days ago it was something of a crash landing to take a short walk at Herdlevær today....

A couple of fly-over Snow Bunting snøspurv were the best birds, a late Oystercatcher tjeld was also present. Among the usual suspects were a couple of Black Guillemot teist and a Little Auk alkekonge.

At Breivik there were nine Pinkfeet kortnebbgås feeding in the fields - presumably the same birds reported a few days ago.

A couple of Whooper Swan sangsvane fed at Tjeldstø.

Back home at Nautnes a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk flew over the house.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Øygarden 07 November 2014 - Going to the office produces Øygarden mega!

Stronger SE winds today with high cloud.

A trip to the office would normally mean that the day was a write-off. Not so today - returning home I stopped to check out two swans on Stegeviksvatnet, Toft. Initially I had driven past thinking these were just the first Whoopers sangsvane of the autumn but something made me turn around and go back....

A real mega for Øygarden - the second ever record of Mute Swan knoppsvane for the islands

This was a stroke of luck (or my gut feeling was good) as the two swans turned out to be Øygarden's second ever Mute Swans knoppsvane - a real mega! As I had gone to the office I didn't have my "proper" camera with me but I had my compact super-zoom in the car with which to document this exciting find. The swans must have moved on pretty quickly as they had already disappeared an hour or two later.

The only previous record of this species was from Hernar in conjuction with the Crag Martin twitch back in May 2011.

To anyone not living on some of the remoter islands this species is probably one of the least exciting imaginable. Not so in Øygarden!

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Sæle

A quick look at Sæle produced at least two each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk along with a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett, a couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and Brambling bjørkefink.

Brambling bjørkefink at Nautnes

Whilst I was taking pictures of the swans with a point and pray camera my daughter was taking pictures of a Brambling bjørkefink from the terrace back home with a "proper" camera....

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Øygarden 06 November 2014 - Ideal conditions

Excellent conditions with light SE, overcast at first then clearing to sunny.

Should really have gone to Hernar today but the logistics were a bit much this time around.

Kicked off the day with a nice Water Rail vannrikse at Hjelme. Also a Woodcock rugde and most of the usual suspects here.

Next up was a stroll at Herdlevær, though I didn't do my usual walk there. Highlights here were a male Merlin dvergfalk with prey and a late Ring Ousel ringtrost.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tjeldstø 05 November 2014 - more dodgy Chiff-chaffs

Light easterly winds and sunny for much of the day - except it rained whilst I was changing the wheels over on my car to winter tyres.

Combined a quick look at Hellesøy with the morning school run. Relatively quiet here with best birds two Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett. Other stuff worth a mention were a Curlew storspove and a Blackcap munk.

An even more cursory check at Sæle produced a couple each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk. Seems yesterday's birds were not tristis - they were calling today and sounded quite normal. A late Dunnock jernspurv, a Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and a Willow tit granmeis were among the other birds seen here.

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø was relatively quiet but two Yellowhammer gulspurv (scarce migrant here) flew south, a small flock of Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis turned up and there were more Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk here too. One of the Chiff-chaff's (not the one pictured here) was noticably buffier and seemingly has an all black bill - all in all a much better candidate for tristis.

Quite a bulky bill on this thing after all...

The probable omissus type Herring Gull gråmåke was again present at Harkestad - but today the bill looked a lot more bulky than it did last time...

Little Auk alkekonge - picture taken from the terrace

Back home the 100th species for the house was a long overdue Little Auk alkekonge that swam past whilst I was making dinner.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Herdlevær 04 November 2014 - Another excellent day in Øygarden

Light winds today, started off more or less SE with some light drizzle. Ended up NE and sunny - but not until after I got home.

Guillemot lomvi 

Started the day at Herdlevær where there was quite a bit to see. Not that much in the way of passerines on the ground but there was some movement overhead before it started to drizzle - largely thrushes and Starling stær but also a few Redpoll gråsisik.

Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis

The sea was rather quieter than yesterday but there was still a noticable passage of gulls. Best birds were a first year Glaucous Gull polarmåke, a Black-throated Diver storlom and a couple of Great Northern Divers islom. Auks were limited to a several Little Auk alkekonge flying past and a Guillemot lomvi on the sea.

A party of four Long-tailed Tit stjertmeis were the only passerine migrants of note.

The above four pictures are of the same bird

tristis / abietinus type Chiff-chaffs gransanger

A very short and limited look at Sæle produced at least three very not-green Chiff-chaffs gransanger. One might think they were good for tristis but three together sounds just daft.... Also a few Blackcap munk and another flock of Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis also present here.

Back home at Nautnes the best bird of the day flew over the house as I watched two Otters fishing. A Stock dove skogdue - number 99 for the house and a new species for Nautnes.