Saturday, June 24, 2017

Herdlevær & Hatten 24 June 2017 - Some locally uncommon breeders - and another giving it a good try

An afternoon stroll at Herdlevær produced mostly the usual suspects - many species with newly fledged young including Wheatear steinskvett and Meadow Pipit heipiplerke. Worryingly three female Eider ærfugl had no young in tow. Mink are a big problem at Herdlevær and now I am without my dog I will have to find other ways of getting rid of these...

Ringed Plover sandlo pair


The Ringed Plover sandlo pair were still present and obviously guarding either young or eggs,

The Corncrake åkerrikse first heard a couple of days ago gave a brief burst of song as I walked past. Wonder if it has been displaced from somewhere else where the grass has been cut...

At Tjeldstø a male Tufted Duck toppand was an unseasonal observation. House Martin taksvale, Black-headed Gulls hettemåke and at least four Arctic Terns rødnebbterne were also present here.

Siskin grønnsisik

Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper nest


Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper

I popped in at Hatten on the way home and amazingly managed a year tick in the form of Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper - with a nest full of well grown young. Daft that it has taken so long to see this species but great to see this species breeding in Øygarden. It is probably a lot commoner than it seems to be - the places this species breeds don't receive much coverage.

Øygarden & Gullfjell 21-22 June 2017 - Eurasian Birder

I spent a couple of very pleasant days guiding an American couple around Øygarden and up on Gullfjell.

This was great fun with a lot of puerile humour - a pair of Great Tits kjøttmeis could set off the kind of sniggering that is possible with a 10 year old. There was also the constant translation of British bird names to the US version - and with so many of the over 70 species seen having a name beginning with Eurasion (Eurasion Curlew storspove, Eurasian Golden Plover heilo etc etc) it was suggested that I change my name from Natural Born Birder to Eurasion Birder.

Øygarden produced some decent birds with Corncrake åkerriskse the next best thing after the Trumpeter Finch trompetfink. Great Skua storjo chasing Gannets havsule, most of the local breeding waders, Eagle Owl hubro and plenty more. White-tailed Eagle havørn were unusually something of a struggle but we finally found three of these magestic birds at Hellesøy. Crested Tit toppmeis were a popular find invoking a new round of innuendo laden jokes. We also saw a few Otter here and there.

Gullfjell was a bit hard going above Redningshytten as the visibility closed in and it started to rain. Before this, however, we managed a Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk, a pair of Ring Ousel ringtrost, Dipper fossekall and most of the usual suspects.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Breivik 19-20 June 2017 - 2nd Trumpeter Finch for Norway

On 19th June I was at Gatwick airport on my way home when I received a phone call and some exciting text messages from Eirik Adolfsen about a Trumpeter Finch trompetfink at Breivik.  I had to get back to Norway, pop into the office for a couple of hours, spend a couple more tense hours on the bus back to Nautnes, pick up my car and head out to try for it.

Dressed in the same clothes and shoes I travelled in I turned up and thanks to FF found the bird after only a short search. It was rather mobile but gave good enough views.

Early the next morning I obtained more prolonged view but had to leave again after only a short time. Later in the afternoon I returned, this time guiding, and saw the bird better after spending a bit of time looking for it.

This is the second record for Norway and remarkably for someone who does no twitching I have now seen both of them.



Trumpeter Finch trompetfink


Flashback to 28.08.2013 at Øra....the only previous record of this species in Norway


Monday, June 05, 2017

Øygarden 02-03 June 2017 - Not giving up yet

Still proving difficult to get out and about.



A quick look at Herdlevær in rather dull conditions on 02 June produced little of interest other than a pair of Ringed Plover sandlo looking and sounding like they are breeding in the area - very encouraging as some other wader species like Redshank rødstilk and Lapwing vipe seem to have given up / been driven away with mink the likely suspect for their demise here.
.
Also rather encouragingly there were Skylarks sanglerke singing from more localities than normal so perhaps there is more hope for this species.



Back home a male Arctic Tern rødnebbterne was very entertaining as he tried to impress his mate with fish after fish. Doesn't seem to be lack of food that makes these birds give up their breeding attempts. Here's hoping they go for it this year.

On 03 June I did a quick seawatch at Skogsøy. Very much a typical early June affair with a single 2cy Great Northern Diver islom, singles of Great Skua storjo, Arctic Skua tyvjo, Fulmar havhest along with small numbers of the usual suspects including a Black Guillemot teist. Unusually two Tufted Duck toppand put in an appearance heading south.

Best bird was a cracking Peregrine vandrefalk - looked like a 2cy female. A Lesser Whitethroat møller also gave good views here.

Back at their usual spot the Ringed Plover sandlo pair I have been watching now have three young running about. Nice!



I spent too much time on this bird which I am pretty sure is just a Herring Gull gråmåke with yellow legs - a so-called omissus

Red-throated Divers smålom heading north

Wheatear steinskvett

I wasted some early morning Skogsøy time looking at a Herring Gull gråmåke with yellow legs. It is compulsory to check these things out and I was more optimistic than normal as I do not tend to see such birds in June - they are normally an early spring thing here in Øygarden. As usual all hopes of an altogether more interesting gull were dashed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Skogsøy 24 May 2017 - Albatross?!

Light NW winds, mostly clear.

The undoubted highlight was what appeared to be a BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS SVARTBYNALBATROSS. However, the range was extreme and just a tad too far for me to be able to claim it with good conscience. A large, very long-winged bird which did some "arcing" flight more reminiscent of shearwater than Gannet havsule, flapped very little and had black uppersides to the wings all the way across the back, had a white head and white rear end passed north. It was alone and it never came close to anything else.

A couple of years ago my scope might still have made it but it needs either repairing or replacing.....and who can live without a scope for several weeks?

Otherwise there was a decent northbound passage of Gannets havsule (over 70), small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom and a Great Northern Diver islom (heading south) in addition to a light movement of Arctic Terns rødnebbterne and a few Fulmar havhest.

Embarrassingly I saw my first local Blackcap munk of the year in the evening.

There has, as usual now, been no time for birding during the last week or so and with the demise of my dog I am no longer forced to be out and about on a daily basis. Over the last few days I have had my first local House Martins taksvale, Swift tårnseiler and more from the terrace.

Many more species now with recently fledged young including Song Thrush måltrost and House Sparrow gråspurv.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Øygarden 12 May 2017 - The end of an era

Today my dog, Whisky, went to the happy hunting grounds in the sky where he will be forever finding cryptically patterned waders, killing mink, and going on birding trips.

When I said yes to my very young daughter as she pleaded "Daddy PLEEEASE, PLEEEASE can we get this puppy" I wasn't being a good father - I knew that having a dog would mean I would be "forced" to go out with him whatever the weather. So when I said yes to this I knew I would see a lot more birds. He was my faithful birding companion from then on - but it was a close call as at just a few months of age and still quite small he was targeted by a hungry Golden Eagle kongeørn on his first ever trip to Skogsøy.

We will now be able to say the word "Skogsøy" out loud at home without having a very excited and optimistic dog ready to go at a moment's notice.

Whisky was well liked by all those who seawatch at Skogsøy. Here watching a flock of Oystercatcher in April 2016

He was well known to all those who bird in Øygarden and especially for his patience during long seawatches at Skogsøy.  He was my constant birding companion for almost 15 years, has found countless Woodcock rugde, Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin, Water Rail vannriske and more besides.


Just a couple of the many Mink that Whisky put a welcome end to

Killing Mink on a regular basis he also did his bit for conservation in the area. Once he even managed to catch and kill a Mink underwater after leaping off a cliff into the sea - not bad for a dog who didn't like to swim. The breeding birds at Herdlevær will face tougher times without him as it was here he scored best.

Cats entered our garden to prey on birds at the feeder with their lives at stake. Those that got the chance soon learnt that my garden was not a safe place for them.

He also saved the lives of at least two lambs and a goat all of which he found having fallen into holes / boggy areas / into crevasses. He pointed them out to us enabling rescue of said herbivore.

Without him I fear there will be even less time out and about for me. Not having to take him out regularly will probably mean I end up working more and birding less....







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Øygarden 10 May - Trying to take it easy but failing miserably....

Very light northerly breeze, calm, some cloud at first but sunny later.

The idea was not to go birding and get caught up on a load of stuff. This plan almost worked until I got out of bed.

Taking my morning coffee onto the terrace I was greeting by singing Wryneck vendehals and a displaying Common Sandpiper strandsnipe. As this was meant to be a day of not birding I did not have my binoculars or camera with me, these were in the living room several metres away.

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås with one of the locals.


Next up was the taking the dog out. I thought I would avoid all the potentially best places. I may have partly succeeded with this but picked up the long-staying Pinkfoot kortnebbgås pair at Tjeldstø. Among other things. Alarmingly I also had a flock of 200 Barnacles hvitkinngås heading north,



1000's of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås passed today

Barnacles hvitkinngås as seen by superzoom over Solberg


Short video of a migrating flock of Barnacle Geese

Common Tern makrellterne pair at Dåvøy

There are some common birds in Øygarden too, Great Black-backed Gull svartbak is one of them. There are pairs on eggs everywhere now.

Immature Golden Eagle kongeørn at Solberg today. A rare May sighting in Øygarden.


Ignoring this I went about my business (go to shop, pick daughter up from school....) but then the dog needed to go out again. I chose Solberg as this is quick and easy and potentially relatively birdless. In the first 15 minutes at least 1000 Barnacles hvitkinngås passsed. This meant I had to stay a full half hour. A minimum of 1500 geese passed in this time along with a White-billed Diver gulnebblom, 15 Velvet Scoter sjøorre and more besides. On the sea were 20 Long-tailed Duck havelle, 30 Common Scoter svartand and five Teal krikkand.

To make matters worse a young Golden Eagle kongeørn flew over - a rare sighting in Øygarden during May. Normally this is a winter thing.

I headed home as fast as I could but the Barnacles just kept passing. However, I stayed inside working on my computer and did my best to ignore them....

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Skogsøy 09 May - Another day, another good seawatch

Northerly winds but nothing like as strong as yesterday and with more clouds today.


Pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo


Pomarine Skua polarjo



Some of the day's White-billed Divers gulnebblom


Another short seawatch in comparison with the usual spring count of 6 hours. A most productive and enjoyable morning with nine White-billed Diver gulnebblom, a Pom Skua polarjo, three Arctic Skua tyvjo, a Great Skua storjo and finally my first local Puffin lunde of the year.

Numbers in just under four hours:

Red throated Diver smålom N 86
White-billed Diver gulnebblom N 9
Northern Gannet havsule N 23
Great Cormorant storskarv S 2
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 2
Eurasian Shag toppskarv S 2
Eider ærfugl N  1
Long tailed duck havelle N 41
Common Scoter svartand N 19
Common Scoter svartand S 1
Merganser siland N 2
Oystercatcher tjeld N 20
Whimbrel småspove N 1
Pomarine Skua polarjo N 1
Arctic Skua tyvjo N 3
Great Skua storjo N 1
Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje N 10
Atlantic Puffin lunde N 1


Monday, May 08, 2017

Skogsøy 08 May 2017 - Short and sweet

Near gale force northerly winds and sunny.

It felt pretty cold today even though the sun was shining. I spent a few hours seawatching but couldn't stay as long as I would have liked to.

There was plenty passing without anything really remarkable - divers came by in rather better numbers than of late and there was something going on most of the time.

The numbers were like this:

Red throated Diver smålom N 143
White Billed Diver gulnebblom N 5
Northern Fulmar havhest N 1
Northern Gannet havsule N 43
Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås N 226
Eider ærfugl S 1
Long tailed duck havelle N 27
Common Scoter svartand N 39
Velvet Scoter sjøorre N 2
Oystercatcher tjeld N 14
Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt N 5
Arctic Skua tyvjo N 1 (pale phase)
Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje N 6
Arctic Tern rødnebbterne N 7
Razorbill alke N 3
Black Guillemot teist N 1
Auk N 6

Other birds included a 2 cy Great Northern Diver islom on the sea.

Pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo

Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås with Red-throated Diver smålom in the background


Black Guillemot teist - I could have obtained much better pictures of this bird but there was too much going on at the time...

Gannet havsule overhead

Migrating Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt

Red-throated Diver smålom flock



And last but by no means least - a few of the White-billed Divers gulnebblom that passed today


Back home a random glance outside produced another flock of around 100 Barnacles hvitkinngås heading north.

No time to download pictures today but got some decent shots today.....hopefully I will be able to update tomorrow.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Tjeldstø 07 May 2017 - Dawn Chorous and then some

Light northerly breeze, gradually strengthening to strong breeze / gale.

Dawn birding at Tjeldstø

Pre-dawn White-tailed Eagle havørn being mobbed by a Raven ravn


The dawn chorous went pretty well bird wise, with at least 45 species seen or heard from where we were sitting. Roding Woodcock rugde, drumming Snipe enkeltbekkasin, the first Cuckoo gjøk of the year along with most of the usual suspects. Waders included a Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove flushed by a White-tailed Eagle havørn that buzzed the area along with the local breeders (Curlew storspove, Redshanks rødstilk, Lapwing vipe, Common Sandpiper strandsnipe and Oystercatcher tjeld). The first Common Tern makrellterne of the year also put in an appearance.

Back at Nautnes I took the dog out and had a Lapland Bunting lappspurv come in off the sea. I followed this up with a very rare activity - seawatching from the house. Normally it is just work, housework or other daily drudgery but today I sat on my terrace for a whole hour with my scope(!). The birds were pouring past!

A new species for the house list (embarrassing really considering I could have got this one any given spring) were two White-billed Diver gulnebblom. I also had two probable Pomarine Skua polarjo but won't be claiming these. Good numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle, a Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a small flock of Whimrel småspove and a Comic Tern (rødnebb/makrellterne) were among the other birds seen.

AND I completed my tax-return - quite possibly the highlight of the day, just for the relief of getting off my mind. 

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Øygarden 06 May 2017 - I WILL be birding tomorrow!

Warm and sunny again with a northerly breeze in the afternoon.

A flock of 20 Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås seen from the house in the morning and the first Sedge Warbler sivsanger of the year at Breivik seen on the way home from dropping my daughter off were the only sightings of note today.

However, I will HAVE to go birding tonight (strictly speaking tomorrow) as I am taking part in this broadcast

So a six hours dawn chorous marathon! With Pallid Harrier steppehauk and Great Egret egretthegre as recent local highlights who knows what might turn up whilst we are on air!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Øygarden 05 May 2017 - Tjeldstø 1, Herdlevær 1/2

Yet another calm, warm and sunny day.

A quick seawatch at Herdlevær whilst eating breakfast and spending much of the time on the phone showed that there were probably more divers passing today than the last few days - 14 Red-throated Diver smålom passed in the hour I sat there - well before the peak time of day. A single Velvet Scoter sjøorre accompanied one of them,

A Carrion Crow svartkråke was the best bird here and a Common Sandpiper strandsnipe was the first of the year for me.

Great Egret egretthegre
 The bird flew several times, making me think it was going to leave but it did not move far whilst I was there.

Lapwing vipe are scary.....

Meeting the local Grey Herons gråhegre




After doing the shopping I stopped at Husvatnet where I thought I had found a Great Egret egretthegre - until I changed location in order to obtain some record shots. There I met Mr. Adolfsen who had sent me a text message about it. Note to self: GOT TO PAY ATTENTION TO MESSAGES ON MY "BIRD" PHONE. This is the second message in a week about a good bird that I haven't noticed.....

Lesser Redpoll brunsisik - one of the commonest passerines in Øygarden. Picture taken at Nautnes

Lots of Wheatear steinskvett about. This smart male was photographed at Nautnes


After sorting out some work stuff it was time to continue painting the house. This is not an interesting activity but at least I painted with a singing Wryneck vendehals for company.

Greylag grågås with newly hatched chicks

One of the singing Wryneck vendelhals at Hjelmo

A very short walk at Hjelmo in the evening produced at least two more Wryneck vendehals and the first Greylag grågås goslings of the year.