Thursday, August 10, 2017

Skogsøy 10 August 2017 - Pavlovian response to onshore winds

A fresh onshore breeze meant that there was no choice but to head out to Skogsøy. There were, of course, no shearwaters - I see them just as often with the wind in the east or at least anywhere but west.

Sometimes one can get lucky and get the whole bird in....

The more usual result when photographing diving Gannets havsule

Something approaching my dream shot of Shag toppskarv. If only it was in focus....
The fish looks like a Short-spined Sea Scorpion

Most Shags toppskarv today were first year birds - perhaps they migrate north before the adults...

It was relatively quiet with just a southbound migration of Oystercatchers tjeld, the autumn northward migration of Shags toppskarv (most of which were this year's birds) and small numbers of Gannet havsule.

A couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn did some seawatching from the next headland south, one of which was there when I arrived and left at the same time.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Øygarden 08-09 August 2017 - Skogsøy, Herdlevær and the usual.

Fantastic to be back out in the field! 

On 08 August several hours seawatching was a great experience if only for the company and the weather (we were drenched by a few short but heavy showers). Birdwise there was something going on most of the time with Oystercatcher tjeld and Common Gulls fiskemåke typically dominating.

There were plenty of other species including an adult Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove, a family of Shelduck gravand (two adults with seven young), a couple of Red-throated Diver smålom, small numbers of Common Scoter svartand and a selection of the usual waders.

At Tjeldstø an EXTREMELY early Brambling bjørkefink turned up with other finches and a Whinchat buskskvett put in an appearance.

One of the Greylag grågås flocks - not the typical V-shaped skein....

A selection of Twite bergirisk shots

The 9th August saw me doing the usual round at Herdlevær in fantastic calm and sunny conditions. A lot more Greylag grågås headed south with at least 145 passing (another flock of 60 flew over the house after I got home). A couple of flocks of Twite bergirisk gave cracking views as they fed on ripening seeds. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett also put in an appearance - a sign that this year may be another invasion year.

Otters were seen both days, Sparrowhawks spurvehauk, several White-tailed Eagles havørn and an Eagle Owl hubro were among the other species seen.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Eastern Norway 21-23 July - Run to the hills

One of many young Bluethroat blåstrupe at Fokstumyra

A few days of guiding in eastern Norway gave some birding. We started the ball rolling at the well-known Fokstumyra nature reserve. There were virtually no waders or wildfowl but a number of good birds put in an appearance including Hen Harrier myrhauk and Crane trane. There were good numbers of young Bluethroat blåstrupe about with some of these attended by adults. Best bird here, however, was a completely unexpected species in the form of a singing Quail vaktel.

Female Red-backed Shrike tornskate

The next day we headed on to Valdresflye. The journey there gave cracking views of Siberian Jay lavskrike, a pair of Red-backed Shrikes tornskate at a much higher altitude than I ever expected to see them at, Rough-legged Buzzards fjellvåk, Ring Ousels ringtrost and plenty more besides. Perhaps the best sighting was an adult Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove at Ovre Sjodalsvatnet.

Dotterel boltit

Shorelark fjellerke

Young Snow Bunting snøspurv

Stunning scenery....

Valdresflye itself was a bit on the quiet side but good numbers of Dotterel boltit inculding plenty of young birds were very nice to see having heard little other than doom and gloom about the breeding season up north this year. Other species here included Shorelark fjellerke, Snow Buntings snøspurv and more Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk.

Østensjøvatnet, Oslo

We finished the trip with a visit to Østensjøvatnet in Oslo where we picked up Green Sandpiper skogsnipe, had point blank views of Reed Warblers rørsanger and added plenty of new species to the trip list.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Øygarden 18 July 2017 - Close but no cigar

Steaming in towards land (and Øygarden) I went on deck for a breath of fresh air to find a flock of six migrating Grey Heron gråhegre attempting to land on the helideck. Unusual behaviour which might have been explained by a Great Skua storjo that turned up at the same time. These birds were only just not in Øygarden....

Great Skua storjo checking out migrating Grey Herons gråhegre¨

Migrating Grey Herons gråhegre a long way out to sea and apparently scared of the skua

The skua checked the herons out but moved on. The herons continued to circle the vessel a few times making a few attempts to settle on the helideck before giving up and moving off to the south.

Nordøy, Øygarden

A few hours later we passed Ø close yet so far from home.

Norwegian Sector 06-j7 July 2017 - Offshore Opportunties

For the last few weeks it has been extremely difficult to find time to do much in the way of birding. One of the reasons is an offshore trip that offered even less time on deck than usual. A trip that covered a large portion of the Norwegian sector of the North Sea provided a total of about one hour out on deck looking for birds and as is often the case I ended up wondering what could have been seen.

Arctic Skuas tyvjo at Heidrun 09-10 July. Above picture is of a second year bird.

Cormorant storskarv - a species that may be eyeing up Heidrun as a potential breeding site

Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak

The Heidrun platform, July 2017

Kittiwakes krykkje were breeding on every available ledge. The platform sounded like the Farne Islands where I grew up.

The first few days were spent near the Heidrun platform in the northern part of the Norwegian sector. In recent years Kittiwakes krykkje have bred on this platform and this was obviously the case this year too. There were hundreds of Kittiwakes krykkje present with nests on virtually all of the potential places. These in turn attracted Arctic Skua tyvjo which preyed on them. Other species may have an eye on the Heidrun platform as a potential breeding place as there were a number of adult Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak present and even a Cormorant storskarv. During the summer months it is largely younger gulls that are present but here there were also a number of adults.

After Heidrun and Åsgard we went to Veslefrikk where a passing trawler attracted a couple of hundred Fulmar havhest along with Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak and Gannets havsule. Most of the gulls seen here were non breeders.

Fulmars feeding on discarded Ling neear Veslefrikk

Fulmars havhest behind fishing vessel

Fulmar havhest feeding on Ling lange discarded by fishing vessel


At Veslefrikk a passing trawler provided most of the action with hudreds of Fulmar along with smaller numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak anda few Gannets havsule.

Grane platform


Valemon with West Elara in attendance

The next stops were Kvitebjørn, Valemon and Grane. Just small numbers of the usual suspects were seen at these locations.