Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Skogsøy 11 April 2021 - Seawatching again

 Light easterly winds and sunny.

Today I was, as is so often the case, hoping for a good movement of birds after a period of poor migration weather. Although it was far from quiet it was not any kind of record setting day. It was something of a struggle to keep and eye on everything as there was quite a bit of very distant auk movement along with a decent passage of other stuff much closer in. The Common Gulls fiskemåke did a bit of both.....

It was the best day so far this year for Cormorants storskarv and I suspect some flocks may have passed behind the lookout point

A few small flocks of Curlew storspove headed north

Mergansers siland

Oystercatchers tjeld in the early morning light

Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke

Song Thrush måltrost
Totals in the period 0700-1000:

Red throated Diver N 11
Northern Gannet N 15
Northern Gannet S 13
Great Cormorant N 144
Great Cormorant S 2
Eurasian Shag N 9
Eurasian Shag S 5
Greylag Goose N 7
Greylag Goose S 6
Long tailed duck S 4
Merganser N 8
Oystercatcher N 193
Eurasian Curlew N 11
Black headed Gull N 2
Common Gull N 700
Razorbill N 3
Atlantic Puffin N 7
Auk N 25

Monday, April 12, 2021

Øygarden 07-10 April 2021 - The week that wasn't

 Winter returned big style. Strong northerly winds with frequent snow / hail showers meant that it was ever so slightly easier to spend the week glued to a computer.

I barely left the house other than for various errands and chores but despite this there was obviously stuff going on.

On 07 April a short drive by past Kollsnes gave me a Golden Plover heilo that has been seen on and off for a while and a nice male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle.

Golden Plover heilo at Kollsnes

One of a small flock of Lapwing vipe at Kollsnes

Male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Breivik

Two Whoopers sangsvane turned up during a snow storm at Tjeldstø the following day - no doubt driven back from wherever they had been going by the wintery conditions. The first I have seen here for a while and I had assumed that was the last I would see of them before next winter.....

Curlew storspove at Dåvøy - possibly a female judging by the length of it's bill

Some views of the sunset from my terrace taken with a telephoto lens

A Pinkfoot kortnebbgås fed with Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø on 09 April in fading light on the way home from a last minute trip to the shops.

On 09 April I managed a short walk at Breivik where a selection of thrushes and a White Wagtail linerle were among birds that were new in. A male Sparrowhawk spurvehauk hunted in one of the gardens there. 

Best bird of the day was a Rook kornkråke at Skogsøy - I was doing well sneaking up on it for a photograph when it suddenly flew and I knew it hadn't seen me - the culprit was a 3cy White-tailed Eagle havørn which passed low overhead.

Rook kornkråke at Skogsøy, this is a good time of year to see this scarce migrant

Third year White-tailed Eagle havørn - the main reason behind not obtaining better pictures of the Rook:)

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke at Kollsnes - had to photograph something when on the phone to work:)

One of a few Song Thrush måltrost at Breivik. Fieldfares gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost were also present.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Breivik and Nautnes 05-06 April 2021 - Geese

 Strong northerly gales with snow and hail storms

On 05 April I only left the house for a couple of hours to get yet another COVID test, all clear again:)

A few White-tailed Eagles havørn, Gannets havsule, around 30 Long-tailed Duck havelle, displaying Curlew storspove and migrating Meadow Pipits heipiplerke were among the species seen from my terrace/ kitchen window.

On 06 April things were little better, a trip to the shops to pick up post and restock my fridge after having been in quarantine was the outing. Thankfully I live where I do and this meant that I ran into a party of of six Greenland Whitefronts tundragås (flavirostris). I don't think of Whitefronts as being particularly rare but there have actually been no records of Whitefronts in Øygarden since 2018! Albifrons is the normal race to see here with only a few records of flavirostris over the years. Today I added two more records of this sub species - the ones I found today and another I identified to sub-species level from photos taken back in 2004:)

On my way home I picked up another returning neck-ringed Greylag grågås at Tjeldstø in the form of UK3 - first ringed in 2019 in a moulting area south of Øygarden and subsequently seen in Øygarden in 2020 and now. In the autumns of 2019 and 2020 this bird was seen in Germany.

Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø - spring and winter within minutes of each other:)

flavirostris Whitefronts tundragås. This sub species breeds in Greenland and must have felt right at home here today.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Herdlevær 04 April 2021 - Keep the camera OUT of the rucksack

 Light winds, light drizzle at times in the morning. Full on northerly gale with snow showers in the late afternoon.

Thinking I would save some time I had my camera in a dry bag in my rucksack on my way to Herdlevær. In other words perfect conditions to be presented with photo opportunities. Black-headed Gull hettemåke and Linnets tornirisk both gave decent chances but I drove on. Just before I parked the car a roadside Carrion Crow svartkråke should absolutely been photographed but of course flew before I could wrestle the camera out of my rucksack. A local scarcity that I still haven't managed to get excited about despite having been in Norway over half my life.

On the way home, with the camera ready on the passenger seat, I had my eyes peeled again. No sign of the crow  but a Mistle Thrush duetrost turned up in the same place. Typically flighty it moved on before I brought the camera to bear. Equally typically I chose to confirm ID with my binoculars before reaching for the camera.

A stop at Tjeldstø on the way home produced my first Redshank rødstilk of the year.

Herdlevær itself was less interesting though there was an obvious increase in Meadow Pipit heipiplerke numbers with at least eight singing and a flock of feeding birds as well. It would have been a good day for gull photography with birds passing close and the light just right, not too sunny and not too dull. However, ISO values were more suited to sunny and I didn't check. A single flock of 34 Cormorant storskarv heading north was almost as many as I saw in three hours of seawatching yesterday:) Nice to see (and mostly hear) Curlew storspove displaying again too.

Cormorant storskarv

A brute of a GBBG svartbak

Herring Gulls gråmåke

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Skogsøy 03 April 2021 - Expectations

 Light northerly winds, overcast to start with, turning sunny.

With many flocks of resting birds here and there during yesterday's strong winds I was hoping for a big push today with better migration conditions. Not as much passed as I had hoped / anticipated but it was still an enjoyable few hours of seawatching.

Highlight were the first Pinkfeet kortnebbgås of the year - actually heading soutb. Absolutely nothing compared to the numbers reported in the east of Norway recently where thousands have been seen along their normal migration route. The commonest bird was as usual at this time of year Common Gull fiskemåke, but Cormorant storskarv and some other stuff was on the move. A Lessser Black-backed Gull sildemåke and a feeding Ringed Plover sandlo were among the other sightings.

I spent the rest of the morning / afternoon catching up on things that needed doing in the garden. The first Twite bergirisk of the year was among the birds seen at home.

Cormorant storskarv / Shag toppskarv comparison shot

Mergansers siland

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke were singing again today

Shag toppskarv flock heading the wrong way

The totals from 06:54-10:00 were

Red throated Diver N 4

Northern Gannet N 1

Northern Gannet S 2
Great Cormorant N 35
Great Cormorant S 1
Eurasian Shag N 25
Eurasian Shag S 59
Pink-footed Goose S 3
Eider S 2
Long tailed duck N 1
Common Scoter S 5
Merganser N 12
Oystercatcher N 15
Eurasian Curlew N 3
Common Gull N 490
Lesser black backed Gull N 1
Great black backed Gull N 5
Common Guillemot N 4
Razorbill N 4
Atlantic Puffin N 1
Auk N 21
Auk S 4

At Breivik on the way home I was surprised to see one of three hunters take two shots at a flock of Greylag grågås that were flying over quite high. No birds fell so either they missed completely or some of the birds flew on with shot in them. As per my understanding there are some farms in Øygarden which are allowed to shoot a limited number of birds in the spring. To be honest I think this alright but shooting with the birds out of range is not. Greylag are one of the few species on the increase in Øygarden and that the farmers have this small allowance is only fair.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Tjeldstø and Nautnes 01-02 April 2021 - Home office birding

 Sunny with northerly winds.

Birding took a back seat again with just brief visits to Tjeldstø and Solberg along with keeping half an eye on activity outside the house.

From the terrace on 01 April Curlew storspove were displaying, the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn were ever present, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk put it a brief appearance in the garden, a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke fed on the shore, there was a light passage of Common Gulls fiskemåke and a flock of 12 Meadow Pipit heipiplerke headed north.

Solberg was quiet with a couple of Red-throated Diver smålom heading north, a small flock of Eider ærfugl on the sea, singing Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and of course a couple more eagles.

Tjeldstø produced what was in a local context, the most interesting sighting in the form of a Canada Goose kanadagås in a large flock of Greylags greylags. Another interesting observation was VJ3 was seen for the first time this year - he has returned every spring since 2018. A few Teal krikkand fed here and at least one pair of Curlew storspove were displaying. A White Wagtail linerle flew over here - it wasn't possible to check if it was a Pied.

Canada Goose kanadagås at Tjeldstø
(almost 10 years since I last saw this species in Øygarden!)

Curlews storspove

Meadow Pipits heipiplerke numbers are increasing rapidly and the birds are wasting now time - going straight into singing mode and establishing territorities

Male Teal krikkand at Tjeldstø

VJ3 is back! Good news and the fourth spring this bird has been observed

On 02 April a visit to Tjeldstø showed that the northbound migration was rather slower in the strong headwinds. Flocks of Common Gulls fiskemåke, a couple of Lapwing vipe , a Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke and other species waited things out on the lee side of islands in the fjord.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Skogsøy 31 March 2021 - A decent movement

 Fresh northerly winds, clear and sunny for the most part.

I opted for a couple of hours pre-work seawatching and was not disappointed with this choice:)

Despite the wind Song Thrush måltrost, Redwing rødvingetrost and more were singing on my way out. 

It was a challenge to keep up with everything today - the gulls and waders were passing close in - some even overhead whilst Shags toppskarv were heading south a long way out making the most of the tailwinds by flying higher than usual in many cases. It felt like I was probably missing quite a lot - later confirmed with comparisons from Herdlevær where two observers were sitting, one with a scope and one keeping an eye on the gull passage.

The mainstay of the morning migration were Common Gulls fiskemåke, but also a few flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld, a Black-headed Gull hettemåke, a Kittiwake krykkje, a Red-throated Diver smålom and 27 Curlew storspove.

Other birds at Skogsøy included a couple of Chaffinch bokfink and a Skylark sangelerke right out at the lookout point, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn and a flyover Linnet tornirisk.

A White (or Pied) Wagtail linerle flew over my garden on my return but it was not possible to ID it to sub-species level.

Black-headed Gull hettemåke - the first for Skogsøy this year

Common Gull fiskemåke

Common Gulls fiskemåke

One of two Curlew storspove flocks that passed

Many of the Gannets havsule stopped to fish today

This GBBG svartbak seemed to be influenced by the Common Gulls and looked like it wanted to migrate - each time a flock of its smaller relative passed it joined them briefly but always came back again

Part of an Oystercatcher tjeld flock

Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn - one of three that flew over together

The totals for the period 07:15-09:35 were:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Øygarden 29-30 March 2021 - Great to be back

 Magic to be home again and to not wear a face mask!! Quarantine at home is no different from pre-COVID life with time divided between working at home and out in the field.

There was a lot of stuff to catch up on so I was barely out on 29 March - drove to Tjeldstø to pick up some groceries that were bought for me and that was about it. Despite that there were some photo opportunities- roadside Herons gråhegre performed well:)

Curlew storspove at Dåvøy - almost ridiculous looking bill!
I'm guessing this is the female judging by the bill length - the accompanying bird had a much shorter bill and was therefore probably the male

Adult Heron gråhegre catching what looked like a goby kutling of some sort - also at Dåvøy

Second year Heron gråhegre at Hatten - this one caught a Three-spined Stickleback trepigget stingsild

What a difference a week makes at this time of year! Despite (or perhaps because of) the calm, dull and wet weather there were a lot of new birds in on 30 March.

I started with my usual round at Herdlevær where two Meadow Pipits heipiplerke were the first I've seen this year (though the first in Øygarden were seen whilst I was away), Woodpigeons ringdue, Ringed Plover sandlo, singing Chaffinch bokfink, a Snipe enkeltbekkassin and more.

At Kollsnes four Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke were another new for the year (again, the first were seen in Øygarden over a week ago), a flock of six Linnet tornirisk (first of the year for the county as well as Øygarden) and a couple of Skylark sanglerke.

Husvatnet held the first Black-headed Gull hettemåke of the spring, a roding Snipe enkeltbekkasin and at least 20 Common Gull fiskemåke. A flock of 80 Starling stær flew over here - spring vibes:)

At Hatten a flock of four Lesser Redpoll brunsisik were present (they have been there for over a week now), 25+ Chaffinch bokfink, Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and plenty more.

Back home at Nautnes an odd Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke had the pulse racing for a bit with one white outer tail feather, very pale underparts, paleish legs and what appeared to be brownish back. Turns out the brown colour seems to be worn primaries. The rest I put down to the enormous variability of this species - I'm sure different populations must move through Øygarden. At least two White-tailed Eagle havørn, two pairs of Greylag now settled in and (drum roll please) the first House Sparrows gråspurv at my feeder this year.

At least three different Song Thrush måltrost singing at various locations really gave the day a springlike feel despite the conditions.

Blck-headed Gull hettemåke with Common Gulls fiskemåke and a Herring Gull gråmåke - Husvatnet, Tjeldstø

UN7 is back for a second spring! First ringed at a moulting site further south at Kårstø in 2019 this bird wintered in Germany in 2019 and was seen at Sture last year and is now back in the same place

A couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke

Ringed Plover sandlo back at its breeding grounds at Herdlevær

This Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke photographed from my terrace had me going for a bit

I had to be quick to take this shot - I came up over a ridge and saw this looking the other way - I knew it would fly as soon as it turned it's head - 3cy White-tailed Eagle havørn

Cracking bird!!