Saturday, December 31, 2011

Øygarden 31 December 2011 - Bird Race Day 2

Fresh and chilly SE wind, snow showers later

Another day marred by species missed - once again many of the regular species failed to show which put a downer on the first part of the day. However, had it not been for the fact this was meant to be a bird race this would have been a superb day's birding.

At Hjelme Vest a couple of Curlew storspove, a few small flocks of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a Common Gull fiskemåke were the only new species. Small numbers of Little Auk alkekonge and the usual seaduck also present.

At Hjelme a couple of Woodcock rugde were just about the only birds to be seen.

A good alternative to turkey dinner at New Year - a freshly dead Whooper Swan sangsvane

Passing Nautnes I found a feshly dead Whooper Swan sangsvane - probably killed by collision with overhead lines. Briefly considered as an alternative to the New Year Turkey I took the bird home with me.

Female Scaup bergand at Alvheim

Next stop was Alvheim where the only bird of note was a female Scaup bergand.

Three of the European Whitefronts tundragås at Tjeldstø

Final locality was Tjeldstø which again saved the day with nine Tundra Bean Geese sædgås, a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås, a Razorbill alke and a Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin. I thought that was that for the day but after a tip off I headed out again to Ådnevika to see a flock of six European Whitefronts (albifrons) tundragås. All the previous Whitefronts this year in Øygarden have been of the European form albifrons.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Øygarden 30 December 2011 - New Year's Bird Race Day 1

Light northerly with hail / snow showers.

A day that seemed dogged by failure with lots of "no-shows" on species I had expected to see. Such is birding.

Started the day at Skogsøy - somewhat predictably at the "Pollane" but there was no sign of any American ducks there today.

Gannet havsule at Skogsøy

Althought there was a little movement over the sea a number of hoped-for species did not show. Eight Gannets havsule and five Kittiwake krykkje heading north and small numbers of Little Auk alkekonge was all I had to show for my efforts.

Best bird of the day by far was seen on the way back to the car - a rather unseasonal Short-eared Owl jordugle. Also seen on the way back was a flock of seven Greylags grågås heading south. Other species included a Fieldfare gråtrost with 15 Starling stær near the car park.

Eagle Owl hubro - a nice bonus bird


I then proceeded to a variety of localities which by and large failed to produce the expected species - with one notable exception: Eagle Owl hubro. You beauty!!

Tjeldstø produced an unusual fresh water Common Scoter svartand, a Velvet Scoter sjøorre on the sea, Whoopers sangsvane and the usual.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Øygarden 28 December 2011

Strong southerly gale and rain. Challenging conditions to put it mildly.

With very little light and a lot of water scanning the sea at Dåvøy and Solberg produced little - although the duck flocks were relatively close in at the latter locality. At Solberg a diver on the sea managed to evade identification.

Once again Tjeldstø saved the day with the flock of nine rossicus Bean Goose sædgås and two Pinkfeet kortnebbgås back in the fields. Hope they stay for the upcoming New Year Bird Race....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27 December 2011 - Herdlevær

Very strong westerlies, hail showers but generally quite pleasant.

A few scarce winter visitors made the trip worthwhile - two Lapwing vipe and seven Starling stær may have been blown in by the recent storms. A Curlew storspove was probably new in whereas three Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin were long-stayers.

Four Black-headed Gulls hettmåke flew past the house in the afternoon - a massive winter flock for these parts.

Road kill at Oen - the knife is 13cm long so this bird was not small....

Øygarden 24 December 2011

At least one birder attempted to see the Lesser Scaup purpurhodeand but without success.

I pottered about several localities seeing rather little - a Goshawk hønsehauk flying over the road at Breivik being the best bird.

An intriguing bit of road kill at Oen in the form of some interesting legs and feet provided something of an ID challenge. Given the time of year Turkey might be a good guess...

.Common Crossbill grankorsnebb - still plenty about

Øygarden 23 December 2011 - Lesser Scaup still present!

Reasonable weather.

Predictably a number of birders found time out of the run-up to Christmas to twitch the Lesser Scaup purpurhodehand. Most who tried connected with the bird but there was at least one failure....

Personally I daw little of consequence - 15 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a Jay nøtteskrike at Avheim being the most noteworthy sightings.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Skogsøy 22 December 2011 - LESSER SCAUP CONFIRMED!

Southerly, dull and overcast.

 The first flap confirmed suspicions about the identity of this bird - grey on all primaries!
 Getting slightly closer - but light still terrible
 Head profile clearly visible in this shot
 The high peak at the back of the head is unlike any Greater Scaup

 Spooked by raptor or Raven it took flight - giving a clear view of the underwings. Dark bases to the flight feather s were another nail in the ID coffin....
 Better view of the wingbar - clearly showing the brown-grey colouration on all primaries

 A clearer shot of the underwing
And finally a gratuitous flight shot that adds little or nothing to the above...

It was a good call to go back out for another look for the intersting duck I found a few days ago. The bird was present again in exactly the same place I found it first time. After a long wait during feeding, diappearing and sleeping the bird finally flapped its wings....and the wingbar fit LESSER SCAUP PURPURHODEAND exactly!

Further waiting brought the bird no closer so bill detail was difficult to document with photographs. Luckily, the other birder present - newly moved into Øygarden - managed to confirm lack of / very limited black nail on the beak.

If accepted this record will be the first record for the county of Hordaland and possibly only the fifth for Norway (someone correct me here as I am not sure about this) depending on whether one counts returning birds as new.

The bird finally started to come closer but was spooked by something (heard Ravens alarming but didn't dare look away from the viewfinder). It then flew a short distance but this gave the long awaited view of the underwing - again confirming the identification and hopefully ruling out all talk of hybridisation...

Many thanks to all those who have been assisting (and encouraging me!) with this tricky bird!

Finally an introduction to something almost as rare as the duck - a birder living in Øygarden. Nigel Goodgame has recently moved to Øygarden from inland UK. He has already found a number of goodies on previous trips and will no doubt find plenty more -but what a way to kick off living and birding in Norway!

Nigel Goodgame - one of two very happy birders at Skogsøy today

There are now three birders living in Øygarden. Only one of them is Norwegian.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Øygarden 21 December 2011

Calm and sunny, light covering of snow. Fog rolled in off the sea in the afternoon.

 Above and below: Jay nøtteskrike

Just about a record shot of the Golden Eagle kongeørn - it looked a lot better in the telescope!

Alvheim was decidedly the best spot today with a number of decent sightings - the best of which was a young Golden Eagle kongeørn - the first I've seen in Øygarden this year (missed the previous one in March). Other good birds inlcuded a Jay nøtteskrike, the female Scaup bergand and an adult Goshawk hønesehauk.

At least five White-tailed Eagle havørn present and a couple of Black Guillemot teist too.

At Tjeldstø a flock of five Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a lone Redwing rødvingetrost were the pick of the day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Skogsøy 20 December 2011

Clear and sunny cold SE wind.

A Woodcock rugde flew over the garden before I left the house.

I was out at Skogsøy before the sun came up but despite searching for a few hours yesterday's duck was nowhere to be seen - just the Common Scoter svartand it was associating with.

 Above and below: hunting Kestrel tårnfalk

The reason the Kestrel was rather warmly coloured....spectacular sunrise

Goshawk hønsehauk
All was not lost as a couple of good winter sightings put in an appearance - a Kestrel tårnfalk and at least one Snow Bunting snøspurv. Other raptors included a Peregrine vandrefalk, a Goshawk hønsehauk and at least two very vocal White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Nothing strange about this Scaup bergand...

Domestic duties produced a quite normal looking Scaup bergand at Alvheim - a bird that gives more confidence to yesterday's bird....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Skogsøy 19 December 2011 - Small Scaup?

Cold north-westerly wind but nice day in shelter....

 Interesting head profile and small compared to Common Scoter svartand
 Here the size of the bird compared to Common Scoter svartand (left) and Long-tailed Duck havelle (right)

 Above and below - seems to have a high crown and flat top to the head rather than sloping backwards

Spent rather a lot of time on a Scaup bergand that seemed rather small and high-crowned. It never came any closer and the light didn't get any better so I gave up and left it at that.

Whilst watching the Scaup a Black-throated Diver storlom flew south - a nice bonus bird.

Little doing over the sea though a Peregrine vandrefalk came past at close range.

Still plenty of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb about - no Parrots though...

At least three White-tailed Eagles havørn about today

Other birds incluced several Razorbill alke and a flock of five Greylag grågås heading south.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hjelme Vest 18 December 2011 - White-billed Diver

Calm and relatively mild, some light rain.

 Above and below: Heavily cropped shots of White-billed Diver gulnebblom at Hjelme Vest.

Hjelme Vest was easier to check out than of late due to calm sea conditions. Best sighting was an adult White-billed Diver gulnebblom on the sea. Seems like this species is becoming a commoner winter visitor in recent years.

Other birds here included a Great Northern Diver islom, a Curlew storspove (overwintering birds finally arrived!), a few Black Guillemots teist, a couple of Little Auk alkekonge, a Razorbill alke, several White-tailed Eagle havørn and increased numbers of seaduck inlcuding a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre.

 Above and below: Tundra Bean Geese sædgås at Tjeldstø

The nine Tundra Bean Geese sædgås remain at Tjeldstø together with a couple of Pinkfeet kortnebbgås.

A Little Auk alkekonge seen later in the day whilst not birding

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Øygarden 17 December 2011 - Moorehen

Relatively calm and mild. Light rain in the afternoon.

Whooper Swans sangsvane at Tjeldstø

An unforgivable camera battery mix-up meant that the eight rossicus Bean Geese sædgås, the Great Whitefront tundragås and a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås went unphotographed at close range and in good light. It was good to see a small flock of Whoopers sangsvane in the reserve. Other birds inlcuded 10+ Starling stær and Common Crossbills grankorsnebb.

Record shot of the Moorehen sivhøne

A tip-off about a Moorehen sivhøne at Blomvatnet meant a slight diversion to pick up this hard to get Øygarden species - the last time I saw Moorehen in Øygarden was in November 2005.

A stroll at Herdlevær produced nothing out of the ordinary - the highlight being a party of three Snipe enkeltbekkasin.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tjeldstø 16 December 2011 - Tundra Bean Geese

Another day of good weather - and another spent not birding.

In rapidly failing light a short stroll at Tjeldstø really produced the goods in the form of nine Tundra Bean Geese (rossicus) sædgås. With them were an adult albifrons Whitefront tundragås and a couple of Pinkfeet kortnebbgås.

Other sightings of interest included a couple of Redwing rødvingetrost and a flock of 10 Starling stær.

Øygarden 15 December 2011

Calm and mild.

Velvet Scoter sjøorre

Excellent weather so I was predictably stuck inside all day. A run to the shops produced a couple of Greylags grågås and Kollsnes and a pair of Velvet Scoter sjøorre on the sea at Oen.

Chaffinch bokfink flock in the garden now at 17.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Øygarden 14 December 2011

Southerly strong gale force winds.

At Solberg just a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn and an Otter. Duck numbers increased as mountainous seas force the birds into relatively sheltered waters.

At Alvheim the best bird was a Guillemot lomvi - first for some time and a Gannet havsule also passed.

Cormorant storskarv - quite possibly a sinensis bird.

Tjeldstø produced little - just a Little Auk alkekonge and a Black-headed Gull hettemåke of near interest.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tjeldstø 11 December 2011

Fresh SSE, mildish.

Highlight was an unseasonal Turnstone steinvender. Late migrants / overwintering birds included a Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a Redwing rødvingetrost and a Starling stær.

Otherwise just a couple of Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke, a Little Auk alkekonge and the usual.

Good numbers of birds at the feeders including up to 70 Greenfinch grønnfink, several Tree Sparrow pilfink and a small flock of Chaffinch bokfink.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Herdlevær 10 December 2011

Calm and mild again.

 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt
Song Thrush måltrost

Soon spring......?!

Pleasant conditions but a short stroll produced only a handfull of late migrants - nine Redwing rødvingetrost, a Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Song Thrush måltrost (rare December sighting!)

Several Purple sands fjæreplytt, Black Guillemot teist, Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke and of course several White-tailed Eagles havørn also seen.

Hjelme West & Sæle 09 December 2011

Calm and relatively mild.

Best sighthing was probably Woodcock rugde in the woods at Hjelme West where there were also at least five White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Black Guillemot teist, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and small numbers of the usual seaduck. Nice views of an Otter catching and eating crabs here.

At Sæle several Little Auk alkekonge, a few Kittiwake krykkje and the usual.