Thursday, January 31, 2013

Herdlevær 31 January 2013 - Bad weather movement

Glorious weather, sunny with a light northerly breeze

Really frustrating to be stuck inside yet again as I knew there would be a response to the strong winds of the last few days.

Sure enough half an hour at Herdlevær in the middle of the day produced over 40 Kittiwakes krykkje heading north and at least 50 Gannets havsule on the move.

Best bird was a Curlew storspove but no sign of the grebe.

Four Starling stær in the garden was another indication that birds are on the move.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Herdlevær 29 January 2013 - First local rarity of the year

Southerly winds, rain and mild

Great-crested Grebe toppdykker at Herdlevær

Not actually out today as such - but a  quick trip to run some errands produced a nice Great-crested Grebe toppdykker at Herdlevær. Although two were recorded in Øygarden in 2012 the previous record was back in 2005 so this is a decent find.

A Starling stær in the garden and a flock of about a dozen Filedfare gråtrost at Breivik were further indications that the change in the weather has brought about some movement.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Herdlevær 27 January 2013 - too little too late

Foul conditions. Gale force southerly winds with rain.

Difficult to even walk today never mind see any birds. Barely even the usual suspects seen today.

The thaw came too late for a Woodcock rugde I found VERY freshly dead and very emaciated....goodness knows how many scenes similar to this have played out along the coast the last few days,,,

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tjeldstø 26 January 2013 - a few more patch year ticks

Strong southerlies and rather warmer than of late. So warm it could snow.

A quick check at Tjeldstø (which still takes more time than it should!) produced little of interest but landed a couple of new for the year for this locality - a couple of Velvet Scoter sjøorre on the sea and a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke on the the sea.

A small flock of Common Crossbills grankorsnebb were also present. Both Woodcock rugde and Snipe enkeltbekkasin still obviously surviving though I didn't actually see either species.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rong 24 January 2013 - Viking Gull?

It remains calm sunny and freezing.

Barely out at all today. A 10 minute stroll from the house with the dog produced two Snipe enkeltbekkasin together - both different birds to yesterday. Goodness knows how they are surviving.

A trip to the bank (honest!) paid off with a probable second year Viking Gull (Herring / Glaucous hybird). In the field I was struck by the paler primaries which lack contrast with the rest of the wing and seem to have broad pale edges. I snapped a few record shots but it flew before I could get any closer and I didn't have time to relocate the bird.

Anything rarer would probably have had a darker bill and a more rounded head.

Nor have I had time to look at the photos in any detail so any comments welcome.

Here are some record shots of this bird:

Bright sunlight is not what you need when looking at gulls....but the primaries certainly look pale enough here

Primaries and tertiaries pretty much the same colour

Underwing would have done a Glaucous gull polarmåke proud...

Pale broad tail band.....

Pale primaries with broad pale edges obvious in this picture

And finally two Herring Gulls gråmåke with a Great Black-backed Gull svartbak between them
This really shows how dark the primaries are on "normal" Herring Gulls (if there is such a thing as a normal gull)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Øygarden 23 January 2013 - Another tricky one down

Predictably calm, sunny and frozen - though that should change in a few days time....

Record shot of today's highlight - a Dipper fossekall

The best bird of the day was without doubt a Dipper fossekall at Alvheim - first of the year. This can be a tricky bird to see in Øygarden (only one observation per year in 2011 and 2012). Obvious that conditions inland are even worse than out here....

There is at least one double record here and some refer to same individual seen on different occasions - but you get the idea. This is all records from Øygarden (first from 1991). Source is

A check of the lagoons at Skogsøy produced very little indeed - just seven Whooper Swans sangsvane and 10 Goldeneye kvinand. Still I had to try....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tjeldstø 22 January 2013 - Turnstones

Cold, calm and sunny again.

A mad dash around a few localities still took more time than it should have. Tjeldstø produced the best results with a flock of six Turnstone steinvender a good winter find. A Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt with them was also new for Tjeldstø for the year.

Other birds here included a Snipe enkeltbekkasin still hanging in there and Tree Sparrow pilfink numbers in the garden went back up to five.

Solberg was very pleasant but rather quiet with three Velvet Scoter sjøorre and three Otters the best of what was on offer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Øygarden 21 January 2013

Another cold and sunny day, still well below freezing.

Blackbirds svarttrost numbers still increasing in the garden as the cold tightens its grip. At least 12 present simultaneously at one point - so the total number involved is likely to be a lot more than this.

Still slightly limited by a sore knee I took things a little easy again and went looking for something different during a break from work. No luck there but did see a few of the Siskins grønnsisik from the flock that has been visiting Skjold the last several days.

Sparrowhawks spurvehauk and Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett "everywhere" at the moment.

Looks like the weather is due to break at the weekend....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Solberg 20 January 2013

Very calm, sunny and frozen.

Frustrating to be inside working most of the day yet again....

At Solberg highlight was a Woodcock rugde. Other birds included three Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a couple of Black Guillemot teist, two Gannets havsule and around 30 Long-tailed Duck havelle. Finally a small flock of Eiders ærfugl here.

No sign of the probable Yellow-billed Diver gulnebblom reported yesterday.

At least three Tree Sparrow pilfink, Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and the usual in the garden.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hjelme West 19 January 2013 - Red-necks

It remains calm, sunny and freezing.

A morning trip to Hjelme Vest proved quite productive. Highlights were the first two Red-necked Grebes gråstrupedykker of the year on the sea.

Crested Tit toppmeis

The "light-billed Diver" seen last time was still present and turned out to be an adult Great Northern Diver islom. Tricky one in many ways and easy to fall into the Yellow-billed Diver trap.   Otherwise very much the same as previous recent visits with Black Guillemots teist relatively common, a Curlew storspove, a couple of Velvet Scoter sjøorre, Woodcock rugde tracks in the woods etc.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tjeldstø 18 January 2013 - Woodcock / Another one bites the dust

Still clear cold and sunny.

This bird ate several such larvae in the short period of observation I had - hope it is enough to keep the bird alive!

With ever descreasing amounts of fresh water the afternoon school run once again provided the best birding. Brief views of a Water Rail vannriske and excellent views of a Woodcock rugde were the highlights. Photography and viewing greatly hampered by traffic though....

Snow on the eyeball MUST be cold!

A combination of work and a very painful knee after a fall on the treacherously slippy ice / snow combo yesterday I barely got out at all. A short hobble at Hjelme produced the first two Jays nøtteskrike of the year  along with several Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb and the usual woodland stuff. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tjeldstø 17 January 2013 - Another new species

Calm, sunny and still well below freezing.

Yesterday's snow helped show the tracks of a Woodcock rugde obviously desparate for somewhere to feed. Another was seen in flight during the morning school run.

A Snipe enkeltbekkasin (different bird to yesterday) fed in an area planned to be obliterated. Wonder where these birds will go then....

A single Redwing rødvingetrost feeding on juniper berries was the first of the year in Øygarden.

A very quick look at Solberg produced nothing out of the ordinary, just White-tailed Eagle havørn, Long-tailed Ducks havelle and the usual suspects. No Eiders ærfugl here yet again.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tjeldstø 16 January 2013 - Water Rail again

SE winds, steady light snowfall and well below freezing.

Still no time for birding as such and conditions were most unpleasant anyway - which is not to say there weren't any birds about.

A quick look at Tjeldstø produced a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and the first Fieldfare gråtrost of the year at this locality.

Water Rail vannrikse

Another good sighting was the Water Rail vannrikse on the afternoon school run. Very difficult to get any photos though as I didn't want to scare it by getting out of the car and the road isn't wide enough for two cars. Tried a couple of passes but gave up in the end. Apologies to both the cars who had to stop and for the profanities hurled at you.....

Herring Gulsl gråmåke

Hooded Crows kråke

A drive-by at the Herdlevær / Skogsøy gull flock convinced me that something good will turn up there if I only get the time to look....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hjelme Vest 15 January 2013 - Diver headaches

Calm, sunny and freezing.

A quick check at Hjelme Vest rather late in the day was all I could manage today - and the light in the best area was rather challenging. A large Diver lom presented a rather embarassing ID headache - under normal conditions this bird should have been straightforward to identify in the 'scope.

The bill seemed very pale and translucent but this could just have been the light playing tricks. Generally pale faced, seemed to have a slight upcurve on the lower mandible.....all pointers towards Yellow-billed Diver gulnebblom which is an uncommon winter visitor and an absolute possibility.

Some obscenely cropped images below:

Bill good, neck not so good

Head more horizontal here - it was just about to dive

The worrying thing was the neck seemed a bit dark and there was something of the "notch" and thus more like the much commoner Great Northern Diver islom.

In the end I had to leave it for another day....

Other stuff included about 30 Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, a Curlew storspove, several Black Guillemot teist and the usual suspects - very few Eiders ærfugl AGAIN.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Solberg 14 January 2013 - Manic!

Still sunny and well below freezing. Fresh southerly winds.

This Golden Eagle kongeørn would appear to be in at least its fourth calender year

An extremely hectic day with work, dentists etc combining to give me a mere 20 minutes at Solberg. However, all was not lost - on the short drive to Solberg I was rewarded with a roadside Water Rail vannrikse.

Solberg seemed relatively quiet with just a Curlew storspove and a Velvet Scoter sjøorre of note whilst I ate my lunch. Turning to leave a raptor caught my eye - and turned out to be a Golden Eagle kongeørn - no doubt the same bird last seen shortly before New Year.

Collared Doves tyrkerdue

On the way back from the dentists a quick social call at Knappen produced the two "resident" Collared Doves tyrkerdue. Normally a scarce but regular late spring migrant these two have been at this locality since last spring.....

The first Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin of the year

Finally the afternoon school run produced a nice roadside Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin.

Not bad going for a non-birding day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Skogsøy 13 January 2013

SSE winds, bright and sunny and FREEZING.

Great Northern Diver islom

With all the lakes frozen again it was no surprise to see four Whooper Swans sangsvane on the "lagoons".

Very little passing over the sea, not surprising given the conditions. However, a Great Northern Diver islom headed north, a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of Black Guillemot teist, several Gannets havsule, a Little Auk alkekonge and the first Razorbill alke of the year meant it was worth the walk.

A long way out in what can only be described as the opposite of a heat haze there was quite a bit of activity - feeding gulls and even a string of 15 "Guillebills" alke/lomvi.

On the way back to the car a Goshawk hønsehauk had a go at the Hooded Crows kråke and gulls.

Also managed to see the Slavonian Grebe horndykker - same bird in more or less the same place as of late.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tjeldstø 12 January 2013 - First "rarity" of the year...

Calm, sunny and freezing again.

 The first Treecreeper trekryper of 2013 - a rare winter sighting in Øygarden

Still struggling to get out and about but had a very productive hour at Tjeldstø in the afternoon. Highlight was without doubt a Treecreeper trekryper. First for Øygarden this year and the first I've seen here since 2010! This species is very much an irruptive autumn migrant and is very rare in winter.

Treecreeper occurrence in Øygarden (from artsdatabasen)

 Above and below - 2 cy Goshawk hønsehauk

Other good sightings included a second year Goshawk hønsehauk, a Woodcock rugde, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a couple of Little Auk alkekonge.

 Above and below - Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb at Sture

A short stroll at Sture produced a small flock of Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb.