Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Herdlevær 22 January 2014 - Winter birding warms up!

Fairly calm and verging on sunny at times.

The birds are obviously never far away - with the improved conditions there was plenty to see today.

Tundra Bean Geese sædgås at Breivik - short, small bills with restricted orange markings

The day was kick started with a flock of six Tundra Bean Goose (rossicus) sædgås at Breivik - though it seemed like they moved on as they were not present on my way home. These birds were probably the same as reported by a neighbour as flying over Tjeldstø yesterday afternoon. This find ties in nicely with sightings from elsewhere in Norway and the Shetlands.

Arctic Redpoll polarsisik. Very pale undersides with little streaking, no streaking on the undertail coverts

Unstreaked white rump reaching well up the back

Herdlevær was quite productive with the highlight being an apparent Arctic Redpoll polarsisik.

Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt with a relatively long bill


...and out it comes! Not often one can capture waders regurgitating pellets 

A shorter-billed Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt - very photogenic

Black Guillemot teist

Same bird with prey

...and with the red feet adding a splash of colour.

Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

One of three White-tailed Eagles havørn present

Plenty of other species here too including a flock of around 120 Mealy Redpoll gråsisik heading north. A (the?) Song Thrush måltrost put in an appearance and there was a decent showing of the usual suspects including Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, Black Guillemot teist and Snipe enkeltbekkasin.

Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Another Snipe enkeltbekkasin was at Skjold.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Skogsøy 21 January 2014 - Too little, too late

Light SE, mostly clear but snowing during my time at Skogsøy.

The first winter Glaucous Gull polarmåke was again present among the gull flock at Tjeldstø - nice one.

It started snowing just before I parked at Skogsøy and kept snowing until I gave up / ran out of time. Nice and clear most of the day both before and after this - so not the best of timing.  Best sighting at Skogsøy was a Great Northern Diver islom feeding in the "lagoons" - only picked up on the way home once the snow cleared. The first Velvet Scoter sjøorre of the year and a Gannet havsule were the only birds of remote interest that passed during the snow storm.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Øygarden 20 January 2014 - Almost calm with immediate results

Wind still easterly but rather less than the last few days. Verging on sunny at times.

A few of the approximately 65 Long-tailed Duck havelle present at Hjelme West

A nice morning out.

Used most of the available time at Hjelme West which produced some good birds - the highlight being two unseasonal Oystercatcher tjeld. Other sightings here included a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, a few Turnstone steinvender still present among the usual Purple Sands fjæreplytt and the first Mealy Redpoll gråsisik of the year.

A drive-by at Tjeldstø was most productive - I stopped the car to check out a flock of Starlings stær and had a Red-throated Diver smålom and a male Bullfinch dompap fly over.

Juvenile Shag toppskarv

Shag toppskarv "snorkeling" - looking for prey before it dives

Adult Shag toppskarv with butterfish / ribbonfish

Back home at Nautnes a couple of Shag toppskarv were fishing in front of the house. Nothing unusual about that - but nice to photograph them without leaving the house.....

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Øygarden 19 January 2014 - Where Eagles fly

The strong easterly winds continue. Temperature hovering around freezing point.

White-tailed Eagle havørn on the ice at Tjeldstø

One of two White-tailed Eagles havørn at Dåvøy - too close to fit the whole bird in frame

A quick check at a couple of localities produced barely the usual fare. A Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Dåvøy and a couple of Greylags grågås flying south over Nautnes were the best of the sightings.

White-tailed Eagles havørn were very obvious with two birds giving cracking views at Dåvøy, three over Tjeldstø and another at Nautnes.

At Solberg well over 100 Eiders ærfugl were on the sea in addition to a flock of Long-tailed Duck havelle.

Herdlevær 18 January 2014 - A change and a rest

Fresh easterly wind, ground mostly frozen.

The change in the weather since last time I was about has had some predictable effects - forcing some harder to find species to certain areas. Highlight of today's walk was a Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin, also seen were a couple of Woodcock rugde and a few Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin.

A roadside Song Thrush måltrost at Skogsøy was the first January record for Øygarden! I have strongly suspected overwintering of this species earlier but it is a rare mid-winter find.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Øygarden 08 January 2014 - Omissus?

Light southerly wind.

A flock of Herring Gulls gråmåke feeding in the fields at Harkestad contained a bird with yellow legs. Without access to "Gulls" I can only say that my gut feeling is that this bird is probably "just" an omissus. Despite waiting for as long as I had time the gull only stretched its wings once and very briefly - lots of white in the wingtip.

Above: record shots of what is probably an "omissus" Herring Gull

Also paid a brief visit to Solberg where a small flock of Eiders ærfugl flew south, a couple of Gannets havsule fed offshore and a Kittiwake krykkje headed north. A seal, probably a Common Seal was also present here.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Øygarden 07 January 2013 - Hard going

Strong southerly winds but no rain.

A spectacularly failed start to the day - tried a few localities for various trusted regulars without success.

Black-headed Gull hettemåke at Herdlevær

White-tailed Eagle havørn at Kollsnes

Common Scoter svartand

Herdlevær / Skogsøy saved the day in the end - but only just. A Jackdaw kaie at Skogsøy and a Black-headed Gull hettemåke at Herdlevær were the best of the bunch today.

Small numbers of Whoopers sangsvane remain scattered around a few regular sites including Kollsnes and Tjeldstø.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Dåvøy 06 January 2014 - A wasted day

Southerlies with showers for a change.

An abortive trip to work meant nothing was acheived there or in the field. A very rapid check at Dåvøy in failing light and inclement weather produced the first Snipe enkeltbekkasin of the year.

Apart from that two Curlew storspove at Solberg was the only sighting of note.

Still no Eiders ærfugl.......perhaps they have tired of all the wave action and all moved inland? There was a decent flock in Bergen harbour beside the vessel I visited there today.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Hjelme Vest 05 January 2014 - The first rarity of the year and a great morning out

Wind still largely southerly but much calmer than of late. Light rain at times.

An excellent morning at Hjelme Vest produced some good birds - including the first rarity in the form of Two-barred Crossbill båndkorsnebb - hardly surprising given the numbers that arrived during the autumn. A few flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and some birds that were good candidates for Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb.

Other new species for the year included Turnstone steinvender, Curlew storspove, Woodcock rugde, Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt, Gannet havsule, a couple of Great Northern Diver islom and Black Guillemot teist as well as a number of commoner species.

Of some concern - no Eiders ærfugl - very strange.

Back home at Nautnes work threw a spanner in the works but didn't stop me seeing a hunting Merlin dvergfalk flying past the garden during one of many phone calls......


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Øygarden 04 January 2014 - Back in business

Strong southerly winds with rain most of the time.

Took a walk around Herdlevær and briefly checked a few other localities. Approximately 30 species seen with the best bird being a male Snow Bunting snøspurv at Herdlevær.

Two good Fieldfare gråtrost flocks were seen with 30-40 at Harkestad and another 25 at Breivik. Starlings stær were also numerous with flocks at a few localities - the largest being 30 at Herdlevær.

It was otherwise business as usual with White-tailed Eagles havørn and many of the usual suspects.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Tjeldstø 03 January 2013 - Welcome back!

Strong southerly winds.

Not birding at all, but this being Øygarden, that doesn't mean no birds.....a Glaucous Gull polarmåke flew over at Tjeldstø during the usual domestic errands. This may well be the same bird as was seen late 2013.

Lets see what tomorrow brings.......

Øygarden 2013

2013 was an excellent year despite some periods of poor coverage and little observer activity.
With a total of 192 species recorded during the course of the year Øygarden was, as usual, the municipality in Hordaland with the most species seen - and put Øygarden at joint 30th place on a national basis for 2013.

Several new species were for Øygarden were recorded starting with a Nutcracker nøttekråke on 01 April, followed by Short-toed Lark dverglerke on 18 May. An Arctic Redpoll polarsisik was reported on 30 September and the autumn produced the first Hauk Owl haukugle on 02 October, a Pallas's Warbler fuglekongesanger on 16 October and a Black-throated Thrush svartstrupetrost (also a county first!) on 09 November.This brings the total number of species recorded in Øygarden to approximately 257.

The first Black-throated Thrush svartstrupetrost for Øygarden (and Hordaland)

Pallas's Warbler fuglekongesanger

Hawk Owl haukugle

Blyth's Reed Warbler busksanger

Plenty of other goodies were seen including the second records of both Blyth's Reed Warbler busksanger and Hobby lerkefalk. Other rarities were Hoopoe hærfugl, Rosy Starling rosenstær and Red-breasted Flycatchers dvergfluesnapper. More standard fare included  the usual run of Richard's Pipits tartarpiplerke and Yellow-browed Warblers gulbrynsanger.

A superb run of Long-tailed Skuas fjelljo was one of the highlights of the spring whereas the autumn was dominated by a huge invasion of Two-barred Crossbills båndkorsnebb (and Great-spotted Woodpeckers flaggspett).

Here's looking forward to 2014.....