Friday, February 28, 2014

Hjelme Vest 28 February 2014 - Otter and Red-necked Grebe

Relatively calm and very pleasant.

A stroll and a quick look at the sea at Hjelme Vest proved quite productive today - highlight was a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker. The supporting cast included a Great Northern Diver islom feeding offshore, a couple of flocks of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, a Curlew storspove and an Oystarcatcher tjeld.

Greylags grågås have also started to arrive on the offshore islands and were scared up by the local White-tailed Eagles havørn.

A large male Otter came ashore and spent some time marking up his territory along the shoreline.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tjeldstø 22 February 2014 - A very simple explanation to declining bird populations

If there was anything to gain by moving somewhere else I would take my not inconsiderable tax payments elsewhere - but unfortunately its the same story everywhere. Today's post illustrates the blatant disregard for wildlife (including a number of red data list species) among planners and developers. There is no way on earth they can claim they didn't know any better.

With this kind of thing going on all the time it is no wonder bird populations are declining. One of the points of the national recording system in Norway is to make information available to the relevant authorities - this kind of thing makes one feel like giving up this time consuming activity entirely. Occasionally we hear about a success story but with the constant destruction of decent habitat and with no improvements elsewhere to compensate it does't take a rocket scientist to work out what going on.

Case 1 - Tjeldstø

Right next to the nature reserve the road into the new building estate - decimating the breeding area for a few red-listed species. At the the same time more people, more traffic and more cats. Not promising for the birds that used to live here and not promising for the reserve!

Also close to the reserve this part of the development destroyed some areas vital to overwintering Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin, Common Snipe enkeltbekkassin and Woodcock rugde. The breeding sites for a number of species such as terns and Oystercatchers tjeld have also now disappeared.

Case 2 - Herdlevær
The rate of  "development" here has been rapid the last few years with progressively more houses and cabins being built. This trend continues in 2014. At this rate we'll be looking for a new place to bird within a couple of years. The most popular areas for migrants and rarities are already gone....

Small scale degradation like this pales into insignificance beside some developments but lots of small things make a big one.....

The latest two projects at Herdlevær

This used to be an area of elderberry bushes and other scrub which was popular with migrant warblers...

Bird news today was limited but some migrants obviously arriving at Tjeldstø - three pairs of Greylag grågås were acting all territorial and a flock of 40 Starling stær was the biggest flock this year. Of seven Whoopers sangsvane on Rotevatnet only one was a youngster. Not a particularly good percentage.....

At Nautnes it was a case of the usual suspects - including a couple of Curlew storspove and a Black Guillemot teist.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Solberg 21 February 2014 - Goldie

Fresh southerly wind, occasional showers.

Seemed like nothing much was going on and with rain looking likely I left the camera in the car. This unfounded pessimism meant that I didn't get any photos of a cracking Golden Eagle kongeørn that came by at close range over Solberg. However, it was a great experience to watch it in the scope instead of taking pictures. And no downloading stuff later on either....

Other birds at Solberg included a couple of Oystercatcher tjeld - almost definitely new migrants - it is bang on time for them to be arriving., a Curlew storspove, about 60 Long-tailed Duck havelle and a White-tailed Eagle havørn or two.

At Tjeldstø a few Greylags grågås on Rotevatnet and several Whoopers sangsvane.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hjelme Vest 17 February 2014 - Same, same

Fresh north west winds made things feel a bit chilly out along the coast.

In some ways quieter than of late but a couple of Great Northern Divers islom, an Oystercatcher tjeld and several Black Guillemots teist were to be seen as well as a Woodcock rugde in the woods.

Just for a change I didn't actually take a picture of White-tailed Eagle havørn today....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Skogsøy 16 February 2014 - Interesting gull?

Light north westerly winds, some light showers, some sunshine.

Great Northern Diver islom

Just another White-tailed Eagle havørn overhead

Spent an hour or so seawatching today. Amazingly (compared to previous years) no auks passing at all - the only auk was a Black Guillemot teist on the sea. Quite a few Gannet havsule passing / feeding offshore and some indication that the southward movement of Shags toppskarv has started. Best bird here was a single Great Northern Diver islom heading north. Several Kittiwakes krykkje were perhaps the only other sighting of any note.

Much paler primaries and no darker pale band

Silvery underwing

Better shot of tail

Here the paler primaries and tertials are obvious...

At Tjeldstø there was a gull that really stood out from the crowd - with paler primaries and no dark tail band. Can't quite make it fit with any of the really good gulls just yet - likely to be a Glaucous / Herring hybrid - perhaps this bird is just a very worn / washed out Herring Gull gråmåke.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Herdlevær 16 February 2014 - At last a morning out

Decent weather with light south(ish) winds and just a few short, light showers

The day's almost obligatory White-tailed Eagle havørn shot

Spring is on its way here in Øygarden - these snowdrops have been out for more than a week

Highlights at Herdlevær today were a Red-throated Diver smålom heading north, a Greylag grågås flying over and a dead Curlew storspove (probably killed by a raptor).

Other almost noteworthy sightings included a couple of Kittiwake krykkje and a Gannet havsule.

Fieldfare gråtrost

A flock of about 25 Fieldfare gråtrost were in fields at Kollsnes along with a few Starling stær. A flock of 20 Starling stær were at Skjold.

The Bergen gang were on a field trip today and notched up the usual suspects including a few Great Northern Diver islom.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Nautnes 14 February 2014 - The home office pays off (but only just!)

Largely OK weather today.

I've now virtually given up on the idea of getting out for any meaningful birding in the foresseable future but the home office paid off to a certain degree today: a Guillemot lomvi on the sea just off the terrace was the first of the year (!!) in Øygarden. Crazy to see how the numbers of this species is declining.

A Black Guillemot teist in breeding plumage was another new for the new house list (now a staggering 60 - roll on spring!) and a Curlew storspove put in a brief appearance.

Otherwise it was just the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn etc.

Female Common Scoter svartand

Two females and a male Common Scoter svartand

Greylag grågås

White-tailed Eagle havørn

A short walk with the dog at Hjelme Vest produced little out of the ordinary other than a single Greylag grågås heading south.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Øygarden 11-13 February 2014 - Life getting in the way....

Frustration mounts as between work and family there is just not the time to get out.

All birding has been pretty much incidental.  A Song Thrush måltrost at Nautnes on 11th may have been an early migrant. At least three singing Robins rødstrupe and snowdrops in blossom gave this day a rather spring-like feel.

A few Greylags grågås joined Whoopers sangsvane on Husvatnet at Tjeldstø on 12th - possibly very early arrivals.

A Common Gull fiskemåke at Kollsnes
Part of a Starling stær flock at Skogsøy

On 13th the first Common Gull fiskemåke for me this year in Øygarden was at Kollsnes. Three Jackdaw kaie and about 15 Starling stær were seen on a drive-by at Skogsøy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nautnes 10 February 2014 - Predictable new for the house

Fresh southerlies with a couple of showers early on.

Work and family commitments putting a serious brake on getting out. However, staying at home all day produced a long awaiting garden tick in the form of a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke.

Common Crossbills grankorsnebb a lot less obvious now but still small numbers keeping to the wooded areas.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Nautnes 09 Febraury 2014 - First spring migrants?

Relatively mild, winds more or less from the south.

Four Oystercatcher tjeld (picture taken from my terrace)

New for the new house list this morning were a party of four Oystercatcher tjeld. This is a large flock by winter standards and there have been only a couple of observations during the winter months. Its a little on the early side but these were probably newly arrived birds - most likely from the UK if rings found in local Eagle Owl hubro nests are indicative of the rest of the population.

Otherwise just a couple of Jackdaw kaie and 20 Starling stær at Skogsøy and a couple of Velvet Scoter sjøorre at Herdlevær.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Øygarden 08 February 2014 - Waste of good weather

Relatively calm, mild and free of downpour.

Too much going on to do much in the way of birding but picked up a few bits and bobs during brief visits to a couple of localities.

At Solberg at least one Curlew storspove and about 60 Long-tailed Duck havelle were the best sighting.

At Tjeldstø a small flock of Starling stær, a few Whoopers sangsvane and most of the usual suspectss were seen.

Otherwise just a few White-tailed Eagle havørn etc.