Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skogsøy 30 November 2014 - Short but sweet

Light SE winds and some very light rain.

Took a rather late and short walk out to Skogsøy. Things were generally quiet but a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn and best of all a flock of four Little Grebe dvergdykker - the biggest ever flock in Øygarden if memory serves me right.

Small numbers of Common Scoter svartand and Velvet Scoter sjøorre passed during the space of a couple of cups of coffee.

The flock of nine Pinkfeet kortnebbgås were still at Breivik.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hjelme Vest 28 November 2014

Calm and more or less sunny.

A quick check of the sea showed it to be relatively quiet but a couple of feeding Great Northern Diver islom, a Turnstone steinvender, a Curlew storspove ,s small numbers of Purple sandpipers fjæreplytt and most of the usual wintering birds were seen.

Female Blackcap munk in the garden

Back home at Nautnes a female Blackcap munk spent most of the day in the garden.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Øygarden 27 November 2014 - Good Sibe Chiff-chaffs at last

Calm and sunny.

Spent a few hours out and about at a few localities in the fantastic weather.

Started a Solberg where the calm conditions made it possible to say that there was virtually nothing on the sea. However, a late Oystercatcher tjeld, several Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a Goshawk hønsehauk meant it was far from a waste of time.

Mega-cropped record shot of the Golden Eagle kongeørn at Alvheim

Next stop was Alvheim where the sea held even less stuff than at Solberg, An adult Golden Eagle kongeørn and a flock of four Yellowhammer gulspurv flying over meant that this was a most successful stop.

This bird kept rolling its eyes back in its head to keep an eye on me....

Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett at Sæle

Just about a record shot of one of the Siberian Chiff-chaffs - rather buffy. The call was the real clincher though.

A short walk at Sæle proved really productive given the time of year. Two very vocal Siberian Chiff-chaffs (tristis) gransanger were the best of the bunch. Also seen here were a couple of Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett, a male Blackcap munk and a late Dunnock jernspurv.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tjeldstø 26 November 2014 - Parrots

Light SE, sunny then clouding over in the afternoon

A walk around the reserve produced relatively little but a flock of 19 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb turned up and another flock of around 30 Crossbills may also have been this species. As usual I didn't find it very straightforward - they seemed big-headed and bull necked and the beaks were huge (not that necessarily means anything much). Beak size and shape varied quite a bit within the flock - some of which were within the range of some of the Common Crossbills grankorsnebb that regularly turn up here.

The curvature on the upper mandible on this bird seems to start straight away

Above and below - same bird

For a Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb the bill on this one is positively dainty

A Goshawk hønsehauk flew over and two White-tailed Eagles havørn seemed to be displaying.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Herdlevær 25 November 2014 - Back to reality

Calm, sunny and "warm".

After the thousands of waders at Pak Thale, Thailand a couple of days ago it was something of a crash landing to take a short walk at Herdlevær today....

A couple of fly-over Snow Bunting snøspurv were the best birds, a late Oystercatcher tjeld was also present. Among the usual suspects were a couple of Black Guillemot teist and a Little Auk alkekonge.

At Breivik there were nine Pinkfeet kortnebbgås feeding in the fields - presumably the same birds reported a few days ago.

A couple of Whooper Swan sangsvane fed at Tjeldstø.

Back home at Nautnes a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk flew over the house.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Øygarden 07 November 2014 - Going to the office produces Øygarden mega!

Stronger SE winds today with high cloud.

A trip to the office would normally mean that the day was a write-off. Not so today - returning home I stopped to check out two swans on Stegeviksvatnet, Toft. Initially I had driven past thinking these were just the first Whoopers sangsvane of the autumn but something made me turn around and go back....

A real mega for Øygarden - the second ever record of Mute Swan knoppsvane for the islands

This was a stroke of luck (or my gut feeling was good) as the two swans turned out to be Øygarden's second ever Mute Swans knoppsvane - a real mega! As I had gone to the office I didn't have my "proper" camera with me but I had my compact super-zoom in the car with which to document this exciting find. The swans must have moved on pretty quickly as they had already disappeared an hour or two later.

The only previous record of this species was from Hernar in conjuction with the Crag Martin twitch back in May 2011.

To anyone not living on some of the remoter islands this species is probably one of the least exciting imaginable. Not so in Øygarden!

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Sæle

A quick look at Sæle produced at least two each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk along with a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett, a couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and Brambling bjørkefink.

Brambling bjørkefink at Nautnes

Whilst I was taking pictures of the swans with a point and pray camera my daughter was taking pictures of a Brambling bjørkefink from the terrace back home with a "proper" camera....

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Øygarden 06 November 2014 - Ideal conditions

Excellent conditions with light SE, overcast at first then clearing to sunny.

Should really have gone to Hernar today but the logistics were a bit much this time around.

Kicked off the day with a nice Water Rail vannrikse at Hjelme. Also a Woodcock rugde and most of the usual suspects here.

Next up was a stroll at Herdlevær, though I didn't do my usual walk there. Highlights here were a male Merlin dvergfalk with prey and a late Ring Ousel ringtrost.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tjeldstø 05 November 2014 - more dodgy Chiff-chaffs

Light easterly winds and sunny for much of the day - except it rained whilst I was changing the wheels over on my car to winter tyres.

Combined a quick look at Hellesøy with the morning school run. Relatively quiet here with best birds two Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett. Other stuff worth a mention were a Curlew storspove and a Blackcap munk.

An even more cursory check at Sæle produced a couple each of Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk. Seems yesterday's birds were not tristis - they were calling today and sounded quite normal. A late Dunnock jernspurv, a Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and a Willow tit granmeis were among the other birds seen here.

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø was relatively quiet but two Yellowhammer gulspurv (scarce migrant here) flew south, a small flock of Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis turned up and there were more Chiff-chaff gransanger and Blackcap munk here too. One of the Chiff-chaff's (not the one pictured here) was noticably buffier and seemingly has an all black bill - all in all a much better candidate for tristis.

Quite a bulky bill on this thing after all...

The probable omissus type Herring Gull gråmåke was again present at Harkestad - but today the bill looked a lot more bulky than it did last time...

Little Auk alkekonge - picture taken from the terrace

Back home the 100th species for the house was a long overdue Little Auk alkekonge that swam past whilst I was making dinner.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Herdlevær 04 November 2014 - Another excellent day in Øygarden

Light winds today, started off more or less SE with some light drizzle. Ended up NE and sunny - but not until after I got home.

Guillemot lomvi 

Started the day at Herdlevær where there was quite a bit to see. Not that much in the way of passerines on the ground but there was some movement overhead before it started to drizzle - largely thrushes and Starling stær but also a few Redpoll gråsisik.

Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis

The sea was rather quieter than yesterday but there was still a noticable passage of gulls. Best birds were a first year Glaucous Gull polarmåke, a Black-throated Diver storlom and a couple of Great Northern Divers islom. Auks were limited to a several Little Auk alkekonge flying past and a Guillemot lomvi on the sea.

A party of four Long-tailed Tit stjertmeis were the only passerine migrants of note.

The above four pictures are of the same bird

tristis / abietinus type Chiff-chaffs gransanger

A very short and limited look at Sæle produced at least three very not-green Chiff-chaffs gransanger. One might think they were good for tristis but three together sounds just daft.... Also a few Blackcap munk and another flock of Long-tailed Tits stjertmeis also present here.

Back home at Nautnes the best bird of the day flew over the house as I watched two Otters fishing. A Stock dove skogdue - number 99 for the house and a new species for Nautnes. 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Skogsøy 03 November 2014 - Quantity not quality

Fresh south westerly, occasional light showers

Spent 2.5 hours seawatching and for once I got it right - there was a big movement following the strong winds of the last couple of days. The improvement in the weather triggered a mass movement of gulls and divers but little else.

It was an enjoyable, if somewhat intense seawatch - with almost 2000 birds passing. I undoubtedly missed a lot as things were passing at all ranges and it was impossible to cover everything. Several thousand gulls must have passed through Øygarden today and the flocks never stopped and were passing over land, down the fjord as well as out over the sea.

Numbers seen between 09:30 and 12:00:

Cormorant storskarv S 78
Gannet havsule S 10
Common Gull fiskemåke S 710 (minimum!)
Herring Gull gråmåke S 530
Great Black-backed Gull svartbak S 75
Kittiwake krykkje S 180 adult, 20 1K
Black-headed Gull hettemåke S 10
Red-throated Diver smålom S 140
White-billed Diver gulnebblom S 1 adult
Great Northern Diver islom S 2
WB/GN Diver S 1
Common Scoter svartand S 126
Velvet Scoter sjøorre S 21
Long-tailed Duck havelle S 2
Eider ærfugl S 2
Shag toppskarv S 10
Little Auk alkekonge S 43
Razorbill alke S 9
Auk sp S 15

Cormorant storskarv

First year / 1K Peregrine vandrefalk

Red-throated Diver smålom

Black-headed Gull hettemåke

Flock of Common Gulls fiskemåke

Common Scoter svartand

Adult Kittiwakes krykkje

Also present were a Peregrine vandrefalk and a couple of adult White-tailed Eagle havørn

The goose flock at Breivik consisted of 29 Pinkfeet kortnebbgås and 17 Greylags grågås today.

The only migrant passerines of note were the first Long-tailed tits stjertmeis of the year in Øygarden feeding in trees at Harkestad. Still good flocks of Redwing rødvingtrost, Fieldfare gråtrost and Starling stær pretty much all over.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hellesøy 02 November - Seabirds on the move and a wanna-be Yellow-legged

Strong southerly winds and very little in the way of rain.

Otter photographed from the terrace

A Blackcap munk in the garden was one of the first birds of the day. An Otter caught a large lumpsucker and devoured it with an audience of enthusiastic gulls and crows.

One of the Little Auk alkekonge flocks that came past at Hellesøy

Most Razorbill alke flew past today but there were also a few on the sea

At least 10 Red-throated Diver smålom fed in the area today - quite a variety of pluamges

Three Scaup bergand  (see head shape and white on the forehead) came through with a Teal krikkand tagging along for the ride

It was late - almost lunchtime - before we got out. What was meant to be a cursory check at Hellesøy turned into an hour or so. Loads passing and plenty on the sea. Best birds were three Scaup bergand that came through with a Teal krikkand in tow. At least 20 Red-throated Diver smålom headed through the channel from the fjords along with a similar number of Little Auk alkekonge. Other stuff passing included several each of Kittiwake krykkje and Raxorbill alke, a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a Black Guillemot teist and most of the usual late autumn suspects. A late Oystercatcher tjeld was also noteworthy.

A quick walk around Hjelme West produced more of the same plus a couple of Gannets havsule with a small flock of Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb as bonus birds,

P10 shows white to the tip and. large mirror on P9 and generally plenty of white on the primary tips all point towards Herring Gull gråmåke.The black on P5 is good for Yellow-legged but perhaps not quite enough.

Yellow legs and large prominent red spot on the bill are both features of Yellow-legged and omissus type Herring Gulls. The general jizz and, in my opinion, rather delicate bill don't point in the "right" direction on this one.

A report of a gull with yellow legs had me heading down to Harkestad to check it out. Although a couple of features pointed towards Yellow-legged gull gulebeinmåke I'm pretty sure this was just yet another omissus type Herring Gull gråmåke. Why do these gulls have to be so difficult?