Monday, December 28, 2015

Nautnes 28 December 2015 - Where do they come from?

Decent weather today with clear skies and little wind. Yesterday's snow started melting.

Did not really have time to go anywhere today but it didn't seem to matter. It has always amazed me how birds appear immediately in decent weather - surely this must mean they were also about during the gales and rain....

A flock of at least 200 Mealy Redpoll gråsisik fed on the abundant pine cones near Trollvatnet - many pale rump to be seen there too but no scope and no time.  Another flock of around 70 flew north over the house - once again there were some white-looking rumps in this flock too.

A Kestrel tårnfalk also flew over the house - a decent midwinter sighting. Other stuff included a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, a Kittiwake krykkje, a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin and some other interesting tracks in the snow.

Øygarden 27 December 2015 - The one that got away

Winter arrived today with actual snow falling and lying on the ground!

Visibility was reduced during all the hours of daylight as it started snowing just as it got light and stopped as the sun went down.

A short walk at Hjelme Vest produced only a Woodcock rugde and a fly over Redpoll gråsisik of interest.

At Tjeldstø a massive seven Snipe enkeltbekkasin congregated in one small area of open water.

Nautnes probably scored the bird of the day in the form of Pine Grosbeak konglebit but there was only a short call and it wasn't light enough to see anything.-.anywhere else and I would have sworn that this is what is was...

Friday, December 25, 2015

Skogsøy 25 December 2015 - Same wind, different direction

Winds still very strong but, just for a change, from the north west instead.

Didn't hang around out at Skogsøy and saw correspondingly little. A Curlew storspove was the best sighting here. A flock of Starling stær were the only other birds of note.

Roadside Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at Breivik

At Breivik a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke gave very good roadside views and a very unseasonal Meadow Pipit heipiplerke fed in the garden back home at Nautnes.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tjeldstø 24 December 2015 - Wet, WINDY and mild

Winds even stronger than ever - blowing at least 40 knots with rain.

Weather so bad it threatened the space-time continuum and there is every risk that Christmas may be blown or washed into another dimension.

Birdwise the only birds of local interest were a Woodcock rugde and a Snipe enkeltbekkasin - the current conditions must be very favourable for these species.

Otherwise just White-tailed Eagle havørn and the usual suspects.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Solberg 23 December 2015 - Eagle tradition....

Still blowing strongly but almost no rain and even some sunshine at one point.

Two Whoopers sangsvane at Kollsnes

White-tailed Eagle havørn at Solberg

Solberg produced only a small flock of Long-tailed Duck havelle and a White-tailed Eagle havørn that did a nice fly past. Seems like 23 December is a day for photographing eagles - see last years effort on the same day here.

At Tjeldstø there were six Whoopers sangsvane and the Mallards stokkand that usually accompany them - the swans are invariably followed around by dabbling duck who find their food in whatever gets stirred up by the swans massive feet. An adult White-tailed Eagle havørn came past very close here too - probably just to teach me a lesson for leaving the camera in the car.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hjelme Vest 21 December 2015 - Situation normal

The southerly gales persist - but without rain this time.

Just a flying visit here produced relatively little but a Curlew storspove was the first of the winter for me. Otherwise just small numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle, a single Common Sctoer svartand and a young Gannet havsule of interest.

Skogsøy 20 December 2015 - A lucky break in the weather

Skogsøy sunset

Gale force southerly winds and rain most of the day but went out to Skogsøy in the afternoon anyway - for the walk if nothing else. The weather changed just a we got all the way out and rewarded us with a decent sunset.

Birdwise nothing special to report - just the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn,, Rock pipit skjærpiplerke etc

Almost Øygarden 04-17 December 2015 - Migration continues

Holmengrå - the next island north of Øygarden after Fedje.

Spent a couple of weeks offshore either in, or close to Øygarden for the vast majority of the time. I saw very little but after darkness there were occasional Fieldfares gråtrost heard flying south and on 16th December a Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin flew around the vessel a few times after dark.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Øygarden 03 December 2015 - Long time no see

Clear and almost sunny.

A short trip out "to post Christmas cards" resulted in a few birds I haven't seen for quite a while - two Lapwing vipe at Skogsøy, a couple of Goshawks hønsehauk (an adult VERY full after eating a Herring Gull gråmåke) and a first year bird.

Also a small flock of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb, several Starling stær and a few White-tailed Eagle havørn.

At Tjeldstø the Whooper sangsvane numbers had swelled to nine birds - finally including a single first year bird.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Dåvøy 30 November 2015 - Marginal improvement

Slightly less windy and sunny most of the short time I was out.

Dåvøy was relatively quiet but a Red-throated Diver smålom on the sea meant it wasn't a waste of time. Other stuff included a Razorbill alke, a Little Auk alkekonge and at least some of the usual suspects.

A Brambling bjørkefink here was the best of the passerines.

The morning school run (with dawn just about breaking) provided a couple of Woodcock rugde flying over the road with one at Skjold and another at Tjeldstø.

Øygarden 28-29 November 2015 - There is no hope!

Windy with occasional winter showers.

No time to get out and about in any meaningful way - beginning to sound like a stuck record on that one.

On 28 November there were four adult Whoopers sangsvane at Tjeldstø and a couple more at Kollnes. That no young birds are present should be ringing some alarm bells. Also at Tjeldstø were a couple of Wigeon brunnakke.

As is often the case the dabbling ducks associated strongly with the Whoopers taking advantage of food stirred up by the massive feet of the swans.

A flock of geese at Breivik made me stomp on the brakes but they turned out to only be Greylags grågås and not any of the more unusual geese as is often the case at this time of year.

Even less time out on 29th so just a few Redwing rødvingetrost here and there and four White-tailed Eagle havørn over the house. The heavy seas were pretty spectacular though...

Angle Shades moth taggvingefly - getting late in the year for this kind of thing!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Hjelme Vest 08 November 2015 - The usual November suspects and another new for the year

Mild again but with a little more wind.

Barely time to get out at all today so a quick walk at Hjelme Vest after lunch was all that I managed. It proved reasonably productive given the short time spent there - highlight was a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker - amazingly this seems to be the first of the year in Øygarden - but the first half of November is a very good time to see this species here.

A couple of divers gave me more problems than they should have and although at least one of them was probably a White-billed Diver gulnebblom I just had to let it go.

Other stuff worth mentioning was a Merlin dvergfalk hunting Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt - of which there were around 50 present. The latter were the first of the autumn/winter for me. Several Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a few White-tailed Eagle havørn and most of the usual suspects.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Tjeldstø 07 November 2015

Yet another calm and pretty much sunny day.

Took things very easy with just a stroll around the reserve at Tjeldstø. Raptors were very much in evidence with three White-tailed Eagle havørn and at least three Sparrowhawk spurvehauk - quite possibly double that number.

Flocks of finches very obvious with Siskin grønnsisik, Redpoll gråsisik and Chaffinch bokfink dominating.

New stuff in was limited to a Teal krikkand with the Mallard stokkand on Husvatnet and a single Tufted Duck toppand on Rotevatnet. At least three Whoopers sangsvane still present.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Skogsøy 06 November 2015 - Short but worth it

Brisk SE winds, mild, overcast and with a few light showers.

Guillemot lomvi and Common Scoter svartand

Kittiwake krykkje

Red-throated Diver smålom

Velvet Scoter sjøorre

Spent a little over 1,5 hours seawatching. It was a fairly typical early November day with enough passing to keep things interesting. Highlight was a feeding White-billed Diver gulnebblom a fair distance offshore.

Passage included around 30 Red-throated Diver smålom, small numbers of Little Auk alkekonge and other auks including four Black Guillemot teist. Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a variety of other seaduck also on the move. Kittiwakes krykkje and various other gulls obviously on the move too,

A Sparrowhawk spurvehauk hunted a LONG way out to sea as did two Peregrines vandrefalk.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Øygarden 05 November 2015 - Home at last!

Calm and mild. Amazing weather! Spent all morning sorting stuff out so it was quite late in the day before I got out.

One of the sunflowers in my garden has finally flowered, all the herbs still going strong - you'd never think this is November!

Common Scoter svartand

Fieldfare gråtrost

Goldfinch stillits

Birdwise, however, it was typical early November - one of my favourite times of year. At Nautnes Waxwing sidensvans and Skylark sanglerke were among the species that flew over and there was a Common Scoter svartand on the sea in front of the house.

At Tjeldstø the best birds were a flock of eight Goldfinch stillits. The first Whoopers sangsvane of the autumn were also present with four adults feeding. No young birds though....

Yellowhammer gulspurv at Breivik, Guillemots lomvi seen at a couple of places, obvious movement of Kittiwakes krykkje and Gannets havsule over the sea,

All the usual thrushes on the move, Mealy Redpoll gråsisik, Crossbills grankorsnebb, Golden Plover heilo and plenty more besides

Late October - Early November Southern Norwegian Sector

Still not birding Øygarden - or anywhere else for that matter.

This male Eider ærfugl followed the vessel for a couple of days and looked like it wanted to climb onboard.

This lone Goldcrest fuglekonge called constantly and vainly for some others of its own species

Redwings rødvingetrost were seen or heard more or less daily

A grand total of about 20 minutes on deck in the space of two weeks produced quite a bit of movement at times. Best birds were Short-eared Owls jordugle seen on a few dates. Otherwise just the usual autumn migrants including four species of thrush and Little Auk alkekonge.

A couple of species I don't see much of around platforms also turned up - an Eider ærfugl and a Cormorant storskarv.

Porbeagle shark video grab

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yet more not Birding Øygarden - update on migration in the east of Norway

I spent 17-18 October up in Engerdal municipality in Hedmark in the east of Norway.

As usual there was not a lot of proper birding and as usual the huge potential of this area was obvious. The undoubted highlight were a number of Pine Grosbeaks konglebit. These birds were all seen and heard flying over but I suspect they were not really moving. I have not seen this species here before but am a little uncertain of their status.

Waxwing sidensvans

Rather more certain there were several flocks of Waxwing sidensvans and I definitely got the impression that these birds were heading west. As with the Pine Grosbeaks I saw them more or less everywhere I went.

Strangely all the rowan berries in the lowlands and valleys were gone so I initially presumed the thrushes had also moved on. This proved to be very, very wrong as there were flocks of up to several hundred Fieldfare gråtrost at a time gorging themselves on the vast quantities of berries on the slopes above the tree line. Some Waxwing sidensvans also took advantage of this bounty. No boubt these birds will not move on until these berries are covered by snow.

Mealy Redpolls gråsisik and Common Crossbills grankorsnebb were also very obvious pretty much everywhere.

Scaup bergand

Other birds included small numbers of Scaup bergand, the usual Goosander laksand and Whooper Swan sangsvane.



For more about birding in Engerdal, Hedmark see this page

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More not birding Øygarden - Long awaited updates to the website

As I am unable to get out and about in Øygarden at the moment I have been using the time to do some much need updates to my website which has fallen by the wayside during the last few years.

One of the pages I have added recently was a very good offshore trip in the southern part of the Norwegian sector during the spring of 2014. Plenty of migrant passerines and some seabirds. More details can be seen on this page.

Kestrel tårnfalk

Redshank rødstilk

Male Common Redstart rødstjert

Tree Pipit trepiplerke

I have also added a couple of whale pages - Pilot Whale gridhval and Minke Whale vågehval along with a load of other updates - more to come in the near future I hope!

A list of the latest updates can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

September 2015 - Not Birding Øygarden - Falsterbo!

In September I spent a few days in one of my all time favourite birding destinations - Falsterbo in southern Sweden. I don't know how many times I've been there but have visiting since the early 80's.

As usual it was fantastic - lots of migration and plenty about, at Nabben, Ljungen and elsewhere.
Decent numbers of raptors and the definite feeling that the Scandinavia was emptying over our heads with large numbers of Tree Pipits trepiplerke, Yellow Wagtails gulerle and various finches constantly passing overhead.

Highlights were a Pallid Harrier steppehauk and small numbers of Black Kite svartglente.

Here is a selection of images from this trip:

Migrating Brent Geese ringgås, Nabben

Pale Common Buzzard musvåk

Migrating Eiders ærfugl - one of the most numerous migrants at Falsterbo

Pale Honey Buzzard vespevåk

Kestrel tårnfalk with rodent

Birding Falsterbo

The lighthouse

View over the heath

The "new" path to Nabben, as seen from the lighthouse

Mixed flock of raptors - mostly Red Kite glente and Common Buzzard musvåk

Above two - Red Kites glente

Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk

Above two - thousands of Sparrowhawks spurvehauk passed during my stay

Migrating Stock Doves skogdue, Nabben

Typical dark juvenile Honey Buzzard vespevåk