Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Skogsøy 29 September 2015 - Another CRACKER for the house list!

Strong southerly winds, cloudy with sunny spells, warm.

Above and below: Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås

Common Scoter svartand

Gannet havsule

Red-throated Diver smålom

Velvet Scoter sjøorre

Finally a trip to Skogsøy at my own pace and with some decent seawatching! Spent 1.5 hours there ed every being buffeted by the wind but enjoyed every minute of it. Some 360 Barnacle Geese hvitkinngjess were the best birds but also small numbers of Common Scoter svartand, Velvet Scoter sjøorre, a Great Northern Diver islom and the usual suspects.

Best bird here was a Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin - I saw footprints in the mud on the way out and strongly suspected this species. On the way home I almost trod on it - nice to get confirmation!

Record shots of this evening's Pallid Harrier steppehauk

Spent the rest of the day bogged down with chores and work. But all was not lost - just as dinner was finishing a harrier blasted past the kitchen window. I hit the terrace a few seconds later and managed to snap a few record shots of a first year Pallid Harrier steppehauk. I'm starting to REALLY like my house. This was species #110 in just under two years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Herdlevær 28 September 2015 - Some migration at last

Yet another day of calm and sunny weather.

I spent the morning at Herdlevær where there was a decent variety of birds and a fair bit of obvious migration - most overhead or over the sea.

The highlights were a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger as I arrived and a Shelduck gravand that landed on one of the offshore islands,

Raven ravn

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Wren gjerdesmett - another species that has recently become a lot more obvious

Meadow pipits heipiplerke passed overhead more or less constantly with small number of Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke among them. Redwings rødvingetrost were fairly obvious (and have been heard passing at night and around dawn the last few days), a small flock of Brambling bjørkefink, Guillemot lomvi, Razorbill alke, Red-throated Diver smålom etc etc all on the move today.

The very black upperparts of this bird make me think this must be a good candidate for a real fuscus

A relatively interesting gull passed too - as good a candidate for Baltic Gull (fuscus) as one can get - completely black upperparts with no contrast on the upperwing at all.....

At dusk a Woodcock rugde flew in and landed in the garden - early for a migrant.

Øygarden 27 September 2015 - Frustration

Another day of what people might call glorious weather.

Kestrel tårnfalk at Kollsnes

A probable Richard's pipit tartarpiplerke calling from a huge flock of Meadow Pipit heipiplerke at Tjeldstø and a probable Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger calling at Breivik meant that it was a frustrating day today.

A few late-ish Swallows låvesvale at Breivik along with a few Brambling bjørkefink here and there were all I got for my limited efforts today.

However, others reported Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger from at least Blomvåg and Herdlevær

Skogsøy 26 September 2015 - Late and lazy anniversary

Fantastic weather for normal people, less so bird-wise!

View to the north from Skøgsøy today

A family walk late in the day and with only a short period of very distracted seawatching produced the first live Fulmars havhest I have seen in Øygarden this year. Normally a common enough species it has been almost non-existent out here this year although I did find a number of dead Fulmar during the late spring / early summer.

Otherwise it was just the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn, Crested Tits toppmeis etc along with a noticeable increase in the numbers of Goldcrest fuglekonge.

Today was the 20th anniversary of a tragic day in the history of Skogsøy - three students were swept to their deaths by a rogue wave. Just in case you were thinking of getting closer to those low-flying seabirds....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hernar 16 September 2015 - A national rarity and yet another hole in the list filled.

South easterly winds and largely sunny.

Spent the entire day birding Hernar. Well worth it! Although it felt relatively quiet there was enough going on that the day flew by and we didn't even get to cover all of this tiny island.

One of the first birds was a distant harrier hunting over Sanden / Nordøy. It was seen chasing Kestrels tårnfalk and hunting for around an hour in total but was rather distant and kept disappearing from view. However, the bright orange undersides, size and jizz meant that we kept our patience and never gave up.

Common Buzzard musvåk

One of several Kestrel tårnfalk seen today

"Boomerang" on the carpals, unstreaked orange underparts, narrow hand and four visible primaries say it all....

Obvious "boa", typical underwing pattern and narrow hand obvious here

Pale, irregularly streaked undersides to the primaries, boa and once again the very orange and unstreaked underparts visible here.

Remarkably, during a period where we waiting for the harrier to reappear another raptor turned up in the same place - a Common Buzzard musvåk - a real rarity in Øygarden and another of my local "bogey birds". A real relief to finally nail this species on the local patch! This bird, chased by the local Hooded Crows kråke finally crossed over to Hernar where it gave decent-ish views - and somehow brought the harrier with it.

The harrier showed well but against the light. We managed to clinch all the salient features and can now claim the first Pallid Harrier steppehauk for Øygarden. This is a juvenile bird - possibly the same one seen on Fedje a few days ago. This is incredibly the fourth new species for Øygarden this year - Ortolan Bunting hortulan, Bee-eater bieter and Black-headed Bunting svarthodespurv being the previous ones (and all of which I have missed whilst being at work....).

It was a day of raptors with several Kestrel tårnfalk, a few Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, a Peregrine vandrefalk and at least three White-tailed Eagle havørn in addition to the goodies already
mentioned. There was not much in the way of grounded migrants - just a Blackcap munk and several Chiff-chaff gransanger.

Waders were rather more obvious with Grey Plover tundralo, Knot polarsnipe and Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove among the better Hernar species. I

Other stuff included a Great Northern Diver islom and a couple of vocal Red-throated Diver smålom. Both of these species were the first of the autumn.

Birding selfie of two satisfied birders - smile, its a Pallid!

Øygarden 15 September 2015 - Even "normal" people are reacting....

Light Easterly winds, rain in the afternoon.

Didn't do much in the field today, just a quick look at Tjeldstø and a brief visit to Breivik, Much the same as of late with decent numbers of Kestrel tårnfalk, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk etc along with the usual waders including a flock of seven Ruff brusahane at Breivik.

A rather wet, worm hunting Kestrel tårnfalk at Tjeldstø today

There have been so many of the smaller raptors recently that even "normal" people (by that I mean non-birders) have been noticing them. Everyone is asking about the Kestrels tårnfalk.

Long live the easterlies!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Herdlevær 14 September 2015 - Politics and Superstition

The fantastic conditions continue....

The perfect conditions seem never-ending - but seem to be too good to ground anything rare. Best birds today were a flock of eight Black-tailed Godwits svarthalespove which passed Herdlevær. Otherwise it was more of the same with smaller raptors dominating the action.

Birds seen from the house included a Peregrine vandrefalk and a Goshawk hønsehauk.

To top it all - and in a strangely prophetic manner - I heard at least one Eagle Owl hubro giving alarm calls from the terrace after dark - at the time I was watching the results of the local elections held today. It seems the Eagle Owl hubro knew it that it is doomed as s viable species out here (and quite possibly in the country as a whole). Most of the political parties seem to be going for putting all of Øygarden  under a THICK layer of concrete and allowing / encouraging everyone to build as much as humanely possible wherever they want to, All in all a very apt sighting.

One party, however, was for keeping farmland, putting high voltage cables in the ground and a number of other commendable ideas. Unfortunately they have little or no chance of achieving their goals, Interesting the environmental party didn't even have a candidate in Øygarden, Says it all really....

Tjeldstø 13 September 2015 - Same, same

Calm with light easterly winds

Barely out today but the raptor movement was still obvious -plenty of Kestrel tårnfalk and Sparrowhawk spurvehauk "everywhere" along with Peregrine vandrefalk etc.

In the north of the reserve at Tjeldstø there were small numbers of Teal krikkand, a Ruff brushane and a flock of Golden Plover heilo.

Much the same story at  Nautnes

Harrier sp was reported from Breivik and a Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger at Sæle were also reported.

Øygarden 12 September 2015 - Falsterbo light

Calm, sunny and light easterly winds again.

A stroll at Herdlevær first thing produced five species of raptor - a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Peregrine vandrefalk, a Merlin dvergfalk and several each of Kestrel tårnfalk and Sparrowhawk spurvehauk.

Best bird was a probable fly-by Wryneck vendehals but I'm not claiming anything.

There was also and obvious movement of waders - largely Golden Plover heilo.

Adult Peregrine vandrefalk at Tjeldstø

Elsewhere the first Brambling bjørkefink of the autumn turned up at Hjelme West and more of all the raptors seen at Herdlevær earlier in the day were seen at Tjeldstø and Nautnes-

A Rook kornkråke at Tjeldstø could conceivably be the same long staying bird from earlier in the year.

Herdlevær 11 September 2015 . A normal autumn day

Calm, sunny and a light easterly breeze.

Despite more or less ideal conditions there was not a much as expected / hoped for going on. Some migration was obvious with Dunnocks jernspurv typically suddenly making an appearance and a couple of Reed Bunting sivspurv the first of the autumn, Other than that it was situation normal.

Above and below: Ruff brushane

A few Ruff brushane were present, a normal thing for the time of year, but when I tried to get closer and take some photos they sat down in the grass like Snipe and pretty much disappeared. Don't remember seeing them behave like this before.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nautnes 10 September 2015 - Finally plugged that hole in the list...

Sunny, warm and a hint of easterly winds

Highlight of the daywas a Rosy Starling rosenstær on a telephone line outside the house - species #107 from the house. Wicked. I have to acknowledge Mrs Naturalbornbirder's contribution to this find  - I was busy downloading pictures of an interesting harrtier when I was called outside to look at yet another flock of Starling stær - at least 700 passed the house- but this flock stopped and contained my Øygarden bogeybird.

The Hernar harrier, seen earlier heading north past Turøy looked quite small

The underwing pattern and four primaries look good for Pallid....

Knot polarsnipe

First year Rosy Starling rosenstær

Sanderling sandløper

The morning was spent on Hernar which produced a Barred Warbler Hauksanger and an interesting harrier which showed some features of Pallid Harrier steppehauk. Jury is still out but it could still swing thant way....

On the islands offshore Sanderling sandløper, Knot polarsnipe, Grey Plover tundralo, Peregrine vandrefalk and most of the usual suspects were seen.

As a bonus some excellent Northern Lights displays both yesterday evening and tonight. Wicked.

Its great to be back! Roll on tomorrow.....

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Early September 2015 - Just another day at the office

A couple of weeks offshore north of the Arctic circle could have been good - unfortunately I was barely out on deck at all. The few times I made it out I was very lucky. Whales galore but few birds - a few Snow Buntings snøspurv and a Willow Warbler løvsanger were the only passerines. A few Ringed Plover sandlo and a Turnstome steinvender were also onboard briefly.

Other than than that just Great Skua storjo and the usual seabirds.

Minke Whale vågehval

Pilot Whales

Ringed Plover sandlo