Sunday, January 31, 2016

Skogsøy 31 January 2016 - Enduro test

Basically quite nice, even sunny weather most of the day but with NW winds which strengthened during snow / hail / sleet showers.

The walk out to Skogsøy was quite pleasant but a few minutes after I got there a heavy snow shower with stronger winds meant it was all but impossible to see and generally rather uncomfortable. I waited it out and was rewarded with a 5 minute period of lighter wind and good visibility before the next wave of snow hit. In the end I gave up and headed back - almost immediately the weather cleared but I was out of time.

There was stuff passing, several Gannets havsule, a couple of Kittiwake krykkje and a flock of 10 auks which disappeared into a snow squall before I could identify them were seen. Otherwise some indication of larger gulls trying to head north.

This weekend was the Norwegian Garden Bird count - a decent flock of 30 Siskin grønnsisik made this the most numerous species in my garden along with Greenfinch grønnfink, 8 Chaffinch bokfink, two each of Blackbird svarttrost and Robin rødstrupe along with the Blue Tits blåmeis and Great Tits kjøttmeis.

I was barely outside yesterday but had a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett heading off to roost at Nautnes in the evening.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thursday 28 January Tjeldstø - Wasting time on yellow-legged gulls

Brisk westerly winds with occasional showers

It has gone all mild and spring-like again. The Whoopers sangsvane are spreading out to their usual haunts again and things seem to be returning to normal.

The only chance I got for any birding turned out to be a big time waster. I turned up to pick my youngest up from school but being a few minutes early was compelled to scan through the gull flock outside the school. One bird immediately drew my eye - largely due to the front heavy look and then the yellow legs.

Luckily it flew before I had to move the car 100m to get back to the school. P5 with broad black band on both sides of the web, heavy angled bill with large red spot. Yes, there are yellow-legged features there but all in this is going down as an omissus. Whatever the literature says they are not common in Norway (at least not where I live!) and I see only one or two a year.

Some images:

Broad white trailing edge to the secondaries is meant to be a feature of something more exciting

Underwing pattern also looks fine for Y-L gull - but plenty of Herring look like this too

No arguing with the yellow legs....

Looks front heavy and bulky chested here. Didn't get a better side view.

The "Be like a birder" seems to have been a success so predictably I've added a few more on the "Be like a birder page". It looks like this will be a never ending series.....

Here is one of them:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Be like a birder

A combination of some recent birding experiences and one of the latest Facebook crazes prompted me to make some hopelessly unfunny "Be like" memes.

Here are a couple of them. The rest are on this page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tjeldstø 19 January 2016 - Another bunch of new species

Calm and sunny most of the day with one short snow shower.

Little Auk alkekonge

Redwing rødvingetrost

Woodcock rugde

The fantastic weather continues. Tjeldstø has been grossly neglected of late so it was good to get in a short but quite productive walk there today. Highlights were a few Goldfinch stillits, a couple of Redwing rødvingetrost, a Woodcock rugde and a Little Auk alkekonge. Plenty of other finches there too with Brambling bjørkefink, Redpoll gråsisik and Siskin grønnsisik. Also had my first House Sparrows gråspurv in Øygarden this year.

Solberg was again rather quiet but a couple of Black Guillemot teist, more Redpoll gråsisik and five Starling stær were present.

Brambling bjørkefink

Coal Tit svartmeis

Mealy (Common) Redpoll gråsisik
Brambling bjørkefink

Back home at Nautnes there was plenty too too. Best birds were a distant Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, a Woodcock rugde flying past the terrace, singing Eagle Owl hubro. And a LOT of birds at the feeder - including at least 10 Brambling bjørkefink, Redpolls gråsisik, Siskin grønnsisik and more.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dåvøy 18 January 2016 - Slav grebe test shoot

Calm with some snow showers.

Porpoises nise

Slavonian Grebe horndykker taken with point and pray superzoom

...and with the usual DSLR & 400mm telephoto lens

Went to Dåvøy to see the regularly wintering Slavonian (Horned) Grebe horndykker that was seen there a few days ago. This showed quite well and I took some pictures with my latest point and pray superzoom - very happy with the results from this cheapo camera.

Other stuff in the area included a family of Porpoises nise, a few Guillemot lomvi, a Curlew storspove, a Woodcock rugde, a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and most of the usual suspects. Some fresh Water Rail vannrikse tracks also here.

Whoopers sangsvane with point and pray coming out of the bag for the second time today.

The Dipper fossekall remained at Alvheim whilst six adult Whoopers sangsvane and a female Tufted Duck toppand were on Storavatnet.

Back home a Nautnes a couple of Brambling bjørkefink in the garden along with 15 Siskin grønnsisik, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and all the garden regulars - numbers of Robin rødstrupe and Blackbird svarttrost both seem to be increasing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nautnes 17 January 2016 - The second new species for the house list this year

Calm, sunny and frozen.

Best bird today came in the form of a female Tufted Duck toppand which flew past the house and landed nearby. This was in fact the second new for the house list this year - the first being Razorbill alke a few days ago but I didn't consider the possiblity that this was a garden tick at the time. Other stuff at Nautnes included a couple of flocks of Common (Mealy) Redpolls gråsisik heading over. House list is thus now up to 112 species.

After this I checked out Hjelme Vest where there was generally a lot more on the sea but none of the hoped for species were seen. Best birds were a Red-throated Diver smålom, a Guillemot lomvi and several Black Guillemot teist. Long-tailed Duck havelle numbers were up to a bit more than 50 and there were several Common Scoter svartand present too.

Elsewhere the first Golden Eagle kongeørn of the year was reported.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Skogsøy 16 January 2016 - Productive first trip to Skogsøy

Calm and sunny. Very frozen again after some tendency towards a thaw.

A stroll out to Skogsøy - the first of 2016 - produced most of the expected species. Highlight were a couple of Peregrines vandrefalk - one of which was busy devouring whatever it was it had caught. A huge flock of around 400 Common Redpoll gråsisik fed in the woods and was joined by about 15 Siskin grønnsisik and several each of Chaffinch bokfink and Greenfinch grønnfink.

The lagoons were relatively quiet with two White-tailed Eagles havørn watching over the area. As expected there were Whoopers sangsvane here - five adult and five young. A Common Gull fiskemåke feeding here was a relatively uncommon winter sighting.

The sea was fairly quiet with just 11 Eiders ærfugl, several Long-tailed Duck havelle and a few Black Guillemot teist about.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hjelme Vest 15 January 2016 - Snow

Windy and snowy for much of the day.

Spent a large part of the day stuck in traffic mayhem - the wintry weather seems to come as a shock over here too,

Before I left I made a quick trip out to Hjelme Vest but even when there were breaks in the snow there was virtually nothing on offer on the islands or sea - just a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn. In the woods a lone Woodcock rugde was the best sighting.

Back home a couple of Brambling bjørkefink joined the Greenfich grønnfink and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk flew over.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Herdlevær 14 January 2016 - Finally out of the house and out of the car!

Brisk southerly wind, largely cloudy. Temperatures higher than of late with some thawing going on - but it DEFINITELY didn't feel any warmer!

There was not a lot of note to be seen with singles of Woodcock rugde and Curlew storspove as best birds.

The new species for the year were very predictable in the form of Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and small numbers of Common Scoter svartand.

At least 200 Herring Gull gråmåke fed around the fish farm but I couldn't find anything special among them. Having said that there was an adult Gannet havsule swimming around inside one of the fish pens - it kept putting its head underwater to have a look but the salmon there must have been way to big for it to catch!

At Harkestad the geese were back again after having been absent again yesterday - seems like they only like those fields every other day.....The Starling stær flock was reduced to a single bird there today but there was another flock of 18 at Skjold.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Harkestad & Nautnes 12 January 2016

Amazing weather again with no wind and temperatures around zero. Although the flu seems to be loosening its grip on me my youngest is now down with it and work isn't giving any breaks either.

Rossicus Bean Goose sædgås

The birds were sat on their feet  grazing around themselves - presumably to preserve heat

Albifrons Whitefront tundragås

Somewhat predictably therefore this was yet another day without being out in any meaningful way. However, the daily trip to the shops produced the goose flock back at Harkestad - having not been seen there yesterday either by me or others attempting to twitch them. The four albifrons Whitefronts tundragås and the rossicus Bean Goose sædgås were sat on their feet grazing around themselves. I snapped a few quick pictures and moved on without disturbing them.

A small flock of Starling stær were present there too.

The only other new for the year was from the house - in the form of a Razorbill alke heading south. Other sightings from the kitchen window included a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn robbing an Otter oter, a couple of Porpoises nise and a couple of Long-tailed Duck havelle.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Nautnes / Tjeldstø 11 January 2016 -. Flu (almost) stops play day III

Fantastic weather, but despite some initial optimism flu stopped play with much of the day spent on the sofa - yet again.

Still managed to notch up a few new for my 2016 Øygarden list - two species from the house in the form of a few Gannets havsule and a small flock of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb.

The daily trip to the shop produced none of yesterday's goodies but a lone Tree Sparrow pilfink and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk were seen at Tjeldstø.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Harkestad-Alvheim 10 January 2016 - Flu (almost) stops play day 2

Slightly warmer with some snow today.

Spent the majority of the day on the sofa in a vegetative state apart from a brief drive to the petrol station to buy some Coca Cola - a drink I normally despise but with both me and my youngest suffering from dehydration it was the necessary medicine.

Tundra Bean Goose sædgås

Albifrons Whitefronts tundragås

Not always easy to see - here hiding in long grass

Of course a drive to the shop is not often just a drive to the shop. On the way there I stopped at Harkestad where I was rewarded with four albifrons White-fronted Geese tundragås and a Tundra (rossicus) Bean Goose sædgås - always good birds to see and especially welcome today. It was so dark that I used ISO values I didn't know I had - something approaching about 100000 I think.

Dipper fossekall - not normally an easy species in Øygarden

The way home was just about as good with Water Rail vannrikse and Dipper fossekall at Alvheim.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Øygarden 09 January 2016 - Flu (almost) stops play

Calm, cold and sunny again

Roadside Black Grouse orrfugl

Spent most of the day asleep on the sofa fighting flu. However, a trip to the shops saved the day with a nice roadside Black Grouse orrfugl.

Other stuff included a Song Thrush måltrost at Nautnes, Snipe enkeltbekkasin and the usual.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Hjelme Vest 08 January - Most of the usual specialities and another unseasonal find

Calm, sunny and cold again.

It would be so nice to get a day out but again made do with an hour or so.

Hjelme Vest produced several predictable new species for the year in the form of Raven ravn, three Curlew storspove, 30 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt, 27 Long-tailed Duck havelle, a couple of Little Auk alkekonge, one each of Black Guillemot teist and Common Guillemot lomvi.

Best bird, however, was a Merlin dvergfalk which obviously had its eye on the waders.....seems like this is the first county record of the year - where was this during the New Year Bird Race?

Crested Tit toppmeis - one of the characteristic woodland birds in Øygarden

Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin struggling with the cold

Other stuff included several Snipe enkeltbekkasin and most of the usual suspects including Crested Tit toppmeis and a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn.

Very little in the way of ducks and no divers or grebes though.....

Dåvøy 07 January 2016 - Some very unseasonal birds!

Cold (and by that I mean frozen solid), calm and sunny. Fantastic weather and it was a shame to yet again not be able to make the most of it. I managed about an hour out at Dåvøy with the dog.

Dåvøy produced a couple of good January birds in the form of a Song Thrush måltrost and a Red-throated Diver smålom along with at least three Snipe enkeltbakkasin. The four White-tailed Eagles havørn seen here were of lesser interest.

Above and below: Lapwing vipe

Snipe enkeltbekkasin
The above pictures were taken without even getting out of the car. There is no way these birds should be disturbed with what they are having to cope with at the moment.

After that things stayed on the same level during the way home, picking up Woodcock rugde, another Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Lapwing vipe at Sture.

Reed Bunting sivspurv #1

Reed Bunting sivspurv #2
I did get out of the car for these two - but only just!

A family errand produced the best birds of the day by far in the form of two roadside Reed Bunting sivspurv. This would appear to be the first January record of the species in Øygarden and the first January record in the county since the mid 90s!

Other bits and bobs that are not rare at all but were either the first I've had in Øygarden this year (in my second hour of actually birding!) included Siskin grønnsisik and Crested Tit toppmeis.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Nautnes 06 January 2016 - Almost back

Very cold and frozen! A big change from late December weather wise - very little in the way of snow on the ground but most freshwater frozen solid.

Typically no time to be out but a quick stroll in the immediate vicinity of my house produced some new species for the year in Øygarden - notably three Common Snipe enkeltbekkassin and a Woodcock rugde.

Otherwise it was hard going in the rapidly fading light with just the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn, Goldcrests fuglekonge and some of the normal garden species.