Sunday, December 30, 2018

Skogsøy 30 December 2018 - New Year Bird Race Day 1

It's that time  of year again.  The New Year Bird Race and for once I am actually in Øygarden.

Today it was rather predictably Skogsøy where there was, equally predictably, little passing. However, I did manage to nail a number of the target species including at least two that were seemingly not seen elsewhwere - Kittiwake krykkje and Little Auk alkekonge.

Other stuff included a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, a few Gannets havsule, White-tailed Eagle havørn, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, a couple of Whoopers sangsvane and most of the usual ducks.

No time to post any pics today.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Herdlevær 28 December 2018 - Back west

I enjoyed a couple of hours doing a relaxed walk around Herdlevær in fantastic winter conditions. Mild, sun at times, no wind, no rain (and above all no white stuff or ice).

First winter Peregrine vandrefalk (the other bird seen was an adult)

Male Wigeon brunnakke

Although it was relatively quiet the birds that were about were well worth seeing with two Slavonian Grebes horndykker probably taking pole position. Two Peregrines vandrefalk, a White-tailed Eagle havørn and a male Wigeon brunnakke were the best of the rest here. Porpoises and Otter also put in an appearance here.

Elsehwere a nice Goshawk hønsehauk at Tjeldstø really put the local Hooded Crows kråke into something of a panic, some flocks of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb still around too.

A nice bonus bird was a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker dvergspett at Hatten.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas 2018 - Engerdal, Hedmark

I spent Christmas inland in my home away from home, Engerdal - possibly one of the most under-birded places in Norway. Birdwise it was definitely a case of quality rather than quantity.

Part of a flock of 30 Pine Grosbeak konglebit

Pygmy Owl spurveugle, uncropped

A few walks (far too small a word for slogging up steep slopes in knee deep snow) produced some pretty special birds. I like to think of these as very special Christmas decorations.

Common (Mealy) Redpolls gråsisik

Other species included Capercaille tiur, Black Grouse orrfugl and Willow Grouse lirype.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Øygarden 17-18 December 2018 - Difficult Crossbills

Southerly winds, relatively calm and mild.

There are plenty of crossbills in Øygarden at the moment, though identifying them is a different matter. There are some that look and sound like Common Crossbill grankorsnebb, others that look and sound like Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb and others in what appear to be mixed flocks (something I am often sceptical of for some reason).

A walk at Skogsøy on 17 December produced little, with just a Peregrine vandrefalk of note. Apart from this small numbers of Common Scoter svartand on the sea, a few Whooper Swans sangsvane on the lagoons and the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn.

Female Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

Male Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

Crossbill - possibly large billed Common? Upper mandible suitably decurved, lower mandible not really that deep or "S" curved, tips of both mandibles visible. Mmmm......

Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb, suitably deep and curved lower mandible, no crossing tips visible

Middle bird probably Parrot - massive and steeply curved upper mandible, bulging and deep lower.....

Elsewhere I ran into flocks of crossbills here and there with eight Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb feeding near Tjeldstø. At Hellesøy I came across a flock that seemed to be a mixed flock of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb. Sometimes large billed Common are difficult to separate from Parrot.....

On 18th I was out without my camera (stupid I know) and had Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke down to less that two metres away and a cracking fly-by Goshawk hønsehauk....

Sunday, December 16, 2018

North Øygarden 16 December 2018 - Time for some birding!

Cold with a brisk SE wind. The weather conditions were somewhat unusual with some heavy seas caused by winds that were not that noticeable in many places.

Today I did what I used to call my usual winter round but is in fact something I haven't done for a long time. Starting at Dåvøy then moving on to Solberg and Alvheim. This trip produced a lot of the usual winter species here in Øygarden.

Curlew storspove

Grey Heron gråhegre

Teal krikkand

Dåvøy scored with a Slavonian Grebe horndykker as the best bird with a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn also putting in an appearance.

Three Teal krikkand were present on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø (an increase of one from yesterday) along with a Common Gull fiskemåke and a Whooper Swan sangsvane. Other birds at Tjeldstø included a Woodcock rugde and a couple more White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Solberg produced two more White-tailed Eagle havørn, a flock of around 15 Long-tailed Duck havelle and a couple of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt.

At Alvheim there were at least five White-tailed Eagle havørn, two Curlew storspove and a Velvet Scoter sjøorre.

Back home I had a further two White-tailed Eagles havørn from the terrace.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Skogsøy 13 December 2018 - Let the Seawatching commence

The new seawatching hide at Skogsøy

The long awaited seawatching hide at Skogsøy is almost ready so I had to check it out. Although not quite finished yet it still locked it looks very promising - a far cry from what I used back in 2006....

Hopefully this will mean more seawatching in worse weather and therefore more birds. Øygarden has some serious gaps in "birding infrastructure" and this will plug the biggest gap of them all. All weather seawatching will become a reality in the immediate future.

More seawatching hides can be seen on this page.

I didn't have time to do any actual seawatching but it was great to be out in glorious winter weather.

Elsewhere in Øygarden during the week there was the usual fare with Great Northern Diver islom, Woodock rugde, Purple Sandpipers fjærplytt, White-tailed Eagle havørn etc etc.

 As freshwater is starting to freeze it was no surprise that some Whoopers sangsvane dropped in to the "lagoons" at Skogsøy.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Øygarden 01-02 December 2018 - Typical early December birding

I covered some of the usual localities to see what was going on. It was all very typical early December with Fieldfares gråtrost (flocks of up to 50) and small numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost still around.

Common Scoter svartand

Wader wise it was almost situation normal with a few Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a couple of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt at Herdlevær and Curlew storspove from the house as I changed to winter tyres. A small wader at Herdlevær on 02 December was a lot more interesting - looking rather common sandpiper like but I didn't get good enough views to clinch any kind of ID. Whatever it was it would have been a good record given the time of year.

First year Great Northern Diver islom

A Great Northern Diver islom on the sea at Herdlevær showed well (at least in the scope) on both days.

Taiga Bean Goose sædgås

Highlight was a Bean Goose sædgås at Breivik on 01 December. Probably a "taiga" (fabalis) given the length of the beak and the general size of the bird

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Øygarden 28-29 October 2018 - Bits and bobs

Not much time spent in the field but a stroll at Sæle on 28 October produced a Treecreeper trekryper along with the more usual Blackcaps munk. There were lots (ie 100's) of Common Redpoll gråsisik heading north everywhere I went with flocks seen over my house at Nautnes, at Sæle, at the shops at Tjeldstø etc.

Male Blackcap munk at Sæle

Fieldfare gråtrost

A Tree Sparrow pilfink turned up in my garden and a Long-tailed Duck havelle put in a freshwater appearance on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø.

On 29 October I spent even less time out but the first Whoopers sangsvane of the autumn turned up on Husvatnet where the Long-tailed Duck havelle remained.

Herdlevær 27 October 2018 - Migraton

A late and lazy stroll at Herdlevær showed that things were on the move with Long-tailed Ducks havelle, Common Scoter svartand, Velvet Scoter sjøorre, Red-throated Diver smålom, a couple of Great Northern Divers islom and some auks passing.

Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Ducks havelle heading south

Razorbills alke heading north

A Peregrine vandrefalk joined the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn there.

A small flock of Goldfinch stillits showed up at Breivik on the way there and whilst taking a few shots of these a flock of 15 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb dropped in.

Goldfinches stillits at Breivik

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hjelme 26 October 2018 - Little Egret before breakfast

On Thursday afternoon I was at the office in Bergen when I received a telephone call from birders from Bergen who had driven out again to try and relocate the Little Egret silkehegre.  They had found it close to where it was initially sighted near the old church at Hjelme. Very frustrating but I felt I took it very well and kept working and planned to try for it first thing Friday....

Heavily cropped version of one of the first pictures I took of the Little Egret silkehegre

The next morning I was up bright and early and clinched the egret before the sun came up. One of the local Grey Herons gråhegre clearly didn't appreciate the competition and hassled the egret until it flew off. I soon re-found it actively feeding on the plentiful small fish and prawns in the area.

However, even this was short lived as it flew off and I did not manage to relocate it again. This pattern continued over the next day or two with some birders making repeated trips out to try and connect with the bird - some without success.

Some very approachable Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt.

Some Purple Sands fjæreplytt, a few Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb and a Treecreeper trekryper were among the other birds seen.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Øygarden 23-24 October 2018 - Little Egret - a new species for Øygarden!

Tuesday 23 October saw me spending 10 minutes at Hellesøy and another 10 minutes at Tjeldstø. The strong NW winds brought some seabirds down the fjord and Kittiwakes krykkje were seen on the inside at both Hellesøy and Tjeldstø.

Several White-tailed Eagles havørn were seen with at least four at Hellesøy and more elsewhere - including from the house as usual.

On 24 October the winds eased and I hoped for a movement of seabirds at Skogsøy. There was not a lot passing with 10 Kittiwakes krykkje and a couple of large flocks of auks (15 and 25+) heading south. A couple of probable Puffins lunde also passed. Other than that just a lone Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a Long-tailed Duck havelle of any interest.

The bird on the right looks like a normal Common Crossbill grankornebb whist the left hand bird has a much heavier bill

This one would go down as a heavy-billed Common Crossbill grankorsnebb in my book

A flock of Crossbills on the way home made for some head scratching. A couple of them were clearly Common Crossbill grankorsnebb but most looked to be Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb with massive square bills. A Sparrowhawk spurvehauk spooked them before I could get more photos.

Øygarden's first Little Egret Silkehegre. Photo: R. Hatten

On my way home I received a message about an unknown bird, possibly a Little Egret silkehegre. I checked my mail and indeed it was. I spent some time looking but saw nothing other than a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett. Needless to say the twitchers from town quickly moved in but they too failed to relocate the bird on 24 October.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Herdlevær 22 October - The weather is here

Strong westerly gale and rather dull.

Migrating Common Gull fiskemåke

One of my favourite birds - Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt.

A quick trip to Herdlevær again with not much to see in the gale force winds which made standing up, never mind birding, something of a challenge. Highlight was a confiding Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt. Five Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke fed in the same area.

Over the sea there were just some Gannets havsule and a few Common Gull fiskemåke on the move.

Other than that the usual suspects including migrating thrushes, several Snipe enkeltbekkasin, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Herdlevær 20 October 2018 - Breakfast trip

Pleasant conditions with a light northerly wind.

Adult Great Northern Diver islom

Sparrowhawk spurvehauk

First there were two White-tailed Eagle havørn

Then there were three (fourth bird here is a photo bombing Raven ravn)

Then there were four.

Many of the birds present yesterday had obviously moved on but I picked up a couple of Goldfinch stillits and a Grey Wagtail vinterle during my usual round. A flock of 12 Crossbill korsnebb flew over but I didn't manage to identify them specifically.

A 10 minute seawatch whilst I had a sandwich and a coffee produced a Great Northern Diver islom heading south but little else. Also four White-tailed Eagles havørn present.

Then it was time to rush back home to continue cutting up and splitting the sitka spruce I have felled. Correspondingly little seen although a flock of five White-tailed Eagles havørn performed in front of the house.

A Little Bunting dvergspurv was found at Herdlevær and the long staying Rose-coloured Starling rosenstær was seen at Sæle.