Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Herdlevær 30 January 2018 - Parrot Crossbills and twitching in the rain

South westerly winds, mostly sunny but with some short showers and a torrential downpour during the most critical part of the day....

Still plenty of Fieldfare gråtrost about - and now having an easier time of things now that the fields are nice and wet


An assortment of Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb

Video of a female Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb
Unusually I used my DSLR for this - normally I use my point and pray - and typically only thought of video after most of the birds had flown leaving only this one behind

There has been little or no time for birding the last few days and even today my intentions were to strictly limit time spent in the field. I did a round at Herdlevær and pretty much called it a day. Things were relatively quiet here with flocks of thrushes, a flock of Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb, several Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and a few Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke. A Guillemot lomvi on the sea was the best bird here - being the first I have seen in Øygarden this year - this species is slowly but surely becoming more and more of a rarity - at least in the winter months.

On my way home something remarkable happened - I met another birder who was actually out birding. He asked about some good gull spots and I pointed out a couple of localities worth checking before heading home and getting back to work....

Just like last time I checked this place out there were plenty of gulls....

Obviously curious - it was probably thinking that it had never seen a creature like that in these kinds of conditions and came for a closer look

Here obeying the second law of bird photography - if the picture is sharp there will be a wing tip missing

2cy Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke

I then received a text message regarding an Iceland Gull grønlandsmåke which I felt would be rude to ignore so off I went down to Vik - and straight into some very heavy rain. The gull performed nicely given the conditions and I even managed to pick up another Øygarden first for the year in the form of a lone Black-headed Gull hettemåke (almost rarer than Iceland during the winter months).

Otherwise White-tailed Eagles havørn, Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwings rødvingetrost pretty much everywhere.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tjledstø 27 January 2018 - Scaup movement?

Not out today really but did a drive-by past Tjeldstø.

Two Scaup bergand on Husvatnet

albifrons Whitefront tundragås

A pair of Scaup bergand on Husvatnet were the best sighting and an albifrons Whitefront tundragås flew in and landed. The second sighting of Scaup in as many days may indicate some kind of a movement of this species.

Otherwise just a small flock of Starling stær, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Rock pipit skjærpiplerke in addition to the usual thrushes etc.

Back home at least two White-tailed Eagle havørn put in an appearance and the Willow Tit granmeis that recently started using the garden made it onto the list for the national Garden Bird Count which is this weekend.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sture and Skogsøy 26 January - Another good day

Light North Westerlies with a few short hail showers, largely sunny.

Goshawk hønsehauk at Sture

Female Scaup bergand

Kicked the day off at Sture to check out a female Scaup bergand. The same locality also turned up, among other things, a Goshawk hønsehauk, a Dipper fossekall and some Willow Tits granmeis.

Next up was Skogsøy which was much quieter than my previous visit both in the woods on the way out and over the sea. Of saving grace were a couple of Kittiwake krykkje - the first in Hordaland this year and not exactly unexpected.

A roadside Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Willow Tit granmeis in the garden

Plenty of thrushes, again mostly Redwing rødvingtrost all over the place, the female Wigeon brunnakke on Husvatnet, Whoopers sangsvane at a couple of places and the first Willow Tit granmeis actually in my garden this year were some of the other sightings.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Øygarden 25 January 2018 - Plugging some more gaps.

Light Westerlies, mostly sunny.

Excellent weather after a night of strong gales. Pity I have to work for a living and could not spend such a wonderful day outside.

As usual it boiled down to some hurried drive-bys and a very short walk or two.

At Hellesøy there was a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea but little else other than the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Robins rødstrupe seem to be coping well with plenty around still

Sæle produced a Starling stær among a flock of thrushes and incredibly my first Goldcrest fuglekonge of the year. How on earth it has taken so many days without seeing one of the commonest woodland birds out here I will never know. Perhaps it has something to do with not being able to hear them when walking in crunchy snow - something that has now thankfully disappeared.

Massively cropped picture of the Lapwing vipe at Tjeldstø - it should now be able to find food in the fields and probably also on the shoreline.

At Tjeldstø a Lapwing vipe was the best sighting - hardly a surprise given the recent weather conditions.

As usual I spent most of the day at home in front of the computer but managed to pick up a Curlew storspove in the scope during a telephone call.

Redwings rødvingetrost were pretty much everywhere and suddenly greatly outnumber Fieldfare gråtrost as the commonest thrush.

Elsewhere in Øygarden a Scaup bergand was reported - worth a check tomorrow.....

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Øygarden 24 January 2018 - Plugging some gaps

Gale force SW winds, rain at times but with some sunny spells after I got home.

Overnight the snow was gone and the thaw has obviously given the thrushes a break - although I still found a dead Fieldfare gråtrost during my brief foray out of the car. Too little too late for this one too.

I was just about out yesterday with just a Great Northern Diver islom at Solberg of any note. Today wasn't much better as I needed to get some work done.

Given the conditions I did a few targeted drive-bys in an attempt to get a few new species for the Øygarden year list. Of minimal interest one of these target species was Collared Dove tyrkerdue. There is a small resident population out here that I almost never check out. Away from the regular site this is a good species to see out here - largely as a late spring / early summer migrant. It is a hopelessly under-recorded species out here.

Two of today's Collared Doves tyrkerdue

Today there were four Collared Dove tykerdue present along with a couple of Nuthatch spettmeis and a small flock of Siskin grønnsisik.

Another new for the year for me locally was a female Tufted Duck toppand on Stegeviksvatn.

Part of the albifrons Whitefront tundragås flock at Harkestad

By far the best sighting today was a flock of eight albifrons Whitefronts tundragås at Harkestad. I had to use ISO values I didn't even know I had to get anything resembling a photograph.

Back home the Mealy Redpoll gråsisik flock remained in the garden and a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn put in an appearance.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Øygarden 22 January 2018 - A cracking day out

High cloud and SE winds, temperatures creeping over freezing.

The intention today was a quick walk at Hjelme Vest and then home again to get on with things but this plan went horribly, horribly wrong. There was just too much to see.

Hjelme Vest was rather quiet with just a nice Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, a few small flocks of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, a couple of White-tailed Eagle havørn, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and many of the usual suspects.

A Fieldfare gråtrost in a bad way...

.....and another just slightly worse off

A Redwing rødvingetrost working its way along a snow free area of ground. This spot is often used by sheep to shelter from the worst of the weather and the soil is therefore no doubt a little richer - hopefully providing something in the way of food.

A Wren gjerdesmett worked the same section of ground and even passed under the Fieldfare gråtrost.

It is obvious that the Fieldfares gråtrost are struggling - a few good sized flocks came in off the sea heading south -numbering some 250 in total. I found three dead and one moribund bird on the short walk. The first dead bird looked like it had just dropped dead from its perch in a tree - it is quite possible this bird used the last of its energy evading a bird of prey and then could not survive the night. Other dead Fieldfares gråtrost had been dead slightly longer - two of them along a stretch of ground protected from snowfall by an overhanging cliff.

I left most of one of my sandwiches along this stretch -hoping it might just be enough to save a thrush or two as they work their way along looking for food. Very shortly afterwards a Redwing rødvingetrost showed up working its way along in the direction of the sandwich crumbs.....

Above: two Common Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Woodcock rugde feeding very close to my house.

A Woodcok rugde fed just outside my house and gave good views from the car. Elsewhere a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin also gave an excellent roadside showing.

Best sighting of the day - two albifrons Whitefronts tundragås

The drive-bys continued with a pair of adult albifrons Whitefronts tundragås at Sture.

Trying by now to limit the birding I swung by Blomvatnet as I neared the grocery shop - where I picked up a Dipper fossekall.

Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett

An unseasonal Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

On my way home I drove through Hatten where a Meadow Pipit heipiplerke put in a very unseasonal appearance, my first Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett of the year showed up and a Goshawk hønsehauk flew over.

Not bad at all.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Skogsøy 21 January - First trip to Skogsøy

Sunny, fresh southerly breeze.

On this, the sixth day I have actually been in Øygarden this year, it had to be Skogsøy.

There was predictably little passing but as expected this is resulted in the first Gannet havsule of the year along with a small flock of Guillebills alke/lomvi and a light passage of gulls heading south. Excitement was provided by a Peregrine vandrefalk that made a couple of sorties out over the see to attack flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost fleeing the wintery conditions.

Small numbers of Eiders ærfugl on the sea were another local first of the year. Something has happened to the overwintering Eiders here as they seem to becoming ever less numerous....

A couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn put on a decent show and at least one flock of 20 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb fed in the woods.

Fish-eating birds with punk rock hairstyles

Female Wigeon brunnakke - a scarce winter bird in Øygarden

The way home produced a Wigeon brunnakke and at least a couple of Tree Sparrows pilfink at Tjeldstø.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Nautnes 20 January 2018 - Winter again

Light southerly winds, sunny, snow on the ground and a lot of freshwater frozen.

Eventually made it home after delayed flights meant I spent an involuntary night at Copenhagen airport.

Two of the Mealy (Common) Redpolls gråsisik in the garden today

(un)Common Gull fiskemåke flying over the house

The garden provided a couple of Øygarden year ticks in the form of several Little Auks alkekonge flying past and a Lesser Redpoll brunsisik together with several Mealy Redpoll gråsisik feeding around the almost empty feeder. The male Teal krikkand was still on the sea in front of the house together with his Mallard stokkand friends, a Common Gull fiskemåke (anything but common in the winter out here) flew over as did a pair of Bullfinch dompap - another infrequent winter visitor here.

Still some flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost heading south as well as small numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost. A couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk put in an appearance at Tjeldstø.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Herdlevær & Nautnes 13 January 2018 - Migration

Cold and sunny with light southerly winds

Today was a day of mass migration - enough for a decent autumn day in fact. Flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost headed south pretty much all day with approximately 1000 birds flying over during the couple of hours I spent at Herdlevær. This was no doubt a cold weather movement now that the record numbers that have been overwintering further north are no doubt running out of berries.....

Part of a southbound Fieldfare gråtrost flock

One of a few Rock Pipits skjærepiplerke seen at Herdlevær

Other highlights at Herdlevær were a Peregrine vandrefalk, the first Woodcock rugde of the year, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a Razorbill alke. A few Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke, a White-tailed Eagle havørn and many of the usual suspects were also present here.

Male Teal krikkand on the sea in front of my house with a couple of Mallard stokkand

Back home at Nautnes was almost as good with best bird being a male Teal krikkand on the sea in front of the house, the first Bullfinches dompap I have seen locally this year and a flock of seven Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt seen from the terrace. More thrushes, a couple more White-tailed Eagle havørn and a couple of flocks of Redpoll gråsisik were among the other species seen from the terrace.

Other new birds in Øygarden for me this year were a Common Gull fiskemåke and a couple of Jays nøtteskrike.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Hjelme Vest 09 January 2018 - FIrst White-billed of the year

Clear, cold and sunny with a fresh SE breeze.

A quick scan of the sea at Hjelme Vest really did the place justice today with the highlight being a White-billed Diver gulnebblom feeding just with photo range. First of the year in Hordaland.


White-billed Diver gulnebblom

At least two Great Northern Divers islom, a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker, several Black Guillemot teist, around 35 Long-tailed Duck havelle, a nice flock of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt, a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and a few Crested Tits toppmeis were among the other new birds for me this year here. A couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Small flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost more or less everywhere and at Tjeldstø one of these flocks was joined by the first Starling stær of the year. I also added Chaffinch bokfink and House Sparrow gråspurv to my Øygarden year list here among other things.