Monday, April 30, 2018

Skogsøy 30 April 2018 - ....and somewhat predictably

Northerly winds and sunny.

It may come as something of a shock but today's trip out went to.....wait for it.....SKOGSØY.

The conditions looked good and it is peak season so it was yet another early start (but still a lot later than the boys from town).

The only new species for the year were a couple of Dunlin myrsnipe heading north together with some Oystercatcher tjeld. They were not yet in breeding plumage.

A total of 10 White-billed Diver gulnebblom passed - mostly at a very nice telescope range.

I managed quite a remarkable photograph today - almost totally lacking in any photographic qualities I managed to capture three species of diver in the same frame - Great Northern, Red-throated and White-billed. Mega.

Two Dunlin myrsnipe (top right)

Obligatory Gannet havsule spam

A 2cy Great Northern Diver islom (right) together with three Red-throated Diver smålom

A flock of summer plumaged Long-tailed Duck havelle

It was a good day for Red-breasted Merganser siland migration - at least by the standards of recent years

THIS IS THE PHOTO of the day (if clicked on). Three species of diver in one shot. From right to left:
White-billed Diver, Red-throated Diver, Great Northen Diver, and two more Red-throats.

Some random White-billed Diver gulnebblom shots.

It was the best day so far this year for a number of species including Red-breasted Merganser siland.

The totals for the six hours of seawatching were as follows:

Red throated Diver N 239
Great Northern Diver N (2cy)
White Billed Diver N 10
Northern Gannet N 27
Northern Gannet S 1
Great Cormorant N 37
Great Cormorant S 4
Eurasian Shag N 2
Eurasian Shag S 33
Grey Heron N 1
Wigeon N 3
Eider N 4
Eider S 1
Long tailed duck N 33
Long tailed duck S 3
Common Scoter N 31
Common Scoter S 9
Merganser N 32
Oystercatcher N 5
Common Gull N 99
Lesser black backed Gull N 1
Black-legged Kittiwake N 1
Common Guillemot N 13
Common Guillemot S 1
Razorbill N 4
Black Guillemot N 1
Black Guillemot S 1
Auk N 19
Auk S 9

The weather forecast tomorrow is such that Skogsøy may not be the best place to be, it is conceivable that I will cover places that have been neglected of my legs and get another hour or two of badly needed sleep...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Skogsøy 29 April 2018 - Loonatic season

Calm and sunny to start with. Increasing northerly winds later.

Spent almost six hours seawatching today. The rarest sighting was SEVERAL OTHER BIRDERS.

Apart from this the best birds of the seawatch were two Cranes trane and a pair of Shoveler skjeand heading north - both the first of the year for me, although both have already been reported from Øygarden this year.

Migrating Cormorants storskarv

Gannet havsule

As usual many of the Red-throated Diver smålom flocks went high - especially later in the morning

There are 10 Red-throated Diver smålom in this picture - not that easy to see.

White-billed Diver gulnebblom

But today it was all about the divers - a total of six White-billed Diver gulnebblom, a single Great Northern Diver islom and around 200 Red-throated Diver smålom headed north. Amongst the other sightings there was also a relatively good number of auks passing - though most were quite distant. Black Guillemot teist, White-tailed Eagle havørn and most of the usual suspects also put in an appearance.

At least four Orcas spekkhoggere fed offshore. Fantastic.

Later in the afternoon I dipped on an adult Little Gull dvergmåke that was seen rather briefly at Husvatnet, Tjeldstø.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Skogsøy 28 April 2018 - Seawatchathon day 2

Calm and partly overcast with very light northerly wind. Sunny later.

At home with no commitments for the next few days other than some work that I finished this evening....but this morning I only had time for another shortish seawatch.

Pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo - insanely cropped - it looked rather better in the scope.

Most of the Cormorants storskarv that are passing now are in non-breeding plumage.

Just over three hours gave significantly fewer birds than yesterday but there was a bit more variety and a couple more new for the year in the form of the first pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo of the year (although a skua reported from Herdlevær last weekend may well have been this species) and Whimbrel småspove.

A Little Auk alkekonge on the sea was another interesting sighting - and fits nicely into a pattern of occurrence with a scattering of records in late April / early May.

Otherwise it was the usual suspects (including several Velvet Scoter sjøorre) and small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom. A Peregrine vandrefalk also put in an appearance - heading north.

One of the Lesser Whitethroats møller seems to have found a mate so things looking good there.

A Mistle Thrush duetrost put in an appearance near Kollsnes.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Skogsøy 27 April 2018 - Svalbard here we come!

Light southerly winds, mixed cloud cover with sunny spells.

As is now the last week of April it was somewhat predictable that I got up at silly o clock and went off to Skogsøy for a few hours before work.....

This flock looks like it is heading the wrong way to Svalbard but was the first flock I saw passing behind the lookput.

Some flocks were picked up a long was off over land....

Other flocks came rather closer.....

One of today's Gannets havsule

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke with nest material

One of two Twite bergirisk I saw during a drive-by at Herdlevær

I spent a little of three hours there and had a decent passage of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås heading north on their way to Svalbard. I am pretty certain that a number of flocks passed more or less undetected behind the lookout - I saw some flocks behind me but heard others that I just didn't see.....Although far from any kind of record the final tally was just under 800 birds. These were the first I have seen locally this year, although the first flock was observed here on 21.04.

Other than the geese there was very little passing and remarkably no divers at all. Small numbers of the usual seaduck (largely Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Duck havelle) passed including the first two Velvet Scoter sjøorre of the year - it has been the worst winter ever for this species in Øygarden. A light movement of Oystercatcher tjeld was also noted along with the usual Gannets havsule, Shags toppskarv and a single Guillemot lomvi.

A Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke gathered nesting material close to where I was sitting - it is not always obvious if the Rock Pipits we see are local breeders or birds passing through.

Another new for the year were a couple of Lesser Whitethroat møller - one feeding and picked up on call, whilst the other bird was in full song.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Øygarden 22.04-24.04 First Cuckoo of the 2018 for Norway

After a manic period of work which saw me on four different vessels in less than a week in Bergen, Aberdeen, Sløvåg and Austevoll I finally made it home and managed to catch up a little.

Part of a flock of 45 Curlew storspove that flew in off the sea and over my house

One of at least two Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett that have been frequenting my garden of late

On 22.04 a late and lazy seawatch produced little other than the usual Gannet havsule, a Kittiwake krykkje and several Guillemots lomvi. Back home at Nautnes the highlight was a flock of 45 Curlew storspove that flew over the house after the rain set in. Twite bergirisk over my terrace was my first of the year as was a singing Willow Warbler løvsanger.

On 23.04 the best birds were at Tjeldstø with Hawifinch kjernebiter the best of the bunch,other sightings included a couple of Pied Wagtail svartryggerle among all the White Wagtails linerle, a flock of 20 Brambling bjørkefink and a hunting Peregrine vandrefalk.

Woodcock rugde was seen roding at Nautnes in the evening as usual.

The 24th saw a bit more time out and about. This resulted in the first Cuckoo gjøk for Norway at Tjeldstø - and the earliest ever record for Øygarden. The Hawfinch kjernebiter put in an appearance again and a Goldfinch stillits turned up at the same place. A pair of Shelduck gravand flying low over Rotevatnet were another good sighting for this locality. Other migrants included several Golden Plover heilo and Brambling bjørkefink. A Guillemot lomvi fed on the sea along with a Common Scoter svartand (both species were also present the previous day).

Once the rain stopped it was time for a trip out to Skogsøy where a male Blackcap munk was something of a surprise on the way out - the first for Øygarden this year at a rather unusual locality. Rather more expected was a single adult White-billed Diver gulnebblom and around 20 Red-throated Diver smålom during an hour and a half of seawatching between 12:15 and 13:45-

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tjeldstø 17 April 2018 - Lunchbreak

Light cloud with southerly winds.

I have been travelling a lot the last few days and today I had to work from home. A short lunch break at Tjeldtsø provided some interest with a neck-ringed Greylag grågås ringed near Karstø last summer. Rather early for a young bird from Tjeldstø to have moved south so early - but who knows when the first chicks hatch late April / early May and by late June Greylag numbers are dropping in Øygarden....

It is always cool to see colour ringed birds but yet again this project has yet to be registered on

After some detective work it seems that is the place to report such sightings.

Greylag grågås VJ3 feeding near Husvatnet, Tjeldstø

From the life history of this bird...

This Heron gråhegre caught several stikkleacks stingsild whilst I watched.
Evidence that fish-eating birds can actually benefit game fisheries (there are trout ørret in this lake).
Hunters and fishermen often want to get rid of birds like Herons and Cormorants but time and again it is proved that they eat species that prey either eat the eggs of more desirable species and / or are in competition for food with Trout etc. 

Newborn lambs - lots more than a few days ago and very obviously a lot more imminent - judging by the size of many of the sheep....

Other species included Redshank rødstilk, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn, Wheatears steinskvett and so on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tjeldstø 11 April 2018 - First Swallow and ton up in Øygarden

Calm and sunny in the morning, light northerly breeze later.

Cracking weather again and thus not much in the way of grounded migrants. However, plenty of new arrivals busy setting up territories.

The first new for the year came before I even left the house in the form of the first Swallow låvesvale of the year heading north - not a bad date for the first of the year but by no means a record either. In addition both Lesser Redpoll brunsisik and Siskin grønnsisik were seen from my terrace.

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Tjeldstø

A Greylag grågås enjoying the good conditions

Mr and Mrs Teal krikkand - a few pairs getting themselves sorted out now. The bubbles in the water are due to a rather splashy landing moments before the pictures were taken.

A walk at Tjeldstø produced my first Redshank rødstilk of the year - and meant that I went ton up in Øygarden. Wheatear steinskvett and Chiff-chaff gransanger were both singing and four species of wader were displaying.

A drive-by at Herdlevær produced a Mistle Thrush duetrost.

I spent most of the day doing housework, changing from winter to summer tyres on the car etc but took a precautionary spin with the car once the summer wheels were on. This short drive gave, among other things, a Carrion Crow svartkråke and another Chiff-chaff gransanger.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Skogsøy 10 April 2018 - Another switch has been thrown

Calm and sunny during the morning, northerly breeze later.

Given the weather forecast combined with the dull and wet conditions of the last couple of days I somewhat predictably spent the first few hours of the day seawatching. Things went almost exactly as expected - a very decent passage of Common Gulls fiskemåke, the first Red-throated Diver smålom of the year and some Cormorant storskarv and Shag toppskarv migration. Over 3000 birds logged.

Migrating Common Gulls fiskemåke

Some gull flocks passed overhead - here with a lone Black-headed Gull hettemåke amongst them

Cormorants storskarv have started migrating now

Great Northern Diver islom on it's way north

Two of the three Linnets tornirisk seen during a drive-by at Herdlevær after the seawatching

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at the lookout point - obviously part of a pair that has settled in for the season

One of many southbound Shag toppskarv flocks today

Shelduck gravand pair. The white specks above and below them are instantly recognisable as distant Common Gulls fiskemåke

The Common Gulls fiskemåke passed at height and generally at long range, although some flocks passed overhead.

Other birds of note were a single Great Northern Diver islom and a couple of Shelduck gravand heading north.

Passerines were thin on the ground, though a few Skylark sanglerke passed overhead.

Woodcock rugde roding over my house again in the evening.

The totals for a little over three hours seawatching (07:00-10:10) were as follows:

Red throated Diver N 1
Great Northern Diver N 1
Northern Gannet S 5
Great Cormorant N 82
Great Cormorant S 2
Eurasian Shag N 4
Eurasian Shag S 190
Greylag Goose S 2
Shelduck N 2
Eider S 4
Common Scoter S 18
Merganser N 2
Merganser S 2
Oystercatcher N 8
Eurasian Curlew N 2
Black headed Gull N 4
Common Gull N 2790
Common Guillemot N 2
Auk N 1

The Shag toppskarv count was rather high for the time of year (normally this species passes in this kind of number earlier in the year). The very small numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld is perhaps surprising but there has been a lot of good migration weather of late and the peak is probably past.