Friday, August 31, 2018

Herdlevær 28 August 2018 - Flightless Golden Plover dejavu

A quick walk around Herdlevær before work.

Today I think I solved a mystery. Some time ago I found a Golden Plover heilo at Herdlevær with a wing missing (see here). I had assumed that the missing wing was due to a raptor / predator. Today I found another Golden Plover heilo with a severely damaged wing in almost exactly the same place.

Golden Plover heilo with damaged wing

I now realise that low flying birds coming over at speed are likely to collide with narrow fence posts that look like rebar and are almost invisible from certain angles are much more likely to be the cause of these injuries. With two birds found in the same place with almost identical injuries this must be the case. These posts should either be removed (there has been no fence there for years) or made more visible.

Part of a migrating flock of Cormorants storskarv

Knot polarsnipe with a few Ringed Plover sandlo - Knot flying upside down

Wheatear steinskvett

A few flocks of Golden Plover heilo headed south as did a flock of 15 Knot polarsnipe along with some unidentified smaller waders.

Otherwise it was just the usual with 30 Gannets havsule feeding offshore and a selection of the usual migrants including Wheatear steinskvett and a few Brambling bjørkefink.

A Peregrine vandrefalk took a racing pigeon over the road at Nautnes where I also had White-tailed Eagle havørn and Sparrowhawk spurvehauk.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Øygarden 26 August 2018 - Guiding, Stonechat and deja vu Hobby deja vu

A cracking WHOLE DAY out - the first for absolutely ages. The only time I do this these days is when I'm guiding as I was today.

The highlight was a Hobby lerkefalk. A double deja vu in that this record mirrors the last one I saw out here in that I saw what I was pretty sure was a Hobby a few days before I could confirm it. Not long ago I thought I had one (also at / close to Tjeldstø) so it was not a huge surprise to see it today.

I heard the Swallows låvesvale alarming about it but looking around all I could see was a White-tailed Eagle havørn. Shortly afterwards I received a call about a Hobby heading south, and this from a point further south than I was. I replied that I wasn't s sure that it was actually migrating, suspecting the bird was the same as a week or so ago and that it was following the pattern of last year's bird. No sooner had I put the phone down the bird came blasting overhead chasing something north through the reserve.

Just about record shots of the Stonechat svatstrupe - it showed very nicely in the scope and as I was guiding my camera was back in the car at the time.

Shortly before this another relatively good bird in the form of a Stonechat svartstrupe had joined the Whinchats buskskvett beside Husvatnet, not bad at all. This bird was found by the other resident Øygarden birder shortly before I turned up but this was just random chance as news of the bird had not yet been sent out.

Before I left the house I had a Merlin dvergfalk, three White-tailed Eagle havørn and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker dvergspett from my terrace. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker sighting fits in well with an emerging pattern of occurrence in late August - another was seen at Hatten the previous day. A great start to the morning - what a fantastic time of year!

It wasn't all plain sailing though as some of the usual suspects proved difficult to find. However, several more White-tailed Eagles havørn, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, the first Kestrel tårnfalk of the autumn (in fact the first of the year!) , a few flocks of Twite bergirisk, Bramblings bjørkefink and a whole lot more besides.

Øygarden 23-25 August 2018 - A brief update

On 23 August I did had a cheeky couple of hours of seawatching before work. This produced the usual late August fare including a single pale phase Arctic Skua tyvjo and a Turnstone steinvender heading south. Otherwise it was just the usual Common Gull fiskemåke, Oystercatcher tjeld and Gannet havsule combo. Small numbers of other waders including Dunlin myrsnipe and Curlew storspove also headed south.

Golden Plover heilo fleeing the mad horses of Tjeldstø

Snipe enkeltbekkasin also getting out of the way

Whinchat buskskvett feeding beside Husvatnet

A stop at Tjeldstø later in the day produced a Whinchat buskskvett and some waders scared up out of the reserve by the mad horses that live there charging around. Flocks of finches continue to increase in size with over 40 Linnet tornirisk and several each of Brambling bjørkefink and Chaffinch bokfink

One of several Brambling bjørkefink on Hernar

Peregrine vandrefalk

Young Sedge Warbler sivsanger on Hernar

A trip to Hernar on 24 August produced no rarities but still plenty of birds about with over 30 Twite bergirisk, a Peregrine vandrefalk, a selection of the usual waders, some newly fledged Sedge Warbler sivsanger and so on.

A drive-by at Tjeldstø on 25 August saw the first Wigeon brunnakke of the autumn together with 16 Teal krikkand. Passerines included Wheatear steinskvett and Whinchat buskskvett.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


I was curious when I first heard about clothing made for birders and was keen to try it out. I have been using one of the Wunderbird tops for the last couple of weeks - despite the rather warm weather.

I'm now writing this up with my Gyrfalcon hoody in the washing machine for the first time - I have used it every time I've been out birding since it arrived in the post and will continue to to do so as soon as it is dry again.

Most of my birding consists of walking in rough terrain with a rucksack on my back - and this is where the top scores very well. The padding in the shoulders make carrying a heavy rucksack a lot more bearable. The other major advantage from my point of view is that binocular swing is a thing of the past - meaning that is possible to walk and climb normally without having one hand constantly on the bins - something that makes life a lot easier.

When guiding I normally carry a telescope on a tripod over my shoulder and have trialled the top under such conditions - a definite improvement. I've not been bothered too much about the weight of my rather heavy binoculars in the past but now that they sit in the high pocket I have noticed a big difference on my neck - both the reduced swinging and support help alleviate strain more than I had anticipated.

The roomy larger lower pocket is handy for phone, notebook or whatever it is you want to carry. However, a couple more zips here would probably be an improvement as things can fall out both when taking the garment off and when climbing around.

I have used the top a couple of times in light rain and it dried very quickly indeed. I ordered an XL which suits me perfectly, a very good fit with long arms. The top is very comfortable and seems like it will keep me warm when autumn finally kicks in - I received my hoody during a spell of unseasonably warm weather so I'm looking forward to using it even more in the autumn and winter, both as an outer garment and under a waterproof.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hernar 14 August 2018 - RB Fly!

Calm and sunny.

Managed a quick look at Hernar before work but didn't even do the full "short round" before it was time to leave.

Red-breasted Flycatcher dvergfalk

The island was alive with birds, largely the usual suspects but with a few additions. Of over 40 species seen by far the highlight was a Red-breasted Flycatcher dverfluesnapper - a rather unusual time to see one - being about a month earlier than they would "normally" occur.

Merlin dvergfalk

Other migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper, a Merlin dvergfalk, several Brambling bjørkefink (again rather early but I've been seeing them for a few weeks already)  and a selection of waders including Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove.

Most of the House Sparrows gråspurv

In a Hernar context an incredible sighting were seven House Sparrows gråspurv - the biggest flock I have ever seen on the island and, given that they were young birds, may well have bred on the island.

Recently fledged Lesser Redpoll brunsisik

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Around 30 Twite bergirisk, a couple of Sedge Warbler sivsanger, 200 Starling stær and several Wheatear steinskvett were among the other species seen.

Curlew storspove - illustrating at least one of the golden rules of photography - if the wing tip is missing the rest of the bird will be in perfect focus.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Skogsøy 12 August 2018 - Somewhat predictably......


The view at 08:00

Once again I made it out just in time. Just as I was about to take my rucksack off two terns came past with a small flock of Common Gulls fiskemåke. I raised my binoculars, realised immediately that they were Sandwich Terns splitterne - a rare (but probably under recorded) species here in Øygarden / Hordaland. I frantically unpacked my camera and fired off a few shots - but settings had changed and at F22 the shutter speed let me down a bit....

Record shots of Sandwich Terns spiltterne

Part of a Shag toppskarv flock

Young Wren gjerdesmett

After that it was rather downhill but still a lot more migration than the last couple of days. A steady passage of Common Gull fiskemåke, several flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld and a decent movement of Shags toppskarv made up the numbers.  Quality birds were the first (for me) Red-throated Diver smålom of the autumn, an Arctic Skua tyvjo and a Sanderling sandløper.

I glimpsed some fins which looked very dolphin-like but never refound them. However, a tuna or two put in a typically splashy appearance whilst I searched.

On my way home I saw what looked very much like a Hobby lerkefalk and went out looking for it later but found only several White-tailed Eagle havørn and decent numbers of finches included a flock of 20 Twite bergirisk and several Brambling bjørkefink.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Skogsøy 11 August 2018 - White-tailed Eagle takes on Gannet

Fresh North westerly at first, calming to virtually nothing around 0800.

The weather forecast meant that there was little choice other than to drag myself out of bed and get out there. For once I managed to get up on time, but the results were a little disappointing.

The sky gave a moody backdrop today

A steady stream of Gannets havsule was the mainstay as usual with at least 260 heading north in the almost three hours I sat there. A couple of Great Skua storjo were the best birds.

A Curlew storspove and a Whimbrel småspove flew past together providing an opportunity to take some comparison shots:

Curlew storspove - very pale underwings and no head markings
Bill length and shape not much to go on here!

Whimbrel småspove - darker underwings and head markings
Bill rather similar to above image in this case

White-tailed Eagle havørn beating up on a Gannet havsule

White-tailed Eagle havørn

It was really a day for White-tailed Eagles havørn with an adult flying over on my way out followed by a young bird trying to be a skua - it beat up on a Gannet havsule, forcing it into the sea and made repeated passes at it once the bird was down. Not a behaviour I recall seeing before. Several more were seen elsewhere including a flock of three.

Carrion Crow svartkråke

Also picked up a Carrion Crow svartkråke near Sture - probably the same bird I saw in the area earlier in the summer.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Skogsøy 10 August 2018 - Calm before the storm

Brisk northerly winds with a few drops of rain. More wind and a lot more rain later.

Took a pre-work seawatch and managed to get out of bed a little earlier than of late. However, barely the usual suspects were to be seen with Gannets havsule, a light passage of Oystercatcher tjeld, Greenshank gluttsnipe, Redshank rødstilk, a few Common Scoter svartand and not a lot else to be seen.

Green Sandpiper skogsnipe

Swift tårnseiler

Later in the day a few Swifts tårnseiler feeding over Husvatnet, Tjeldstø and the rain deposited a nice Green Sandpiper skogsnipe in the fields.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Skogsøy 05 August 2018 - Gannets, uncropped

Fresh westerly winds.

Once again failed miserably to get out of bed, perhaps not surprising given the lengths of the shifts I've pulled this week. Didn't make it out to the lookout point until late in the day - 0830 and therefore missed much of the day's action. Over 260 Gannets havsule headed north during the couple of hours I spent out there Kittiwake krykkje and a light passage of Oystercatcher tjeld were among the other birds seen.

Many came too close to fit in the frame

There were obviously fish about - many of the Gannets havsule took a dive or two....

Too close again...self-cropping

An all too common sight - Gannet havsule with polyprop rope

Some dramatic skies helped as a backdrop.

Waders passing on the walk out included Greenshank gluttsnipe and Redshank rødstilk

A stop at Husvatnet on the way home produced an adult Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove and a Merlin dvergfalk as the best sightings. The Pinkfoot kortnebbgås was still present too.