Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Engerdal and Oslo 18.02-23.02 - New species for Engerdal!

I spent a few days up in Engerdal where the weather was mildly put, variable.

Golden Eagles kongeørn

On arrival on 18.02 the best sighting were three Golden Eagles kongeørn circling overhead. The usual Dipper fossekall and garden birds including better numbers of finches than normal in wintertime. Siskin grønnsisik, Common Redpoll gråsisik and a few pairs of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb were also in the garden.

Common Redpoll gråsisik

Parrot Crossbills bånkorsnebb

An afternoon skiing trip in glorious sunshine on 19.02 produced all three species of Crossbill - all in pairs and some singing. I could not remember having seen Two-barred båndkorsnebb in the area before so went into the reporting system to check. It turned out that no-one has recorded the species in Engerdal before. Although not in the reporting system it is highly unlikely that this species has not been seen before here.

I slogged up a hill in a snowstorm on 20.02 notching up more Two-barred Crossbill båndkorsnebb and a nice male Black Grouse orrfugl.

It was a cold and windy day on 21.02 and a walk at Drevsjø in conjunction with a shopping trip produced a nice male Capercaille storfugl flying over.

Female Black Woodpecker svartspett playing hide and seek

Part of a flock of Mute Swans knoppsvane that flew over

Velvet Scoter sjøorre

Back in Oslo on 23.02 we took an afternoon trip to Gressholmen, thinking that we would cover at least one of the other islands but ended up using up our time on a feeding female Black Woodpecker svartspett. Not much else of note other than the first Starling stær I've seen in Oslo this year and a few small flocks of Velvet Scoter sjøorre.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Øygarden 10-12 February 2020 - First Skylark

On 10 February I ate my lunch at Herdlevær but things were rather quiet with just 10 Gannets havsule and several Kittiwake krykkje heading north.

On the way home three Greylags grågås were at Tjeldstø - these may be new arrivals but equally could be from birds overwintering on the other side of the fjord as later on I saw them heading across the fjord in the direction of Herdla.

A Woodcock rugde was a welcome sight at Sture - these birds must be enjoying the best winter ever with plenty of moist earth to probe for food.

Back home five White-tailed Eagles havørn were hanging in the wind.

Work took care of 11 February but a male Sparrowhawk spurvehauk perched next to the feeder as I left the house.

Skylark sanglerke at Skjold

On 12 February I briefly covered a few localities seeing a nice flock of 60 Brambling bjørkefink and a Jay nøtteskrike among the usual stuff. A tip off led me to seeing the first Skylark sanglerke of the year at Skjold🙂

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Tjeldstø and Solberg 08 Febraury 2020 - Another day, another new species

Fresh southerly winds.

Took things easy again today and just popped in at a few localities.

The first Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø

A pair of Greylag grågås on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø were the first I have seen locally this year.

At Solberg there were FINALLY a few seaduck in the form of nine Long-tailed Duck havelle and a Common Scoter svartand. A Curlew storspove and a few Gannets havsule were the first I have seen at this locality thus far this year. Also of note here (and other places) was a build-up of resting large gulls - perhaps preparing for the coming storm.....

Back home a Sparrowhawk spurvehawk in the garden, a couple more White-tailed Eagles havørn, a Black Guillemot teist and a few Long-tailed Ducks havelle.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Nautnes 07 February 2020 - More eagles and more year firsts

Calm and mild - a day that obviously should have been spent out in the field.

One of many goose droppings at Breivik

I popped in at a couple of places during the shop run and found evidence that geese have been in the fields at Breivik very recently. Unfortunately I cannot yet identify individual goose species from their droppings....might just have been early Greylags grågås which are expected very soon or perhaps something more interesting....which would be the norm in winter.

Female Bullfinch dompap near Alvheim

Brambling bjørkefink

Tufted Ducks toppand on Blomvatnet
This species is not a common bird during the winter months and most are seen during migration periods

At Breivik a small flock of Tufted Duck toppand were the first to be seen locally (i.e. the "old" Øygarden - this year three district councils were amalgamated and also given the name Øygarden). On the way home another new for the year locally was a Bullfinch dompap that seemed to be with a mixed flock of 50 Brambling bjørkefink and 15 Chaffinch bokfink. Bullfinch are not even annual in winter out here although late autumn and winter is the time to see them. Although there are no records in the national reporting system this year I did see that some were noted at Alvheim during the recent annual garden bird count which uses a different reporting system....

Bullfinch occurrence in Øygarden (number of sightings rather than number of birds). From artsobs.

I wonder if the flocks of Brambling out here are part of the tens of thousands currently roosting in Bergen or if they have their own roosts somewhere closer.....

Part of the view from my terrace

....zoomed in a bit

....and zoomed in a LOT

Same birds using scope and mobile phone

Video of three of the eagles using my superzoom

Back home I took a mug of coffee out on my terrace before a job interview on Skype. This was not very sensible as I saw four White-tailed Eagles havørn feeding on what seemed to be an angler fish. The coffee went cold but I did the interview, maybe I seemed interested enough and maybe mentioning the eagles was not a mistake.....

A Curlew storspove also fed on the shore near the eagles.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Øygarden 05-06 February 2020 - Taking it easy

Not much birding the last couple of days.

A stroll at Hjelme on 05 February gave some reasonable finch numbers with 35 Brambling bjørkefink, 15 Chaffinch bokfink and 40 Siskin grønnsisik. Also here was an adult White-tailed Eagle havørn that seemed to have been taking advantage of some fish offal. But the best sighting was back home - a Curlew storspove flew over the house - this is a regular wintering species in small numbers but there have been rather fewer about than normal, possibly due to the mild winter.

On 06 February I had a quick look at Hellesøy but there was not much doing, just four White-tailed Eagles havørn, 20 Long-tailed Duck havelle and a Turnstone steinvender with a small flock of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt. A small pod of Porpoises nise put in an appearance here too - the first I have seen this year.

At Sæle on the way home a Goldfinch stillits was with a mixed flock of finches there.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Herdlevær 04 Febraury 2020 - Gulls on the move

Northerly winds, clear and sunny.

It was rather later than I had intended before I made it out. The aim today was to drag the species list at Herdlevær kicking and screaming into 2020 - although an immensely popular birding locality during migration it is little covered during the depths of winter. I was at least partly successful with this adding a number of local new for the year here including a nice Great Northern Diver islom heading south, a handful of Kittiwakes krykkje and a few species of sea duck.

As has been the case for the last few days there was a light but obvious passage of large gulls heading north - although I did not pick up on anything exciting here.

Phone scoped LBBG sildemåke - pale enough for graellsi?

I popped in at Tjeldstø on the way home where I found the earliest Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke I have seen in Øygarden. Although I did not actually see the legs it was obviously smaller and darker than the Herring Gulls gråmåke it was sharing a rock with. A Common Gull fiskemåke was also present here and another gull which gave off a very Ring-billed Gull ringnebbmåke vibe - clearly larger and paler than the Common Gull fiskemåke, with much larger bill complete with full band. Also barely any white primary tips, unfortunately the bird flew before I could get any further with it.

A flock of 90 Redpoll gråsisik and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk were among the species noted here.

Male Two-barred Crossbill båndkorsebb

Another stop on the way home was Hatten where at least three Two-barred Crossbills bånkorsnebb were present along with the usual Crested Tits toppmeis etc.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Tjeldstø & Skogsøy 01-02 February 2020 - WT Eagle takeover

Took things rather easy birding wise over the weekend.

01 Febraury was dull and wet to start with and I spent the lovely afternoon fishing from the shore (8kg Cod as the best fish!).

However, a trip to the shops produced a flock of three Meadow Pipits heipiplerke - the first definite ones of the year.

White-tailed Eagle havørn at Solberg
Looks like a 3cy (second plumage) bird

Apart from this, a lone Redwing rødvingetrost and the Fieldfare gråtrost / Starling stær / Redwing flock at Tjeldstø again it was a day of White-tailed Eagles havørn close overhead with birds seen at, among other places, Solberg, Nautnes and Dåvøy.

Two shots of the same bird as it flew over at Skogsøy - again I think that this is a 3cy bird.

On 02 February the weather was mostly better with clear skies and sunshine but with some irritating light hail showers. A late and lazy trip to Skogsøy finally gave up the first Razorbill alke of the year, a dozen Gannets havsule, a Kittiwake krykkje and, of course, two or three White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Interestingly an adult White-tailed Eage havørn headed way out to sea to investigate a group of Gannets that had stopped to circle. It headed north with seems the herring are now "in" so perhaps this is what they were looking for.