Thursday, March 19, 2020

Tjeldstø 18 March 2020 - Another neck ringed goose

Another day of not really being out. Computer time is just increasing, despite (or because of) the lack of work.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke at Tjeldstø

Two LBBG sildemåke at Husvatnet, Tjeldstø were the first proper returning individuals of the year - my previous record this year was a freak winter occurrence.

UN7 - another neck ringed Greylag grågås among the returning birds.

I have yet to connect with "Veejay" (Greylag VJ3) myself although he has been seen in the area. Today I managed to read two neck rings despite not even having my scope with me. One of them was UK3 which turned up earlier, the other was a new bird - UN7. This too was ringed at Kårstø, presumably during moult, last summer before being seen in northern Germany in early November.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tjeldstø 17 March 2020 - Taking it easy again

Sunny but windy.

The first Teal krikkand of the year

More geese in and highlight was the first Teal krikkand of the year as well as a Curlew storspove back on its breeding grounds (as opposed to the wintering birds along the coast).

Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn

The local White-tailed Eagles havørn seem to be enjoying the fact that the geese are back and are very visible indeed. This cracking adult flew right overhead as we strolled around the area.

Skogsøy 16 March 2020 - Touch and go seawatching

Light SE wind, increasing as the day progressed.

The view as I left the car. I seriously evaluated giving up and doing something else

Things improved slightly on the way out

But there was still fog in the wrong place as I arrived....

View to the south

Shortly after I settled in the visibility got sorted.....

Although visibility was good from the house before I left I rapidly became aware that local low lying fog was an issue and it was touch and go until I arrived at the lookout point. Freezing fog also made the walk out there somewhat treacherous. At the parking area at Skogsøy things looked dire and did not improve much on the way out. Even as I reached the lookout point there were still tongues of fog out over the sea - especially affecting the area most birds pass through.

Luckily the fog lifted and it was game on for the first hour, but typically for early spring things tailed off rapidly.

It was a typical early spring seawatch with 85 Oystercatcher tjeld and a light passage of Common gulls fiskemåke (16) heading north and with a general southward movement of Shag toppskarv (101).

Small numbers of Gannets havsule, a couple of Guillemot lomvi, a Snow Bunting snøspurv, a Curlew storspove and small numbers of the usual duck were among the birds seen on the move.

An attempt at an atmospheric Raven ravn photograph

White-tailed Eagle havørn
Obviously well fed and it at least its third year of life, possibly fourth

Several each of Long-tailed Duck havelle and Eider ærfugl fed in the area as did four White-tailed Eagle havørn - the latter having either found or stolen something on the shore. Displaying Curlew storpove and singing Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke added to the feeling of spring - something not mirrored by how cold it felt after a couple of hours!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Herdlevær 15 March 2020 - A cracking pair of chats

A very late and lazy stroll around my Herdlevær route with my youngest was very nice indeed. Although there were some heavy (but short) showers during the day we managed to avoid these whilst we were out. A small flock of Skylark sanglerke, a Ringed Plover sandlo and a Curlew storspove were the expected migrants.

Ringed Plover sandlo

Male Stonechat svartstrupe

The pair together

Random White-tailed Eagle havørn shot from my terrace earlier in the day

On our way back to the car a cracking pair of Stonechats svartstrupe gave much better views than the recent ones at Kollsnes.

In the evening I was both hot and thirsty have done the housework and went out on my terrace where I was almost hit by two Woodcock rugde who were obviously disputing territory. Magic.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sture / Hatten 14 March 2020 - Two more new migrants

Today I had to spend most of the morning driving to the shops - my woodpile is now all but finished and I still need the fire on most evenings. Terrible prioritising keeping my daughters warm instead of birding I know.

The first Ringed Plover sandlo of the year.

A short drive out in the afternoon showed that one of the local breeding Ringed Plovers sandlo had returned - pretty much the usual arrival date. I also heard of another new arrival and went to check out a Song Thrush måltrost.

Common Scoter svartand from the terrace

Mallard stokkand

Other than that just a couple of Common Scoter svartand from my terrace, where I also had Curlew storspove, the Oystercatcher tjeld pair and a couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Still plenty of Redpoll gråsisik and Brambling bjørkefink around.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dåvøy and Hjelme 13 March 2020 - Just checking

Decent weather, if rather chilly, for most of the day. Didn't really go out but quickly did a few drive-bys here and there.

Some massively cropped images of the female Stonechat svartstrupe

The Stonechat svartstrupe was still present and proved popular with birders from town and must thus classify as the first twitch of the year out here. It proved just as frustrating to follow and document as it has the last few days. Some birders are working from home due to the corona virus and could thus make the trip to see this bird - a silver lining in these chaotic times.

This got me thinking that if a mega is found what will people do then? A massive crowd of twitchers would be rather unethical in the current situation......I hope I get the chance to see what happens!

Some more shots of the difficult to identify gull with yellow legs 

I checked Dåvøy quickly and the infuriating gull-with-yellow-legs showed very well. Although I have seen it quite a few times this year today gave the best photo opportunities. I have swung from YLG to HG and back again a few times, and although I have definitely been in the YLG camp at times I am now in doubt again. Sometimes I wish it would just go away so I don't have to read all the YLG ID literature again and again and again.

In sheer desparation I started a thread on the WP gulls FB group here - and the helpful gull experts have been weighing in. Thanks to all who have helped so far😵

Mistle Thrush duetrost - a very shy species on this side of the North Sea!

A Mistle Thrush duetrost was reported at Hjelme so I dutifully headed out to see it. The timing for this record is a rather more normal record than the previous bird back in January.....

Friday, March 13, 2020

Skogsøy 12 March 2020 - A most excellent day

Strong SW winds with occasiona short but heavy hail showers.

The morning started well with the first Dunnock jernspurv of the singing from one of the usual spots  - an early date for this species that normally turns up somewhat later.

Oystercatcher tjeld flock heading north

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Shags toppskarv

I seawatched for just over 1.5 hours; there was nothing like the numbers of seabirds passing compared to yesterday with just 18 Kittiwake krykkje heading north. Small numbers of Gannets havsule were also on the move with birds moving in both directions. Several auks passed including several Guillemot lomvi, a Razorbill alke and some went unidentified. The southward migration of Shag toppskarv was obviously underway with over 40 birds passing. Oystercatcher tjeld headed north despite the hail showers and ended up with a total of 140.  A Peregrine vandrefalk drifted past - no doubt on the lookout for an unwary auk or Oystercatcher.

Other than that a few White-tailed Eagle havørn, several Raven ravn and Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke obviously settling in for the season.

Record shots of today's Stonechat svartstrupe

On the way home I managed to confirm yesterday's Stonechat svartstrupe with a female bird still present but just as difficult to follow and document. Several Skylark sanglerke and a Meadow Pipit heipiplerke were in the same area.

More Woodpigeon ringdue and Starling stær seen here and there too so birds are still arriving even with the strong winds.

After a visit to the shops, which were full of people buying enormous amounts of food the wind started dropping and I started to think I should fill my freezer up with fish. I spent the late afternoon / evening fishing and during this time had cracking views of a Goshawk hønsehauk, had the first roding Woodcock rugde of the year, watched Ravens ravn chasing White-tailed Eagles havørn and heard several species singing - Blackbird svarttrost, Robin rødstrupe, Wren gjerdesmett and Coal tit svartmeis all joined in - a cracking way to end a computer free, corona free day!!

Herdlevær 11 March 2020 - Status check

With strong SW winds and heavy showers whilst I prepared for the day I opted not to go to Skogsøy which had been my original plan and instead checked a few places to get an idea about what was going on. This turned out to be a mistake as the weather was fine, if rather windy, for a few hours and there was obviously a lot passing over the sea.

A half hour breakfast break at Herdlevær produced 66 Kittiwake krykkje, 34 Gannet havsule and a Curlew storspove heading north. Small numbers of auks and most of the usual suspects also turned up - including several White-tailed Eagles havørn.

Bathing Peregrine vandrefalk

Elsewhere some larger Starling stær flocks indicated new arrivals with 30-40 at a few locations. A few Skylark sanglerke, a bathing Peregrine vandrefalk and Snipe enkeltbekkasin.were among the other sightings.

A potentially bigger miss than not going to Skogsøy was a sighting of two distant birds in silhouette which were almost definitely Stonechats svartstrupe. However, despite only looking away long enough to get my camera out before I walked closer to where the birds were I could not relocate them.

UK3 with friends

One of at least 60 Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø had a neck ring - UK3 - a bird I have not seen before. According to this bird was ringed a little further south in Norway (Kårstø) on 23 June 2019 and was then reported for a few days in northern Germany 21-23 September 2019 before turning up at Tjeldstø today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Oslo area 04-10 March 2020 - Early spring in the east

An afternoon trip out to Gressholm in Oslofjord was relatively exciting as there were good numbers of Redpoll gråsisik feeding on the ground - plenty of pale rumps to see and one bird especially looked very promising for Arctic Redpoll being pale, very lightly streaked and seemed to have a white rump. This prompted me to get the camera out of my bag but I never saw the bird again.

Common Redpoll gråsisik

Rump pale but very streaked on this one

Some of the Waxwing sidensvans present

At least 20 Waxwing sidensvans were also present on the island - feeding on rosehips and another more distant flock was seen on one of the neighbouring islands in the scope.

Otherwise several Shelduck gravand, a few Oystercatcher tjeld and the usual Velvet Scoter sjøorre etc.

I returned the following day and had a migrating Skylark sanglerke and a couple of Woodpigeon ringdue as newly returned migrants.

On 06 March I covered the now almost completely destroyed Fornebu. Amazingly a few singing Skylark sanglerke and a couple of Snow Bunting snøspurv amid the very worst of the destruction. Other species included Water Rail vannrikse, Hawfinch kjernebiter and a couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk.

Male Three-toed Woodpecker tretåspett

A long walk inland in decidedly more wintry conditions on 07 March produced a feeding Three-toed Woodpecker tretåspett as the undisputed highlight. What a mega this would be back home in the west! Fresh Hazel Grouse jerpe droppings were a sign that more eastern specialities were in the area.

Common Buzzard musvåk

Part of the Taiga Bean Goose sædgås flock

A day out with Oslo Birder on 09 March was quite productive with highlights being 124 Taiga Bean Geese sædgås, a singing Great Grey Shrike varsler, two Cranes trane, a few Stock Dove skogdue, a couple of Goshawk hønsehauk and several Common Buzzard musvåk. Skylarks sanglerke and Yellowhammer gulspurv were singing everywhere.