Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hardangervidda 26-27 June 2020 - Stay in the hills

Essentially a camping trip with two of my daughters, but needless to say some birds were seen.

Somewhat cooler up on the vidda - fantastic! Temperatures were definitely shorts and T-shirt but at long last probably not over 20 degrees.

An afternoon stroll produced Temminck's stint temminkssnipe, Shorelark fjellerke, Ptarmigan fjellrype, Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk, Velvet Scoters sjoørre, Bluethroat blåstrupe, a selection of other wildfowl and small numbers of the usual waders.

Dunlin myrsnipe

Evening view from the tent...

How my daughters see me - here photographing Temminck's Stint

Ptarmigan fjellrype

Temminck's Stint temminkssnipe

This bird caught a couple of rather large grubs / larvae during the short period I  watched it.
No display flight or song.

I awoke bright and very early the next morning and pottered about whilst waiting for the girls to wake up. More Shorelark, a few Bluethroat, Willow Grouse lirype and most of the usual species for the area BUT NOT ONE SINGLE LAPLAND BUNTING. This is the same area that in some previous years they seemed to sing from every large rock.

Where there is food there is hope......and this bird just kept gathering up more and more after this photo was taken

Shorelark fjellerke

Willow Grouse lirype - very close to overlapping habitat with Ptarmigan here!

Bluethroat blåstrupe

Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk

Another short walk after breakfast produced a single Great Snipe dobbeltbekkasin and a Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk. Time was short so we had to head on out.

We'll be back!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Besseggen 17-19 June 2020 - Run to the hills

Desperately hot for someone not keen on the heat so the mountains seemed like a good idea - and athough Besseggen was not my idea it is THE hike to do here in Norway and with things set to open up it seemed like an opportunity to avoid the worst of the crowds.

There is good birding to be had in the area so with Iron Maiden playing I drove a long way in a vain attempt to cool down....

Hen Harrier myrhauk and Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk flying over the road along Valdresflye made me want to to stop and see what was out there. However, these stops did not produce that much and I saw no waders at all. Further down from the plateau itself a Short-eared Owl jordugle hunted within view of the road and a cracking male Red-backed Shrike tornskate gave a deja vu feeling - having seen a pair in more or less the same place during a guiding trip a couple of years ago.

Roadside Red-backed Shrike tornskate

thunbergi Yellow Wagtails såerle

Besseggen was just incredible scenery-wise, we chose to hike behind the crowd that left the boat in order to avoid the selfie stick brigade. It was also far too hot to be walking / climbing. Species seen on the hike included a Bluethroat blåstrupe, several Ring Ousel ringtrost and some Ptarmigan fjellrype.

A male Ptarmigan fjellrype put on a show, initially to allow his mate to scuttle off to safety and then to see off another male.

This is the actual "Besseggen" - the ridge walk.

....and some general stunning scenery.
No wonder it is so popular!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Øygarden 14-16 June 2020 - Blyth's Reed Warbler ID blunder!

On 16 June a visit to Hernar proved quite embarassing well after the event as I fell into "expectation trap" - I had hoped for Icterine Warbler and a singing bird went down as exactly that. I saw an Icterine head shape and thought I saw the pale wing panels - this proved to be a trick of the light.

A combination of a comment on a video I uploaded and review of pictures long after the event shows a classic Blyth's Reed Warbler busksanger - the first I have heard singing, the first I have seen away from the autumn migration period and my first for Hernar.

Blyth's Reed Warbler busksanger
Here is where I thought I saw light wing panel....

I should have got the colour here - not yellowy! 
Trying to obtain pictures in the field v observing the bird.....

Singing Blyth's Reed

This recording was bombed by a Chiff-chaff gransanger early on

Chiff-chaff gransanger  - this bird seemed to have rather pale legs in the strong sunlight

View over some of the "fields" on Hernar

Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper with flies

The local Twite bergirisk gave great views as usual.
Many young ones present now:)

Young Wheatear steinskvett

On the way home it was nice to see Arctic Terns rødnebbterne flying around one of their breeding islands.

Arctic Terns rødnebbterne

....along with the usual Grey Seals havert, Shags toppskarv etc

Shags toppskarv, the young birds here were probably hatched locally....

Grey Seal havert

Starlings stær have started to flock and up to 100 were feeding in fields at Breivik, some even raided an ants nest and were "bathing" in it.

Starlings stær ant bathing

The Ravens ravn at Sture have at least two fledged young - wonder how many wader eggs / chicks they consumed this year.......

Two young Raven ravn

On 15 June my usual round at Herdlevær produced just the usual - an immature WT Eagle havørn, Wheatear steinskvett with young, Common Sandpipers strandsnipe etc.

Spotted Orchids are flowering all over the place now

Male Wheatear steinskvett

Monday, June 08, 2020

Skogsøy 02-03 June 2020 - Late season migration

On 03 June I did a couple of hours or so of seawatching from Skogsøy under calm conditions with a light NE breeze.

A Dunlin myrsnipe was the first I have seen in Øygarden this year, a couple of Arctic Skua tyvjo headed north and small numbers of the usual suspects headed north.

A couple of Merlin dvergfalk came over low and fast giving a rather strange call and several Puffin lunde headed south.

On my way back to the car a hunting Kestrel tårnfalk was another year tick.

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Not much of note the previous day - although a singing Pied Flycatcher svarthvit fluesnapper was the first I have seen this year. Although a regular migrant it is not a species I see singing very much at the places I tend to cover regularly.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Øygarden 01 June - A MOST interesting day

Calm and sunny. There was always a good "feel" about today from the moment I got out of bed.

View from Kollsnes towards Breivik

View looking east from my terrace at 0245

....and view to the west

Today I was up at not just silly o'clock but totally ridiculous o'clock. Hoping that I might not be too late to find some exciting nocturnal birds I visited a few place in the early hours of the morning. This was a magical experience and gave a number of interesting sightings - although not quite the birds I was hoping for / expecting.

Cuckoos gjøk have been very obvious of late but at night they were even more active with many birds all over the place. It is not very often I see bats in the northern part of Øygarden but there was one flying around at Tjeldstø. I also managed to record an interesting call which I hope to find the time to identify....

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås with Greylags grågås

I caught up with a Pinkfoot kortnebbgås that has been seen hanging around with the local Greylags grågås. Although a strange time of year for this species it is not unusual for one or two to turn up like this.

Juvenile Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb - not normally something I expect to see in the summer months in Øygarden

Male Two-barred Crossbill båndkorsnebb. Another unseasonal occurrence

A seemingly agitated male Two-barred Crossbill båndkorsnebb was very vocal and an unusual find for early June (though I do suspect there have been more about since the winter) and even more unusually it was joined by a few juvenile Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb

The next unusual sighting was of a rather more mundane species in the form of six Collared Dove tyrkerdue migrating north quite high and fast over Sæle.

Golden Plover heilo on Lyngøy

After spending the early morning this was it was time to have a look around some of the islands. Lyngøy proved rather quiet bird-wise with just a few Redshank rødstilk and Golden Plover heilo as migrants. 

This female (or young) Grey Seal havert did not seem to get too excited to be sharing a rock with a new species for the area!

Third year Med Gull svartehavsmåke with Common Gull fiskemåke

The outer islands further south proved rather more exciting with the first Mediterranean Gull svartehavsmåke for Øygarden landing briefly on one of the islands. A third year bird that was a real looker! Probably one of the most anticipated new species for the area - it has been a long time coming.

This is a species that is on the increase and expanding its range. Now a common bird on my home turf - better pics of this species here.