Friday, May 28, 2021

Engerdal 20-26 May 2021 - Almost ice free

A week spent in Engerdal was quite productive - despite the fact that many of the lakes were still almost completely frozen when I arrived, some of which thawed during my time there.

Access to many of my usual sites was limited as roads were still closed as winter maintained its grasp. 

At lower altitudes spring was well on the way with flooding in some areas providing feeding areas for waders and wildfowl that were obviously doing regular checks at higher altitudes.

Higher up there was more bare ground than snow covered ground but the lakes were still mostly ice covered even when I left. However, many species were back on their breeding grounds despite the conditions whilst others seemed to be checking these areas out before heading back down to lower altitudes.

I managed to clock up a few new species for my Engerdal list in the form of Mandarin mandarinand, Merlin dvergfalk and Pintail stjertand.

Of rather more interest were two different Tengmalm's Owl perleugle nests (one in a nestbox and one in an old Black Woodpecker hole), breeding Hawk Owl haukugle, Ruff brushane, Cranes trane, Capercaille tiur and most of the usual Engerdal suspects including Black-throated Divers storlom, Red-throated Diver smålom, Osprey fiskeørn and Whoopers sangsvane.

Hawk Owl haukugle keeping an eye on its nest

This male Pintail stjertand was a new Engerdal species for me

Male Ruff brushane at Heggeriset
Small numbers of Ruff were seen on lower ground - presumably still waiting for their breeding grounds to thaw

Roadside Capercaille storfugl

Crane trane

Small numbers of Slavonian Grebes horndykker were seen - no doubt waiting for breeding localities to thaw.

Male and female Black Grouse orrfugl

Kestrel tårnfalk were more numerous and widespread than normal - looks like it might be a good rodent year.

Greenshank gluttsipe

Mergansers siland at Galtsjøen

Siskin grønnsisik

Tengmalm's Owl perleugle chicks posing after being ringed.
Unfortunately the father of this brood died but the mother was still around and with some supplementary feeding most of these chicks were still doing well a week after this picture was taken

Wood Sandpipers grønnstilk

Redshank rødstilk were displaying in most of the usual places

Willow Tit granmeis

Tufted Duck toppand pair

Goosander laksand pair on a small ice-free patch of water

Lots of Yellow Wagtails gulerle about - both in the valleys and higher up.

Mammals were particularly obvious with a lot of Hare, Roe Deer and a few Elk.

Hares were moulting out of their winter colours.....

Roe Deer rådyr

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Harkestad 16 May 2021 - A last look

Overcast with some VERY light rain. 

A brief series of drive-bys did not produce anything new but I relocated the islandica Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove at Harkestad. It looked pretty good in a field full of daisies:)

islandica Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Skogsøy 15 May 2021 - Cetacea and another new species for the garden

 Very calm with variable light winds were hardly ideal conditions for the species I was hoping for and needless to say they failed to show.

However, all was not lost as in addition to a steady passage of birds there were a couple of pods of Porpoise nise (quite a common sight), a larger cetacean which might have been a Minke whale vågehval and quite a bit of other marine life activity at the surface.

This might be a Minke Whale vågehval - it surfaced a couple of times as it passed north

Auks were seen passing and quite a few also on the sea - both Guillemots lomvi and Puffins lunde were seen resting / feeding and I spent way too much time fully zoomed in on a couple of auks that looked a bit wrong for Guillemot....Perhaps oddly the vast majority of the auks passing the last couple of weeks have been Razorbills alke.

Surprisingly given the lack of wind Gannet havsule numbers reached three figures. But once again only one White-billed Diver gulnebblom - a second year bird.

New for the year during the seawatch was a migrating Tree Pipit trepiplerke.

Numbers were as follows:

Red throated Diver N 30

Red throated Diver S 4

White Billed Diver N 1 2cy

Northern Gannet N 107

Northern Gannet S 1

Great Cormorant N 1

Eurasian Shag N 12

Eurasian Shag S 66

Eider S 1

Common Scoter N 6

Common Scoter S 7

Velvet Scoter N 4

Merganser S 5

Whimbrel N 4

Arctic Skua N 1

Black headed Gull S 1

Common Gull N 31

Common Gull S 4

Black-legged Kittiwake N 11

Black-legged Kittiwake S 2

Arctic Tern N 9

Common Guillemot S 1

Razorbill N 24

Atlantic Puffin N 6

Atlantic Puffin S 1

Auk N 3

Auk S 1

As I returned to my car I heard about a Black-tailed Godwit svarthelespove at Husvatnet which I picked up on the way home. As it was the first for the county this year it sparked a twitch and surprisingly I saw birders out in the reserve in an area where there a number of breeding birds. I have no idea why as the bird was easily viewable from the road - and even the famous bus stop hide.

islandica Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove photographed from my car at Husvatnet

Once home I had the best bird of the day - a cracking male Gargany knekkand on the "lagoon" in front of my house. However, it only stayed long enough to snap a few pictures before it flew. It looked like it might have gone down close by so I went looking but was unable to relocate it. This was species 157 for the garden:)

Male Gargany knekkand photographed from my terrace (and heavily cropped!)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Skogsøy and Hernar 13-14 May 2021 - Ups and Downs

On 13 May I did Skogsøy again and it was something of a disappointment. Light Southerly winds are not ideal but normally produce something at this time of year. Just one White-billed Diver gulnebblom and very small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom passed. I gave up after only a few hours, a single Shelduck gravand headed south - surely the first sign of autumn migration.

A few drive-bys on the way home showed that Whitethroat tornsanger had arrived "everywhere" overnight. Single House Martins taksvale at a couple of locations, four Tufted Duck toppand at Tjeldstø and (amazingly late) my first local Siskin grønnsisik of the flew over my garden in the afternoon. 

A trip to Hernar on 14 May in fantastic conditions was altogether more productive with 49 species on the island including a several new for Hernar for the year and a few year ticks in the form of Garden Warbler hagesanger, Blackcap munk and Sedge Warbler sivsanger. Best bird was a Hawfinch kjernebiter - a species that has not been seen many times at this locality. Other migrants included a Reed Bunting sivspurv and a Collared Dove tyrkedue on top of all the usual stuff like White-tailed Eagles havørn and Twite bergirisk. The day flew by in good company and all too soon it was time to take the short boat ride home again.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Herdlevær and Skogsøy 11-12 May 2021 - Quiet

 Strong southerly winds on 11 May made things less than ideal for a quick walk at Herdlevær. Apart from a few Common Sandpiper strandsnipe, a Redshank rødstilk and a Ringed Plover sandlo there was not much new in.

Oystercatchers tjeld at Herdlevær

At least 12 Sand Martin sandsvale at Tjeldstø on the way home where a Cuckoo gjøk also flew over. 

In the evening three roding Woodcock rugde seen from the terrace were a very welcome sight - almost compensating for an Osprey fiskeørn seen a short distance away.

Common Tern makrellterne after a successful dive - photographed from my terrace

On 12 May it was back to the grindstone with another trip to Skogsøy - relatively quiet compared to recent visits but a Dunlin myrsnipe resting on the shore was the first I have seen this year as was a single Arctic Tern rødnebbterne that passed north. Other than that a single White-billed Diver gulnebblom, a dark phase Arctic Skua tyjo, a Great Northern Diver islom, a few Whimbrel småspove, a Shelduck gravand heading south (autumn migration already?) and most of the usual suspects.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Øygarden 09-10 May 2021 - Back to work

After some days of birding it was back to life again. At least I now have all my wood split and drying for the winter and at least some stuff planted in the garden. And got some work done.

Sunday 09 May was just a quick pre-breakfast visit to a few places. 

Tjeldstø was the same as the last few days with Golden Plover heilo present in addition to the usual waders. A flock of 73 were scared up from Breivik too - quite a large flock for these parts.

Golden Plover heilo at Breivik

More and more Greylag grågås have young each day now.
The first goslings were seen 01 May - so pretty much bang on time

A couple of pairs of Common Tern makrellterne were at Dåvøy and courtship was well underway with small fish being brought in as presents. Meanwhile at Solberg they had got past the courtship phase and were starting the breeding season with no time to spare:)

Common Tern makrellterne at Dåvøy

Solberg also showed that it would have been another good day of seawatching with Red-throated Divers smålom and Common Scoter svartand passing in good numbers.

Back home the gardening produced Twite bergirisk and Whimbrel småspove among other things.

Overcast and calm conditions on 10 May proved productive from the terrace with Cuckoo gjøk, House Martin taksvale and Reed Bunting sivspurv as local year ticks before I even left the house. Twite bergirisk, Wheatear steinskvett and more were also in the garden during the day. A pair of Teal krikkand and some migrating male Goldeneye kvinand landed on the sea in front of the house too.

Things went largely downhill from there although I did meet up with UN7 again - now with young. I saw this bird earlier in the spring only a couple of hundred metres away but has obviously been busy with things a little off the beaten track until today:)

Not sure what this Common Crossbill grankorsnebb was doing but it looked like it was feeding on sap together with its mate.

UN7 disappeared for a while but now out with young so we know why.
I don't normally get embroiled in FB debates but a recent heated discussion maintained that neck-ringed birds are outcasts and do not breed. This bird along with VJ3 and probably others prove otherwise - this bird has what it takes and the neck ring does not appear to be troublesome. Fantastic to see the same birds returning year on year - and doing well unlike so many other species.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Skogsøy 08 May 2021 - Another day, another seawatch

 Weather was everything. Calm and clear until a little after 0700 when we sat through a rain / hail / sleet shower that lasted over half an hour and had us evaluating moving to the "seawatching" hide. After that back to calm and sunny conditions.

Plenty of action today with pretty much uninterrupted passage.

The highlights today (aside from the expected White-billed Divers gulnebblom) were a decent passage of Whimbrel småspove, above average numbers of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a good movement of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås - frustratingly we heard a number of flocks before we saw any of them and some flocks passed behind us so numbers were undoubtedly higher....

Part of one of the Barnacle hvitkinngås flocks that passed today

A single Curlew storspove joined a flock of Whimbrel småspove heading north

 Totals between 05:15 and 12:00 were:

Red throated Diver N 213

White Billed Diver N 12

Northern Gannet N 15

Great Cormorant N 5

Eurasian Shag N 17

Eurasian Shag S 35

Barnacle Goose N 1356

Tufted Duck N 5

Long tailed duck N 68

Common Scoter N 224

Common Scoter S 3

Velvet Scoter N 25

Merganser N 15

Oystercatcher N 59

Whimbrel N 62

Arctic Skua N 1

Common Gull N 47

Black-legged Kittiwake N 10

Razorbill N 4

Atlantic Puffin N 4

Auk N 17

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Skogsøy 07 May 2021 - Loonatic

Started off with calm and clear conditions, wind turned to the north around 0900 and increased.

A good seawatch but the variety seen last time was not reached. Basically mainly divers passing and just one Arctic Skua tyvjo,  although good numbers of Razorbill alke were of note.

Other birds included the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn, migrating Skylark sangelerke (once again rather late), Lapland Bunting lappspurv and both Golden Plover heilo and Ringed Plover sandlo were heard.

Although a shadow of its former self the Common Gull fiskemåke migration continues

As usual it was just non-breeding Cormorant storskarv passing

Small numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld still heading north

And what early May is all about  - White-billed Divers gulnebblom

About 6.5 hours of seawatching produced the following

Red throated Diver N 218

Red throated Diver S 1

White Billed Diver N 16

Northern Gannet N 13

Northern Gannet S 3

Great Cormorant N 16

Great Cormorant S 5

Eurasian Shag N 23

Eurasian Shag S 74

Tufted Duck N 2

Eider S 1

Long tailed duck N 8

Long tailed duck S 1

Common Scoter N 1

Common Scoter S 14

Merganser N 4

Merganser S 4

Oystercatcher N 16

Whimbrel N 10

Arctic Skua N 1

Common Gull N 86

Black-legged Kittiwake N 5

Common Guillemot N 6

Razorbill N 51

Atlantic Puffin N 2

Auk N 16

On the way home I found a new neck-ringed Greylag grågås at Kollsnes - UB9. This is the first sighting since it was ringed at a moulting site at Kårstø last June.