Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Øygarden 27 - 30 August 2021 - Finally home again

Having been away there is inevitably a lot to catch up on. On 27 August a trip to the shops at Tjeldstø produced an interesting falcon seen from the car and into the sun but I got a strong Hobby lerkefalk vibe. I turned the car around and headed after it. I got onto a falcon mobbing a huge female Goshawk hønsehauk but again it was into the sun and distant....

My terrace produced the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn, a small flock of Curlew storpsove feeding in the heather and most of the usual species. 

On 28 August I had a quick look at Tjeldstø but it was very quiet with just several Snipe enkeltbekkasin seen.

A walk at Herdlevær on 29 August gave a few species of wader, including a rather grey looking Golden Plover heilo that needed a closer inpsection. Other migrants here included a Kestrel tårnfalk and the first Yellow Wagtail gulerle of the autumn.

Golden Plover heilo

White Wagtail linerle

On the way home a couple of Spotted Redshank sotsnipe fed at Husvatnet, Tjeldstø along with nine Ruff brushane and three Redshank rødstilk.

On 30 August I spent a couple of hours at Skogsøy in strong northerly winds. It was generally quiet with around 40 Gannet havsule heading north along with a single Fulmar havhest and a few Arctic Tern rødnebbterne. For some reason even the waders were heading north with small flocks of Knot polarsnipe, Turnstone steinvender and Ringed Plover sandlo flying the wrong way into the wind. A few Dunlin myrsnipe and Sanderling sandløper flew south. A Peregrine vandrefalk gave excellent views here too.

Knot polarsnipe

The two Spotted Reds were still at Husvatnet on the way home and gave much better views and were also quite vocal at times. 

Spotted Redshanks sotsnipe at Tjeldstø

Monday, August 30, 2021

Brage and Vega 15 - 25 August 2021 - The Norwegian sector tour continues

 Some days close to the Brage platform produced little of interest, although a Great Skua storjo put on a good show on 15 August. Initially swimming on the sea next to the vessel it obviously upset a flock of Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak that were hanging around there. This changed to panic once the skua took to the wing:)

Sunrise at Brage

Some of the locals

Great Skua storjo

Vega also produced a lone Great Skua and a nice first year Ringed Plover sandlo spent the best part of a day onboard on 19 August. Generally very quiet though with just small numbers of Gannet havsule, Fulmar havhest, Kittiwake krykkje and Great Black-backed Gull svartbak. On 25 August a first year Arctic Tern rødnebbterne rested onboard during a period of strong northerly wind.

Fulmar havhest

Ringed Plover sandlo taking a rest onboard

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Maria and Dvalin 11-13 August 2021 - Northern Norwegian sector first?

Unusually calm conditions weather-wise for this area.

On the evening of 11 August a flock of 18 Turnstone steinvender flew around the vessel at Maria a few times before continuing south. The only other migrant was a first year Arctic Tern rødnebbterne which spent a couple of days using the vessel as a resting place in between foraging trips.

Other than that just small numbers of Gannet havsule, Fulmar havhest, Kittiwake krykkje and GBBG svartbak.

First year Arctic Tern rødnebbterne - no doubt on its way south from wherever it was raised

We then moved further north to Dvalin on 13 August where a Turtle Dove turteldue put in an appearance. It was very shy and performed circuits of the vessel whenever disturbed. I waited in the right place and caught it as it came in for landing on the helideck. According the the national recording system this is the first record of this species for the northern Norwegian sector. I have, however, seen this species even further north of the Shtokman field in the Russian sector of the Barent's Sea.

A probable Fin whale passed here too - but I did not have my camera with me at its closest point of approach. A single Puffin lunde and a small flock of Guillemots lomvi were the only other sightings over and above the usual.

Turtle Dove turteldue at Dvalin

This shot illustrates the undertail pattern well - showing the difference between European and Oriental Turtle Doves (ref Dutch Birding article)

What I think is a Fin Whale

Guillemots lomvi

Puffin lunde

Friday, August 20, 2021

North Sea 07-10 August 2021 - Wader migration

Transit from UK back to Norway and then up north to the next project.

A Snipe enkeltbekkasin rested onboard much of 06 August and an Oystercatcher tjeld headed south on 07 August. A few Common Gull fiskemåke also on the move.

Other than that just small numbers of Fulmars havhest, Gannet havsule and Kittiwakes krykkje.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Southern North Sea 23 - 31 July 2021 - Auks on the move

 Very little time spent on deck during this period which was spent largely in the Inde / Leman area of the UK sector.

However, some good numbers of seabirds were seen at times. Auks were very obvious with adults calling and their young begging. Young Guillemots lomvi leap from their nest ledges before they can fly and swim after their parents who, if I remember correctly, also moult at this time). Rafts of Guillemots joined large flocks of gulls (mostly Kittiwakes krykkje and Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke) to feast on shoals of fish. These were joined by small numbers of other gulls including Black-headed Gulls hettemåke and even a Mediterranean Gull svartehavsmåke. The latter two species are not something I see a lot of offshore.

The only other migrant was a Woodpigeon ringdue, again rather early for this species to be crossing the North Sea.

Adult Guillemot lomvi with young
These birds must have swum from one of the breeding colonies in NE England - perhaps even the Farne Islands but more likely Bempton.

Small numbers of young Black-headed Gulls hettemåke fed well offshore

Moulting Great Black-backed Gull svartbak

"Bridled" Guillemot alongside a normal one

Kittiwakes krykkje were present in the 100's

Rare offshore sighting og Mediterranean Gull svartehavsmåke

Migrant Woodpigeon ringdue on deck

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Øygarden 19-21 July 2021 - Getting ready to leave again

 Having finally got back on my feet again it was time to leave again so not much time in the field yet again.

A Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper in the garden on 19 July was no doubt a migrant.  A stroll at Herdlevær later in the day produced little other than a couple of Whimbrel småspove.

On 20 July I checked up on a Ringed Plover sandlo breeding site and had at least two adult with two well grown young. Shame to say that industry seems to provide more sanctuary for these birds than the local nature reserves....

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Skogsøy 18 July 2021 - Seawatching at last

Finally forced myself out of bed at a respectable time and made the trip to Skogsøy!

Although generally quiet it was well worth the effort, not just for the birds but just to be out again.

Highlights were three Manx Shearwater havlire heading the north, the first two came together at very nice telescope range. I just enjoyed the moment and didn't bother trying to obtain any documentation shots. The third bird was further out only 10 minutes later. Otherwise just the usual suspects with Gannets havsule, a Kittiwake krykkje, Shags toppskarv (heading north now....) and a Guillemot lomvi or two.

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke with food for its young at Skogsøy
It had two "marine woodlouse" in its beak (I don't know the proper name for these massive creatures that live in cracks in the rocks)

On the way home I had to fill up the car and used the opportunity to check out some tern activity - two almost fledged Arctic Tern rødnebbterne chicks could fly short distances but still very much dependent on their parents. Judging by the number of adults there were certainly more young in the area but I didn't dare inspect more closely as I didn't want to risk the chicks flying onto / over the road. Great to see this as other Arctic Tern colonies out on the islands are now deserted - maybe they got young off earlier, maybe they failed.

Almost fledged Arctic Terns rødnebbterne at Tjeldstø

Whilst photographing the terns a Goldfinch stillits flew over - adding to my suspicions about a local breeder this year - something that would be new for Tjeldstø:)

Later in the evening I heard Pied Flycatcher svarthvit fluesnapper singing - this species is not a common breeder in Øygarden so it is not often I hear it singing out here.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Kollsnes & Tjeldstø 17 July 2021 - Red Deer

 Once again lacking the energy to do much.

The colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke was still at Kollsnes indicating that it has spent most of the breeding season locally.

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

At Husvatnet a few Lapwing vipe rested, other waders at Tjeldstø included Greenshank gluttsnipe and Redshank rødstilk.

Red Deer hjort out in the open on a summer afternoon is not an everyday occurrence so I stopped the car briefly and took a couple of shots.