Thursday, September 30, 2021

Skogsøy 27 Septmeber 2021 - LBBG movement

 SSE wind with light high cloud cover.

I spent a couple of hours or so seawatching at Skogsøy, there was plenty of movement without anything spectacular to report. The main species were Red-throated Diver smålom and plenty of various gulls - most notably Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke. Various duck and wader species added to the variety.

Well over 600 birds headed south between 0800 and 10:30:

Red throated Diver smålom S 127
Northern Gannet havsule S 69
Great Cormorant storskarv N 1
Great Cormorant storskarv S 67
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 2
Eurasian Shag toppskarv S 3
Wigeon brunnakke N 10
Eider ærfugl N 10
Common Scoter svartand S 21
Velvet Scoter sjøorre S 4
Merganser siland S 9
Ringed Plover sandlo 3
Golden Plover heilo S 7
Dunlin myrsnipe S 17
Common Gull fiskemåke S 103
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke S 43 (14 1cy)
Herring Gull gråmåke S 100
Great black backed Gull svartbak S 25

Gannets havsule

A rather pale bird giving a rather graellsi impression

A more normal LBBG sildemåke coming into winter plumage

This bird with its clean white head and all black back invites thoughts of fuscus

Ringed Plover sandlo

Twite bergirisk

Wigeon brunnakke

Other than seabirds a Kestrel tårnfalk put in an appearance as did White-tailed Eagle havørn, Wheatear steinskvett, Bramlings bjørkefink and five Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and a small flock of Twite bergirisk were among the other species seen

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Herdlevær 26 September 2021 - Back in Black

I should probably not admit this but two weeks spent in the east of Norway had me thinking it was quite nice there - a productive week in Engerdal, a very nice day out with THE Oslo Birder and a couple of visits to an island in Oslofjord all seemed quite productive. In some places the sheer numbers and variety was in fact better than most days back home in the west.

My first day out back in Øygarden was a late and lazy start due to the UDI / Brexit. I was up half the night trying to figure out which countries I've been to in the last four years. Not easy at all, I can just about figure out this year.....

I did my usual round at Herdlevær picking up a few migrants such as Spotted Flycatcher gråfluesnapper, Bramblings bjørkefink, Wheatear steinskvett and Chiff-chaffs gransanger on my way to my usual breakfast / lunch / coffee break spot.

There was a fair bit of activity over the sea with various waders including Turnstones steinvender and Sanderling sandløper, a decent movement of gulls, a small flock of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and more besides. Suddenly a bird came into view head on in the scope and for a second I wondered what the hell kind of wader is this before realising it was a tern. A side view showed it to be a first year Black Tern svartterne - only the second record for Øygarden!! 

Knowing the importance of images to back up such claims I fired off some shots in the hope that they would provide adequate documentation and managed some reasonable record shots. After this I put the bird out on the local alert group and phoned a couple of people who I knew would be interested.

The second record of Black Tern svartterne for Øygarden

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

After this everything seemed rather tame so I packed up and left after a Great Skua storjo passed.

On my way home I popped in at Tjeldstø where there were good numbers of wildfowl (at least in a local context) which included a nice female Pintail stjertand. A hunting Merlin dvergfalk put in an appearance here too.

Female Pintail stjertand with Mallard stokkand and Teal krikkand - cropped from the image below.

A nice selection of dabbling ducks...

Monday, September 27, 2021

Engerdal 16-22 September 2021 - First Engerdal "twitch"

At odds with the rest of the birding community I chose to head east instead of west during the second half of September. My thoughts being if it is peak time in the west then it must also be peak season in the east:)

As usual Engerdal did not disappoint and punched well above its weight.

My first day out on 16 September produced plenty of birds and Beaver. Best bird in an Engerdal context was a Buzzard musvåk at Kvilten and another at Heggeriset.

My usual round of Galten - Drevsjø - Heggeriset produced good numbers of migrants at Galten and a nice female Goshawk hønsehauk looking for prey. The expected Black-throated Divers storlom were joined by a Slav Grebe horndykker and the usual wildfowl were present. Migrant passerines included Reed Buntings sivspurv, Dunnock jernspurv, Chiff-chaff gransanger and plenty more besides. A lone Herring Gull gråmåke rested on rocks out on the lake.

Merganser siland at Galtsjøen

This was followed by a walk at Lisæter and a walk around Hyllsjøen. Kestrel tårnfalk, flocks of Brambling bjørkefink, the usual thrushes, a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards fjellvåk and plenty more were seen.

On 17 September it was a late and lazy start but whilst waiting for my better half to get ready I clocked up a couple of Black Woodpecker svartspett, Dipper fossekall and more. This was followed by a new walk - Galtåsen, here a flock of 30 Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb fed in the trees and a few Siberian Jay lavskrike fed on the forest floor. Treecreeper trekryper and Crested Tits toppmeis joined the usual suspects in the woods.

Dipper fossekall

Siberian Jay lavskrike

Just as it got dark I received a message about a strange bird - a mobile phone image of what was obviously a phalarope although the exact species was not evident, an interesting sighting whatever it turned out to be. Mostly because it was dark and partly because we were already at the only restaurant in the area I didn't actually leave immediately. Instead I left the house before first light the nest day to head up to Vurrusjøen (having already woken up twice at 0330 and 0430 in the hope that it might soon be light!). Here I had Grey Wagtail vinterle, a couple of Whoopers sangsvane and a reasonable selection of wildfowl. But no phalarope. 

I opted to check a few other localities before returning and could not believe my eyes - a GREY PHALAROPE polarsvømmesnipe - only the second record for Hedmark (previous was September 1969!!!). This is the first time I have ever gone for a bird in Engerdal, hopefully it won't be the last. My family is all too familiar with me leaving the house in the middle of making dinner back in Øygarden but this is the first time they had to experience this in the tranquil world that is / was Engerdal:)

Engerdal's first and Hedmark's second ever Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe

After that everything seemed rather quiet but another Goshawk hønsehauk put in an appearance at Heggeriset.

On 19 September I did not actually go out birding but whilst digging potatoes a nice flock of 47 Pinkfeet kortnebbgås headed south over the house, first record for Engerdal this year.

Part of a flock of migrating Pinkfeet kortnebbgås - quite possibly coming from the same place as the phalarope.

The following day it was back to the grindstone. Galtsjøen produced four Slav Grebes horndykker, a late Yellow Wagtail gulerle, a Tree Pipit treiplerke, Kestrel tårnfalk and four Jays nøtteskrike among other things. An Osprey fiskeørn ate a mammoth catch (sik - no idea of the English name) at Galthåen whilst in the background an elg grazed at the water's edge. 

Back home a Mistle thrush duetrost was the best sighting.

Osprey fiskørn (late!) with a sik (whitefish?)

Grazing Elg

Robin rødstrupe in the garden - in contrast to my garden back west this bird will soon leave as the cold sets in.

Four Slav grebes horndykker

Dull weather early on 20 September prevented me going ahead with my planned walk so it was rather a case of the same as usual with the addition of a female Capercaille storfugl flying over the road. None the less a very pleasant and productive morning out and about. The clouds then lifted and it was up to Svarthammeren where Golden Eagle kongeørn, Kestrel tårnfalk, a few Ring Ousel ringtrost and a good movement of Siskin grønnsisik were the highlights.

Reed Bunting sivspurv have largely moved down to the valleys but some remain in the hills too.

One of three Ring Ousel ringtrost seen

Roe Deer rådyr living dangerously now that the hunting season has started...

At least 67 species noted, not bad at all:) Engerdal year list now at 107 - my best year yet despite not having been there during the summer!

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Øygarden 06 - 08 September 2021 - Promising conditions fail to deliver

Southerly winds with some precipitation at long last!

The conditions seemed good to deposit migrants out here on the islands but did not deliver the goods in any big way. 

A short session at Skogsøy on 06 September failed on pretty much all counts with little other than Gannets havsule passing. A couple of White-tailed Eagles havørn and a Peregrine vandrefalk were all that were on offer here.

Popping in at Tjeldstø on the way home produced just one Ruff brushane and a small increase in the number of Wigeon brunnakke present.

My usual round at Herdlevær on 07 September did ever so slightly better with a Little Stint dvergsnipe joining a couple of Ringed Plover sandlo. Also the first Wheatear steinskvett since my return and a few Wigeon brunnakke.

On the way home a Woodcock rugde feeding at Alvheim was the best sighting - no doubt a local breeder but uncommon to see them out in the open.

On 08 September conditions were identical to the previous day -misty with light drizzle. An identical round to the previous day produced just singles of Knot polarsnipe, a Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and a couple of Wheatear steinskvett. A flock of at least 11 Teal krikkand were at Kollsnes - so some wildfowl obviously started to move. 

Monday, September 06, 2021

Øygarden 05 September 2021 - Dwarves

Calm conditions, ideal for a boat trip around the islands and skerries in the north west of Øygarden - the very same that I see from my kitchen window. 

Dverg means dwarf in Norwegian and the best birds today were both dwarves - Dwarf snipe otherwise known as Little Stint dvergsnipe was one of the first sightings of the day and Dwarf Woodpecker otherwise known as Lesser spotted Woodpecker dvergspett was one of the last birds seen.

Little Stints dvergsnipe

Much of the morning was spent looking for waders on the islands in the north west of Øygarden - quite a productive day was had doing this. A few islands were checked out on the way to Hernar where, although there were still a lot of birds about, there was not a "fall feeling" so we left after a brief check. Migrants new in included Dunnock jernspurv, Chaffinches bokfink and Redwing rødvingetrost. Otherwise "just" 50+ Twite bergirisk and the usual suspects.

Young Robin rødstrupe on Hernar

The islands produced most of the expected wader species and a couple of extras. The highlight were two Little Stints dvergsnipe which flew in together with several Ringed Plover sandlo. Little Stint is a species I previously considered quite a scarcity in Øygarden but in fact is quite regular - something I consider surprising as it is not normally considered a species associated with rocky shores.

Several each of Sanderling sandløper and Turnstone steinvender, around 15 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt (the first of the autumn),  a dozen or so each of Dunlin myrsnipe and Ringed Plover sandlo, a couple of Knot polarsnipe,  a Shelduck gravand and a lone Ruff brushane were among the other sightings.

It almost goes without saying that we saw the usual Black Guillemot teist, White-tailed Eagle havørn etc etc.

Dunlin myrsnipe

Herring Gulls gråmåke and a Commom Gull fiskemåke feeding on something at the surface. Both Great and Lesser Blacked Gulls svartbak og sildemåke were also doing the same thing - as were a lot of fish. Perhaps something was spawning?

Of more interest to the local birders (Øygardens entire population of resident birders were in the same place at the same time with the same plan, just in different boats), there was also a guy on the same mission as us - looking at and photographing waders on islands but who is he??? ID required as we did not recognise either the boat or the person (he has photo-bombed the gull picture above)

Øygarden's other birder was predictably enough on the same mission as us...:)

Jay nøtteskrike at Tjeldstø - probably a migrating / irrupting bird as this species is not often seen at Tjeldstø and although a little early the timing is good....

Knot polarsnipe

One of a few LBBG sildemåke seen today 

The first Purple Sands fjæreplytt of the autumn.

Ruff brushane - a common enough autumn migrant in Øygarden but not often they land on the offshore islans

A few of the Sanderling sandløper seen today

Shelduck gravand

urnstone steinvender

Back ashore in the late morning I checked Tjeldstø where over 50 Golden Plover heilo were in the reserve along with a couple of Ruff brushane. A Jay nøtteskrike put in an appearance - an irreuglar autumn visitor at this locality and five Goldfinch stillits flew over.

After this fantastic morning out I went home to get on with stuff but headed out again after a tip-off to see a Lesser spotted Woodpecker dvergspett at Hatten.