Thursday, October 14, 2021

Skogsøy 12 October 2021 - Grey Phalarope at last!

A morning of NW winds and sunny with it.

This time I got my act together and sat in my usual autumn spot. Much better than the hide now that a) the wind was from NW and b) it was not raining.

I sat from 0830 to 1200 and there was a constant passage of birds. Once again, a lot of birds passed rather distantly and I spent a lot of time looking through my scope rather than with bins which is often my normal preference.

Best bird was a Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe - an inexplicably rare bird in Øygarden and the first time with certainty that I have seen it here despite several probables in the past. In a way it was identified by default rather than by plumage features alone. I picked the bird up at about 700m out headings north and immediately suspected something due to the wing bars, pale head and flight. Almost immediately it started flying in circles low over the considerable swell before going in for landing and disappearing from view behind a big swell never to be seen again.

The other highlight was White-sided Dolphins feeding a couple of kilometres offshore - the behaviour of gulls and Gannets havsule led me to them and I saw them quite well several times in the scope over the course of a couple of hours. The first Little Auks alkekonge of the autumn also passed.

Peregrine vandrefalk and Snow/Lapland Bunting were among the other non seabird sightings of interest. Two White-tailed Eagles havørn appeared to be hunting far out to sea - at approximately 2km range - more or less where the dolphins were at one point.

Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe 1

Gannet havsule S 108

Auk sp S 226

Cormorant storskarv S 60, N 4

Great Northern Diver islom S 1

Red-throated Diver smålom S 8

Common Scoter svartand S 6

Merganser siland S 1

Common Gull fiskemåke S 9

Long-tailed Duck havelle S 16

Razorbill alke S 11

Auk sp S 226

Little Auk alkekonge S 2

Guillemot lomvi N 2

Velvet Scoter sjøorre S 5

Common Scoter svartand S 6

Eider ærfugl S 2

Kittiwake krykkje S 6

Oystercatcher tjeld S 2


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Skogsøy 10 October 2021 - Another day, another seawatch

Lighter NW winds. Dismal light to start with but clearing nicely rather too late to be of any help.

A VERY frustrating seawatch, there was plenty passing but the light conditions were terrible. Normally the sun is on our backs in the early morning lighting up the sea favourably. With the cloud conditions as they were it meant that passing birds were seen in silhouette only and in very poor light indeed. This was compounded by the fact that I sat in the hide again - partly because it was raining as I arrived, partly because it is comfortable and partly because I didn't repack my rucksack to include my normal folding chair. In other words I have gone soft. Basically sitting in the hide means it is not possible to follow passing birds for more than a few seconds.

A lot of stuff went down as "duck sp" or "waders". A potential Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker was among the many that "got away". However, I did manage to see and identify at least some of the stuff that passed.

I sat from 0840 to 1200. The first flock of geese that passed was a smallish flock of Brents ringgås, after that all geese where either Barnacle hvitkinngås or unidentified (a flock passed out along the horizon proving impossible to identify). A Peregrine vandrefalk came in off the sea with prey (looked like a Redwing rødvingetrost) and as usual White-tailed Eagle havørn put in an appearance. A lateish Arctic Tern rødnebbterne was one of the more interesting sightings.

Totals were:

Brent Goose ringgås S 45

Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås S 307

Barnacle/Brent S 100

Goose sp S 7

Teal krikkand S 11

Wigeon brunnakke S 2

Common Scoter svartand S 48

Velvet Scoter sjøorre S 28

Eider ærfugl S 4

Merganser siland S 6

Duck sp S 33

Kittiwake krykkje S 6

Common Gull fiskemåke S 125

Black-headed Gull hettemåke S 1

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke S 31 (the passage continues!)

Arctic Tern rødnebbterne S 1

Red-throated Diver smålom S 114

Gannet havsule S 65

Oystercatcher tjeld S 4

Wader S 7 (largesh)

Wader S 15 (dunlin sized)

Great Northern Diver islom S 1

GND / WBD kjempelom S 1

Auk sp S 124

Guillemot lomvi S 15

Razorbill alke S 9

Part of a Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås flock

Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke continue to pass

On the way home a nice first year Peregrine vandrefalk hunted at Tjeldstø

Monday, October 11, 2021

Skogsøy 09 October 2021 - Geese!

Southerly gale.

A great seawatch - and the longest I have done for ages. We sat from 0830 to 1400 and although things slowed down towards the end there was almost always something passing.

The highlight was undoubtedly a decent movement of geese, things kicked off with a couple of flocks of hrota Brent Geese ringgås and then went over to the more expected Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås. All heading south from Svalbard to their wintering grounds in the UK and Europe.

A good variety of other species passed, largely wildfowl which included a Pintail stjertand, Velvet Scoters sjøorre and Long-tailed Ducks havelle. A single Great Northern Diver islom passed along with small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom.

The totals were as follows:

Red-throated Diver smålom S 31, N 5

Razorbill alke S 8

Gannet havsule S 36, N 41

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke S 4

Herring Gull gråmåke S 25

Great Black.backed Gull svartbak S 17

Cormorant storskarv S 10, N 2

Shag toppskarv  N 16

Common Gull fiskemåke S 20

Common Scoter svartand N 1, S 28

Kittiwake krykkje N12, S 6

Velvet Scoter sjøorre S 18

Long-tailed Duck havelle S 6

Tufted Duck toppand 2

Teal krikkand S 3

Pintail stjertand S 1

Brent Goose ringgås S 36 

Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås 452

Grey Plover tundralo S1

Guillemot lomvi S2

Wigeon brunnakke S 22

Great Northern Diver islom S 1


Leucistic Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås

Some of the over 450 Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås that headed south including a leucistic bird that got the pulse racing for a few seconds.

A small flock of Brent Geese ringgås

Common Scoter svartand

Gannets havsule

Guillemot lomvi

Kittiwakes krykkje

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

Wigeon brunnakke

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Øygarden 08 October 2021 - Grey-headed Woodpecker

Southerly winds, low cloud and rain at times.

I tried something different today. Two hours at Sæle gave lots of birds without anything very exciting. Sæle is a place that looks like it should pull in migrants and rarities better than anywhere else in Øygarden with its mix of hedgerows, gardens and farmland. There is perhaps just too much habitat and birds can just disappear in there.

There were masses of thrushes and finches, at least 10 Blackcap munk, a Chiff-chaff gransanger, Skylark sanglerke, Goldfinch stillits and plenty more besides but nothing that had me reaching for the camera.

Next up was a short walk at Breivik which was essentially more of the same. Very nice birding and with a feeling that there was a lot going on without any actual results.

On my way home I stopped at Tjeldstø where a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett was the highlight and 26 Golden Plover heilo came in to land. 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Øygarden 07 October 2021 - Jack Snipe

Calm, mild and overcast

At home a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, Goldcrest fuglekonge and the usual species were seen from the terrace.

My usual round at Herdlevær produced little out of the ordinary but a Jack Snipe kvartbekkassin was the first of the autumn for me. Other migrants included a White Wagtail linerle, a Chiff-chaff gransanger and a Teal krikkand.

Pergrine vandrefalk, a few Long-tailed Duck havelle and several Wigeon brunnakke were among the species passing over the sea.

On the way home Breivik was lifting with birds so I stopped for a few minutes, a couple of Blackcap munk, several Goldcrest fuglekonge and at least 60 Brambling bjørkefink were some of the birds seen here.

Also on the way home a couple of very vocal and rather wet Common Crossbill grankorsnebb were seen at Hatten.

Common Crossbills grankorsnebb at Hatten
As is so often the case these birds were high up in the trees and against the light.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Hernar 06 October 2021 - Little Bunting FINALLY unblocked!

Calm conditions, light SE winds and overcast meant the conditions were ideal for another all day sesh on Hernar. A couple of other birders from town obviously thought the same thing and also spent the day on Hernar. All in all a very nice day out.

Once again plenty of birds about without anything to write home about until it was just about time to go home. More of that later.

Good numbers of thrushes and finches were seen - both on the island and flying over. A very minimum of 25 Song Thrush måltrost is quite a good number given that the peak for this species is normally somewhat earlier. Plenty of Blackbird svarttrost, Redwing rødvingetrost and Fieldfare gråtrost too.

Twite bergirisk

1cy Peregrine vandrefalk

Wheatear steinskvett

Flocks of Brambling bjørkefink passed over the whole day, as did Starling stær, Meadow Pipit heipiplerke and Siskin grønnsisik.

Other migrants on the island included at least eight Blackcap munk, a couple of Chiff-chaff gransanger, a Willow Warbler løvsanger (same bird as last time?), a Pied Fly svarthvit fluesanpper, a Redstart rødstjert, a Wheatear steinskvett and three House Sparrow gråspurv. Snow Bunting snøspurv were heard passing over on two occasions on opposite ends of the island.

A flock of 20 Greylags grågås rested on the sea along with a Mallard stokkand, small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom headed south down the fjord during the course of the day too.

In the early afternoon I had an attack of toothache which caused considerable discomfort. Luckily Bergen's very own birding doctor was on hand with some paracetemol and the ever friendly residents contributed with ibuprofen:) Having taken my tablets I did a last round of the island - in part to retrieve my glasses which I had left under a bush on the east side of the island. A light drizzle set in as I headed back to pick up my scope and rucksack and do a last sweep of the west end of the island.

And there, on the edge of the path sat a Little Bunting dverspurv feeding together with a Meadow Pipit heipiplerke. I snapped a few shots and hoped they would be good enough and immediately alerted the others who had settled down to have a coffee prior to the boat home. A frantic search of the area proved fruitless - the bird had just disappeared.

Little Bunting dverspurv

Here I let photoshop decide the colours - not too bad a job

My Øygarden bogey bird has finally fallen. I must be the only birder in Øygarden to not have seen this species, an acute embarrassment by all accounts. On the way back I couldn't make up my mind what was best - that my toothache had stopped or that I had finally unblocked Little Bunting:)

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Herdlevær 05 October 2021 - Wet weather gear test

Southerly winds again, some very heavy shows, light drizzle and some clear periods. 

A walk around Herdlevær with one of my daughters tested our rain gear. Mine failed, hers didn't:)

Very similar to recent visits in most respects, plenty of birds about and a good passage of gulls very close in, once again with good numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke. Red-throated Diver smålom, Cormorants storskarv and other species also headed south.

Common Gull fiskemåke

GBBG svartbak

LBBG sildemåke

A Peregrine vandrefalk, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and two White-tailed Eagle havørn were the raptors seen today.

Wader numbers are typically reducing but Golden Plover heilo and Dunlin myrsnipe were both still present - the latter giving some nice photo opportunities.

Dunlin myrsnipe

Passerines included the usual four species of thrush, 40+ Brambling bjørkefink, a female Blackcap munk and a Chiff-chaff gransanger.

Back home I had a reasonable selection of species in/from the garden including Goldcrest fuglekonge, Jay nøtteskrike and a Guillemot lomvi on the sea again.

Heron gråhegre on the shore in front of my house

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Skogsøy 04 October 2021 - Snow Bunting

Strong gale from south, largely sunny but some short showers.

Today I opted to use the hide, very comfortable given the conditions and made seawatching possible if not actually ideal:)

The best bird was actually very close to the hide in the form of the first Snow Bunting snøspurv of the autumn. 

In the period 10:20 - 12:15 I had the following:

Gannet havsule, 39S, 20N

Red-throated Diver smålom 43S

Razorbill alke S 1

Common Gull fiskemåke S 19

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke S 2 adult

Herring Gull gråmåke S 3

GBBG svartbak 3S

Cormorant storskarv S2

Skua sp (Arctic / Pom) 1N (very distant)

Wader (small and pale) 2S

Guillemot lomvi 2S

Common Scoter svartand 8S

Auk 3S

Kittiwake krykkje 10S, 1 1cy N

Gannet havsule

Snow Bunting snøspurv

Looking for gold at the end of the rainbow...

Random view on the way back home

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Herdlevær / Tjeldstø / Nautnes 03 October 2021 - Gales

 Southerly gale.

On my way south a dead Woodcock rugde lay in the road at Skjold, I stopped and checked in for rings as usual.

My usual walk at Herdlevær gave Merlin dvergfalk and the first Long-tailed Duck havelle of the autumn as the best birds. However, my usual lunch break was cut short - the wind was too strong and meant that coffee did not make it from the thermos into the cup. More importantly my scope kept almost blowing over. 

A Peregrine vandrefalk was the only other bird of note here, though still lots of Brambling bjørkefink and a small flock of Golden Plover heilo about.

I thought I would see what was going on down the fjord on the eastern side of Øygarden. Not much, although small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom headed south here too. Crested Tits toppmeis, yet more Brambling bjørkefink and a couple of Jays nøtteskrike were among the species seen here.

One of the many Brambling bjørkefink at Tjeldstø today

A Common Scoter svartand on Husvatnet was a relatively rare freshwater occurrence.

I thought seawatching conditions would be better back home - and they were:) An hour from the terrace gave 26 Red-throated Diver smålom heading south, a few Razorbill alke and Guillemot lomvi passing, Dunlin myrsnipe, lots of Gannets havsule, two White-tailed Eagles havørn feeding on something big that was hidden from view, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and more. One Guillemot lomvi even swam past the house in the shelter of the bay.

Guillemot lomvi swimming past my terrace.
This bird dived repeatedly and seemed therefore to be behaving normally - though dead auks have been found in both the UK and further south in Norway recently.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Herdlevær 30.09 - 01.10.2021 - Taking it easier

On 30 September a light southerly breeze meant it was probably a good day for the birds to migrate - and indeed I had two Kestrels tårnfalk heading south - one of them a long way out to sea. Hunting Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, Peregrine vandrefalk and White-tailed Eagle havørn were the other raptors seen.

A single Sanderling sandløper was the best of the waders present.

Sanderling sandløper

Wheatear steinskvett

There was not a lot in the way of grounded migrants but a few Wheatear steinskvett were present and an interesting sylvia warbler call took quite a bit of time in an attempt to sort it out. All I actually saw was a male Blackcap munk but the call sounded altogether wrong for this species.

Still plenty of Brambling bjørkefink feeding on the still plentiful rowan berries along with small numbers of the usual thrushes.

The first Goldeneye kvinand of the autumn also turned up here.

The following day the wind was stronger and I did my usual round. Best bird was a Grey Plover tundralo with six Ringed Plover sandlo on the shore.

Grey Plover tundralo with Ringed Plovers sandlo

Three first year Lapwing vipe at Kollsnes and a drive-by Stonechat svartstrupe were the only other birds of note before the reaction to my second covid vaccination kicked in and had me on the sofa for the remainder of the day.

First year Lapwings vipe at Kollsnes

The first Stonechat svartstrupe I've seen for a while - a nice male.