Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Northumberland 16-20 October 2021 - Not birding Northumberland

 Back "home" doing family stuff.

It is too easy to forget what a fantastic place Northumberland is for birding. Although not birding per  se a few minutes here and there produced a lot more birds than I often see back in Øygarden.

A few examples:

A five minute scan of Budle Bay at high tide gave a flock of 50 Shoveler skjeand, 670 Shelduck gravand, 4 Little Egret silkehegre along with hundreds of geese and other wildfowl and a nice selection of waders.

Twenty minutes in a hide at Creswell produced two Little Egrets silkehege, a Spotted Redshank sotsnipe, two Scaup bergand, 150 Lapwing vipe, 40 Golden Plover heilo and a few hundred duck of various species. 

Med Gulls svartehavsmåke along the prom at Newbiggin, actually seen from a bar:)

My local patches at Stag Rocks and Newbiggin have produced a seemingly endless string of rarities throughout the autumn including Bonarparte's Gull kanadahettemåke and Great Shearwater storlire to name just two of them.

A nice selection of waders in Seahouses harbour. Dunlin myrsnipe, Redshank rødstilk and Turnstone steivender

Just a few of the many hundred Sheldcuck gravand in Budle Bay. Lindisfarne castle in the background

Even in Budle it is not often I have seen 50 Shoveler skjeand, here just some of them

Monday, November 29, 2021

Øygarden 24-28 November 2021 - Almost the week that wasn't

 Largely nice calm weather but work had me confined to my desk with the exception of 28 November.

Being at home meant it was mostly just the usual garden stuff - a few White-tailed Eagles havørn, singles of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk a few times, Otter and so on. In addition there were small movements of Brambling bjørkefink and Siskin grønnsisik (up to 50 of the former and 30 of the latter).

Otter in my "garden"

Always interesting to see the way the water moves when they dive:)

A Long-tailed Duck havelle on Husvatnet on 25 November was a relatively uncommon freshwater occurrence of this otherwise common species.

Long-tailed Duck havelle on Husvatnet

Five minutes at Alvheim on 26 November showed birds reacting to the freezing temperatures and light snow with a light movement of Greylags grågås and Redwing rødvingetrost.

On 28 November I didn't work and went to Skogsøy instead in the lovely weather. Flocks of various finches included Brambling bjørkefink, Siskin grønnsisik, Redpoll gråsisik and Common Crossbill grankorsnebb.

Generally quiet on the sea but a Red-throated Diver smålom and a Razorbill alke were seen before I even parked the car. At least two White-tailed Eagle havørn were seen on the walk out to the lookout point with one passing at point blank range and dropping a Lumpsucker rongkjeks in the sea and the next one flying in and picking it up. A 40 minute seawatch out at the lookout produced little on the move other than a few auks and five Kittiwake krykkje. However, a Peregrine vandrefalk flew from it's vantage point, heading straight out to sea a few kilometres whilst gaining height before stooping to catch a Little Auk alkekonge which it returned to land with. At that range I could just about see passing white dots even in the scope - the falcon seemed to spot the auk at immense range - truly remarkable.

More Greylags grågås headed south on my way home - no doubt escaping colder conditions futher north. 

Second year White-tailed Eagle havørn with lumpsucker rognkjeks
This fish was just as likely stolen from an Otter....

Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

Part of a flock of Greylags grågås fleeing the cold

A total of 10 Whoopers sangsvane sat on the ice on Rotevatnet - the highest count of the autumn thus far.

Late on 28 the northern lights put on quite a show from my terrace. As usual I had forgotten the settings to use on my camera, couldn't find my small lens, no tripod etc etc. One day I really will buy a landscape lens and do this stuff right:)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Herdlevær 14 November 2021 - Photo bonanza and first ever November record of Ringed Plover

Another day of cracking weather, light southerlies and sunny.

This post shoud come with a warning - rather more pictures than usual:)

Already during the short drive to Herdlevær I felt this was going to be a good day. A couple of late Woodpigeon ringdue flew over the road at Breivik as did a Woodcock rugde and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk.

The Jackdaw kaie first seen amost a week ago turned up shortly after I started my usual round.

Jackdaw kaie

The walk out to my usual coffee and sandwich spot was relatively quiet. Howevr, a Ringed Plover sandlo on the shore was a real November rarity - the first record for November in Øygarden as far as I can tell. It was a first year bird and gave good views. As the sun rose the light improved and I crept down along the rocks to take some better photographs. Whilst doing this a flock of seven Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt flew in and gave some decent photo opportunities.

Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt - one of my favourite species that takes me back to where I grew up.
This bird is probably the one that is to blame for the state I am in now:)

I was initially quite happy with this photo of a species that has not been recorded in Øygarden in November before.

Nice preening image:)

Then the sun rose ever so slightly higher and I had to go crawling back over the rocks....

Over the sea there was obviously a fair bit going on, albeit at some range, several Little Auk alkekonge, Kittiwakes krykkje, a Curlew storspove and most of the usual late autumn suspects. A Peregrine vandrefalk was on the lookout for unwary migrants.

On my way back two Chiff-chaff gransanger gave good views feeding on flies attracted to mature ivy - hopefully the ivy I have got going in my garden will produce flowers before too long:). Neither of them gave any tristis indications.....

Chiff-chaffs gransanger

Some of the Herdlevær residents stopped me to ask if I'd seen anything rare just long enough to give a reasonable shot at one of the several White-tailed Eagles havørn seen today. 

2cy White-tailed Eagle havørn

Heading back to Nautnes a brief stop at Tjeldstø showed that the Whooper sangsvane numbers had doubled to four - unfortunately all adults. They were, as usual, accompanied by a flock of dabbling duck which included a Teal krikkand and a Wigeon brunnakke.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Hernar 13 November 2021 - Red-necked Grebe and more

Fantastic conditions with a light easterly breeze with the sun showing at times.

There were a number of reasons for choosing Hernar today (VERY unusual for me to head out there on a weekend): 

1) The Hernar year list is rather poorer than it has been in recent years

2) The weather conditions, including the rain during the night looked promising

3) There has been some "vis mig" at various locations the last day or two.

So Hernar it was and no regrets despite the fact there was very little in the way of visible migration  - something of a surprise given recent conditions. A few small flocks of Siskin grønnsisik and a light passage of Red-throated Diver smålom were pretty much the whole migration thing today.

Nevertheless a very nice day out in optimal late autumn conditions, mild and calm. 

Highlight was Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker on the sea during my first cup of coffee. The first in Øygarden this year (though one was seen later in the day from Sæle). Two Great Northern Diver islom and a Woodcock rugde were also additions to the Hernar 2021 list. At least one Water Rail vannriske was present  - the first I have seen locally this year.

Other sightings of interest included a few Meadow Pipits heipiplerke, a late Oystercatcher tjeld, a few Black Guillemots teist, a selection of the usual seaduck and a late(ish) Song Thrush måltrost.

Just short of 40 species so around the average on the island.

The moon was massive whilst waiting for the boat home

This pile of apples was very popular with Blackbirds svarttrost, Fieldfare gråstrost and Chaffinches bokfink

Great Northern Diver islom - one of two seen today - this one came in from the north and went in for landing close to the first one

One of the good things about island birding is that even common stuff can be of interest. On Hernar Great Tit kjøttmeis is a common late autumn migrant and winter visitor in small numbers

Another photo from the quayside whilst waiting for the boat home - Grey Heron gråhegre.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Herdlevær 12 November 2021 - Goshawk

Light E breeze with more or less clear skies.

My usual round at Herdlevær was generally quieter than of late, but far from dead. Small numbers of Redwing rødvingetrost, Brambling bjørkefink and Siskin grønnsisik were signs of continuing migration. 

A first year Goshawk hønsehauk flew over accompanied by a flock of 20 Hooded Crows kråke.

First year Goshawk hønsehauk

Shag toppskarv

Cormorant storskarv

Otter oter

Coffee and sandwiches produced a couple of Red-throated Diver smålom and small numbers of seaduck. Frustratingly an aythya duck heading south went unidentified, though I did get a Scaup bergand vibe.

I had to be at home to let the plumbers in to change my boiler so I changed my tyres over to winter despite the fact that winter still seems a fair way off.

Other birds included eight Greylags grågås heading south over Tjeldstø where there were also two Teal krikkand and an interesting medium sized raptor that disappeared whilst I was setting my scope up.