Saturday, January 29, 2022

Øygarden 21-27 January 2022 -

 Mostly good weather without storms or rain.

Unfortunately very little real birding due to work, UDI etc

On 21 January I picked up the first Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt of the year from my terrace. 

On 22nd I had a quick look at Hjelme Vest but the visibility was poor and I saw almost nothing. So I went fishing instead; fishing went a lot better and I filled my freezer with cod fillets. Five different fish species landed - more on this at some later date as I now suspect I have misidentified the commonest flatfish I catch out here for some time.....meaning that I have probably landed specimen quality fish.

I managed a couple of hours at Herdlevær on 23 January. A few new species for Herdlevær this year were picked up including a few Purple Sands and a Goshawk hønsehauk. On the way home I picked up four Curlew storspove at Solberg.

On 25 January I did a lightening visit to Hjelme vest. Not much going on here again with just a Great Northern Diver islom, several White-tailed Eagle havørn, around 30 Long-tailed Duck havelle and a lone Curlew storspove seen. 

Other than that some indication of a Starling stær influx with up to 10 at Tjeldstø.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Øygarden 17-20 January 2022 - Colour ringed gulls

Rather variable weather this week with decent enough conditions on Monday and Tuesday and strong northerly winds on Wednesday and Thursday. Not that it made much of a difference, there was no time for anything other than some random drive-bys and very short forays away from the car.

On Monday 17 January I did a walk at Tjeldstø where nothing much of note was seen other than what was presumably the same flock of 20 Goldfinch stillits seen on one of my recent visits and a couple of Jay nøtteskrike - the first I have seen at this locality in 2022.

Dåvøy produced the Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke again.

On Tuesday the only sighting of any interest was the long-staying Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik. A bird a number of the Bergen twitchers are making the long drive out to get on their year lists.

One of a few Common Gulls fiskemåke at Breivik on 18 January

Second year Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik - still hanging out there with two Greylags grågås and a popula bird with birders from town this week.

White-tailed Eagle havørn flying over my house as they do so often

This winter has been a bumper year for colour ringed Herring Gulls gråmåke with as many seen this week as I normally see in a winter. Add that to the flurry of recent sightings and I begin to wonder what has happened. Is it the weather conditions? Were the ringers out in force locally this year? Or am I just so strapped for time that my habits have changed?

Wednesday provided another 2cy Herring Gull gråmåke ringed on the island of Fedje last year (a very strong showing of birds from there this winter) and Thursday gave two more at Tjeldstø - another 2cy bird from Fedje and a 3cy bird from Møre og Romsdal which I also saw here in Øygarden last winter.

Female Blackbird svarttrost at Alvheim

A couple of the approximately 40 Brambling bjørkefink at Alvheim

One of the colour ringed Herring Gulls gråmåke seen this week

...along with two adult birds showing the variation in head streaking at the moment - there are a couple of birds that have all white heads already - something that makes picking out the YLG rather more difficult now.

Some of the 20 Siskin grønnsisik at Alvheim on Wednesday

A walk at Blomøy on Thursday also clocked up my first Guillemots lomvi of the year with six heading north into the gale force winds over the fjord on the east side of Øygarden. Two minutes with my scope from the kitchen window on my return produced a few Kittiwake krykkje heading north - should have been at Skogsøy today but instead yet another Teams meeting:)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Herdlevær and Skogsøy 15-16 January 2022 - New species for Skogsøy

On 15 January the wind was in the south but still felt pretty cool with a hint of sleet as I started off the morning at Herdlevær. 

I picked up several new patch species for the year but nothing remarkable. At least two White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin and the usual suspects were seen. The sea was very quiet indeed during the short period I looked.

A flock of 20 Goldfinch stillits at Tjeldstø on the way home was the best sighting of the day. 

Strong northerly winds on 16 January meant that I headed out to Skogsøy for a short seawatch. This resulted in a new species for Skogsøy!! A total of 195 species have now been recorded at this location. Amazingly a Dipper fossekall fed in rocky pools at this totally unexpected location. Just shows anything can turn up at any time.

A Woodcock rugde, a Peregrine vandrefalk and a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea were the best of the rest. A couple of Kittiwake krykkje and small numbers of Razorbill alke headed north.

At Tjeldstø on the way home a colour ringed Herring gull gråmåke had moved all the way from Fedje since it was ringed there last year. A massive 22km so not quite as interesting as the previous ring I read.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Øygarden 10-14 January 2022 - Home Office Birding again

Reasonable to excellent weather most of the time so excruciating to sit inside.

Just drive-bys and very short walks possible but still a few sightings of interest with the best stuff from the terrace.

On 10 January a short stop at Solberg produced a Kittiwake krykkje and a Gannet havsule. Drive-bys gave the long-staying Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik and a flock of 12 Goldfinch stillits at Tjeldstø. The terrace did rather better with a couple of Turnstone steinvender, at least three White-tailed Eagles havørn and the usual.

Goldfinches stillits at Tjeldstø

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik

Common Gull fiskemåke at Breivik

One of a few Whoopers sangsvane at Kollsnes

A short walk at Sæle in glorious sunshine on 11 January produced nothing out of the ordinary but three Nuthatch spettmeis, a couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and three White-tailed Eagles havørn gave some photo opportunities. A Woodcock rugde feeding in a garden at Hatten after dark was the best sighting of the day.

Nuthatch spettmeis at Sæle - a species I see a lot less of than White-tailed Eagle

One of at least two Robins rødstrupe cuurently holding territory in my garden

Sparrowhawk spurvehauk at Sæle

If focus and lighting are good there WILL be a wingtip missing
2cy White-tailed Eagle havørn

4cy White-tailed Eagle havørn

Some acrobatics

Otters were seen at least daily throughout as usual with the biggest group being four at Herdlevær on 12 January. 

On 13 January a Snipe enkeltbekkasin flew over the garden and the first House Sparrows gråspurv to visit my feeder this year turned up.

Two Peregrine vandrefalk, four White-tailed Eagle havørn, a Little Auk alkekonge and a minimum of five Otters were the most interesting observations on 14 January during a walk at Oni (near Rong)

Monday, January 10, 2022

Skogsøy and Hjelme West 08-09 January 2022 - Back in the field again

Relatively calm and mild throughout.

A relatively late and lazy Saturday involved a walk at Skogsøy. An hour spent seawatching was rather quiet with just seven Gannet havsule heading south and singles of Razorbill alke and Kittiwake krykkje passing. The walk back to the car park gave the best bird in the form of a Snow Bunting snøspurv flying over.

On Sunday morning I spent some time at Hjelme Vest in the morning where the best observation were three Great Northern Diver islom on the sea. A small flock of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt were the first I have seen this year. Otherwise just a couple of Black Guillemot teist, at least two Otters and small numbers of the usual duck.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Øygarden 04-07 January 2022 - Struggling

Struggling to get any birding in. Life and work combined to effectively curtail any meaningful time out and about between 04-06 January. Obviously still plenty of birds about though.

On 05 January the Pinkfoot kortnebbgås remained at Breivik where I also connected with the first Snipe enkeltbakkasin and House Sparrow gråspurv of the year.

2cy Pinkfoot kortnebbgås at Breivik

A Nuthtach spettmeis at Blomvåg on 06 January was another first for the year. On the same day a flock of 110 Eider ærfugl near Vik was the biggest flock I've seen in Øygarden since 2014! Gone are the days when over a thousand could be seen😟 Also of interest were a couple of flocks of Siskin grønnsisik totalling  around 70 heading north over Toft. A hard species to see last winter.

This Common Gull fiskemåke at Breivik got my attention due to a rather powerful looking bill. 

 A dead Cormorant storskarv floating in the harbour at Vik - likely drowned in fishing gear and discarded by fishermen

I managed to do my usual round at Herdlevær on 07 January. Generally rather quiet but a Black-headed Gull hettemåke put in a rare winter appearance and a Gannet havsule gave some cracking views.

Gannet havsule at Herdlevær.
January is not normally a good month for photographing this species in Øygarden as the small numbers seen are often distant.

Thrush numbers dropped dramatically after 05 January with just a few small flocks of Redwing rødvingetrost and small numbers of Fieldfare gråtrost being seen.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Øygarden 03 January 2022 - Better than the New Year's Bird Race?

I started the day late and lazy, although this was nothing to do with the wet and windy conditions during the first part of the morning. A fantastic selection of birds given the fact that it is early January.

At Hellesøy a nice Little Grebe dvergdykker fished in a sheltered area - a species I did not see in Øygarden last year but which at least used to be quite a regular winter visitor here.

Little Grebe dvergdykker at Hellesøy

Next up was Breivik where the Pinkfoot kortnebbgås and it's two accompanying Greylag grågås companions seemed to have recovered from their firework trauma. Nearby an unseasonal Woodpigeon ringdue flew over. A few Starling stær joined the 120 or so Fieldfare gråtrost feeding in the fields.

Pinkfoot kortnebbgås with two Greylags grågås

Hoping that something may have been blown into Solberg I popped in there. First bird I saw was a Knot polarsnipe - an extremely rare bird in the winter months, only the third January record for the county and the first away from Herdla. A Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke here was the first I have seen this year.

Knot polarsnipe - a very good January record and would have been greatly appreciated just yesterday:)

At Adnevika a Mistle Thrush duetrost joined Fieldfares gråtrost and Redwings rødvingetrost feeding in the fields.

Good numbers of thrushes and Bramblings bjørkefink pretty much everywhere.

Out in Øygarden there is little in the way of ringing so any colour ringed gulls often come from somewhere else - always interesting to see where they came from.

At least one colour ringed Herring Gull gråmåke was present at Dåvøy a couple of days ago. Today I entered the details and this 3cy bird was ringed in Møre og Romsdal some 180 km further north. This is the first sighting away from the area in which it was ringed:)

3cy Herring Gull gråmåke from Møre og Romsdal and now spending time in Øygarden

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Øygarden 31.12.21 - 02.01.22 - New Year Bird Race

The annual county New Year Bird Race was held 31.12 - 02.01 and I tried to do my bit as usual whenever I am around at this time of year.

Basically it was a case of trying to find species that would not be found elsewhere in the county rather than going for as many species as possible.

Predictably the first day was spent at Skogsøy to try and get some of the seabirds in - I sat for an hour and the sea was rather dead. However, Peregrine vandrefalk, Gannet havsule and Kittiwake krykkje were all seen - the latter being the only sighting. 

I also went for the Pinkfoot kortnebbgås correctly assuming that it and the Greylags grågås would be scared off by fireworks during the night. Sure enough these birds were not seen subsequently despite having been in the area for weeks beforehand.

A Snipe enkeltbekkasin on the way home was the only other sighting of note.

On 01 January I somewhat predictably kicked off the year at Hjelme Vest which produced most of the hoped for species and at least one bonus species in the form of a Merlin dvergfalk - actually chasing a Little Auk alkekonge at one point. Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker, Great Northern Diver islom, several Black Guillemot teist, a couple of Curlew storspove, 22 Long-tailed Duck havelle, a handful of Common Scoter svartand and several White-tailed Eagles havørn were among the species seen here.

After this I check Dåvøy again - this time connecting with the long-staying Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke. Solberg was relatively quiet but an Oystercatcher tjeld dropped in and was a welcome addition to the bird race.

Yellow-legged Gull gulbeinmåke at Dåvøy

A cursory look at Tjeldstø gave a couple of Goldfinch stillits as the best birds. Plenty about though with Fieldfare gråtrost, Redwings rødvingetrost and Brambling bjørkefink all present in good numbers.

For some reason Common Gulls fiskemåke are anything but common during the winter so this 2cy bird at Tjeldstø was a welcome sight.

The rest of the daylight was spent looking for and eventually finding a Woodcock rugde.

By 02 January the majority of the expected species were in the bag - but with one glaring omission I felt I could do something about - Slavonian Grebe horndykker. This was therefore the target for my first stop of the day and after a little waiting it flew right past and landed on the sea a long way off. Great Northern Diver islom showed well too at the same place.

The Fieldfare gråtrost flock at Breivik had increased to 180 and also held a Starling stær and  a couple of Redwings rødvingetrost.

The rest of the day was spent failing to see a few target species. This in no way meant there was not much to see. Tjeldstø produced a cracking Peregrne vandrefalk and a very unseasonal Meadow Pipit heipiplerke as well as Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and more.

Alvheim held both Oystercatcher tjeld and Curlew storspove.

Oystercatcher tjeld and Curlew storspove at Alvheim. Both species significantly less common than White-tailed Eagle havørn

Common Crossbill grankorsnebb are very obvious at the moment

In the course of these three days I had 56 species, several of which were (at least at the time of writing) the only ones recorded during the bird race. All in all not too shabby:)