Thursday, April 28, 2022

Herdla and Gullfjell 21 April 2022 - Off the reservation

Guiding sent me off the reservation today. Yet another calm, sunny and summery day.

Herdla was the first stop where we had in excess of 50 species. At a locality level the best bird was a Bar-tailed Godwit lappspove. However, 180 Golden Plover heilo and nice views of flocks of Long-tailed Duck havelle and Velvet Scoter sjøorre close to the shore were very nice indeed. Good numbers of Guillemot lomvi at long range on the sea where there were also loads of Porpoises.

Long-tailed Ducks havelle at Herdla

Next stop was Gullfjell where a White-tailed Eagle havørn was a good find for the locality and a Goshawk hønsehauk put in a short appearance. Smashing views of Dipper fossekall among the usual species here too. I was fooled into thinking I was hearing Black Grouse orrfugl by the sound of toads in a spawning frenzy. They were spawning in an area of vegetation that was covered by ice just a few days ago!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Hernar 20 April 2022 - More sun and more migrants

A nice couple of hours on Hernar in very summery and calm conditions.

The first Willow Warbler løvsanger of the fed with several Chiff-chaff gransanger and even sang briefly.

Chiff-chaff gransanger

Part of a flock of Curlews storspove heading south

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke

Snipe enkeltbekkasin sharing a songpost with a Starling stær

Twite bergirisk

The first Willow Warbler løvsanger of the year

A bunch of other migrants have also returned to the island so there was plenty to see.  A Peregrine vandrefalk was the best of the raptors. 

The boat ride out produced Great Northern Diver islom on the sea, typically diving and disappearing at very long range, some flocks of Long-tailed Ducks havelle, several Black Guillemots teist and the usual. 

Long-tailed Ducks havelle

Back home a Pied Wagtal svartryggerle gave nice views as I checked my postbox:) I am fairly sure this is the same bird I saw here a week or two ago but it seems to have become a little blacker. Maybe a 2cy male still moulting into summer plumage??

Pied Wagtail svartryggerle

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Kollsnes/Tjeldstø 19 April 2022 - Off comms / Out of Øygarden

 Had a lovely walk in Gullfjell with my youngest. Still a lot of snow but possible to get up to Redninghytten on foot:)

Not much in the way of birding there but a Ptarmigan fjellrype was new for the year and it was nice to see Dippers fossekall too. Otherwise some migrants had returned here too - mostly Dunnock jernspurv, Meadow Pipit heipiplerke and White wagtail linerle. No telephone coverage meant all kinds of grief for bird news and a family issue that came up.

Heavily cropped Ptarmigan fjellrype

On my way out of Øygarden (never safe to leave) I received a tip off regarding five Crane trane that had landed at Kollsnes. Magic. If memory serves correctly this is the biggest flock of Cranes ever in Øygarden:)

Crane trane at Kollsnes

Whilst in the mountains not only did I have no coverage but my phone died too. Bliss in some ways but I missed news of a Great Egret egretthegre that turned up at Tjeldstø. Luckily it was still present in the evening on my return. I only tool pictures of this notorious short-stayer at very long range as I knew others would be on their way.

Great Egret egretthegre at Tjeldstø

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Tjeldstø 18 April 2022 - Taking it easy again

 Spent an hour at Tjeldstø hoping for something to drop in - weather and time of year are good:)

A male Tufted Duck toppand on Husvatnet and the Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås again were the best signs. All the usual waders displaying, a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and the usual species were seen.

Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås

Curlew storspove

Tufted Duck toppand

Wheatear steinskvett

Elsewhere it seems at least one pair of Stonechat svartstrupe have settled down to breed.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Skogsøy 17 April 2022 - Another day, another seawatch (and a Black Redstart)

 Another day of sunshine and southerly winds.

The number of birds passing today was significantly lower than the last visits, but variety was reasonable and a number of species put in their first appearance at this locality for the year. A number of birds were even heading south for some reason.

In three hours I had the following:

Red throated Diver smålom N 2, S 1

Northern Gannet havsule N 8, S 30

Great Cormorant storskarv N 6

Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 10, S 2

Grey Heron gråhegre N 2

Whooper Swan sangsvane N 4

Wigeon brunnakke N 5

Teal krikkand S 2

Eider ærfugl N 8, S 1

Common Scoter svartand N 28, S 3

Goldeneye kvinand N 3, S 3

Merganser siland S 2

Oystercatcher tjeld N 98, S 2

Whimbrel småspove N 1

Eurasian Curlew storspove N 3

Common Gull fiskemåke N 51, S 8

Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke S 2

Common Guillemot lomvi N 10, S 1

Razorbill alke N 2

A Reed Bunting sivspurv also heading north and a Hooded Crow kråke came in off the sea from a few km out.

Eiders ærfugl

Wigeon brunnakke with Oystercatcher tjeld

On the way home at stop at Tjeldstø produced the first Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås of the year, a few Golden Plover heilo, some Wheatear steinskvett, Redshank rødstilk and the usual.

In the afternoon a Black Redstart svartrødstjert was reported from Sture so I quickly popped out to catch up with this.

Male Black Restart svarrødstjert

What could have been a decent picture had it not been taken through the tinted rear window of my car:)

Yesterday I did my usual round at Herdlevær but it was somewhat uneventful. On my way home I had a Merlin dvergfalk and a Kestrel tårnfalk having a disagreement at Breivik.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Skogsøy 15 APril 2022 - First Whimbrel

 Fresh SW wind

Rather less passing today during a 3.5 hour seawatch. Highlight was the first Whimbrel småspove of the year heading north. Later on it either came back or another one arrived and started feeding close to where I was sitting.

Other than that mostly the usual suspects plus a rather large (for these parts) flock of Wigeon brunnakke numbering around 45.

Red-throated Diver smålom N 3

Great Northern Diver islom N 1

Northern Gannet havsule N 17, S 15 

Great Cormorant storskarv N 23, S 1

Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 1, S 40

Wigeon brunnakke N 45

Long tailed duck havelle N 5, S 1

Common Scoter svartand N 31, S 3

Merganser siland N 3

Oystercatcher tjeld N 8, S 1

Whimbrel småspove N 1

Common Gull fiskemåke N 362

Great black backed Gull svartbak N 5

Common Guillemot lomvi N 5, S 2

Razorbill alke N 1

Great Northern Diver islom

Raven ravn

The first Whimbrel småspove of the year

Third year White-tailed Eagle havørn getting seen off by a Raven

A Goldfinch stillits flying over on the way back to the car was an unusual species for this locality.

Back home the rest of the day was spent at work but I did see a small flock of Twite bergirisk heading over the garden.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Hjelme Vest 14 April 2022 - A lovely morning

 Calm and sunny

Again due to other commitments I took things easy today and basically just did a trip to Hjelme Vest in the early morning. Superb to be out, fantastic to look out over the sea with a wood full of birdsong behind me. So very pleased I made this choice.

Nothing very remarkable really but sightings included three Great Northern Diver islom (scope views only!),  136 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt (two flocks and the biggest number recorded in the county this year), 38 Long-tailed Duck havelle (tragically also the largest number recorded in the county thus far far this year, in years gone by this would have been in the hundreds), several Red-throated Diver smålom, at least four Black Guillemot teist, a few White-tailed Eagle havørn and even a migrating Wheatear steinskvett heading north.

Two flocks of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt looked rather better in the scope:)

A couple of the several Red-throated Diver smålom present

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Øygarden 13 April 2022 - Taking things easy

 Another day of nice weather - the forecast rain didn't come until much later in the day and there wasn't much even then.

In order to try and get stuff done both at home and work I limited todays outing to a brief check of a few places. I heard my first singing Chiff-chaffs gransanger with at least three birds establishing territories at Alvheim.

Guillemot lomvi on the sea in front of my house

Lapwing vipe at Kollsnes

Oystercatcher tjeld at Tjeldstø

Woodpigeon ringdue at Harkestad

Tjeldstø was relatively quiet but the first Redshank rødstilk of the year for this locality turned up along with Wheatear steinskvett and White Wagtail linerle. A few Lapwing vipe were displaying and a Skylark sanglerke was in full song - there is always a chance this species could breed at Tjeldstø away from the main stronghold at Breivik.

From the house the best sightings were a Guillemot lomvi on the sea and a roding Woodcock rugde in the evening.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Herdlevær 12 April 2022 - Mass Common Gull death

Calm and mild, light cloud cover.

In attempt to save time I aimed for a quick walk at Herdlevær. This went according to plan without any sightings of great interest, a newly arrived Wheatear steinskvett, increased numbers of Meadow Pipit heiplerke, a feeding Red-throated Diver smålom and my first local Wigeon brunnakke of the year.

One of a few White-tailed Eagles havørn seen at Herdlevær

Red-throated Diver smålom

A couple of hundred metres after I set off for home to get on with things I caught sight of a White-tailed Eagle havørn actually diving down to catch something - a relatively rare sight in itself despite seeing many every day. I stopped to see what was going on - it had caught a Common Gull fiskemåke. It is not often I see the eagles do anything other that scavenge or rob other creatures of their food. It was then I noticed several dead Common Gulls floating in the sea and more being eaten by Hooded Crows kråke and Raven ravn on the shore.

Fearing that Easter vistiors had shot the birds I went down to investigate. There was one badly injured bird still alive, several that had been dragged onto the shore and were well on the way to being eaten up and more floated, seemingly intact, close to shore. I managed to wade out and secure one which I put in my freezer for later investigation.

The cable which I suspect the unfortunate gulls flew into can just be seen crossing the sound here

at least the local scavengers are not going hungry anytime soon....

The dead birds floating in the sea seemed relatively unscathed

Whereas this poor individual surely had not much longer to live

The bird that got my attention to the whole thing - a Whitr-tailed Eagle havørn flying off with one of the gulls

Here several dead birds can be seen both on the shore and in the sea

Although very puzzling the only theory that makes any kind of sense is that a flock of migrating Common Gulls were spooked by something, a raptor or the sudden flaring of the Kollsnes gas flare and panicked - colliding en masse with a cable that crossed the sound. I have never experienced so many birds dying in this manner - normally it is just one of a flock that hits a cable. Very strange indeed.

Later in the afternoon a couple of newspapers contacted me (though goodness knows how they knew I had been there) and bang went the afternoon sorting out pictures and answering calls and emails.

A pod of Porpoises nise showed up off my terrace in the evening and later on a very quick trip out to investigate the earliest ever Greylag grågås chicks I have ever seen or heard about also produced roding Woodcock rugde and the usual evening birdsong.