Wet and windy. Not as bad as the weather forecast or media would have it but still not too pleasant.
Did a few short visits to various places. My three targets today were:
1) Find some gulls (failed almost totally)
2) See the Rook kornkråke that has been seen the last couple of days (only took a few minutes)
3) Find a Snipe enkeltbekkasin (success at the first attempt)
Apart from these just a small flock of Starling stær at Tjeldstø, a Long-tailed Duck havelle at Oen and just small numbers of the usual suspects elsewhere including White-tailed Eagles havørn at Alvheim and from my terrace.
This house has been painted since I was last down at Alvheim - this picture really doesn't do it justce - these monster sized hoodies seemed to be in 3D and popped out of the wall.
Not many people decorate their house with Hooded Crow!
I headed out to Skogsøy and spent an hour sewatching - unsurprisingly rather quiet but a Razorbill alke heading south was new for the year as were a few Kittiwake krykkje. A single Gannet havsule headed south. The only noticeable migration were several pairs of GBBG svartbak heading north.
A walk at Breivik was also rather quiet but eight Tree Sparrow pilfink were the first I've seen in Øygarden this year and a flock of six Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb were busy with pine cones. A flock of four Curlew storspove fed in the fields here too.
One of the better birds seen today was a Woodcock rugde at Nautnes as I set off for the morning. Good to see so many have survived the two cold spells we have had thus far this winter. Fingers crossed for a continued period of mild weather:)
Using automatic settings on the new point and pray
Underexposing in an attempt to increase the shutter speed gave a more realistic feel with regards to lighting and the experience
After lunch on 26 January I managed to get out for my usual round at Herdlevær where there was not that much to be seen - although there was obviously some movement over the sea in the fresh northerly winds. Small numbers of auks headed south and a diver went north.
Following this I popped in at a few places on the way home picking up several new for the year - three of which were waders. A Curlew storspove fed in the fields at Breivik together with a few Greylags grågås - unusual winter behaviour for this species which tend to keep to the shore during the winter months.
Curlew storspove at Breivik
A flock of 12 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt rested on rocks at Tjeldstø where a Starling stær had joined a few Fieldfare gråtrost in the fields.
Other stops produced the first Woodcock rugde I've actually seen this year and I finally actually managed to identify some Common Crossbills grankorsnebb.
On 27 January I left the house pretty much as soon as the light was good enough and headed for Hjelme Vest. Here the sea was once again fairly quiet with tragically small numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle and Common Scoter svartand. However patience paid off with just one each of Black Guillemot teist and Little Auk alkekonge, singles of Red-throated Diver smålom and Great Northern Diver islom, a couple of flocks of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt and at least two Curlew storspove.
Bascally just a few short drive-bys whilst preparing to leave for work.
The garden produced a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, several Mallard stokkand and the first Greenfinch grønnfink of the year.
An increase in the number of Whoopers sangsvane at Tjeldstø was nice to see - especially with the addition of three second year birds - the first juveniles of the winter here:) A female Tufted Duck toppand was also present on Rotevatnet.
The first juvenile Whoopers sangsvane of the winter
Also picked up a Guillemot lomvi heading south over the fjord where at least one White-tailed Eagle havørn kept an eye on things. The first Collared Dove tyrkedue of the year also put in an appearance.
The Greylags grågås at Breivik were still around too.
Basically strong southerly winds, overcast with showers at times throughout.
My first hour out in Øygarden this year on 06 Januarygot things off to a reasonably good start. Although generally quiet (it was, after all, almost dark by the time I got out).
From the house just a few of the usual garden species including White-tailed Eagle havørn and Raven ravn. Popped in at Husvatnet and Solberg but very little happening there either. At Dåvøy, however, a nice first winter Glaucous Gull polarmåke rested with over 30 Herring Gulls gråmåke. In years gone by this would have been considered normal but given how few I've seen locally recently this was a nice bird to see.
First winter Glaucous Gull polarmåke with Herring Gulls gråmåke at Dåvøy
On Saturday 07 January I did my usual round at Herdlevær. A couple of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and a few White-tailed Eagles havørn were the best that were on offer here. However, being my first walk of the year almost everything was new for the year - Goldcrest fuglekonge, Common Scoter svartand, Fieldfare gråtrost, Redwing rødvingetrost, the lot. Three Greylag grågås at Breivik were the first I've seen locally for quite some time.
Sunday 08 January saw me head out to Skogsøy under some fairly wild conditions. Very little passing and almost no birds at all on the way out. However, things picked up on the way home with a Great Northern Diver islom feeding in relatively sheltered waters, a Gannet havsule heading north and a White-tailed Eagle havørn. A flock of eight Starling stær at Breivik were the first of the year, just one Greylag grågås there today.
Back home at Nautnes I was picking parsley, kale and other things for dinner when I noticed a second year Great Northern Diver islom on the sea in front of the house. Good Dad karma is what I call this kind of thing:) Despite the failing light and with my proper camera still out of action I managed a few reasonable shots.
2cy Great Northern Diver islom - not often they turn up this close from my terrace (or anywhere else for that matter!)
On 09 January I took a break from work and headed to Hjelme Vest. It was rather quiet and verging on disappointing as many of the expected regulars failed to show. Just one Great Northern Diver islom, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn, just three Long-tailed Duck havelle and two Common Scoter svartand. However, a couple of Turnstone steinvender showed briefly, a Peregrine vandrefalk hunted in the area, the first Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke of the year turned up and even the woods turned up some year ticks in the form of Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and Crested Tit toppmeis.
After this I checked Dåvøy again where daily visits had thus far failed to produce any sightings of interest - and there was the Glaucous Gull polarmåke again:)
The Great Northern Diver islom showed well from the terrace again, but as per yesterday it did not hang around long. Two Chaffinch bokfink in the garden were the first of the year.
All pictures today taken with my new point and pray:)
Glaucous Gull polarmåke with strangely dark gull to the left, probably just an odd Herring Gull?
Great Northern Diver islom from the terrace again
Colour ringed 3cy Herring Gull gråmåke, I've seen this bird from Møre og Romsdal a number of times before
Great to be back on the home turf for a week or so. As usual mostly family stuff but managed an hour out and about most days. I didn't bother taking my "real" camera but my latest "point and pray" superzoom proved useful in the field again as well as for the standard holiday snaps:)
A visit to Low Hedgley near Wooler to get my Dad out for a breath of fresh air gave a bunch of Northumberland regulars - many of which would have caused some excitement back home - good numbers of Gadwall snadderand and Little Grebe dvergdykker to name a couple.
Gadwall snadderand with Coot sothøne
Little Grebe dvergdykker with big Perch abbor
Little Grebe dvergdykker with Mute Swan knoppsvane.
Any of the species in the above photographs would have made a days birding in Øygarden!
I managed wader counts over the same stretch of beach that I covered during my formative birding years. The number of people present at times defied belief - and on 01 January I don't think I have ever seen so many people on the beach even in summer. The poor waders have nowhere to go....
How the beach should be (and was) on 28 December
A truly terrific stretch of coast which is in essence the very cause of its own demise.
Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and Sanderling sandløper taking a nap at high tide
Where I grew up....
Pied Wagtail svartryggerle feeding on the shore - a common sight even in winter
Plenty of Stonechat svartstrupe along the shore and in the dunes
Numbers of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt were just under 100 birds - quite normal for the numbers of this species to vary a lot year on year at Stag Rocks. Oystercatcher tjeld, Redshank rødstilk and Turnstone steinvender numbers were, however, all rather low compared to previous levels.
Nice to see several hundred Common Scoter svartand offshore.
A few thousand Pinkfeet kortnebbgås, a small flock of Brent Geese ringgås, 60+ Shoveler skjeand and hundreds of other wildfowl and waders were seen during a short stop at Budle Bay. To think there was a point in my life when I thought there wasn't much going on in the area.