Friday, March 31, 2023

Nautnes 30 March 2023 - Home office not too shabby

 Not out today in any meaningful way.

This is probably the best time of year for White-tailed Eagles havørn, they are just everywhere and very visible as they set up territories.

Although they are a daily sight from my house it is still nice to see them and makes me like my house even more:)

A random coffee on the terrace showed three birds present:

A few White-tailed Eagles havørn loitering with intent, pictures taken from my terrace

A brief social visit to Hatten gave at least eight Common Crossbill grankorsnebb - several of which were singing - the first I have seen for several weeks:)

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Hernar 29 March 2023 - All day gamble

Today I took the day off work and visited Hernar for the first time this year. The weather forecast was good and there was wall to wall sunshine all day.

First arrival at Hernar 2023:)

With the conditions over the last few days I was in no way certain there would be much about but with no meetings or other commitments I took the chance to be out all day:)

The first round of the island was hectic with Goldfinch stillits, Pied Wagtail svartryggerle, a flock of 10 Snow Buntings snøspurv and a flock of Woodpigeon ringdue seen. Things slowed down after that but I ended up on about 36 species which is pretty much the Hernar average away from the autumn.

One of the Snipe enkeltbekkasin on the island

Snow Buntings snøspurv - a typical early spring migrant but always a joy to see.

One of only two White-tailed Eagles havørn seen on the island today

..and a couple of short videos:

Other migrants included a few Meadow Pipits heipiplerke, Snipe enkeltbekkasin and Woodcock rugde (though both these species may have been overwintering birds), lots of Blackbirds svarttrost, a couple of Goldcrest, the first Chiff-chaff gransanger of the spring, migrating Skylark sanglerke and more.

The sea was a bit on the quiet side with only small numbers of seaduck present. 

A number of the local breeders were holding territory - Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke, Oystercatcher tjeld, Greylags grågås, Starling stær and more. At least one pair of Greenfinch grønnfink were busy with nest building.

I misjudged two things - the state of my camera battery and the whereabouts of my spare battery. Shortly after taking pictures of the Snow Buntings my camera died. However, in true Hernar style help was on hand and I managed to recharge the battery:)

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Øygarden 28 March 2023 - How do they cope?

Snow most of the day, sludd/rain after work.

Spent the day trying to catch up with work stuff and just did a few very quick drive-bys after I logged off in the evening.

Despite the atrocious conditions there was something to see at each stop. A few Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Tjeldstø, a Pied Wagtail svartryggerle at Ådnevika and a Snow Bunting snøspurv at Kollsnes. I still got soaked even though I didn't even get out of the car.

Migrants that arrive early always run the risk of meeting adverse conditions. Today it was hard to watch.

Pied Wagtail svartryggerle

Three Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Snow Bunting snøspurv

Snipe enkelbekkasin

Snow Bunting snøspurv

Pied Wagtail svartryggerle


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Herdlevær 27 March 2023 - Rooks beat WBD

I did my usual round at Herdlevær before work in sunny but cold conditions. Overnight snow was melting fast but the fresh northerly breeze made it feel pretty cool.

Highlight was a flock of three Rooks kornkråke - a massive number for these parts:) - actually a better sighting round here than the White-billed Diver gulnebblom seen half an hour later. Other migrants on land were thin on the ground but included a Woodpigeon ringdue and an increase in the number of Blackbirds svarttrost.

Only shot with all three Rooks kornkråke in the same frame

Rooks kornkråke

Looked more like spring that it felt today...

A short look at the sea whilst I ate my sandwiches showed migration was continuing with a steady movement of Common Gull fskemåke, small numbers of auks (including Black Guillemot teist) and the usual suspects. Pretty much the first bird that flew past was a nice White-billed Diver gunebblom.

Common Gull fiskemåke
Although generally very happy with the point and pray I still need to figure out how to stop in overexposing and how to keep the shutter speed I want - I think that this and the following pictures would actually have been quite sharp had it not been for the slow shutter speeds...

2cy Cormorant storskarv

Massively cropped pictures of the White-billed Diver gulnebblom.
I think my trusty old DSLR would have managed slightly better but these are certainly fit for purpose:)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Skogsøy 26 March 2023 Snow stops play

Back at the coal face again for another seawatch.

A rather different day than yesterday. Common Gull fiskemåke passage hit three figures for the first time this year, best birds were the first Puffins lunde of the year and a Great Northern Diver islom that conveniently headed north together with a Red-throated Diver smålom.

The first couple of hours were quite pleasant, if a little chilly in the northerly winds. After that a series of snow showers reduced visibility and dropped the temperature considerably. 

Red throated Diver smålom N 7
Great Northern Diver islom N 1
Northern Gannet havsule N 11, S 1
Great Cormorant storskarv N 2, S 1
Eurasian Shag N 6, S 83
Eider  ærfugl S 2
Common Scoter svartand S 5
Merganser siland N 4
Oystercatcher tjeld N 5
Eurasian Curlew storspove N 3
Common Gull fiskemåke N 234, S 2
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke N 4
Herring Gull gråmåke N 6
Great black backed Gull svartbak N 5
Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje N 16
Common Guillemot lomvi N 5
Razorbill alke N 8
Black Guillemot teist N 1
Atlantic Puffin lunde N 8
Auk N 46, S 13

Migrating Common Gulls fiskemåke

Migrating Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

Common Gulls fiskemåke

On the way back to the car a Meadow Pipit heipiplerke flew up and I had another at Kollsnes on the way home. Eight Lapwing vipe and over 60 Starling stær fed just south of the car park at Skogsøy.

Seven of the eight Lapwing vipe are in here somewhere...

A Peregrine vandrefalk flew over at Breivik and I had another Lapwing vipe beside Husvatnet at Tjeldstø.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Øygarden 24-25 March 2023 - Back west again

A trip to the shops after arriving home in the afternoon produced the first Teal krikkand of the year on Husvatnet, Tjeldstø and a couple of Jackdaw kaie at Breivik where there was a flock of 85 Starling stær. At Kollsnes two White Wagtails linerle had joined the two Pied Wagtails svartryggerle that turned up just before I left.

Jackdaw kaie at Breivik

White Wagtail linerle, the other bird was noticably paler

On 25 March it was predictably back to seawatching at Skogsøy again. Another day of decent movement although passage did drop off as the northerly wind increased. Best sightings today were the first two Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke of the year heading north and the first Song Thrush måltrost of the year singing on the way out to the lookout point.

In four hours the following passed:

Red throated Diver smålom N 7, S 1

Northern Gannet havsule N 38, S 9

Great Cormorant storskarv N 2, S 6

Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 8, S 148

Shelduck gravand N 1

Eider ærfugl S 15

Common Scoter svartand N 2, S 2

Merganser siland N 2, S 20

Oystercatcher tjeld N 368

Eurasian Curlew storspove N 1

Common Gull fiskemåke N 71, S 7

Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke N 2

Herring Gull gråmåke N 9

Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje N 14

Common Guillemot lomvi N 3

Razorbill alke N 11

Auk N 5, S 1

At least three White-tailed Eagle havørn and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk were also present at Skogsøy.

A Rook kornkråke was present at Breivik on the way home. A Hawfinch kjernebiter turned up at feeder at Hatten and another Song Thrush måltrost fed at Nautnes. 

Rook kornkråke at Breivik

Song Thrush måltrost at Nautnes

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Oslo 21-24 March 2023 Finally out birding in the capital

 I have not managed to get out and about in the Oslo area for way too long so I made sure that I did what I used to call my usual trip around the islands and was not disappointed.

Tuesday 21 March saw me at the office all day but I did spend 15 minutes of my lunch break outside picking up my first Lesser Black-backed Gulls sildemåke of the year and generally enjoyed the many signs of spring even though there was still some ice on the sea and much of the ground was still covered in snow. Flocks of Greylag grågås and some Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås fed on the snow-free patches of grass. On the shore a few pairs of Oystercatcher tjeld and Black-headed Gulls hettemåke were setting up territory.

Goldeneye kvinand

Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke

Oystercatcher tjeld

On 22 March a flock of Pinkfeet kortnebbgås flew north over the flat during the morning and in the evening a nice adult female Goshawk hønsehauk posed nicely in the evening as the light was going.

Goshawk hønsehauk

I took the first boat out to Gressholmen on 23 March. Although still feeling a bit on the wintery side there was plenty to see including a Great-crested Grebe toppdykker on the sea, a couple of Stock Dove skogdue, two flocks of Pinkfeet kortnebbgås, four Whooper Swans sangsvane heading north, migrating Skylarks sanglerke and lots of local breeders back on the island including singing Chaffinches bokfink, displaying Shelduck gravand and Oystercatcher tjeld

A Green Woodpecker grønnspett was vocal and seen briefly from the boat on Bleikøya.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Øygarden 18-20 March 2023 - More new arrivals

On 18 March I spent almost four hours seawatching at Skogsøy under lovely calm and sunny conditions. It was another day of good passage with the first three Shelduck gravand of the year as the best birds. A couple of Red-throated Diver smålom, hunting Pergegrine vandrefalk and a decent movement of Oystercatcher tjeld were among the other sightings. Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke were singing for the first time this year too:)

Red throated Diver smålom N 2
Northern Gannet havsule N 15, S 8
Great Cormorant storskarv N 4, S 2
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 3, S 40
Shelduck gravand N 3
Eider ærfugl S 1
Long tailed duck havelle N 4, S 1
Merganser siland N 1, S 3
Oystercatcher tjeld N 960
Eurasian Curlew storspove N 4
Common Gull fiskemåke N 4
Herring Gull gråmåke N 7
Great black backed Gull svartbak N 13
Common Guillemot lomvi N 3
Razorbill alke N 43
Little Auk alkekonge N 1
Auk N 24, S 2

One of the many flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld heading north on 18 March

Oystercatcher tjeld

Peregrine vandrefalk and White-tailed Eagle havørn sharing the same lookout

The first Shelduck gravand of the year

Sparrowhawk spurvehauk flying over the road at Oen

White-tailed Eagle havørn from the terrace.

Although I am pretty happy with the new point and prey it is obviously not quite as good at distant birds in flight over the sea. I'll keep trying though:)

On Sunday I didn't do much in the field at all and on Monday all I managed was a very brief drive-by at Breivik / Ona on my way to a meeting in town. Here the best birds were two male Pied Wagtails svartryggerle and the first two Lapwing vipe of the year.

Lapwing vipe

Male Pied Wagtail svartryggerle

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Øygarden 13 -17 March 2023 - First real seawatch 2023

Typically not out much at all with the exception of Wednesday when I spent a few hours seawatching at Skogsøy-

On 13 March I spent 10 minutes at Solberg and a few drive-bys. With the cold and snowy conditions it was not surprising that both Woodcock rugde and Snipe enkeltbakkasin were obvious.

The following day I did a quick round at Herdlevær before work but without my usual short stop to look at the sea. At least five Woodcock rugde were present but little else of note.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin, 14 March
Automatic camera settings with too slow shutter speed - could have been a cracking shot but I did not want to risk disturbing the bird and moved on very quickly.

On 15 March I spent three hours seawatching in wonderful calm, sunny and warm conditions. A superb morning of migration with the highlight being a probable Franklin's Gull heading north - giving only distant views in the scope I won't be claiming this bird which had a black hood with a wing pattern that lacked the white wedge of Black-headed Gull hettemåke. For the first several seconds I went back and forth between Black-headed Gull and Kittiiwake before realising what I was seeing. Plenty of other distant ID challenges with a small pale wader heading north. Auks headed north but the vast majority were too far off for positive ID

However, I did manage to identify at least some of the stuff passing, including a beast of an adult Glaucous Gull polarmåke. Passage was steady and there was always something passing. Great to be out on so many levels:)

Snipe enkeltbekkasin seen on the way to Skogsøy

Otter tracks in the snow - this must have been a big male judging by the size of the tracks

Plenty of Oystercatcher tjeld streaming north today

Rather wintery conditions early on when I parked the car but pleasantly warm once the sun came up:)

One of two adult White-tailed Eagle havørn was one of the first birds to fly over during the seawatch

Numbers for the period 08:00-11:00:

Red throated Diver smålom N1
Northern Gannet havsule N 56, S 5
Great Cormorant storskarv N 2, S 1
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 7, S 17
Eider ærfugl N 1
Long tailed duck havelle N 5
Merganser siland N 3
Oystercatcher tjeld N 528, S 2
Eurasian Curlew storspove S 2
Common Gull fiskemåke N 3
Herring Gull gråmåke N 70
Glaucous Gull  polarmåke  N 1 adult
Great black backed Gull svartbak N 20
Razorbill alke N 6
Black Guillemot teist N 1
Auk N 87
On my return the White-tailed Eagles havørn put on a nice display as I carried the shopping from the car into the house:)

Adult White-tailed Eagle havørn over my garden. Just have to put the shopping down when this happens

Nine hungry Blackbirds svarttrost in the garden were joined by up to 11 Starling stær during the week. Neither species tend to spend time at the feeders under normal conditions.

On Thursday I checked Hjelme and Sæle briefly before work picking up a Goldfinch stillits at the latter site.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin

No birding to speak of on Friday either but a flock of 20 Woodpigeon ringdue headed north over Hatten where I also found the 2cy Grey Heron gråhegre seen the previous day had unsurprisingly succumbed to the cold. Herons normally cope with cold periods quite well - I presume that this bird was chased off the available feeding areas along the shore by adult birds and just did not find anywhere to feed.

Second year Grey Heron gråhegre 16 March, obviously struggling with the conditions. Not normally possible to get this close to a heron....

The thaw came too late, the following day this bird was dead....