Thursday, October 05, 2023

Herdlevær 05 October - BOOM! And then some:) 1st for Norway and 2nd for WP

I often think birding is a rather random thing, the choice of where one goes, when one goes and even the direction one looks in all play a part.

Although I do not twitch at all I have tried to remove one part of the randomness - I live in a place where rarities can and do turn up. Apart from that all bets are off.

Yesterday evening I looked at recent sightings and the weather forecast. As usual at this time of year "everyone else" was reporting an endless string of rarities and scarce migrants. Even a Red-eyed Vireo rødøyevireo not that far north of Øygarden. All I've managed this autumn is to catch up with a Woodchat Shrike røhodevarsler found at Herdlevær and a few of the expected Yellow-browed Warblers gulbrynsanger, also at Herdlevær.

Calm winds and clear skies implied that stuff could well clear out but the chances of some reasonable vis-mig were high.

When rarity hunting I normally opt for the island of Hernar, also close by and Thursdays are a good day to do this as there is a boat home at midday so it doesn't need to eat up a whole day. This would normally have been option one, however:

a) I had visited earlier in the week without any luck on the rarity front and nothing dramatic had happened with the weather. 

b) I also (correctly) assumed the island would be covered by others

So I went elsewhere. This was also partly due to the fact I had a plane to catch in the afternoon and needed to sort some stuff out before I left.

I opted for Herdlevær and did my usual round thinking it would only take a couple of hours and I'd be back home in plenty of time to pack and sort stuff out. Maybe even get some work in too. How wrong could I be!

The usual round turned out quite nicely picking up my first local Ring Ousel ringtrost and Yellowhammers gulspurv of the year and enjoying the influx of Goldcrests fuglekonge and other migrants that must have turned up overnight. The calls of Fieldfare gråtrost, Redwing rødvingetrost, Brambling bjørkefink and Twite bergirisk and other species were heard more or less constantly and a nice Red-throated Diver smålom fed close in so all in all a decent enough day. 

I had just picked up a Yellow-browed Warbler gulbrynsanger when I met Bert de Bruin, an Øygarden regular. We chatted for a bit, even mentioned the lucky streak some other birders seem to be on at the moment (EA, you know who you are). We also mentioned that this goes in cycles and it will be our turn again sometime, we just had no idea about how close our time would be:). I felt the first Gull-billed Tern sandterne for the county that I found back in late June counted for something and left it at that.

We headed back towards our cars birding as we went. On the second last garden before we were done I picked up a flycatcher low down in an oak, called it as a Spotted and then immediately said there was something off and the game was on. The bird kept disappearing but we knew we had to see more and hopefully obtain some photos. After many nerve-wracking minutes we re-found it, saw it quite well and I managed to take a few record shots.

This did not help much as it was nothing like anything on the conventional radar. We discussed the possibility of a recently fledged Spotted but Bert kept coming back to Dark-sided (or Siberian) Flycatcher. I was rapidly running out of time, felt I had good enough shots to sort things out later, and didn't want to set birding Norway in motion for something stupid. I said my goodbyes and left, thinking I would look at the images later and release if they looked good for something. Bert, however, had one last look at his images before driving home and put it out there.

Long story short after uploading some images and having a quick skim through some literature it turned out to be a Dark-sided Flycatcher gråflankefluesnapper.

As EA wrote - this is likely to be the rarest bird we will see in our lifetimes on our home turf:)

I'm not going to get into the ID nitty gritty now, but all the features (undertail coverts, extent of yellow on the underside of the bill, eyering, wing length etc) fit and it looks like a good record. Various sources have assisted the ID too - big thanks for that!!

Dark-sided Flycatcher gråflankefluesnapper

The following pictures probably won't even be looked at but would have normally constituted enough for a normal posting:

"Peek a boo"

Goldcrests fuglekonge are very energetic and always on the move. So quite happy that I managed even these images with my point and pray. Shutter lag is a bitch if one is used to using a DSLR:)

First year Red-throated Diver smålom. Always a favourite with me:)

Also-rans today also included Grey Wagtail vinterle.

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