Saturday, November 18, 2023

Øygarden 11-17 November 2023 - Crossbills can be difficult

 The calm weather with light easterlies continues.

On 11 October I spent the entire day outside, only the morning birding, the rest of the day was spent changing to winter tyres, doing stuff in the garden and fishing:)

Breivik and Herdlevær produced the usual suspects with highlight being a flock of 11 Jackdaw kaie which dropped in briefly, an uncommon migrant here November is one of the best months to see this species. Several Snipe enkeltbekkasin, lots of Crossbills korsnebb, small flocks of Redwings rødvingetrost and the usual stuff. Obviously some movement over the sea too with Common Scoter svartand and Red-throated Divers smålom on the move.

Some years I have thought that I can separate Parrot furukorsnebb and Common Crossbills grankorsnebb on call. This might have been true at times but this year it seems impossible. Most flocks I have been able to identify this autumn have been single species flocks but a group of Crossbills at Breivik seemed to be a mixture.

Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

Common Crossbill grankorsnebb

Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb

Fishing gave me a new fish species in the form of a couple of Hake lysing!

The next day was also spent outside:) Skogsøy in the morning, fishing in the afternoon:)

A couple of hours spent seawatching showed that there seemed to be less passing than yesterday but a couple of Great Northern Diver islom, a few Little Auk alkekonge and "plenty" of Kittiwake krykkje meant it was quite worthwhile.

Great Northern Diver islom

Red-throated Diver smålom

A male Teal krikkand with Mallard stokkand at Husvatnet on the way home

On Monday 13 November it was back to work but I spent a couple of hours visiting various localities. A Willow Tit granmeis at Hatten was the first I've had in Øygarden this year:) Otherwise Jay nøtteskrike, Woodpigeon ringdue, small numbers of Waxwing sidensvans and a Slav Grebe horndykker were the highlights. Still flocks of up to 30 Redwing rødvingetrost around.

Jay nøtteskrike at Hjelme

Wren gjerdesmett at Sæle

The next day I was not out at all but clocked up a Hawfinch kjernebiter flying over my house and a Velvet Scoter sjøorre also flew over:)

Whoopers sangsvane at Kollsnes

The rest of the week was spent away from home and/or working but a female Blackcap munk turned up in the garden again for a couple of days.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Øygarden 06.11-10.11.2023 - Frustratingly good weather

For yet another week it was calm and sunny with light easterly winds. Very frustrating to not be out and about!

Half an hour at Breivik on 06 November was very pleasant but not much other than a few Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a few Bullfinch dompap and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk. The two Scaup bergand were on Rotevatnet along with a couple of Wigeon brunnakke, a Tufted Duck toppand and the usual Mallard stokkand and Goldeneye kvinand. Back in the garden a Crested Tit toppmeis actually came into the garden - a common enough species but not often they come so close to the house, a Carrion Crow svartkråke flew over and several Common Crossbill grankorsnebb paused nearby.

Snipe enkeltbekkasin hiding in plain view at Breivik

The next day was similar with a female Blackcap munk turning up in the garden. Rotevatnet was the same but a family group of Whooper Swans sangsvane were new in - two adults with three young:)

Two Scaup bergand and a Tufted Duck toppand (left hand bird)

On 08 Wednesday I was in a meeting in Bergen most of the day but picked up a Little Auk alkekonge swimming past my house before I left.

On Thursday I stopped for at least 30 seconds at Husvatnet where a late flock of four Teal krikkand were present. I saw some roadside Waxwings sidensvans near Nautnes but didn't have time to stop.

I took a couple of hours free on the 10 November - and there is obviously still plenty to see. First bird I saw from the garden was a Goshawk hønsehauk having a good go at a Herring Gull gråmåke but it decided to call off the attack. Brambling bjørkefink and a Chiff-chaff gransanger that may have been tristis but did not call were also seen in the garden and a Snipe enkeltbekkasin posed nicely also at Nautnes.

I had a quick look at Hellesøy where migrants were a female Blackcap munk and a few Bullfinch dompap. Stopping briefly at Sæle I was rewarded with cracking views of five Waxwing sidensvans. Now all the rowan berries have gone they have moved onto other things. Introduced bushes are the only thing keeping them hanging around now:) The Scaup bergand / Tufty toppand combo remained at Tjeldstø where one young Whooper sangsvane was going it alone. Two Woodpigeon ringdue here too.

Potentially the bird of the day with a very tristis feel to it. Unfortunately no call so difficult to claim

Roadside Snipe enkeltbekkasin at Nautnes. For once a picture that isn't cropped at all:)

And now for a bunch of gratuitous Waxwing sidensvans shots:

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Øygarden 01.11 - 05.11.2023 - Home office birding and drive-bys

The superb weather just keeps going. Largely sunny with light easterlies throughout. So once again good migration conditions and not the kind of weather to drop stuff down.

On 01 November birding was limited to a few minutes of drive-bys. With local frost freezing some of the fresh water overnight open water was at a premium and thus it was no surprse to find a couple of Scaup bergand along with a Tufted Duck toppand at Alvheim. Also here a relatively large flock of Mallard stokkand with two Wigeon brunnakke in tow. From the terrace a late Woodpigeon ringdue flew over and a Razorbill alke fed on the sea.

Two Scaup bergand and a Tufted Duck toppand at Alvheim

Wigeon brunnakke at Alvheim

On 02 November I didn't even leave the house but three late Oystercatcher tjeld, the usual White-tailed Eages havørn and an Otter were noted.

Pretty much the same story the next day too but with a female Blackcap munk in the garden and a Peregrine vandrefalk flying over at Sture.

During the weekend I managed a couple of walks at Herdlevær. On 04 November this resulted in a few new species for the locality this year in the form of a Slavonian (Horned) Grebe horndykker, Whooper Swans sangsvane and Bullfinches dompap. Black Guillemot teist, Twite bergirisk and Snipe enkeltbekkasin were among the other species seen. Back home a flyover Waxwing sidensvans was the the best bird. Amazingly Red Admiral admiral and plenty of bees and other insects still around - perhaps the term "Indian Summer" is applicable at the moment.

One of several Bullfinch dompap at Herdlevær. These birds are without doubt migrants (and a sometimes a "carrier" for a rather more exciting species)

Mallard stokkand

Otters are still pretty much daily, not often I bother photographing them  - this one at Nautnes

Slavonian Grebe horndykker at Herdlevær

Whoopers sangsvane at Herdlevær

The next day was quieter but a couple of Black Guillemot teist, a late Oystercatcher tjeld, a couple of Curlew storspove (overwinterers now arrived?), a Peregrine vandrefalk, Skylark sanglerke and more meant it was a very pleasant walk. My terrace at Nautnes produced a hunting Merlin dvergfalk and some light vis mig (Siskin grønnsisik, Goldfinch stillits, Woodpigeon ringdue, Meadow Pipit heipiplerke etc).

Still lots of Crossbills korsnebb about, those positively identified have been a mix of Parrot fuukorsnebb and Common grankorsnebb.

The Northern Lights showed a few times, the most notable display was on 05 November where my Pavlovian response was to spend some time on the terrace. Point and pray camera delivered nicely with a minimum of effort:)

Things started quietly and to be honest the camera captured the scene better than the naked eye.

Later on things geared up a notch or two and it was a sight to behold:)

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Hernar 30 October 2023 - New species for the island!

Another calm and sunny day with light easterlies.

The weather is just too good to down any migrants. Generally fewer birds on the ground but more species than the previous visit. Good weather and good company meant this was a great day out.

Once again no rarities but two Whooper Swans sangsvane migrating south were the first seen from Hernar:) Bullfinches dompap with the "trumpet" call associated with eastern birds were seen, two migrating Jack Snipe kvartbekkasin and another flushed from a boggy area, Woodcock rugde, Blackcaps munk, Goldfinch stillits, a Goshawk hønsehauk, lots of White-tailed Eagle havørn, a flyover Black-throated Diver storlom, a late Kestrel tårnfalk and plenty more besides.

Male Blackcap munk

Grey Heron gråhegre

Twite bergirisk
Two birds still present behaved very differently and crept around in dense vegetation. Raised the pulse for a while:)

Two of about 10 White-tailed Eagles havørn seen today.

Two happy birders headed back to Hellesøy as the light went:)

Cormorant storskarv in the sunset. Picture taken from the boat back to the "mainland"

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Skogsøy 29 October 2023 - Calm weather seawatching

Yet another calm and sunny day, light easterly winds and some frost on the ground.

Probably the best bird of the day was seen on the walk out in the form of a Short-eared Owl jordugle, amazingly this seems to be the first for Øygarden this year.  A couple of Sparrowhawk spurvehauk chased a Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggpett and a lone Waxwing sidensvans flew over.

A couple of hours behind the scope showed there was a lot moving but most of it was very distant - mostly auks but some seaduck too.

Birds that I actually mananged to identify were:

Little Auk alkekonge 74 S, 5 N

Guillemot lomvi 1 N

Razorbill alke 1 S

Merganser siland 9 S

Common Scoter svartand 53 S

Eider ærfugl 11 N

Long-tailed Duck havelle 6 S

Red-throated Diver smålom 7 S

Great Northern Diver  islom 1 S

Cormorant storskarv 8 S

Gannet havsule 5 S

Common Gull fiskemåke 4 S

A couple of Kittiwake krykkje fed offshore as did a school of Tuna makrellstørje which hammered what I presume were mackerell on the surface.

Eiders ærfugl

Short-eared Owl jordugle

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Øygarden 25-28 October 2023 - Waxwings, Little Auk and other late autumn migrants

The weather throughout was calm and sunny with light easterly winds.

After a couple of long days at work it was back to the home office on 25th October. From the terrace Waxwings sidensvans flying over, Red-throated Diver smålom on the sea, migrating Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and a Tree Sparrow pilfink that seems to have moved into my "garden". 

Two Whoopers sangsvane were seen at Tjeldstø during a quick dash to the shops between meetings. First of the autumn and "bang on time".

On 26th October I again did not have time for what I like to do on a Thursday but did actually leave the house to go birding. Sæle was quiet with Blackcap munk, Bullfinch dompap and a selection of other late autumn migrants present. 

Breivik held a late Golden Plover heilo, Waxwings sidensvans, a couple of Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a few Meadow Pipit heipiplerke along with small flocks of the usual thrushes.

Late Golden Plover heilo at Breivik

Teal krikkand at Kollsnes

The terrace produced Goldfinch stillits, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk and the usual. 

A Firecrest rødtoppfuglekonge was reported from Hernar (where I would have normally gone) and the same birders picked up two Grey Phalarope polarsvømmesnipe at Sæle. This latter find prompted an afternoon boat trip but apart from all the usual Black Guillemot teist, Long-tailed Duck havelle, Common Scoter svartand, 30 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt etc the only bird of interest was a Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker.

GBBG svartbak with mackerel - LOADS of mackerel around at the moment

Lumpsucker rognkjeks in difficulty near Nautnes. A good size for this species this individual is likely to have been extracted from a net and tossed overboard, likely doomed.

Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt back on the offshore islands. These birds were part of a flock of around 30.

Red-necked Grebe gråstrupedykker

On Friday 27th October I opted for an all dayer on Hernar. Plenty of species and something going on most of the time without any real rarities. In a Hernar context the best bird was a Yellowhammer gulspurv - only the third for the island. Other stuff included a late Wheatear steinskvett, Water Rail vannrikse, several Blackcap munk, Little Auks alkekonge, a skulky Chiff-chaff gransanger feeding in the grass, eight Twite bergirisk and the usual thrushes, finches etc. Around 45 species all in.

Blackcaps munk

Blue Tits blåmeis were on the move as were small numbers of Coal tit svartmeis

Chiff-chaff gransanger

House Sparrow grapsurv - another rare bird on Hernar

Little Auks alkekonge

Lots of Robins rødstrupe moving through now

Waxwings sidensvans

Late Wheatear steinskvett

Yellowhammer gulspurv

The next day I did my usual round at Herdlevær, some good sized Fieldfare gråtrost flocks on the move and several large Crossbill korsnebb flocks flying over. A fair bit passing over the sea including several Little Auk alkekonge, a few Velvet Scoter sjøorre, two Great Northern Diver islom, a Peregrine vandrefalk and more. A typical late autumn morning in other words.

A small flock of Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb were seen at Hatten on the way home and an afternoon fishing trip near Sture produced more Little Auk alkekonge, a Goshawk hønsehauk, a flock of 20 Waxwing sidensvans flying over and a Woodcock rugde among other things.

Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb at Hatten

Some of the Little Auks alkekonge at Sture