Thursday, May 23, 2024

Øygarden 16.05-17.05.2024 - Icterine Warbler

No birding activity on 16 May though I did pick up my first Whinchat buskskvett of the year during a drive-by at Breivik.

Linnet tornirisk at Breivik

On Norway's national day I did my usual round at Herdlevær and saw a decent selection of migrants and newly arrived breeders. Best bird was a singing Icterine Warbler gulsanger. A couple of Shelduck gravand heading south, six White-tailed Eagles havørn, a Whimbrel småspove, singing Blackcap munk and Lesser Whitethroats møller, a Skylark sanglerke heading south and a couple of Twite bergirisk were among the sightings.

Icterine Warbler gulsanger at Herdlevær

Some of the White-tailed Eagles havørn present

A female Mallard stokkand at Kollsnes had 11 young.

Mallard stokkand with lots of young at Kollsnes



Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Skogsøy and Herdlevær 15 May 2024 - BOOM!

I spent the morning seawatching at Skogsøy in good company:) 

We stopped at Breivik on the way there and picked up a couple of singing Sedge Warblers sivsanger.

Skogsøy was relatively quiet with only small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom, a dark phase Arctic Skua tyvjo and a couple of Great Northern Divers islom of note. A Dunlin myrsnipe heading south was the first I've seen locally this year. Some flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld heading south too - autumn already?

Southbound Black-headed Gulls hettemåke

Shag toppskarv (right) and Cormorants storskarv

Adult Great Northern Diver islom
The bird was panting and had its beak open resulting in a "no beak" look. However, no doubt about ID - good views in the scope

2cy Great Northern Diver islom - although the bill looks pale we should have been almost blinded by the reflection from a bananabill

Shelduck gravand heading south

I left to make a meeting back home and on my way back to the car a message ticked in - Subalpine sp at Herdlevær.!! I picked up the pace somewhat and made brief contact with the bird before heading back for the meeting. Perusal of photographs showed it to be a female Eastern Subalpine Warbler rødsmekksanger - first county record! Big congrats to the finder Eirik Adolfsen - yet another star find.










Female Eastern Subalpine Warbler rødsmekksanger


Monday, May 20, 2024

Øygarden 13.05-14.05.2024 - Out of Øygarden guiding pays off

 No birding yet again on 13.05 but there were a few sightings of interest - two Black-tailed Godwits svarthalespove at Breivik, a Pied Wagtail svartryggerle in the garden where a flock of six Common Crossbill grankorsnebb flew over.






Black-tailed Godwits svarthalespove at Breivik

Meadow Pipit heipiplerke at Breivik

The next day 12 Collared Dove tyrkedue heading south over my terrace was an unusual observation and I picked up the Golden Eagle kongeørn rather further south in Øygarden.

A very successful guiding trip took me to Herdla in sunny conditions with fresh southerly winds. Plenty to see during the few hours we were there including two Temminck's Stints temminkssnipe (first for the county this year), a flyover Little Ringed Plover dverglo, four Black-tailed Godwits svarthelspove, a pair of Shoveler skjeand and a couple of Yellow Wagtail gulerle. Lapwings vipe had plenty of chicks on the go and other breeding waders were numerous. A few Dunin myrsnipe fed on the shore but there was little in the way of seaduck to be seen - most have now left this wintering locality.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Øygarden 06.05-12.05.2024 - A week almost without birding

On Monday 06 May I guided a British couple around Øygarden. Only three or four relatively distant White-tailed Eagles havørn showed - an unusually low number given the localities visited. Displaying Black Grouse orrfugl, Goshawk hønsehauk and the first Common Terns makrellterne were among the sightings.

Cuckoo gjøk was the bird of the day and were heard and/or seen at every locality visited. A close number two was Lesser Whitethroat møller which greatly outnumbered Common Whitethroat tornsanger. Merlin dvergfalk, Twite bergirisk a Velvet Scoter sjøorre, Black Guillemot teist and Otter were among the other sightings. A good number of species were seen though:)

On 07 May I was stuck inside all day so a Whimrel småspove that landed on the shore in front of my house was more than welcome.

It was the same story the following day with an all day meeting. Around 1500 I went out on the terrace and immediately had a flock of 300 Barnacle Geese hvittkingås flying north over the house. Huge numbers (>8500) were reported elsewhere in Øygarden during the day.

Part of a flock of Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås heading north over Nautnes

On 09 May the sea fog rolled in - not that it made much difference to me. A late walk at Hjelme / Sæle produced more Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås moving in the fog/low cloud.

A rather bedraggled male Wheatear steinskvett at Breivik

Friday 10 May was very frustrating and was a day when my house is both a blessing and a curse. In 15 minutes between 0715 and 0730 I had two White-billed Diver gulnebblom pass with a couple more during a couple of random and very short sweeps from the terrace. Not a day to be sat inside working in other words....

Male Siskin grønnsisik in my garden

No activity at all the following day but on the morning of 12.05 I had the first Arctic Terns rødnebbterne of the year from the terrace along with a migrating Greenshank gluttsnipe, singing Blackcap munk and more. Later in the day I had Merlin dvergfalk at both Hjelme Vest and Hellesøy.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Øygarden 05 May 2024 - A lazy start to a misty day

A foggy morning - the sea fret caused by a long period of warm weather finally rolled in. This meant no early start for seawatching and visits to localities less visited.

Once again the lone male Black Grouse orrfugl showed well along with more newly arrived Lesser Whitethroat møller and Common Whitethorat tornsanger.

Black Grouse orrfugl in the fog


At Hjelme a Grey-headed Woodpecker gråspett showed quite well and a couple of Jay nøtteskrike put in an appearance. 

Grey-headed Woodpecker in the fog
I should have strictly speaking waited for the bird to turn its head....



Common Sandpiper strandsnipe

Tjeldstø was relatively quiet but a male Sparrowhawk spurvehauk,a flock of eight Golden Plover heilo, some Common Scoter svartand heading down the fjord were among the species seen.

Back home birds seen included a displaying Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a migrating Whimbrel småspove

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Skogsøy 04.05.2024 - Not just divers....

On Saturday five hours of seawatching in flat calm and sunny conditions yet again failed to produce a big surge of migration. Just two White-billed Diver gulnebblom, a cracking adult Great Northern Diver islom and 50 Red-throated Diver smålom heading north and a dark phase Arctic Skua tyvjo heading south.

Red throated Diver smålom N 50

Great Northern Diver islom N 1

White Billed Diver gulnebblom N 2

Northern Gannet havsule N 13, S 1

Great Cormorant storskarv N 3, S 6

Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 30, S 80

Tufted Duck toppand N 2

Eider ærfugl N 2, S 2

Long tailed duck havelle N 8

Common Scoter  svartand N 9, S 9

Merganser siland N 14, S 1

Oystercatcher tjeld  N 4, S 1

Whimbrel småspove S 2

Arctic Skua tyvjo S 1

Common Gull fiskemåke N 54, S 2

Razorbill alke N 1

Black Guillemot teist S 2

However, at this time of year one can't really go wrong, the best sighting being a Short-eared Owl jordugle which came past just as I left. Kestrel tårnfalk and the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn too:)

Obscenely cropped Great Northern Diver islom

Mallard stokkand are not a species seen migrating in any numbers at Skogsøy, these birds were scared up by one of the local eagles


The first Short-eared Owl jordugle of the year

Shags toppskarv

White-billed Diver gulnebblom

White-tailed Eagle havørn

On the way home there were over 30 Golden Plover heilo feeding at Breivik. More Lesser Whitethroat møller have arrived as well.


Golden Plover heilo

Lapwing vipe




Sunday, May 05, 2024

Hernar 03 May 2024 - First fall of the spring

Having spent Thursday seawatching in order to meet the regulars I was "forced" to do Hernar on Friday instead. Others had been out on Thursday and nailed a bunch of new species for the island this year. However, even more was present during my visit with highlights being a singing Wryneck vendehals and a VERY early and silent Icterine Warbler gulsanger.

The supporting cast included a Pied Flycatcher svarthvit fluesnapper, several Blackcap munk, three Shelduck gravand flying over, Cuckoo gjøk, several each of Willow Warbler løvsanger and Chiff-chaff gransanger, a Lesser Whitethroat møller and a Common Whitethroat tornsanger.

Lesser Whitethoat møller


Wryneck vendehals

Other stuff off the island included a displaying Black Grouse orrfugl.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Skogsøy 01-02 May 2024 - No big days....

 On 01 May, traditionally a big day at Skogsøy, I sat on my own. The highlight was a Frenchman who made the walk out in the rain and asked if I was Julian Bell. Amazing to be known in other countries - this is far from the first time this has happened. Thankfully I managed to show him the only White-billed Diver gulnebblom that passed today.

Rain for the first couple of hours and light winds. Not the recipe for a big day but it has to be done:)

Numbers were as follows:

Red throated Diver smålom N 46
White Billed Diver gulnebblom N 1
Northern Gannet havsule N 4, S 32
Great Cormorant storskarv N 1, S 3
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 11, S 69
Shelduck gravand N 3
Eider ærfugl S 1
Long tailed duck havelle N 11, S 3
Common Scoter svartand N 51, S 42
Velvet Scoter sjøorre  N 7, S 3
Merganser siland N 35, S 8
Oystercatcher tjeld N 77, S 4
Whimbrel småspove N 7
Black headed Gull hettemåke S 2
Common Gull fiskemåke N 46
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke N 2
Razorbill alke N 1

Other migrants included a Greenshank gluttsnipe at Husvatnet and a Brambling bjørkefink in my garden at Nautnes.

The next day I was back at Skogsøy with a couple of long time stalwarts. It was VERY calm, very sunny and very very hot! A lot more passage but still not quite the day we were hoping for. Only nine White-billed Diver gulnebblom but a decent amount of variety and good company:)

Between 0600 and 1200:

Red throated Diver smålom N 21
Black throated Diver storlom N 1
White Billed Diver gulnebblom N 9
Northern Gannet havsule N 8, S 21
Great Cormorant storskarv N 26, S 8
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 23, S 285
Shelduck gravand N 2
Teal krikkand S 2
Tufted Duck toppand N 1
Eider ærfugl S 19
Long tailed duck havelle S 7
Common Scoter svartand N 7, S 21
Merganser siland N 18, S 6
Oystercatcher tjeld N 10, S 4
Whimbrel småspove N 1
Eurasian Curlew storspove N 1
Black headed Gull hettemåke N 1, S 1
Common Gull fiskemåke N 131
Black-legged Kittiwake krykkje N 1

Otherwise just a few Lesser Whitethroats møller singing and the usual White-tailed Eagle havørn etc

Cormorants storskarv heading north and obviously feeling the heat.
Most birds now are juveniles

Eiders ærfugl heading south

Gannet havsule

Shelduck gravand



Massively cropped White-billed Divers gulnebblom. The heat haze was an issue when it came to photography


Wheatears steinskvett