Sunday, January 28, 2024

Oslo 27-28 January - Gressholm delivers

Rather wintery compared to the west of Norway with ice on the sea and a thick layer of ice and snow pretty much everywhere.

I had expectations at a pretty low level as I set off for Gressholmen but was very pleasantly surprised as the island delivered big time for late January:) Two male Goosander laksand and four Great-crested Grebes toppdykker on the sea would normally have been enough to make the trip worthwhile in itself but things picked up from there with a male Smew lappfiskand flying in and landing for a while. Whilst looking at the Smew a Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt turned up.

The woods were very quiet indeed but the sea produced most of the expected species with a small flock of Velvet Scoter sjøorre and decent numbers of Razorbill alke and Guillemot lomvi around. Other stuff included a Buzzard musvåk and a Greylag grågås.

Two of the Great-crested Grebes toppdykker - this would have been an excellent sighting back in Øygarden

Goosander laksand

Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt are a bit harder to find in Oslo than Øygarden and this was the first time I have seen this species on Gressholmen despite it probably being the site I visit most in the Oslo area

Male Smew lappfiskand - always a great bird regardless of where one is:)

The boat trip home gave an adult Goshawk hønsehauk on Lindøya. 

All in all a very nice morning out - three new species for me on Gressholmen on my first visit to the island this year can't be bad:)

The next day I didn't make it out anywhere really but spent an hour in the nearby Botanical Gardens - hunting Peregrine vandrefalk, nice views of a second year Goshawk hønsehauk, Treecreeper trekryper and large numbers of Blue Tit blåmeis and Great Tit kjøttmeis. For a locality in the middle of urban Oslo there were a fantastic number of birds about.

Second year Goshawk hønsehauk. The Botanical Gardens is a very good place to see this species

Nuthatch spettmeis

Treecreeper trekryper

To put things into perspective I see Treecreeper a LOT less often than White-tailed Eagle havørn and Great Northern Diver islom so for me this is quite a good bird to see.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Øygarden 22-23 January 2024 - Aftermath

It was full on South westerly gales and some showers on 22.01. Not the best weather to be out in - just as well as I spent most of the day working from home. A dead Puffin lunde drifted in past my terrace on the high tide attracting the attention of the local gulls which didn't manage to lift it out of the sea. I think they had better luck once it ended up on the shore.

Herring Gull gråmåke trying to pick up a dead Puffin lunde

An adult Peregrine vandrefalk at Breivik was the best bird of the day. As the light went sometime after 1600 a Razorbill alke drifted past the terrace.

Razorbill alke

Shag toppskarv

The next day was calm and clear and I managed a quick round at Herdlevær and a short stop at Tjeldstø. Herdlevær produced Peregrine vandrefalk, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, Great-spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and several Guillemot lomvi as well as the usual Curlew storspove, White-tailed Eagle havørn, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke etc.

Tjeldsø was quite good with more Guillemots lomvi, a small flock of Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt and a couple of Turnstone steinvender.

Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø

The superzoom point and pray did a decent job of picking up the Turnstones (below). They were on the rocks that are ringed with red above:)

Turnstones steinvender at Tjeldstø

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Øygarden 20-21 January 2024 - Otters

On Saturday I was out bright and early in very nice conditions - I opted for Hjelme Vest. 

Once again it felt rather quiet on the sea with just a Great Northern Diver islom, 30 Long-tailed Duck havelle, several Common Scoter svartand, a Black Guillemot teist and a Guillemot lomvi of any note. A couple of Oystercatcher tjeld fed on the rocks close by and a small flock of Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt put in an appearance. 

On my way out to where I scan the sea three female Velvet Scoter sjøorre fed close in - the first I have seen in Øygarden this year.

A flock of around 20 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb and a Woodcock rugde were the best sigthings in the woods. 

Crested Tits toppmeis, White-tailed Eagles havørn and the usual also seen.

As usual there was an Otter fishing just off the rocks, it came onshore and started rolling about in the snow, seemingly enjoying getting clean and having a scratch.

Otter enjoying the snow:)

Elsewhere a Snipe enkeltbekkasin fed in one of the few unfrozen areas available.

On Sunday the weather was less than optimal to start with - with heavy rain and strong winds. Can't complain though - almost all the snow disappeared during the night and the ground is thawing - great news for the Woodcock rugde and Snipe enkeltbekkasin that have quite literally gambled everything on a survivable winter:)

I started with some drive-bys. Herdlevær produced a couple of Otter and three Curlew storspove as the best sightings.

Otters at Herdlevær

The weather cleared up nicely after lunch and a walk along Langøysundet gave a flock of five Oystercatcher tjeld, a Red-throated Diver smålom, nine Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb and most of the usual suspects.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Nautnes 14-19 January 2024 - Winter / New species for Dåvøy

 Another week chained to a computer and another work trip, this time to Stavanger. Very wintery again with temperatures at or below freezing and full snow cover.

Once again most observations were from the house. Woodcocks rugde flew over on Monday and Friday this week.

On Tuesday a first winter Red-throated Diver smålom turned up on the sea in front of the terrace and a Curlew storspove fed on the rocks - surprisingly few and far between this winter - normally this is quite an easy species to see during the winter months.

Red-throated Diver smålom at Nautnes

I also did a drive-by at Dåvøy on the way home from the shop - resulting in another new for the year in Øygarden and in fact a new species for this locality in the form of a Tufted Duck toppand. Never very common out here in the winter this bird has no doubt been forced off some lake to the sea. Winter can produce some unusual wildfowl so it pays to keep an eye out:)

Tufted Duck toppand at Dåvøy

Some of the 41 Grey Herons gråhegre present at Dåvøy

Two Tree Sparrows pilfink returned to the garden on Wednesday and a Redwing rødvingetrost put in an appearance too. Now up to 13 Blackbirds svarttrost in the garden and the Greenfinch grønnfink flock is now over 30.

On Friday two Guillemots lomvi were on the sea outside the house, one of which was in almost full summer plumage. 

Herdlevær and Skogsøy 13-14 January 2024 - Weekend Birding

Fresh NW winds and showers.

I seem to have become something I never wanted to be: a weekend birder.

Very variable weather on Saturday 13.01. A late and lazy round at Herdlevær without a scope gave Woodcock rugde, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke and point blank views of at least two White-tailed Eagles havørn. A mink hunted along the shore there - the first I've seen for quite some time.

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at Herdlevær

A quick look at Tjeldstø was hampered by a shower that reduced visibility but several Starling stær were in one of the gardens and the Greylag grågås flock was still present.

Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø

At Breivik a mixed flock of Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost fed in the fields.

On Sunday in fresh northerly winds I gave Skogsøy a go. Very little passing other than a light movement of Herring Gulls gråmåke and Great Black-backed Gulls svartbak. A flock of four Razorbill alke and a couple of Kittiawake  krykkje were tragically the best sightings.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Tjeldstø and Nautnes 08-12 Janury 2023 - Away

Milder weather with a slow thaw going on.

On 08 January there were at least 10 Blackbirds svarttrost and 3 Robins rødstrupe in my garden - a sure sign that times are tough in the surrounding woods. An Oystercatcher tjeld fed on the shore and a female Bullfinch dompap turned up too.

A quick look at Tjeldstø produced a flock of six Greylags grågås and a Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke as new for the year. Woodcock rugde still hanging on there and a Collared Dove tyrkerdue even sang!

Greylags grågås at Tjeldstø

A Nuthatch spettmeis at Sæle was another new for the year.

I was away with work related stuff most of the week and the only other sighting of note were two male Bullfinch dompap in the garden on 12 Janauery.

Bullfinch dompap in the garden

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Skogsøy 06 January 2024 - Quiet

 Calm and cold again, easterly winds continue.

The weather was rather too nice to produce any kind of movement so things were rather quiet. Several unidentified auks headed north, a Curlew storspove put in a brief appearance and a couple of Black Guillemot teist fed on the sea. Small numbers of seaduck were present with a few each of Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Duck havelle and around 40 Eiders ærfugl

The woods produced little, just a couple of Common Crossbill grankorsnebb, a few each of Coal Tit svartmeis and Crested Tit toppmeis and a Wren gjerdesmett.

Several Collared Dove tyrkerdue were present at Oen on my way to Skogsøy. 

After this it was fishing for the afternoon, seven fish of four species, most of which went back in the sea and a few came home for dinner:)

Øygarden 03-05 January 2024 - Terrace keeps on producing

Freezing but calm conditions continue.

With the exception of a couple of hours on Thursday when I managed to do a quick check at Herdlevær there was no actual birding done.

On Tuesday I had to go and buy some more wood for my stove - normally self-sufficient this year's supply is for various reasons not as good as previous years and I'm making serious inroads into my woodpile. Anyway, I managed five minutes at Hellesøy where I picked up a distant White-billed Diver gulnebblom on the sea. 

Redpoll gråsisik and Redwing rødvingetrost still visiting the garden along with increasing numbers of Blackbirds svarttrost - a typical thing when temperatures are below zero for any length of time.

One of several Redwing rødvingetrost seen at Sæle

On Wednesday 04 January the terrace produced again with a Red-throated Diver smålom and a Sparrowhawk spurvehauk as new species for the year along with the usual White-tailed Eagles havørn etc

I spent a couple of hours at Herdlevær which resulted in Woodcock rugde, Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a Guillemot lomvi on the sea, small numbers of Eiders ærfugl and an Oystercatcher tjeld as the best birds. On the way home a roadside Snipe enkeltbekkasin gave good views.

Guillemot lomvi at Herdlevær

The view at Herdlevær - we are very lucky here as we are escaping the huge amounts of snow and ridiculously cold temperatures currently being experienced in other parts of Norway

Roadside Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Friday was spent in various meetings in Bergen so all I managed in Øygarden was a couple of minutes at Hatten which gave a flock of 17 Parrot Crossbills furukorsnebb, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flaggspett and a Bullfinch dompap.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Nautnes 02 January 2024 - The terrace strikes back....

A brisk easterly wind made it feel rather cold today.

Back to work again and no birding out of the house but this is not necessarily a bad thing - a random look out of the kitchen window revealed the first "good" bird of 2024 in the form of a Common Buzzard musvåk heading north. Unfortunately it was gone before I could get outside.

Other new birds for the year in the garden were Redwing rødvingetrost, a Mealy Redpoll gråsisik (where were these during the New Year Bird race), two Tree Sparrow pilfink (also not seen the last few days but this is more down to not visiting the right places) and a Chaffinch bokfink.

Mealy Redpoll gråsisik at my feeder

A trip to the shops produced Snipe enkeltbekkasin, Whooper Swans sangsvane, a few Common Crossbill grankorsnebb and a few White-tailed Eagles havørn. Five minutes out of the car on the way home resulted in a Woodcock rugde:)

Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Monday, January 01, 2024

Øygarden 30.12.2023-01.01.2024 - New Year Bird Race

 Calm and sunny on 30 December. I went for potentially hard to get species rather than number of species and chose Skogsøy for seabirds that are sometimes tricky at this time of year. Most stuff was rather distant but Gannet havsule, several Razorbills alke, 20+ unidentified auks, a couple of Kittiwake krykkje and a Great Northern Diver islom passed. 35 Common Scoter svartand fed on the sea, at least until a Peregrine vandrefalk turned up. The woods were typically quiet with just a few Wrens gjerdesemett, 12 Parrot Crossbill furukorsnebb and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flaggspett.

Two of the better sightings for the day were from my terrace at Nautnes - the long-staying female Velvet Scoter sjøorre and an unseasonal Oystercatcher tjeld.

Velevet Scoter sjøorre photographed from my terrace

The last day of 2023 was rather greyer with winds from the east. Again I had a couple of species on my target list but one of them was a no show:( However, Dåvøy produced Woodcock rugde and Snipe enkeltbekkasin and 37 Herons gråhegre. Solberg was next up and was generally quiet but a Great Northern Diver islom on the sea meant it was worth the effort.

After this I was joined by my daughter and we tried our luck at a few places - a male Teal krikkand with Mallards stokkand at Tjeldstø where there was also a big flock of gulls. One very white headed individual is probably worth some more investigation....A minimum of six White-tailed Eagles havørn also present here along with Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke, Fieldfare gråtrost and many of the usual suspects.

Lots of variety in the amount of head streaking....

Red-throated Diver smålom at Alvheim

Next up was Alvheim for yet more eagles and a Red-throated Diver smålom on the sea. We finished off with five Greylag grågås and a Redwing rødvingetrost at Harkestad.

A late start on 01 January saw me heading to Hjelme vest, quite hard going in a fresh easterly wind but picked up a Red-necked Grebe gråstruoedykker as the best bird. Many species that can normally be counted on here were missing but I had at least two Great Northern Diver islom, a Gannet havsule, a Peregrine vandrefalk and small numbers of Common Scoter svartand and Long-tailed Duck havelle.

I also popped in briefly at a few other localities without anything special.