Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Skogsøy+ 30 April 2024 - More goodies

Skogsøy was quiet and on the verge of disappointing. SE winds are not normally good for migration in spring but can produce some surprises. So it was today with a pair of Gadwall snadderand passing first south before turning and heading north. Not a species I see every year in Øygarden. A Greenshank gluttsnipe and, more predictably two dark phase Arctic Skua tyvjo were among the other sightings, Virtually no divers and only small numbers of duck passing today. The dominant species today were Gannets havsule with over 90 heading south. Common Gull fiskemåke passage started to pick up shortly before I gave up and headed in.

Several White-tailed Eagles havørn seen including a young bird that had a very good go at grabbing a goslong at Husvatnet but the parents are adept and protecting their young and the attack was unsuccessful. A Greenshank gluttsnipe remained here and the first Lesser Whitethroat møller of the year sanger here but not much else of note.

Tufred Duck toppand fleeing from a White-tailed Eagle havørn - this species has also started passing over the sea.

Exhausted White-tailed Eagle havørn after an unsuccessful attempt at Greylag chicks.
An adult at Skogsøy headed out to sea to harass Gannets havsule.

On the way home I stopped at Hatten where a pair of Hawfinch kjernebiter performed nicely along with Brambling bjørkefink, Bullfinch dompap, Blackcap munk etc.

Male Brambling bjørkefink

Male Bullfinch dompap

The normal kind of Hawfinch kjernebiter view

Female Hawfinch kjernebiter

Male Hawfinch kjernebiter

Monday, April 29, 2024

Øygarden 29 April 2024 - Hirundine arrival

Today I checked a few localities on a day with strong southerly winds and some light rain.

Small numbers of Black-headed Gulls hettemåke fed in fields here and there. 

At Tjeldstø a Hawfinch kjernebiter turned up alongside a flock of Brambling bjørkefink.

Several Swallows låvesvale at Dåvøy were joined by the first House Martin taksvale of the year and a Sand Martin sandsvale showed at Solberg where five Purple Sandpipers fjæreplytt also put in an appearance. 

Raptor wise is was back to just White-tailed Eagles havørn with several seen.

A Common Sandpiper strandsnipe on the shore in front of my house was the first at Nautnes this year-

Herdlevær and Tjeldstø 28 April 2024 - Taking things easy pays off

After some weeks of little physical activity it was time to let my body recover a bit - 0430 starts and the hike out to Skogsøy with a heavy rucksack is a good way to stay more or less in shape but after only two days I could feel it. I also thought that it would be a quiet day over the sea with the third day in a row of identical weather conditions - and there are other places than need some coverage.

So I stayed in bed until 0700 and took a lazy walk at Herdlevær. Before I left the house I heard the first Cuckoo gjøk of  the year. Herdlevær turned out quite well with a cracking male Lapland Bunting lappspurv, a couple of Blackcap munk, a few Willow Warbler løvsanger and two Chiff-chaff gransanger among the sightings. A few Twite bergirisk, a noticeable increase in the numbers of Wheatear steinskvett and more meant this was a decent start to the morning.

Lapland Bunting lappspurv at Herdlevær

My plan was to have a look at the much neglected Tjeldstø on the way home, something that really paid off. An albifrons Whitefront tundragås had been found there earlier in the morning and was still present when I got there  - in the company of a couple of Greenshank gluttsnipe - both species are scarce in Øygarden during the spring. But my real reason to visit Tjeldstø was to have a look for some raptors. It didn't take long before a male Marsh Harrier sivhauk showed up. The Golden Eagle kongeørn put in an appearance and at least three White-tailed Eagle havørn showed up. A flock of 20 cracking summer plumaged Golden Plover heilo joined the usual selection of breeding waders in the reserve.

Some record shots of the Marsh Harrier sivhauk

albifrons Whitefront tundragås

Whitefront on the right and two Greenshank gluttsnipe just visible on the left

Marsh Harrier sivhauk is not even annual in Øygarden but has a definite peak in late April/early May. It is likely to be under recorded as most birders including myself tend to concentrate on seabird migration at this time

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Skogsøy 26-27.04.2024 - Loonatic Season is upon us

I have now started a week off work:)

Both 26.04 and 27.04 were spent at Skogsøy, getting up ridiculously early to spend several hours staring out to sea. Not for everyone:)

Glorious weather both days, though lack of wind may have impacted the results a bit. Calm conditions and full on sunshine meant conditions were good for the birds at least. Well over 1000 birds passing on both days with plenty of interest although the number of "bananabills" remained low.

On Friday I forgot my sandwiches so had to sit there hungry for a number of hours. Rookie mistake. I did, however, have my coffee and other essentials.

Two Great Northern Diver islom on the sea were starting to moult and looked pretty good. Best birds were a male Goosander laksand - a rare species to see on migration in Øygarden and the first Great Skua storjo of the year - amazingly although all the big gulls fled a lone Common Gull fiskemåke had a go at it!

The first Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås of the year also put in an appearance. Generally speaking both the number and variety of species increased as is usual at this time of year.

Red throated Diver smålom N 433
Great Northern Diver islom N 1 2K
White Billed Diver gulnebblom N 2 adult
Northern Gannet havsule N 29, S 8
Great Cormorant storskarv N 31, S 10
Eurasian Shag toppskarv N 71. S 60
Greylag Goose grågås N 3, S 1
Barnacle Goose hvitkinngås N 38
Shelduck gravand N 1
Wigeon brunnakke N 4
Eider ærfugl N 4
Common Scoter svartand N 127, S 11
Velvet Scoter sjøorre N 9
Merganser siland N 33, S 4
Goosander laksand 1
Oystercatcher tjeld N 92
Eurasian Curlew storspove N 1
Great Skua storjo N 1
Black headed Gull hettemåke N 1
Common Gull fiskemåke N 130
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke N 1
Common Guillemot lomvi N 3
Razorbill alke N 6
Atlantic Puffin lunde N 1
Auk N 23, S 2

The first Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås of the spring on their way north

Cormoran storskarv and Shag toppskarv comparison

The first Great Skua storjo of the year at Skogsøy. Amazingly after all the big gulls had left a Common Gull fiskemåke had a go at the bully

A few Greylags grågås still on the move, either non breeders o bird heading much further north. Some of the locals have chicks already

Still Oystercatchers tjeld heading north, well past the peak passage period

Shags toppskarv

A late Shelduck gravand heading north

Velvet Scoter sjøorre are staring to move now

The following morning I did exactly the same thing except that this time I remembered to take my sandwiches out of the fridge:). Rather fewer Red-throated Diver smålom but more of other stuff.  A couple of male Shoveler skjeand were the best sightings, one on its own early on then another with Mergansers siland later on. A couple of Whimbrel småspove, several Tufted Duck toppand  and two nice adult White-billed Divers gulnebblom were among the other highlights.

Teal krikkand N 2 ( a few more flying around)
Northern Shoveler skjeand N 2
Tufted Duck toppand N 10
Eider ærfugl N 8, S 2
Long tailed duck havelle N 8
Common Scoter svartand N 52, S 30
Velvet Scoter sjøorre N 1, S 2
Goldeneye kvinand N 2
Merganser siland N 34, S 4
Oystercatcher tjeld N 354
Whimbrel småspove N 2
Black headed Gull hettemåke N 1
Common Gull fiskemåke N 210
Lesser black backed Gull sildemåke N 2, S 2
Herring Gull gråmåke N 10
Common Guillemot lomvi N 1, S 1
Razorbill alke N 2
Black Guillemot teist N 1
Auk N 4

Common Sandpiper strandsnipe was another first for the year on the way home and a Goshawk hønsehauk put in an appearance too:)

Common Scoter svartand

Now into the overlap zone when both Curlew storspove and Whimbrel småspove are on the move. These two are Curlew stospove

Some of the Gannets havsule passed by close in as usual

2cy Great Northern Diver islom. Almost the easiest ID feature is the way it holds its head / bill

Guillemot lomvi

Good numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld on the move for this late in the season, although the local birds arrived ages ago Norway has a long coastline and it is still wintery further north.

Cormorant storskarv / Shag toppskarv comparison

White-billed Diver gulnebblom. This is what late April / early May is all about!

Goshawk hønsehauk on the way home

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Øygarden 22-25.04.2024 - Frustration builds...

Back to the grindstone on Monday.  Didn't get out birding in any meaningful way but did find a new Stonechat svartstrupe locality for the year. This one won't be reported as the photo brigade have been pushing the known pair too far. Thankfully other stuff has turned up which should distract their attention.

Also saw the first Greylag grågås chicks of the year on 22.04, quite an early date, with others turning up over the next few days. I strongly suspect Greylags do well because they get going before the vast majority of people bother spending time outside and thus avoid all the disturbance.

Lapwing vipe at Husvatnet, Tjeldstø

Willow Warblers løvsanger and Chiff-chaff gransanger continue to arrive and are being heard in new places on a daily basis:)

Goldfinch stillits are also becoming more visible with some in the garden and more turning up "everywhere". Looks like the colonisation of Øygarden is picking up pace - when I moved here they were rarely seen in the breeding season:)

Goldinch stillits at my feeder on 23.04

UK9 is back:)
I saw this bird in the same place last year. It was ringed in 2019 and observed in Denmark in September of 2020 and 2021, in Roglaland, Norway in July 2022. Since then only two observations - both mine from Skold in May 2023 and now April 2024.

Tuesday and Wednesday were more of the same, again not really out with work commitments preventing much activity. 

On Thursday 25.04 I did a half day on Hernar without much to show for it. A Greenshank gluttsnipe called several times and Lesser Redpolls brunsisik had arrived on the island. Fewer Wheatear steinskvett this time around and generally fewer birds than the previous visit. Visiting after two days of brisk northerly winds this was perhaps to be expected:)

A very smart male Wheatear steinskvett

After this it was back to work but in the evening I logged off and took a trip to the shops, with Black-tailed Godwit svarthalespove on my mind. Sure enough I quickly found two birds but they were quite flighty. The reason was quicky apparent - the Golden Eagle kongeørn that has been in the area for the last couple of weeks was a bit close for comfort. Ravens ravn were giving it a hard time but it had a go at the geese anyway - scattering everything. Not often Golden Eagle kongeørn shows this well in Øygarden. Should perhaps have had something better than my point and pray:)

The local Raven ravn gave the Golden Eagle kongeørn a hard time

It gave fantastic views after it had enough of the Ravens and decided to move / scare up some wildfowl
I think this is a 3K bird but not certain about this