Friday, May 31, 2024

Skogsøy and Herdlevær 25-26 May 2024 - Orca and second wave of Barnacles

On the morning of 25 May I did some seawatching at Skogsøy.

On the way there I sighted the neck ringed Greylag grågås UK09 again, seemingly with a flock of non-breeding birds.

Skogsøy was rather quiet in the very light northerly winds. Highlights were a lone male Orca spekkhogger heading south - an absolutely massive beast with a huge dorsal fin. I sat from 0630 to 1030 but gave up to press on with house stuff.

Small numbers of Red-throated Diver smålom and most  of the usual stuff passed. Highlight was a flock of 53 Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås and a 2cy Great Northern Diver islom heading north (only picked up on the sound of its wingbeats as it passed overhead!). On my way back to the car another good flock of Barnacles heading north over land.

The second wave of Barnacle geese hvitkonngås heading north

Common Scoter svartand - never can figure out what these are doing migration-wise

Third year White-tailed Eagle havørn at Tjeldstø

A brief stop at Tjeldstø on the way home produced the usual selection of breeding waders and nice views of another White-tailed Eagle havørn.

The next day I did my usual round at Herdlevær where a 2cy Great Northern Diver islom on the sea was probably the best bird. A few Lapwing vipe mobbed a White-tailed Eagle havørn on the island to the north - it has been some years since Lapwing bred at Herdlevær but just maybe they are not too far away. Once again I had to cut the birding short in order to work on the house & garden.

Recently fledged Fieldfare gråtrost - it made enough noise to attract attention but knew enough to sit perfectly still as I tried to locate what was making the noise.

2cy Great Northern Diver islom

My plans to spend some time with my scope at Tjeldstø on the way home were cut short by a pair of agitated Redshank rødstilk - obviously with a nest or young so I quickly retreated. Unfortunately this location is used for fishing and swimming so I just hope these birds get a move on with their young....

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hernar 23 May 2024 - Singing Common Rosefinch

Yet another calm, sunny and very hot day.

I spent the morning on Hernar which was full of activity - unfortunately many small birds remained unidentified as they disappeared into bushes or simply flew off and there was little in the way of overhead migration.

Pretty much the first thing I heard on arrival was the song of Common Rosefinch rosenfink - "pleased to meet you" was a nice welcome to the island. The bird was very mobile, singing a few times before moving on to another song post. After a few hours it finally showed well enough for some decent photos.

Singing Rosefinch rosenfink 

Other sightings included my first Swift tårnseiler of the year and a number of new species for the island for 2024. Sedge Warbler sivsanger, Lesser Whitethroat møller and all the usual suspects put in an appeance

Heavily cropped and distant record shot of the Rosefinch

2cy Rosefinch rosenfink

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Øygarden 21.May 2024

 Once again struggling to get out and once again hot and sunny.

Today's trip out was to get hold of timber and other stuff for ongoing projects on the house. Wooden houses may have some advantages but are not good for a birder in spring:)

I did some drive-bys on the way.

The most interesting sighting was a colour ringed Great Black-backed Gull svartbak at Kollsnes. Ringed in Norway it was seen in the Netherlands during the winters until 2016 and has not been seen since! This site has turned up other interesting colour ringed gulls such as the Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke that had last been seen in Portugal.


A Garden Warbler hagesanger singing at Sture was the only new for the year.

The tern colony at Dåvøy now filling up nicely with an estimated 9 pairs of Common Tern makrellterne and six pairs of Arctic Tern rødnebbterne.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Skogsøy 19 May 2024 - Brents

FINALLY some northerly wind!

The very first birds to pass just as I arrived at 06:00 were a flock of 75 pale-bellied Brent Geese ringgås heading north. Things became very quiet after that but 40 Red-throated Diver smålom, 15 Barnacle Geese hvitkinngås and small numbers of Long-tailed Duck havelle also passed.

Migrating Arctic Terns rødnebbterne

Pale-bellied Brent Geese ringgås

Long-tailed Ducks havelle

Raven ravn

White-tailed Eagle havørn

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.