Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tjeldstø 17 April 2018 - Lunchbreak

Light cloud with southerly winds.

I have been travelling a lot the last few days and today I had to work from home. A short lunch break at Tjeldtsø provided some interest with a neck-ringed Greylag grågås ringed near Karstø last summer. Rather early for a young bird from Tjeldstø to have moved south so early - but who knows when the first chicks hatch late April / early May and by late June Greylag numbers are dropping in Øygarden....

It is always cool to see colour ringed birds but yet again this project has yet to be registered on http://www.cr-birding.org/

After some detective work it seems that http://www.geese.org/ is the place to report such sightings.

Greylag grågås VJ3 feeding near Husvatnet, Tjeldstø

From the life history of this bird...

This Heron gråhegre caught several stikkleacks stingsild whilst I watched.
Evidence that fish-eating birds can actually benefit game fisheries (there are trout ørret in this lake).
Hunters and fishermen often want to get rid of birds like Herons and Cormorants but time and again it is proved that they eat species that prey either eat the eggs of more desirable species and / or are in competition for food with Trout etc. 

Newborn lambs - lots more than a few days ago and very obviously a lot more imminent - judging by the size of many of the sheep....

Other species included Redshank rødstilk, a few White-tailed Eagles havørn, Wheatears steinskvett and so on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tjeldstø 11 April 2018 - First Swallow and ton up in Øygarden

Calm and sunny in the morning, light northerly breeze later.

Cracking weather again and thus not much in the way of grounded migrants. However, plenty of new arrivals busy setting up territories.

The first new for the year came before I even left the house in the form of the first Swallow låvesvale of the year heading north - not a bad date for the first of the year but by no means a record either. In addition both Lesser Redpoll brunsisik and Siskin grønnsisik were seen from my terrace.

Chiff-chaff gransanger at Tjeldstø

A Greylag grågås enjoying the good conditions

Mr and Mrs Teal krikkand - a few pairs getting themselves sorted out now. The bubbles in the water are due to a rather splashy landing moments before the pictures were taken.

A walk at Tjeldstø produced my first Redshank rødstilk of the year - and meant that I went ton up in Øygarden. Wheatear steinskvett and Chiff-chaff gransanger were both singing and four species of wader were displaying.

A drive-by at Herdlevær produced a Mistle Thrush duetrost.

I spent most of the day doing housework, changing from winter to summer tyres on the car etc but took a precautionary spin with the car once the summer wheels were on. This short drive gave, among other things, a Carrion Crow svartkråke and another Chiff-chaff gransanger.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Skogsøy 10 April 2018 - Another switch has been thrown

Calm and sunny during the morning, northerly breeze later.

Given the weather forecast combined with the dull and wet conditions of the last couple of days I somewhat predictably spent the first few hours of the day seawatching. Things went almost exactly as expected - a very decent passage of Common Gulls fiskemåke, the first Red-throated Diver smålom of the year and some Cormorant storskarv and Shag toppskarv migration. Over 3000 birds logged.

Migrating Common Gulls fiskemåke

Some gull flocks passed overhead - here with a lone Black-headed Gull hettemåke amongst them

Cormorants storskarv have started migrating now

Great Northern Diver islom on it's way north

Two of the three Linnets tornirisk seen during a drive-by at Herdlevær after the seawatching

Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke at the lookout point - obviously part of a pair that has settled in for the season

One of many southbound Shag toppskarv flocks today

Shelduck gravand pair. The white specks above and below them are instantly recognisable as distant Common Gulls fiskemåke

The Common Gulls fiskemåke passed at height and generally at long range, although some flocks passed overhead.

Other birds of note were a single Great Northern Diver islom and a couple of Shelduck gravand heading north.

Passerines were thin on the ground, though a few Skylark sanglerke passed overhead.

Woodcock rugde roding over my house again in the evening.

The totals for a little over three hours seawatching (07:00-10:10) were as follows:

Red throated Diver N 1
Great Northern Diver N 1
Northern Gannet S 5
Great Cormorant N 82
Great Cormorant S 2
Eurasian Shag N 4
Eurasian Shag S 190
Greylag Goose S 2
Shelduck N 2
Eider S 4
Common Scoter S 18
Merganser N 2
Merganser S 2
Oystercatcher N 8
Eurasian Curlew N 2
Black headed Gull N 4
Common Gull N 2790
Common Guillemot N 2
Auk N 1

The Shag toppskarv count was rather high for the time of year (normally this species passes in this kind of number earlier in the year). The very small numbers of Oystercatcher tjeld is perhaps surprising but there has been a lot of good migration weather of late and the peak is probably past. 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Herdlevær 09 April 2018 - Dodgy gull and Hawfinch

Calm with low cloud and drizzle again.

Did a quick check at Herdlevær where I had my first Chiff-chaff gransanger and Dunnock jernspurv of the year. Other than that there were Meadow Pipits heipiplerke setting up territories, a Pied Wagtail svartryggerle, Wheatear steinskvett, displaying Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a lone Long-tailed Duck havelle.

The top right bird had bright yellow legs but is likely to be an omissus Herring Gull. No open wing shots....

A drive-by at Tjeldstø produced a dodgy looking gull which disappeared whilst I was parking the car in order to study the bird in  more detail, may well just be an omissus Herring Gull gråmåke as it seemed quite dainty compared to a normal Herring Gull.

Occurrence of Hawfinch in Øygarden (from artsobs)

A short trip out in the evening gave brief views of a Hawfinch kjernebiter, Brambling bjørkefink and the usual. The Hawfinch was very shy and although seen well with binoculars it flew as soon as I even tried to touch my camera. This is quite a rare species in Øygarden although it has been pretty much annual for the last several years.

Woodock rugde roding over my house at Nautnes and a smattering of migrants here too.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Tjeldstø 08 April 2018 - Survivor

Low cloud with light drizzle much of the day.

I spent much of the day getting stuff done in the house and, more importantly, garden today and only did a cursory look at Tjeldstø. The weather was obviously to blame for a number of grounded migrants - notably a flock of around 25 Meadow Pipits heipiplerke but also a couple of Pied Wagtails svartryggerle and a few White Wagtails linerle.

The only new bird for the year was a flyover Golden Plover heilo.

The Water Rail vannrikse which has spent even the coldest part of the winter here showed briefly today - though my camera stopped functioning at a rather critical moment so the pictures are nothing like as good as they could have been. I'm very glad this bird made it through the winter and was surprised to see it today as there are now unlimited areas for this bird to find food....maybe the feeding earlier in the year helped it survive through what must have been an exceedingly difficult period.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Øygarden 07 April 2018 - Spring boost

Light southerly winds, overcast at first but sunny later.

A quick look at a few localities to see what was going on today. Short walks at Herdlevær, Breivik and Tjeldstø produced several new for the year.

A couple of White Wagtail linerle and a Snipe enkeltbekkasin

Part of a flock of Starling stær at Breivik

I opened at Herdlevær which was relatively quiet. Breivik proved to be rather better with a Pied Wagtail svartryggerle along with a few White Wagtail linerle, several Meadow Pipit heipiplerke, a Snipe enkeltbekkasin, a flock of at least 170 Starling stær and an assortment of the usual thrushes.

Skylarks sanglerke at Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø was rather better with highlights being a flyover Grey Wagtail vintererle, a Mistle Thrush duetrost, a Snow Bunting snøspurv, four Whetear steinskvett, a Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke, a few Teal krikkand, a flock of three Tufted Duck toppand, a White Wagtail linerle, a Brambling bjørkefink, five Skylark sanglerke and at least seven Meadow Pipit heipiplerke. White-tailed Eagle havørn and most of the usual suspects also noted here alongside several each of displaying Curlew storspove and Lapwing vipe.

Curlew storspove - many more have arrived whilst I have been away. This one was at Dåvøy - the others were displaying at various localities

A pair of Ringed Plover sandlo are back on one of their regular breeding sites whilst at Nautnes a Goldcrest fuglekonge was the first of the year in the garden as was a Lesser Black-backed Gull sildemåke along with the more usual White-tailed Eagle havørn.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Engerdal Late March - Early April - Eastern Easter

I spent Easter in eastern Norway. The contrast between migration and flowers in bloom at my house to metres of snow and temperatures down to -20 C could not have been greater.

Hazel Grouse jerpe - a typical view

Some wonderful skiing in fantastic weather did not produce the usual specialities - although there were plenty of tracks of various game birds and a distant flock of large finches which were very likely to have been Pine Grosbeak konglebit.  I did connect with Hazel Grouse jerpe a few times at a regular site I have for this species, had drumming Black Woodpecker svartspett from the garden and saw some small signs of spring migration in the form of Whoopers sangsvane arriving to a completely frozen lake and a Blackbird svarttrost.

Pygmy Owl spurveugle

A stopover at Hamar produced a cracking Pygmy Owl spurveugle being mobbed by a flock of tits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hernar 22 March 2018 - Three firsts....

Calm and mild. Overcast at first but sunny later.

The day started very well with the first first being a Mistle Thrush duetrost more or less in my garden - a first for the garden list taking the total to 132.

A total of 18 Common Scoter svartand were seen - best number so far in Øygarden this year. A tragically low number which seems to be being reflected other places too.

Eiders ærfugl photographed from the boat - several flocks of Long-tailed Duck havelle were among the other species seen on the way out to Hernar

Peregrine vandrefalk

Reed Buntings sivspurv

Song Thrush måltrost

After this promising start it was time for the for the second first of the year - the first visit to Hernar. A total of 30 species were seen during the course of the morning with highlight being the third first - the first two Reed Bunting sivspurv to be recorded in Hordaland this year. Other sightings included a Song Thrush måltrost, Peregrine vandrefalk, Black Guillemot teist, Sparrowhawk spurvehauk, a couple of Woodcock rugde, singing Rock Pipits skjærpiplerke and most of the usual Hernar suspects.

Although I did not spend much time looking there was some continued Oystercatcher tjeld migration up the fjords...

The way home produced a few Bullfinch dompap at Sæle, a flock of eight Lapwing vipe at Tjeldstø and some more newly arrived Starling stær flocks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Skogsøy 21 March 2018 - Someone has thrown the switch

Light westerly winds and overcast during the seawatch. Rain, sleet and snow later on.

I was up relatively bright and early to get a couple of hours seawatching in before work - nice that it is light enough to do this now.

Some flocks came past at decent range....

...but most birds passed high up and a long way out today...

Things started quietly with just a few small flocks of Oystercatcher tjeld heading north. The flocks became larger and more frequent after a while and I was amazed when I added up the total after I returned home - a respectable 914 during the course of 2.5 hours. It never quite felt that they were pouring past - someone has obviously switched on the Oystercatcher migrant and turned the volume up a bit.

Other stuff was thin on the ground but the first migrating Black-headed Gull hettemåke, Common Gull fiskemåke and Curlew storspove put in an appearance.

Good views of Raven ravn, White-tailed Eagle havørn and Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke out at the lookout point too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Hjelme Vest 20 March 2018 - The thaw continues

Absolutely cracking weather, mild, warm AND calm.

Insects were hatching today (even saw a moth this evening) and although the lakes are frozen the ground itself and the boggy bits that haven't been drained yet had a good thaw today. There is hope!

Spent much of the day at home with my youngest today but did manage to check out Hjelme Vest under almost ideal conditions - flat calm and bright. I was rather late so the sun gave problems towards the south.

Several Gannet havsule were close in today....

There was nothing out of the ordinary really apart from some Gannets havsule that were closer in than they tend to be at this locality. A flock of at least 85 Purple Sandpiper fjæreplytt was typical for the time of year -numbers often increase now. A minimum of five Black Guillemot teist, a couple of Great Northern Diver islom, one each of Guillemot lomvi and Razorbill alke along with around 40 Long-tailed Duck havelle were also present.

Grey Seal havert, Otter, White-tailed Eagle havørn, Rock Pipit skjærpiplerke, a couple of Curlew storspove and a few flocks of resting Oystercatcher tjeld were among the other species seen.

Survivor - this bird has spent much of the latter part of the winter on its own. Its parents showed it a good place to try before the cold set in for real and it has stuck to it when all the other swans left. It now looks like this tactic has worked - in a day or two this swan's problems should be over. Now it is back at a more traditional place and with mild conditions forecast it should be fine...

Elsewhere Snipe enkeltbekkasin and a selection of the usual spring migrants were seen. The orphaned Whooper sangsvane was at Tjeldstø waiting for the thaw - it looks like this bird has made it on his own through the much of the winter. It is quite likely that the dead adult (still being eaten) at Tjeldstø is one of its parents....