Sunday, 17 July 2016

Hedmark Installment X - Three-toed Woodpecker

I've got lots of photos to go through of cabin birds and too little time so here is the last of my prepared earlier posts....

Three-toed Woodpeckers are birds that in my experience rarely reward you for hard work but instead just turn up in your face when you are least expecting this. And this was exactly the case with this female which started drumming beside me whilst I was carrying out a bird survey and then proceeded to show off at ridiculously close range.

Three toes (only) are clearly visible

Friday, 15 July 2016

Surf & Turf

This morning with little wind and good light I finally got a Surf Scoter within some sort of photo range and also had both Surfy and Knobby within the same long sweep of the scope. It seems that Knobby is further out for every day that passes (as was also the case last year) but there is a small group of Velvets that feeds close to the shore and I have a hope that one morning I will find Knobby or Surfy with this group.

At the cabin I have had Waxwings on three occasions with a group of three birds today looking like a family party. This is the third summer I’ve had Waxwings here so I suspect they breed in the area regularly. We’e also had a pair of White-tailed Eagles making a lot of noise, a regular pair of Red-throated Divers and a porpoise. Cabin life is good!


Surf Scoter (brilleand) at long range

this was taken with 260x digital zoom on the super zoom (other pictures taken with bazooka)

from yesterday with Stejneger's Scoter and Great Northern Diver in same shot

the close Velvets that I hope one of the rare scoters will join up with. In the is shot is a female, 2 young males and the rest are older males

an Otter from today

Thursday, 14 July 2016

More snaps

My pre breakfast birding this morning turned up knobby again and a 1st summer Great Northern Diver but nothing else too interesting.

Here is installment two of pictures from the road trip.

A male Red-necked Phalarope who probably had young somewhere as he was quite agitated

not difficult to see what Red-necked Phals eat
Sibe Jay – this species is surprisingly scare (or under reported) in Nordland County and these were the fourth observation reported in 2016

Waxwing which seem to breeding in higher than normal numbers in Southern Central Norway this year

Willow Tit – as usual my attempts to find Siberian Tit resulted in only Willow Tits

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Some holiday snaps

With the rest of the family having to be woken up at 10:45 this morning I was able to fit in both birding and photo editing.

The birding front was rather spoilt by overcast skies and a fresh breeze which made searching the fjord rather difficult. A male King Eider in eclipse plumage was the highlight with the vast majority of Velvet Scoters too far out for them to be grilled and therefore no sightings of any of the rare scoters.

Here are a couple of pictures and a video of the Stejneger’s White-winged Scoter from yesterday


And here is a first instalment of photos from the drive up.

The Capers

A juv Willow Grouse

A Common Sandpiper

A Cuckoo

An adult Golden Eagle

A White-tailed Eagle

A mountain and a Long-tailed Skua

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Knobby and Surfy and something better?

One of my goals for this summer at our cabin near Bodø was to find some interesting ducks in the fjord close to Fauske. I went a long way to fulfilling that goal by refinding last years Stejnegers White-winged Scoter on Thursday but that species has now become old hat ;-) and I was hoping to find something else. With there being so many scoter here then one of Surf, (American) Black Scoter or Deglandi White-winged Scoter was on my wish list and Barrow's Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck must also be possible. I was therefore a bit annoyed when a Surf Scoter was found on Sunday by people (unsuccesfully) searching for Knobby as I wanted to find one rather than twitch one....
I went out early this morning hoping to see both Surfy and Knobby and with a wish to get some good(ish) pictures. I found Knobby quite easily and over the course of two hours as the tide rose he came close enough for good scope views and some improved pictures. I searched widely for the Surf Scoter but it was only when light conditions changed and a large flock of duck far out in the fjord suddenly became identifiable that I found him. I went through the flock and saw him again in a different place and suspected that there might be two birds but it took quite a while before I had both birds in the same sweep about 70m apart - so I did find my own Surf Scoter :-) !

A very frustrsting bird was a 1st summer (2cy) Black-throated Diver type. I saw it at long range but it was a small bird, appearing no larger than the Velvet Scoters it was with, had a small bill and I saw no white flank patch. I suspect it to be a Pacific Diver and if it is it could well be the same bird earlier seen further south in Trondelag at the same time a (the) Stejnegers was also there. I saw what was probably the same bird on Friday when it just slept so it looks like it is in the area and I may be able to find it again at closer range.

I have previously spoken about how good the fjord close to Fauske is but here are some of the birds I saw today:
250+ Velvet Scoter, 150+ Goldeneye, 70+ Red-breasted Merganser, 25 Long-tailed Ducks, 22 Common Scoter, 40 Slavonian Grebes, 116 Wigeon, 7 Red-throated Divers, 2 Black-throated Divers, 80 Eider, 25 Teal, 2 Pintail plus several hundred duck too distant to ID but probably Velvet Scoter. Easy to see why I like the area isn't it and also strange that it gets so little attention from the locals.

I'll post this now and come back with pictures later - my only time for birding and picture editing is early in the mornings whilst the family sleeps and I nearly need to choose which activity I will do each day and of couse the birding wins hands down.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Roadtrip videos

I discovered that I hadn't forgotten the plug for the PC but had just forgotten where I had put it...... I've therefore had a chance to start going through photos and videos I took on the way up. If the post title had you expecting exciting car videos you will be disappointed but if you were hoping to see a grouse or two then you are in luck:

Female Capercaille (storfugl/røy)

Male Capercaille (storfugl/tiur)

Female Willow Grouse (lirype) with chick

Friday, 8 July 2016

Hedmark 2016 Installment IX - Red-necked Phalarope

Looks like I've forgotten to pack the plug for the laptop so there will be no editing of pictures and videos until I get home.
Here though is a link to a picture of Knobby from yesterday (he was distant). I went looking for him at high tide this morning (0630) but he was even further out. There was a group of Velvet Scoters feeding close in so if I am lucky he will join this group on another day.
Edit: here is the picture I link to above
In the lack of any new eye candy, here is something I prepared earlier:

To find Red-necked Phalarope, especially in Southern Norway, it helps to know of an exact breeding site and luckily enough I have found an easily accessible one which is probably one of the closest to Oslo. I had three birds all of which looked to be females – this is one of a very few species where the females are more colourful, chase the males and after laying eggs leave all the parenting duties to dad. The other species in Norway that does this is Dotterel and there is a record of a ringed female that bred (i.e. courted, mated and laid eggs) in both Norway and Scotland in the same year!

I am publishing on the iphone which doesn't always work so well. If the video is not showing at the bottom of the post then here is a link to a video of the phalarope

the habitat

they were initially at some range

but I was able to get closer

and closer

and even closer. They fed by snapping at insects unaffected by me

this is taken with the superzoom and all other pictures with the bazooka

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Knobby's back!

Subtitle: Road Trip Bødo

My two day road trip from Oslo to Bodø is now finished. 1450km, 4 hours sleep, 2 burgers and chips, 5 cokes, 1 flask of coffee, 1 ice cream, a 90km detour for roadworks and some good birding - now someone get me a beer!
I had 6 specific birding stops on the way.
1. Search for breeding Pine Grosbeaks in Southern Norway (my first attempt)
2. Get my fill of "my" Red-necked Phals
3. Search for Siberian Tits in Southern Norway (attempt 9?)
4. Explores the valleys around Børgefjell National Park
5. Mountain birds and hopefully Long-tailed Skuas on Satfjellet
6. Find a rare duck or two at Fauske

My haul was Red-necked Phals at two sites, Little Gull, Sibe Jay, great views of Capercaille and Willow Grouse, Waxwing, Golden Eagle, Long-tailed Skua and in case you're not sure what the post title refers to, yes, I refound Knobby, the Stejneger's White-winged Scoter (knoppsjøorre) :-)

There aren't many birders up here but there are enough and it really surprises me that nobody seems to give any real attention to the Fauske/Klungsett area which is the most exciting birding area here and has a good pedigree of historical rares and scarces. But that's good for me as I can find things when I come up every summer 😀

More details and photos and videos to follow.j

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

White-winged Scoters

Last summer I was lucky enough to discover the first ever male White-winger Scoter in Norway close to our cabin near Bodø in Northern Norway, see here. This follows one approved record of a 1st summer female from 2011, and a photographed female earlier in 2015. All of these were of the asian (sub)species stejnegeri.
I have long been looking forward to our summer holidays and the chance of refinding the drake since he was moulting with a large flock of Velvet Scoters and there is a very good chance he would mount in the same place (and could well have moulted here before).

I still hope I find him but suddenly the species has lost its rarity. This year there have already been four different males! Geographically they are spread such: Telemark (also seen in Vestfold), Trondheim and two in Finnmark. One of the birds in Finnmark is also Norway's first record of the North American (sub)species deglandi. Both this bird and the bird in Vestfold were also in scoter flocks that also contained Surf Scoters so looking through scoter flocks is definitely a worthwhile pastime although it is now Black Scoter that will be the one to find.
Only the deglandi is currently being reported so maybe I can find the three other males moulting in the large scoter flock this summer?

I have a feeling that the Trondheim bird is the same as “my” bird due to what I consider to be a poorly marked bill but this will be difficult to prove.

Here are links to pictures of this year birds

Telemark 26 May (presumed same bird Vestfold 26 June)

Finnmark deglandi 25 June – 2 July

here are also pictures of the two females which is a much more impressive ID job than finding a male!

Finnmark 2cy female stejnegeri 21-22 June 2011

Finnmark female stejnegeri 7 July - 23 July 2015

Monday, 4 July 2016

Farewell Beitostølen

Beitostølen and the mountains are over for this year and Bodø and the Arctic Circle beckons next.

Here are a couple of final photos
this male Linnet (tornirisk) was singing around Beitostølen which I believe is a pretty rare occurrence at this altitude

Redshank (rødstilk) are quite common breeders in marshes at the treeline

although this one had a surprising choice of look out post

the mother of the White Wagtail (linerle) family that was nesting at the cabin said goodbye (or more likely good riddance) to us