Friday, 19 September 2014

Værøy day 1

Day 1, or at least the first three hours, of Værøy 2014 is now finished. Drizzle and poor light put a bit of a dampner on things and there were far fewer birds to see in the late afternoon compared to what the others had seen in the morning.

My first Yellow-browed Warblers (gulbrynsanger) of the year though were welcome although I had actually hoped to see one rather than hearing two.

An hour of free time at Bodø airport was spent in the cemetery which was absolutely heaving with birds. A couple of hundred Starlings (stær) feeding on Rowan berries failed to reveal a pink cousin and the only warbler was Chiffchaff (gransanger) but a flock of 100 calling Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) flying over and calling added to the atmosphere.

Birds seen on the island today include 20+ Yellow-browed, 3 Barred Warblers (hauksanger), Little Bunting (dvergspurv), Olive-backed Pipit (sibirpiplerke) and Sooty Shearwater so I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow.

Hours to go

Just hours to go until I am Værøy. Kjell and Egil arrived yesterday evening and logged 4 Yellow-browed Warblers before it got dark. They've sent out no messages yet today which is both good and bad. Good because I really don't want them to find everything before I arrive but bad because today's weather forecast suggested a good arrival of birds.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Only one day to go

Just one day to go until Værøy and local birding suddenly seems quite boring. Yesterday a trip to Fornebu revealed exceptionally little most likely as a result of the good weather we have had which has encouraged many birds to leave but not brought down any new birds. A large mixed finch flock is still present but there was nothing unusual amongst them.

Today in Maridalen there were 8 Black-throated Divers (storlom) on the lake including a group of 6 which were seemingly displaying which is something I have observed in previous autumns. A single Common Scoter (svartand) was expected as six were reported yesterday and this species seems to be regular here in the autumn. Amongst a Meadow Pipit (heipiplerke) flock I heard a Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) but as usual failed to find and observe the bird.

Some of the “crew” are arriving on Værøy this afternoon so as usual they will find all the good birds before I arrive although the weather patterns haven’t been that promising until now so there might not be too much waiting. The weather forecast for Friday and Saturday though looks like promising.
Grey Herons at Fornebu yesterday

Tree Sparrow (pilfink) from Fornebu. The yellow base to the bill indicates this bird to have born this year

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A raptor goose chase

Today I had two goals: find and count the Bean Geese (sædgås) and find a good raptor. Red-footed Falcons (aftenfalk) have invaded NE Europe in the last few weeks and Pallid Harriers (steppehauk) are passing through so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something good?

As I drove up to the first place I was going to check for the geese a carpet of mist had me feeling very pessimistic about my chances. As I wound down the window (or pressed a button as we have done for the last 20 years) and turned off the engine I heard the geese!! It took over half an hour before the mist cleared enough for me to see them but I eventually counted ca.160 which is the same as a couple of weeks ago. Due to the mist and distance I was again unable to read any collars although there were a few visible. Also here a Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) called from amongst some Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) in a stubble field.

Feeling happy that my first goal was safely in the back of the net I made my way to the south east hoping for raptors. At my first stop I had 2 Kestrels (tårnfalk) on wires which got me excited for a few seconds. Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk), Buzzard (musvåk) and an early Rough-legged Buzzard (fjellvåk) showed but no harriers of any description. A Great Grey Shrike (varsler) was also an early bird. I continued through areas of stubble and rough grassland but still no Harriers although Buzzards were fairly numerous. At Hellesjøvannet the breeding Marsh Harriers didn’t show and are presumably long gone although 71 Pochard (taffeland) are new in. Also here were both Crested Tits (toppmeis) and Willow Tits (granmeis) by the lake which is yet another indication that a large movement is taking place.

My last hope for a good raptor was the farmland by the large Hemnesjøvannet and here I did score a good raptor but not as good as I hoped: an adult White-tailed Eagle (havørn).

Værøy: three days and counting.....

do you see what I saw?

this Buzzard (musvåk) was looking for food (worms?) by walking around

my first Great Grey Shrike (varsler) of the autumn

and my first Mistle Thrush (duetrost) of the autumn

my first Rough-legged Buzzard (fjellvåk) of the autumn

and my second White-tailed Eagle (havørn)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Moving swiftly on

I paid a visit to the Tuentangen area of Nordre Øyeren this morning to see if I could relocate an interesting ringtail harrier (ubestemt kjerrehauk) which was photographed there on Saturday. I failed on that score with a Buzzard (musvåk) being the only raptor I saw. There were a few ducks and waders in the area including a late Little Ringed Plover (dverglo) which was keeping company with 4 Ringed Plovers (sandlo). This species is normally long gone by the end of August so this is an interesting record. At nearby Merkja a male Gadwall (snadderand) and female Shoveler (skjeand) were both good Akershus birds and on the way home I sinned and dosed up on plastic.

male Gadwall (snadderand) with Teal

young Little Ringed Plover (dverglo)


This Mandarin Duck has become the latest darling of the local nature photographers and has thereby replaced the Ruddy Shelduck which must have filled up a few hard drives by now. I think it is time that an equally attractive wild bird rather than these fence hoppers was found locally to keep those hard drives full. Note to self: find a Bee-eater (bieter) in Maridalen...

Sunday, 14 September 2014


After our disappointing visit to Håbu (Hvaler) on Friday it was a bit annoying to see that yesterday there were 10,000 migrating Chaffinches (bokfink) in a couple of hours plus Woodlarks (trelerke) and a few other scarce birds. The winds yesterday were from the north east whereas on Friday were from the west - this I think is the crucial factor at this site.

Today I had a walk around Østensjøvannet with two 19 year olds in tow. Two Pintail (stjertand) joining in the scrum for bread with the local Mallards (stokkand) was the highlight.

Pintail (stjertand). I assume these are 1st calendar year birds although to be honest I'm not entirely sure how you tell-

Friday, 12 September 2014

Invisible mig

Rune collected me at 5am and we headed for Hvaler with high hopes of good viz mig like we had last year. We arrived just after 0630 and got out of the car to hear the sound of nothing! The next hour and a half was a huge disappointment with about the only species migrating being White Wagtails (linerle) with 60 or so heading south. A few Chaffinches (bokfink) and Bramblings (bjørkefink) flew around the area but maybe it was the light westerly wind that was the problem.

We tried a few other sites in the area including the Great Big Dump but had nothing really unexpected to show for our efforts although a White-tailed Eagle (havørn) was as always a nice sighting. A stop at Kurefjorden revealed more waders than last time including a Curlew Sandpiper (tundrasnipe) and four Knot (polarsnipe) but raptors did not show and I am still waiting to find a Pallid Harrier (steppehauk).

This time next week I will be waiting for the helicopter to Værøy – yippee!

The days didn’t offer many photo opportunities either except for this Green Woodpecker (grønnspett) in poor light.