Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stretching my wings

Each spring I feel a need to stretch my wings and leave my home territory to check the lie of the land. So I packed my passport and provisions and set out for the wind hinterlands of Østfold.
First stop was the estuary at Kurefjorden with its extensive mudflats and ideal habitat for migrating waders. Or that at least is what the books say. Excluding a handful of Oystercathers and Lapwings I was able to count the waders with my fingers: 4 Redshank, 2 Greenshank and a Curlew. Maybe it will be better in a couple of weeks time (it is a regular spot for Broad Billed Sandpiper at the end of May and hosted a pair of White Rumped Sandpipers last weekend so there must be some potential). Otherwise a pair of Shoveler were the only dabbling ducks and there were a few Shelducks and many Eiders and Red Breasted Mergansers. 6 Common Terns, 4 Swallows and an Osprey were also added to the list.
Second stop was Brentetangen which is a famed seawatching site on the Oslofjord. In my 45 minutes of watching from 11am (which I admit is not a particularly good time of the day) I notched up 2 Red Throated Divers with one going north and 2 going south plus a couple of Common Terns. Exciting stuff! There was some interest in the form of a couple of dolphins or porpoises but they were too distant for me to attempt to ID them.
A long drive to my third Østfold site of Kallaksjøen was punctuated by a stop at a promising looking wetland by the road which produced my first 4 House Martins of the year aswell as 3 Whoopers Swans and a Green Sandpiper. Kallaksjøen which is a small, shallow lake surrounded by farmland was the most productive site of the day. Amongst about 20 Teal were 3 Garganey, a pair and another male which you can just about make out in this picure appalling if you squint your eyes

Also 4 Wigeon, 7 Whoopers Swans, a Coot, a Little Ringed Plover, 25 Golden Plover over and Cranes calling in the distance. A pair of Hobbies were feeding quite actively although I could not make out what they were catching. Both Garganey and Hobby are good birds in Norway and were welcome additions to the year list.
For my next destination I crossed the border back into Akershus county and visited Hemnesjøvannet. This is a long lake which is particularly attractive to Red Throated Divers of which I saw 13 along with 1 Black Throated Diver and 6 Great Crested Grebes. 21 Pink-footed Geese were feeding by the lake and one had a particularly large white patch around the bill almost as large as on a White-fronted Goose.
I was running short of time now as I needed to head back to Oslo to pick up my daughter from after school club before it closed but managed a quick stop at Hellesjøvannet where the breeding pair of Marsh Harriers put on a nice show. Little else of note here.

In the evening I also managed a quick trip around Maridalen where the 3 Whooper Swans were still present alongside 4 Teal. A pair of Green Sandpipers were mating with the male displaying to the female with a raised tail and much calling before hopping on top of the female for over 10 second. Also a Wood Sandpiper which was my first of the year. The lake is now completely free of ice and only one pair of Black Throated Divers remains.

A long day with 10 year ticks taking me 128 for the year.

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