Sunday, 23 October 2011

A better seawatch

There have been weak southerly winds most of this week but they were forecast to get stronger last night and today so the alarm clock was set and with Per Christian for company I headed for Hulvik. Hulvik is about 1 km south of Krokstrand where I was on Tuesday and gives a better overview of the fjord although birds are more distant and the viewing is more exposed (although today there was no rain and the temperature was about 10C so this was not a problem).
We were on site at 0810 and immediately saw that there were Kittiwakes flying around which is a good sign as they only occur here if they have been pushed into the fjord by strong winds to the south. After settling into position we also picked up a couple of Little Gulls (in total we had 8 during the day) and there were also auks passing both north and south with Guillemots probably the most numerous followed by Razorbill and a few Little Auks (we had 9 in total).
A Fulmar heading north was a very good sign as this pelagic species is definitely an uncommon sight so far up the fjord and always raises hope of shearwaters. This was soon followed by the first big big of the day, a GREAT SKUA which was lazily making its way south although frequently sat on the sea. It gave a good, if distant show, when it chased a Herring Gull and we then lost it out of sight down the fjord. We then had to make do with more Kittiwakes which were mostly going south although a few also headed north but then presumeably turned back again and a few more Little Gulls. All these gulls were checked thoroughly as we hoped for a SABINE'S GULL. Sure enough at 10.20 Per Christian called that he had an interesting bird and after careful study it turned out to be a 1K Sab's Gull. Views were not fantastic as the bird was a long way out in the fjord south of us but we had it in view for a long time and were able to clinch the ID. After this excitement things died down a bit and we were contemplating heading off somewhere else when Per Christian called skua. The bird was heading up the fjord towards us and I took a while for me to pick it up. When I did find it there were 2 birds and then Per Christian called 4 and eventually we had a flock(!) of 5 Arctic Skuas heading north up the fjord at some speed. They paused only once and were all to soon lost to view. All were dark phase juveniles/immatures and surprisingly never turned and came south again.
In the bushes a few Long-tailed Tits were calling and as we left 9 crossbills flew over. They only called briefly but the call and seemingly small size strongly suggested they were Two-barred Crossbills although they will only go down as a possible.
Not many seabirds were reported to have penetrated the inner Oslo fjord today but there were 2 Pomarine Skuas seen lingering off Fornebu which with luck will be there tomorrow. Further south from our watch point there were reports of Grey Phalarope, Manx Shearwater and Pom Skuas but I think we can be happy with our sightings.
On the way back we scored Great Grey Shrikes at 2 separate localities and also had Sparrowhawk and Goshawk.
In the garden a male Blackcap is still lingering.

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