Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Less sea to see and more birds to see

I definitely deserve points (birds) for trying and today I got some reward. After heavy overnight winds I was on station at Krokstrand at 0845 just 15 minutes after it became light to see anything. Winds were still moderate and the light and viewing conditions were excellent so I felt that yes this could be a good day. Auks were immediately obvious with Little Auks and undetermined Guillemots/Razorbills heading in both directions but mostly south.
The first really good bird took only 10 minutes to get itself in the notebook. A young skua was picked up going south on the other side of the fjord but slowly made its way towards my side and sat on the sea a few times. It was a dark, almost black bird with nice double whhite flashes on the underwing, a barrel chest and strong two-toned bill - in other words a dark phase 1K Pomarine Skua. Whilst watching this I also noted Fulmar and Kittiwake. Things then calmed down for a bit but there was always good numbers of Little Auks and especially Common Gulls moving south. The next bit of excitment came in the form of a 1K Little Gull making its way slowly south and then not long after this came the absolute highlight but also most frustrating bird of the day. I always start my scan looking at the closest shore before scanning to the left over the water and on this scan I picked up a Grey Phalarope at less than 100m range. I immediately saw what I needed to confirm the ID with the thick bill confirming it wasn't Red-necked (however small the liklihood of that would be so late in the year) and then decided to run to the end of the small breakwater with camera raised in the hope of getting a fantastic point blank picture. Well 15 seconds later I was in place but where was the bird? I just couldn't locate it. I assume it had landed as it had been flying slowly but I couldn't see it. How frustrating!! (45 minutes later Ketil Knudsen had joined my and he briefly glimpsed a Grey Phalarope flying around the corner from where I had seen it so chances are it was the same bird that had landed and remained invisible to me).
After this excitement there was another Little Gull and more Kittiwakes and Fulmarts. I gave up at 1230 by which time I had racked up 75 Little Auks, 8 Fulmars, 6 Kittiwakes, 68 Common Gulls, 42 Guillemots/Razorbills the majority of which were most likely Guillemots, 17 Commn Scoter and 6 Velvet Scoter.
One of my hopes for the day had been Leaches Petrel and I got news later in the day that one had been seen going south just a few kilometres north of me. Unfortunately I got the news 4 hours after the bird was seen so it had presumably slipped past unoticed.



I decided on a quick trip with Ketil to Kurefjorden to see if I could see Red-necked Grebe as one had been reported there since my visit last week. Well no red necks (on the water at least) but 3 Slavonian Grebes, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Auks (looking very our of place), a Great Grey Shrike (I've now lost count!), a flock of 12 female Scaup, a calling Chiffchaff, Black Woodpecker and a few Common & Velvet Scoters.

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