Thursday, 24 November 2011

Quite a day

Well the strong winds never really happened and Rune Z and I spent only 45 minutes at Krokstrand this morning with 8 Common Scoter, 1 Velvet Scoter, a couple of unidentified auks and 40 Common Gulls being pretty much it. Not a great start to the day but you only find birds if you go looking so we sat course for Kurefjorden. Arriving in the Kurefjord area a Common Buzzard flew low over the road which is a good record so late in the area. So started we to drive towards the bird tower and when we could see over the fjord we stopped to scan with the scopes. As I got out of the car I thought I had the Buzzard again but hang on, wasn’t this bird a bit too large and wasn’t that plumage more like an immature Golden Eagle?! Indeed it was and it gave great views as it flew over us and then headed off leisurely to the other side of the fjord. Unfortunately the camera was in the back of the car and by the time I got it out the bird was flying away. The resulting picture was however a touch better than the effort from Fornebu.
Golden Eagle
After getting over the excitement of the eagle we started scanning the water and picked up a Great Grey Shrike perched on a fence post on the water’s edge (my 14th of the autumn!). On the water were scattered grebes and ducks. In total 10 Slavonian Grebes and 20 Great Crested Grebes. Also a probable Red-necked Grebe at great distance but we couldn’t clinch the ID due to the distance and bad light. 100+ Goldeneyes, a handful of Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Common and 2 Velver Scoters. As we scanned from the bird tower I picked up another large raptor and this turned out to be a Rough-legged Buzzard which gave great if slightly distant views as it hunted over fields and frequently hovered. To round things off we had a calling Chiffchaff in the bushes although failed to see it.
We still had a couple of hours available to us so decided to head inland where a Ruddy Shelduck has been present a couple of days. Driving along we had a couple of groups of Whooper Swans by the road including one of 53 birds with a single Pink-footed Goose in the midst.
Arriving at Levernes near Rakkestad it was clearly a fantastic area for birds with a river valley with much farmland and damp fields and is presumably a great area on spring passage and for breeding birds. We couldn’t locate the Canada Goose flock that the shelduck has been associating with at first although did find a few Whooper Swans with a single Bean Goose (too distant to safely assign to race) and yet another Great Grey Shrike (taking me to 15 sightings at 10 different localities this autumn). Also a flock of 30 Bramblings and a calling Black Woodpecker. We  eventually located the geese distantly and chose to drive around to the other side of the valley to get better views. 190 Canada Geese were feeding on spilt corn in a field and amongst them was a colourful (if plastic?) female Ruddy Shelduck and a Pink-footed Goose. Also a goose that has been reported as a hybrid CanadaxBarnacle but all I could see was a Canada Goose with an abnormal amount of white on the face (size was same as Canada and all other plumage details looked the same as the Canada Geese it was associating with). Also around 80 Mallard here with a single Wigeon amongst them.
All in all a very good day with 3 species of raptor, shrikes, grebes, geese, a national rarity and good company.

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