Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012 Kicked off

Back in Norway I was keen to get out in the field. The Great Grey Owl at Hvaler was observed again yesterday after a gap of 2 weeks (most likely because no one has been to look for it) and this seemed to be a good target for today especially as I wanted to take some better pictures than I managed on my visit in December. The drive down was a little over an hour and a half and birds from the car included a Great Grey Shrike and as I entered Fredrikstad the Carrion Crow was sat by the road – a good start to my 2012 year listing. I knew that the owl was still present as a message had come through that it had been seen hunting in at dawn (0845) but it was with relief that I saw 2 people watching the bird as I arrived on site and they even pointed it out to me as I sat in my car! The bird was sitting about 300m north of where I saw it in December and was in an area of woodland rather than on the edge of the field where it is most often seen hunting. It gave great views as it sat in a small birch tree and searched the ground for prey. It was also, as is typical of the species, relatively unafraid and sat close to the road allowing good photos (although I still think I need to invest in a bigger lens). I got to study the bird incredibly well and will remember the experience for a long time. These are my best photos and also a video (everything a lot better than last time!)

Great Grey Owl

As I did not need to hang around trying to locate the bird I was able to fit in some more birding and headed for Kurefjorden. On the way I had yet another Great Grey Shrike on the way and a had a third at Kurefjorden continuing my luck with this particular species. Kurefjorden was rather disappointing although it was windy so was not too easy to see birds amongst the waves. Amongst the Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers the best bird I could locate was a single Great Crested Grebe. Still with good time on my hands and a storm brewing up over southern Norway I popped in at Brentetangen for a look over the sea. Despite a very fresh wind from the south and white tops to the waves there was very little to see in the half an hour I was there. Just 6 Kittiwakes and a few Razorbills and Guillemots. Time for one last stop and I thought I would have another go for the Iceland Gull near Drøbak. This time I scored straight away (meaning I already have a bird on 2012 list that was absent from my 2011 list). It was a very smart bird and frequently fed on the sea amongst a group of Mallards. It was a 2K (1st winter) with very white primaries and in flight gave an impression like a Little Egret. The way it picked food off the water surface was more reminiscent of a Black-headed Gull than the similarly sized Herring Gull. Also here 7 Kittiwakes feeding in the bay and 2 Fulmars further out plus a single Common Scoter and 4 Razorbills.

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull


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