Monday, 14 May 2012

Brentetangen and Skuas

It really was windy today with the strength of the winds even being a talking point on the radio. The strength was around 20m/s and it was from SSW which is good conditions for Brentetangen. I could not get there before 0935 and there were three others already there, two of whom had been present since just after 5am! They had not had that much for their troubles: just 4 Arctic Skuas and a Great Northern Diver but it seemed that I turned up at a good time. Gannets were moving in good numbers, mostly south and there were also quite a few Fulmars going both ways. A Short-eared Owl that was being blown north mid-fjord by the wind was a strange site and it eventually made it over to the Vestfold side. There were a few ducks moving with the highlight being a close pair of Scaup heading south with a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Highlights though was Skuas. Only a single Pomarine which was a dark phase bird and a bit tricky to identify. Picked up first flying low into the wind we thought it was an Arctic but it then hunted a Herring Gull which made its size apparent although in this flight mode its tail spoons were not obvious. However, when it resumed a more leisurely flight at much closer range then the tail spoons became obvious. Arctic Skuas were more numerous with dark phase birds predominating. Two pairs of dark phase birds headed south at fairly close range and two light phase and one dark phase headed north at great speed a long way out. One of the pairs that headed south lingered after finding a fish (which a Herring Gull made them drop!) and actually flew over our heads (although of course I failed to take a decent picture). I did manage some half decent pictures though:
Two dark phase Arctic Skuas, the upper bird being noticeably darker than the lower

Arctic Skua - the darker bird

This bird suddenly swooped and plucked a fish

Dark phase Arctic Skua

Rarest bird of the day was an Iceland Gull which was blown north. It was facing south and just allowing itself to be blown north! It was probably a 2k bird although it was not close enough to nail the age.

I called it quits at 13.25 and had a quick look for Dotterel on the way home but failed to find any in the strong winds although one was seen later in a field I looked at.
The winds resulted in Kittiwakes, Little Gulls and Arctic Terns being blown into the inner Oslofjord whereas we only had a single Kittiwake and no Little Gulls plus just a few distance Common/Arctic Terns. These birds will hopefully make their way south tomorrow when the winds calm down. The good numbers of Gannets and Fulmars though were not replicated in the inner Oslofjord with these true seabirds being able to handle the winds better.

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