Thursday, 28 June 2012
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!!
In the course of 8 hours i have had two of the most memorable birding experiences one could ever hope for (and I even managed to sleep a little bit aswell). It started last night when I went back to see the GREAT SNIPES (dobbeltbekkasin) properly. I left at half-time in the football and was on site before 10pm. I could hear a bird displaying about 300m from where we had the birds earlier although it was very sporadic. Even though it could only have been 15 metres from me and the vegetation was short I could not see the bird. I walked up to the afternoon site and a bird sang here but then flew down to the new site. I returned here and made myself comfortable as I waited for the games to begin. One or two birds sang sporadically but still invisibly until around 23:15 when I finally saw a bird and managed some grainy pictures and video. This was probably a female as it didn't display even though two other birds were singing but it did give a weak call. As it got closer to midnight things started to hot up. I could hear another bird singing further away and this caused two to sing in front of me. The birds also started showing themselves amongst the dwarf birch vegetation although they were not perching prominently on grass tussocks as I expected. At one stage I actually saw four birds and then another flew in. After midnight when the light was too poor for any decent pictures then there was almost continuous display with birds standing in the open and interacting with each other and birds were flying in. There were at least 6 birds at the lek with a minimum of 4 displaying males but could have been more with birds perhaps flying between other leks in the area. It really was an amazing experience to see and hear these mysterious birds. The lek was also only 10 metres from a well used footpath! I will post pictures and video later. Even though I didn't manage any close up views of leking birds which many people manage from photography hides elsewhere this was a truly memorable experience. Also here a roding Woodcock (rugde) and a calling (and seen flying) Common Snipe (enkeltbekkasin). Then after 4 hours sleep (I finally managed to fall asleep with the song of Great Snipe ringing in my ears) I was up again. Target was Valdresflya in good weather. I was there at 06:40 and it was blue skies, no wind and temperatures around zero although in the sun it was not cold. On the very top of Valdresflya the snow cover was 90% and I stopped in a lay-by next to a small area of clear ground. Getting out of the car I was greeted by the sound of singing waders!! It was magical. There were 4 Dotterel (boltit), 3 Temminck's Stint (temmincksnipe), Purple Sandpiper (fjæreplytt) and 4 Ringed Plovers (sandlo) with a Shore Lark (fjellerke) singing overhead. The birds were quite trusting allowing me to take many photos although i have yet to see if any have turned out well as the light was quite challenging. Other patches of open ground held a couple of Dunlin (myrsnipe), more Ringed Plover, a Redshank (rødstilk), 2 Raven (ravn) and the odd Wheatear (steinskvett) and Meadow Pipit (heipiplerke). At one stage I heard a singing Temminck's Stint close by but couldn't see it until there it was less than 5 metres from me. Close up they are even smaller than they normally appear to be. I have always wanted to be in the mountains when the birds are concentrated on small areas of snow free gound and are displaying and finally i have experienced it and it was just as magical as I had hoped for. It will take a lot to beat 28 June and it isn't even lunch time yet!