Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Værøy postscript

Whilst Værøy has only had coverage from 15 – 25 September, the neighbouring island of Røst which is the very final island group in the Lofoten chain has had multiple observer coverage from around 7 September (in addition to having year round coverage from resident birder, Steve Baines) and there are still a number of birders on the island as I write.

Røst which is only about 25km away from Værøy offers less vegetation than Værøy (which may attract fewer birds but does make it easier to find them) but has far better wader habitat and is also better positioned for seawatching. For those who are interested, I wrote an article about Røst in Birding World 18:pp 125-126 “Røst, rarities in Arctic Norway”.

The following picture shows Røst in the background with Sørland on Værøy in the foreground.
Rarity islands of Røst (background) and Værøy (foreground)

The tall islands of Røst are where the famous seabird colonies are whilst the passerines and waders are found on the flat islands just visible to the right. The more varied habitat on Røst plus far greater coverage (including ringing) meant that Røst has produced more than Værøy this year but hopefully Værøy will get some more coverage next year, perhaps from not just Norwegians?

Værøy produced Pechora Pipit (tundrapiplerke) (unfortunately before I arrived), at least 5 Olive-backed Pipits (sibirpiplerke), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (busksanger), Siberian Stonechat (asiasvartstrupe), 30++ Yellow Browed Warblers (gulbrynsanger), Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls, Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstjert), 3 Red-breasted Flycatchers (dvergfluesnapper) plus Richard’s Pipits (tartarpiplerke) and Barred Warblers (hauksanger).

Røst, on the otherhand produced Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler (starsanger), Pechora Pipit, 3+ Olive-backed Pipits, Ring-necked Duck (ringand), American Golden Plover (kanadalo), Pacific Golden Plover (sibirlo), Buff-breasted Sandpiper (rustsnipe), Pectoral Sandpiper (alaskasnipe), Arctic Warbler (lappsanger), Little Bunting (dverspurv), Citrine Wagtail (sitronerle), many hornemanni as well as Yellow-browed Warbler (far fewer than Værøy), Richard’s Pipit, Barred Warbler and Grey Phalarope (polarsvømmesnipe).

The following photos taken from the Værøy to Bodø helicopter. The first shows the old airport on Værøy which not surprisingly is now closed as it was deemed too dangerous but only after a fatal plane crash.
The old airstrip on Værøy with Nordland in the background. The 2 freshwater pools on the right have proved disappointing for ducks and waders

The small settlement of Nordland with it’s garden and small stands of trees. The line of small spruce trees on the right of the picture was surprisingly productive with on the last 2 days, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcap, Goldcrests and Wrens.

The helicopter from Bodø. It carries 15 passengers plus baggage and the days post but pray that there are no stature challenged people on your flight as the seats are designed for children!

The plantation – from the outside it looks dense but from the inside is actually quite open and there is no ground vegetation meaning most birds are above head height.

The "plantation" on Værøy which held Bluetail, R-b Fly, Y-b Warbler and Hawk Owl

The best bird of the trip, sibe by name, sibe by nature

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