Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

Perhaps my favourite picture of 2012 - a Spotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper)

And that was the end of 2012, a year that I am very, very happy with. There were many birding highlights: my highest ever year list, seven self found rarities and a great trip to Værøy. On top of this I became a member of the Norwegian Rarities Committee, this blog has built up a solid audience, I had my first paid guiding assignments, I've taken some first rate photos and to top it all off I filled my boots with the autumns invasion of two of my favourite species: Pine Grosbeak (konglebit)and Hawk Owl (haukugle).

The winter months offered up Great Grey Owl (lappugle), Iceland (grønlandsmåke), Glaucous (polarmåke) and Mediterranean Gulls (svartehavsmåke) close to Oslo. A trip to Finnmark at the end of March gave good numbers of King (praktærfugl) and Steller’s Eiders (stellerand), White-billed Diver (gullnebblom), all the auks, Hawk Owl, many Glaucous Gulls and a couple of Iceland Gulls.
1st winter Iceland Gull (grønnlandsmåke) - one of the early winter highlights

Great Grey Owl (lappugle) - do birds get better than this?

Mediterranean Gull (svartehavsmåke)

male Steller's Eider (stellerand) - perhaps even better than that owl?

Some great spring days birding often with Rune Zak, gave me species like Red-footed Falcon (aftenfalk), Serin (gulirisik), Red Kite (glente), Pallid Harrier (steppehauk), flocks of Dotterel (boltit), Ortolan (hortulan), Broad-billed Sandpiper (fjellmyrløper), summer plumaged White-billed Diver plus huge numbers of migrating waders at Svellet.

female Red-footed Falcon (aftenfalk). Crappy picture but great bird to find

Ortolan Bunting (hortulan) - one of only a handful left breeding in Norway

Pallid Harrier (steppehauk)

The summer gave me River Warbler (elvesanger), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (busksanger), Balearic Shearwater (balearlire) and lekking Great Snipe (dobbeltbekkasin) alongside the commoner birds Norway has to offer. Our annual week holiday in Beitosølen in the summer gave in addition to the Great Snipes, most of the mountain specialities such as Dotterel, Temminck’s Stint (temmincksnipe), Purple Sandpiper (fjærplytt), Shore Lark (fjelllerke), Golden Eagle (kongeørn) etc. After this I guided a VENT group for a week from Oslo to Bergen with some good birding on the way.

Blyth's Reed Warbler (busksanger)

not a highlight but a cracking bird none-the-less, a child friendly Red-breasted Goose (rødhalsgås)

Dotterel (boltit) - one of the highlights of the Norwegian mountains in summer
Great Snipe (dobbeltbekkasin) - a hard to find Norwegian summer specialty

 he early autumn offered up some good wader passage at Kurefjorden and Barred Warbler (hauksanger) at Fornebu. Late September was spent on Værøy with tens of Yellow-browed Warblers (gullbrynsanger), Siberian Stonechat (asiasvartstrupe), Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstrupe), hornemanni Arctic Redpoll (polarsisik), Olive-backed Pipit (sibirpiplerke) and Blyth’s Reed Warbler. Autumn was broken up with a week in Mallorca with some good birding had at S’Albuferua.
Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstjert) - a rare migrant

Yellow-browed Warbler (gulbrynsanger) - a scarce migrant

hornemanni Arctic Redpoll - an overlooked autumn vagrant

Siberian Stonechat (asiasvartstrupe) - a real rarity

Late autumn gave me Grey Phalarope (polarsvømmesnipe), Hoopoe (hærfugl), photogenic Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis), Ural (slaggugle) and Tengmalm’s Owls (perleugle) plus the aforementioned invasion of Pine Grosbeaks and Hawk Owls. As the cold winter months took hold the grosbeaks and owls continued to entertain and a Kingfisher (isfugl) added a colourful splash.

Ural Owl (slagugle) - although a Norwegian resident this is an incredibly hard bird to get to grips with

An admiring Tengmalm's Owl (perleugle)

Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis) - a scarce bird in Norway

Waxwing (sidensvans) - a common autumn bird in Oslo

My Norwegian year list ended on 259 species which put me in joint 8th place. One more species and I would have been joint 6th, so I can really regret not seeing either Willow or Rock Ptarmign.

What will 2013 bring? I haven't decided whether to focus on my year list but will definitely fit in trips to Finnmark and a far flung island.

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