Thursday, 29 August 2013

Østfold birding

Yesterday saw me teaming up with Jules again and we headed for Østfold. We arrived at Kurefjorden at 0840 and had acceptable light although it soon deteriorated as the sun shone strongly. There was a good selection of waders which even included a genuine Black-tailed Godwit (svarthalespove). Present for a few days now this bird was feeding on its own when we arrived but later joined a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits (lappspove). Little Stint (dvergsnipe), Curlew Sandpiper (tundrasnipe), Turnstone (steinvender) and Spotted Redshank (sotsnipe) contributed to a good selection of waders with Ruff (brushane) being the most numerous with around 70 individuals.

Black-tailed Godwit at distance

Black-tailed Godwit (right) with two Bar-tailed Godwits
We spent some time scanning the edge of some reeds and this turned up trumps with a Water Rail (vannrikse), 3 Bluethroats (blåstrupe) and a few Reed Warblers (rørsanger) and White Wagtails (linerle) appearing from out of the reeds. The Water Rail was very aggressive towards the Bluethroats although it was unclear as to whether it may have been trying to catch them. We also had single Marsh Warbler (myrsanger) and Red-backed Shrike (tornskate).

Raptors were not so obvious but we did have a Hobby (lerkefalk) which was plucking a swallow and eating in flight.

After scanning for raptors from Burum which gave a few Sparrowhawks (spurvehauk) and Buzzards (musvåk) with the Sparrowhawks at least looking to be migrating I made a decision that surprises me but for which I am glad – to visit Øra (Jules hadn’t seen the Trumpeterfinch). When we arrived and opened the doors to a rather strong smell of cr*p I immediately regretted my decision but I breathed in, put a clothes peg on my nose and stepped out. Our initial target was the Trumpeter Finch (trompeterfink) which luckily fell within the space of 15 minutes. Another birder had just found it and it was feeding right by the side of a path on its own. The other birder had found it right under his feet and when we walked up to him it was less than 5 metres away. It was half hidden in some rocks though which made it a slight challenge to photograph.

male Trumpeter Finch (trompeterfink)
Satisfied with our views we then set about finding some of the Red-throated Pipits (lappiplerke) that have been reported here the last couple of days. After seeing and hearing only Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) we began to be a little doubtful but then suddenly a Red-throated Pipit flew over calling. Frustratingly it landed a long way off. We then scared another up but this one also landed in an area we couldn’t access. Things then began to go our way as the birds returned calling and eventually landed so they could be viewed. We had three birds together and they were holding themselves separately from the Meadow Pipits. These birds gave me my best views of autumn Red-throated Pipits (although the views were only brief and not too close) and I have to say that without the call they are by no means an easy bird to ID. The white “braces” on the back were not very noticeable and I did not get to see the streaked rump. I was reminded of the sentence in the Macmillan Field Guide to Bird Identification where they write “Records of non-calling individuals are likely to be very critically scrutinised by the BBRC”. Luckily though they did call frequently in flight.

Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) from the front. There is not too much to separate from Meadow Pipit on ths view although the chest streaking is bolder

Three birds here. The bird on the left is showing the white tram lines on the back but they are not that obvious
Øra also delivered a number of other good birds in the form of Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis), Peregrine (vandrefalk) and Marsh Harrier (sivhauk).

Øra did through up some unidentified birds aswell .Whilst watching the pipits we also heard (and saw as a silhouette) a bird that sounded good for Citrine Wagtail (sitronerle) but it never landed or allowed any plumage characters to be seen.

Some adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls (sildemåke) looked very black on the wings, long-winged and slender and immediately had me thinking of the fuscus race. There was also a juvenile bird with them that was very white and black and far more matched what a fuscus should look like rather than the local intermedius. Too far away for any good pictures they will have to go just go down as interesting birds.

juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull (sildemåke) that had me thinking of the baltic race fuscus
Final interesting unidentified bird was a female duck that had the form and behaviour of a Wigeon (brunnakke) but the plumage of a Teal (krikkand). It associated with Mallards (stokkand) and Shoveler (skjeand) rather than the 400 Teal that were on sight and size wise seemed too large for Teal (it was noticeably smaller than Mallard but we never saw it next to another Teal for a direct comparison). We will never know what it was but I could easily imagine that it was a hybrid possibly Teal x Wigeon.

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