|some of the distant images of the 1000's of birds I saw today|
An extended visit to Årnestangen today gave vast numbers of birds and also some good variety. A flock of Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås) that came in to rest and preen contained 1024 birds!! I believe these come from the southern Swedish population (without any proof for that) rather than being genuine arctic breeding birds but unfortunately I saw no colour rings to help me confirm. The feeding flock of Cormorants (storskarv) numbered 500 birds, there were 300 Wigeon (brunnakke), 200 Teal (krikkand), 170 Mute Swans (knoppsvane), 110 Dunlin (myrsnipe) plus lots more giving over 3000 birds in total.
At one stage a Sea King search & rescue helicopter buzzed the area doing some searching but no rescuing and put up all the geese and cormorants – quite a sight although one that was difficult to capture on film.
In addition to the Dunlin there were 50 Ringed Plovers (sandlo), 34 Ruff (brushane), 3 Little Stints (dvergsnipe), 2 Curlew Sandpipers (tundrasnipe) and a Knot (polarsnipe). And amongst the ducks were 2 Shoveler (skjeand), 3 Pintail (stjertand) and at least six Pochards (taffeland).
Raptors were initially non-existent due to overcast conditions but when the sun started to come through I ended up seeing Peregrine (vandrefalk), Merlin (dvergfalk), Osprey (fiskeørn), Buzzard (musvåk) and both Sparrow- (spurvehauk) and Goshawk (hønsehauk).
Passerines were very scarce with no Yellow Wagtails (gulerle) and just a handful of White Wagtails (linerle) and pipits. A single Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) did fly over calling though although unfortunately did not land and allow itself to be admired (and photographed).
With so many birds, a lot of movement and also very favourable lighting due to the cloud I ended up staying over 4 hours and getting very stiff from standing still (I’ll have to start lugging a little seat around with me soon).
Driving home I saw an enormous flock of geese feeding on a recently harvested field at Tuentangen. I did not have time to go round and take a closer look so had to view from quite a distance but from the photos I took there was a minimum of 1500 birds. The majority seem to be Barnacle Geese and would be the same birds I saw at Årnestangen which departed in that direction after being put up by the helicopter. There were also a few hundred Greylag Geese and some Canada Geese. If these fields remain favourable over the next month or so then large numbers of Pink-footed Geese might also turn up.