Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Værøy 2014 day 6

Day 6 and my last day on Værøy was not the day I had hoped it would be. The weather felt perfect with easterly winds and clouds but a check of the weather maps shows the easterly wind to be just a local phenomenon and not part of a weather system originating much further east. There were definitely no new birds today although there ended up being some photo opportunities which I will post tomorrow.

Two messages on the Bird Alarm did get pulses up. First a  Cattle Egret (kuhegre) just north of Bodø by Skaug (an area I know well from annual summer visits to friends) had me briefly considering whether I could see it during my stopover in Bodø on the way home but I quickly dismissed that thought as that would be far too much like twitching ;-) The second message was of a Siberian Thrush (sibirtrost) ringed on Træna. Træna is one of three islands in Nordland county that attract birders in September (in addition to Værøy and Røst) and being quite a bit further south it seems to attract a more varied selection of birds than we manage to find on Værøy. This was an exceptional find though.

My birding started with the Rb Shrike (tornskate) and a Barred Warbler (hauksanger) still in the north and a short seawatch gave 4 Pomarine (polarjo) and three Arctic Skuas (tyvjo). In the south I searched quite diligently but a Lesser Whitethroat (møller) was the scarcest passerine with believe it or not NO Yellow-browed Warblers (gulbrynsanger) today. Searching for waders I scared up two Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) from under my feet before getting in the zone and starting to walk slowly and scan just a few metres ahead. This gave results as I suddenly saw a third Jack Snipe just 2 metres from me. It sat completely still and even allowed five other birders to come and see it (we were 10 on the island today). I switched to my 18-55mm lens and the mobile phone camera and was able to hold the camera less than 20cm from the bird. I could even see tiny flies walking over the bird!! Quite simply mind blowing.
Plan A for this species relies completely on its camouflage and it truly believes that it cannot be seen if it just crouches down and doesn't move. In the end I decided to test out quite how trusting it was and only at less than 10cm range did it tense its body and get ready to execute plan B - fly baby fly and at 5cm it flew off in a whir.

The others who have 4 more days have an uncertain time ahead with a change in the weather forecast which must be good considering how quiet it currently is but very strong SSW winds and rain are not necessarily much better......

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