Friday, 20 March 2015

Airport Guiding

Yesterday I was guiding Simon aka The DeskboundBirder and Trevor  aka The BarleyBirder from Hampshire who had a stopover in Oslo on their way to Kirkenes and a long weekend birding in Finnmark. With only two and a half hours including driving time I felt some pressure to find things quickly. I had suggested we go for the Bean Geese (sædgås) which are 30 minutes from the airport and listed Crane (trane) and GG Shrike (varsler) as other interesting birds I thought we could find.

I drove by this years favoured goose field on the way up and they were there so that was a good sign as long as they stayed an hour.
After picking them up and discovering that I had stayed with Simon at Dungeness Bird Observatory 25 years ago we headed for the geese. The first interesting bird we saw was a roadside GG Shrike so it looked like things were working out as planned! Closing in on the goose field Simon spotted a flock in flight and I feared we would arrive to find they had just flown off. Luckily though there were at least 50 still there and likely more on the other side of a bump in the field. We also had a fly over Crane, Whooper swans and singing Yellowhammers which is becoming such a scarce bird in England now.

We enjoyed the geese and then headed for Udenes Church. Here it was quiet but atmospheric and we heard and then saw a pair of Cranes descending from height to a distant hidden field. We also had a very obliging couple of moose which were having to go down on their knees to nibble on green shoots in a field - I have noticed this often in the spring when these fresh green shoots seem irresistible.

Time flies though and there was a plane waiting so we needed to head for the airport but not without another and better photo opp with the shrike.

Feeling satisfied with the day I drove back via the geese. This time the whole flock was visible and I counted 153 in a quick sweep over the flock. I read off all the neck collars and was happy that the flock was unchanged from the weekend. At 1720 they got ready to fly and left south towards the river. I took some pictures so I could confirm the count and then tried chasing them in the car. As I have discovered before they fly quickly and were easily exceeding 60km/h. I saw them distantly when they were close to the river and it looked like half went down to the river but half headed for some fields. They clearly need to eat as much as they can on their spring staging grounds to get into prime condition for breeding. At home scrutiny of grainy pictures gave me a confirmed count of 152 birds compared to the 154 I counted from pictures on Saturday.

As usual when guiding I don’t prioritise my own photos and rarely pick up the camera so mine are nothing special although Simon and Trev should have got some good ones.

the Bean Goose flock leaving for the river - I counted 152

these two geese wee feeding separately from the rest of the flock

the days great grey

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