Thursday, 3 September 2015

Beans back!

Today I reacquainted myself with my dear fabalis friends after we had been apart for 147 days.

 It nearly didn’t happen though. I drove up to the chosen fields this morning to look for them only to find that they had yet to be harvested. I drove to various fields finding them all with high crops which I doubt the birds would land in although I was thwarted from driving to one favoured autumn field as there were roadworks. Not finding them on the fields I was in half a mind to drive home as 3 September is still an early date and the birds weren’t necessarily back yet but I thought I would drive up to the peat bog at Flakstadmåsen/Johdalsmåsen which was proven to be used regularly as a day time loafing site daily in the autumn. On my way I saw a flock of geese in flight going down on the field that I had not been able to drive to. Parking the car I walked there and sure enough there was a flock of geese and they were Taiga (fabalis) Bean Geese!! I had not taken my scope and struggled to get good views in the bins at a range of 200m but counted 60 birds and could see one with a gps/radio neck collar (unfortunately these are no longer transmitting) and one with an inscribed neck collar but it was not possible to see any details. I fired off some pictures though hoping to be able to read the inscription on the PC later. The geese were feeding on the far side of the field against the woodland edge which seems to nearly always be there want. These geese are truly wild geese unlike the majority of other geese in these parts which are feral and they were very wary with birds always on look out. They flushed possibly due to me (although I was 200 metres away) and flew a couple of circuits before flying right over my head (not particularly smart if they are the subject of illegal hunting) and I took loads of pictures which has allowed me to identify the ringed birds.
This flock flew off to the north in the general direction of the peat bog and I headed for the car. On my way to the car I heard geese and a flock was coming in from the south. The flock was roughly the size but they couldn’t be the same birds - surely. They flew low over the field calling before also heading north to the bog. Now I really needed to go to the bog – something desperate!

 When I arrived I heard geese but they are very difficult to find here in what must be similar habitat to their breeding grounds. I eventually saw some birds sticking their heads up but no more than 60 birds so it didn’t look like there were 2 flocks although I could see 5 birds with neck collars which didn’t correspond with the feeding flock earlier. After nearly an hour the birds took flight and suddenly there were a lot more than 60 birds - 118 bird to be precise after counting from the photos I took. So there were 2 flocks after all. The birds flew North West this time looking to head for a field which I have never seen them on but we know from the GPS tracking that they have used before.
So autumn is well and truly upon us and as if to confirm it, Jon Olav Larsen has been the first birder to visit Værøy this year and had the first Yellow-browed Warblers of the autumn plus even more exciting Værøy’s first ever Arctic Warbler – only 13 days to go until I am there……….

the first flock feeding in exactly the same field where we had the first ever autumn record (thanks to the GPS tags) in September 2013


here the bird with GPS collar flies over and proves to have a black leg ring showing it to be 07

7P in flight. I wonder if the groups of three birds in these two photos are family groups

Flakstadmåsan. Can you see the geese?

7P again



6S plus I also saw 6Z

the best photo I managed

the orange legs can be so noticeable!

anyone know what grasshopper this is? The spike at its rear end is interesting but does this mean it is a female?


  1. Hi Simon
    Looks like a bog bush-cricket, the spike is an ovipositor so its a female - the ovipositor is used for inserting eggs into the ground or vegetation.
    Simon Colenutt

  2. Brilliant detective work as ever mate!