Thursday, 10 December 2015

Some seabirds and lots of shrikes

It was blowing again from the south today (started yesterday) so I went to Krokstrand hoping to get to grips with some interesting auks. Quite surprisingly there were much much fewer auks than on Saturday. The wind was not as strong further south but I still thought that there would be a lot of auks in the area but they clearly have all returned south. I had less than 100 auks during the course of 2 and a half hours with the majority going south and  was able to ID the vast majority to species and Guillemots outnumbered Razorbill to add to the mix.

There were a few Kittiwakes as well with most of these also heading south and the handful that went north turned round and soon came back. There was only a single adult with the rest being 1cy birds. The best bird was a dark phase Fulmar (havhest). It was heading slowly south and was perhaps not in great shape. Its dark plumage and laboured way of flying really made me look hard at it first and I can see how dark morph Fulmars can be misid as something rarer as they can look so much different to the pale birds we are used to seeing.

poor pictures as usual from Krokstrand with light and distance conspiring against me but here I show Little Auk (alkekonge), Razorbill (alke) and Guillemot (lomvi)

This Common Seal (steinkobbe) was offshore for a few seconds before disappearing

a 1st winter Kittiwake (krykkje) with an adult Common Gull (fiskemåke). The adults of these two species are often confused with each other by less experienced observers but the 1cy Kittiwake is difficult to confuse unless of course you want to string a Sabines Gull at range and bad light

1cy Kittikwake

Little Auk coming into land. It dived the second after it landed

On the drive home I went shriking and had three Great Greys within 10 minutes of each other along a 6km stretch of road.  I have seen two of the birds a couple of times already this autumn/winter and all three are in traditional areas for this species. I have always wondered whether it is returning birds that use these traditional areas of whether they are so attractive that they are fought over by news birds each year. Looking at the pictures I took of two of the birds today both look to be adults and one of them has the same pattern on the lores as a bird I photographed in the same location on 1 Dec 2014 suggesting very strongly a returning bird.

The shrike in Maridalen was not to be seen today and it is a while since it was last reported so it may have moved on now. It will be interesting to see if a Shrike returns here next autumn in adult plumage thereby as good as confirming a returning bird. A family party of 6 Whooper Swans in Maridalen was surely the breeding family but where have they been since they were last reported 14 November?

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) 1. Clean white underparts and a seemingly black bill suggest adult

Great Grey Shrike 3. Difficult to tell but probably also an adult. Here is a link to a bird photographed at the same spot on 1 Dec 2014  wing pattern and a weak lore line suggest to me it is the same bird

Map showing where the three shrikes were (the green spots within the white shapes). The white shapes show what I believe are the territories based on sightings this year and in previous winters. Bird 1 is the southernmost and bird 3 the northernmost territory.


  1. Grey seal på norsk er havert. Steinkobbe er Harbor seal. Jeg tror selen på bildet er en hunn havert.

  2. Takk Jonas. Jeg mente å skrive Common/Harbour Seal (jeg har nå endret det) men fordi jeg selv var litt usikker på hva slags sel den var ble jeg litt fovirret når jeg skrev bloggen ;-) Jeg kom frem til at selen var en steinkobbe og ikke havert primært fordi den har ikke en "roman nose" som havert skulle har og har men er ikke sikker.