Friday, 8 January 2016

Tour de Østfold

My first tour of the year with Rune was an adrenalin fuelled Tour de Østfold which I survived and we pretty much cleaned up as well as finding a couple of good birds ourselves.

We arrived at our first port of call at 9am when with cloud cover it was possible to see birds but documenting digitally would be a challenge. A group of rossicus Bean Geese with a single albifrons White-fronted Goose for company has been reported from an area named Bird Beak (Fuglenebb) although were not reported yesterday. We did not find them here today but did very surprisingly find two Meadow Pipits who surely face a certain demise with snow and temperatures below -10C. Nearby we checked a traditional site for Little Grebes and found a stonking 5 birds. As we were leaving a small flock of geese flew up from the field behind us and soon landed again. As ordered we had relocated the 8 Beans and after some searching found the White-front amongst them. The White-front is a 1st winter and was surprisingly difficult to pick out. The bird has some black barring on the belly which has led to some confusion as to its age but the very limited white around the bill and black nail on the bill leave no doubt as to its age. It is rare for 1st winter White-fronts to show black belly barring but it does (clearly) occur. I really am fond of geese so it was good to see these birds at relatively close range although the light was cr*p.

After this early success we visited the Great Big Dump where the stench was particularly bad but luckily we connected with most of the desired species and most importantly of all quickly: Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and Bearded Tit.

After this we had a drive by Great Grey Shrike but failed to find a Hawkie that has been hawking his wares recently from the top of some street lamps.

We headed for the coast at Saltnes with a vague hope of divers but were shocked to find two Curlews. It was bitterly cold here and the shoreline was froze n so I hope they had some immediate plans of heading south.

Kurefjorden was not yet frozen due to the wind but had few birds with Great Crested Grebe and Velvet Scoter the highlights. At the mouth of the fjord we found no overwintering raptors but two Rock Pipits were good.
the stubble field the geese had chosen was close to a farm
a large flock of Jackdaws (kaie) and Crows (kråke) joined the geese causing the geese to fly a 100 metres

the 1st winter albifrons White-fronted Goose (tundragås). From the side the white around the bill is not visible. Note the black nail to the bill confirming it as a juvenile/1st winter
here we can see a minimal amount of white over the bill. Note that it has some black streaking on the belly. This is at the extreme end for birds of this age and has confused some observers and led them to aging it as a 2nd winter which it clearly isn't
this bird is advanced in its post juvenile moult and has developed adult like rear flanks
snaphot from the video showing the bill in better detail
another video snapshot. These video snapshots are better than I can get from cropping stills

Bean (sædgås) and the White-fronted Goose. It was quite difficult to pick out the White-front and it was overlooked on the first day he geese were seen
Two rossicus Bean Geese - note the short necks and high foreheads (in comparison to fabalis)
the goose flock in flight. It is only the ill colour that separates (for me) the White-front from the Beans
a final picture of the geese
The Hen Harrier (myrhauk) at Øra. This bird is reported as a 2cy female but I'm not sure the secondaries are dark enough
one of two Buzzards (musvåk) we had today
we surprised these 2 Curlews (storspove) in a fozen bay and they then flew past us calling

we only managed to relocate a single bird resting on an icy island

two very unseasonal Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) in highly unsuitable habitat
Rock Pipit (skjærpiplerke) is an expected although very scarce species in winter

Two female Scaup (bergand) with a male Tufted Duck (toppand)

White-tailed Eagle (havørn) on someones garden list. The traces of black in the tail and dark head show this bird to be a sub adult
the first picture of the day taken at 0924 in poor light. Can you see two of the five Little Grebes that were here?

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