Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Guiding Gold

The last two days I have been guiding Judith and Alan from Cambridgeshire and have two of the best birding and guiding days I can remember. Great birds, great people, hard work and reward from the bird gods!

Yesterday we started the day looking for Hazel Grouse. It wasn’t until the 5th territory (which is always the surest one but also the longest to walk to) that we found the bird but then we had a great series of fleeting glimpses of flying and running birds in a wet and thick forest which made everything worthwhile. We also had a flyover Black Grouse and later heard one bubbling away.
After this Maridalen delivered the goods: Black Woodpecker, Tawny Owl (parent and young), Goshawk, Black and Red-throated Divers and a Great Snipe that for once showed in the open. Plus of course lots of commoner birds. In the evening I also found time for a quick trip up between delivering and collecting children and found a 2nd summer Little Gull.

Today I had Nordre Øyeren as the destination. It was overcast and drizzling (same as yesterday) and with a southerly wind which is pretty darn good conditions in May.

We started at Svellet where there is still a nice sized area of mud. The makeup of the waders has changed dramatically. Gone are large numbers of Greenshank and there were far fewer Wood Sands but Dunlin, Ruff, Redshank and Ringed Plover were now numerous. I have always hoped for good wader conditions in the second half of May as I believe the potential for exciting species is high and one of these is Broad-billed Sandpiper which sure enough I found!! Zak managed to twitch it before we moved on to Årnestangen ;-)

The walk out was disappointingly quiet but as we got to the tip we had a hunting Short-eared Owl, then Garganey, more Dunlin, Bluethroat and Scaup. There were lots of birds around and it was all capped off by flyover Dotterel which I first heard calling for a while as it must have been flying in circles before I picked it up and it then decided to fly off to the west rather than landing.

Walking back to the car we had a close female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker then checked out Snekkervika. Hobby, Sedge Warbler, Redstart, Gadwall, Pintail. Pied and Spotted Flycatchers were all good birds but the undoubted highlight was a large group of lekking Ruff that gave great scope views. The prime goal of Judith and Alan’s trip to Norway is to see lekking Ruff which they will do in Finnmark later this week so this was a huge bonus to see them here. It was also fantastic for me – I have seen Ruff lekking a few times before but never like this whilst they are on passage close to Oslo.
You would have thought that the day couldn’t be bettered – well you thought wrong. A last stop at Svellet to see if there was any change in the waders (birds had been flying over when we were at Årnestangen) revealed similar numbers although Dunlin had risen to 61 which is by far and away my highest spring count. I kept scanning and scanning without finding anything new and exciting and then had a final scan where I scanned over the water (rather than mud) and boom! Finally, a bird that I have been waiting to see in Norway – a Caspian Tern! It was resting with its head and bill hidden but there was no doubting it identity but when it got the carrot out I went all mushy J

My digital recordings of the last two days action are limited as my own pictures are not the priority when guiding but I was able to record for prosperity some of the highlights.


Black Woodpecker (svartspett)

Great Snipe (dobbeltbekkasin)

2nd summer Little Gull (dvergmåke) 
Tawny Owl (kattugle)

nestling Tawny Owls

Bluethroat (blåstrupe) 
Caspian Tern (rovterne)

Garganey (knekkand)

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 
waders at Svellet. Somewhere amongst them is a Broad-brilled Sandpiper

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