Friday, 10 August 2018

I got a Kite for my birthday

Today is my birthday and I rewarded myself with a wet and windy early morning slog out to Årnestangen. The reason for this was that there had been heavy rain from about 3am and I hoped this would cause a large fall of waders. I did this on the back of less than 6 hours sleep after Norwegian Airlines had made us wait as long for our luggage as we had been in the air coming back from Gatwick (they seem to have put all the luggage on the wrong conveyor and only realised their error after people got fed up waiting and started reporting missing luggage).

Anyway, the god of bird sightings is clearly reasonably happy with my behaviour over the last 365 days but the bird god who has responsibility for dishing out photo (even record shot) opportunities is clearly less happy.

As I walked out to Årnestangen I had no over flying waders so knew I wasn't going to be in for a big day but 45 minutes later when I set my scope up at the end of the peninsula the first sweep resulted in a juvenile Mountain Marsh Runner aka Broad-billed Sandpiper.
This species is still considered a good local rarity and is historically less than annual but this is my third record from Årnestangen this year so its status may be changing. Over the next 2 hours I realised there were 2 Mountain Runners as well as a Barwit, Spot Red and 3 Knot that flew purposefully south. No stints and only 8 Dunlin but 53 Ringed Plovers were an OK count and all in all I noted 16 species of wader, so it wasn't too bad at all.

But my main birthday present from the god of bird sightings came as I drove away from Årnestangen. About 200m in front of me I saw 2 largish raptors fly slow and lazily over the road and disappear behind some trees. As I drew level with where they had disappeared they were hanging low down in the wind and if I was in the UK would not have hesitated to shout Red Kite. This is Norway though and I had cars behind me so had to continue until I could turn around. Amazingly enough the birds were still there a minute later and were clearly searching for food over gardens in an area that was being developed for housing. I was able to get the bins up and saw the heavily forked tail being angled up and down, the classic kite wing shape when it glides with its fingers very obvious, the pale head, pale panel on underside of wing and pale bar on top of wing. I then frantically tried to get my camera out from its waterproof bag, inside my rucksack which was underneath my wet coat on the passenger seat. By the time I had camera in hand all that I could see was the back end of a bird disappearing behind some trees on a ridge less than 100 m away and got no shot. I thought it would be an easy task of driving around and relocating them, but I was wrong. During the course of 20 minutes I couldn't find them (although I did see Kestrel, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Goshawk) but the persistent calls from Jr Jr could not be ignored and I had to go home. I bet they are still in the area though as the weather is not exactly raptor friendly. Although I have seen two Red Kites in Oslo this is my first sighting in Akershus County.

ADDENDUM: As I sat at home with the girls opening my birdthday presents the wind was so strong that the house shook (and I had had a stream of messages for teh previous two hours of seabirds further south). I had to excuse myself and rush down to Fornebu (it was my birthday afterall). I have never experienced such wind there or seen so many windsurfers but the wind had clearly not been blowing long enough for any seabirds to be blown so far in. However I did find yet another goodie, and the best of the day with a juvenile Med Gull (svartehavsmåke) being blown past me at high speed. Yet again though the bird photo god was not on my side (I have now got to WRITE two rarities descriptions without just being able to write "look at the photos")

With no bird photos to show here is a couple of landscape shots from Årnestangen.

looking north west

looking south west with the exposed mudbanks in the middle of the photo

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