Monday, 26 July 2010

Hytte birding

We have spent 3 days at the family cabin (or hytte as they say in Norway) near Naurstad which is 30 minutes inland from Bodø by a small fjord. The fjord had feeding pairs of Red and Black Throated Divers alongside more numerous Oystercatchers and Common and Herring Gulls. A lone Lesser Black Backed Gull was of the race fuscus and a Grey Heron, Redshank and Common Tern also put in an appearance. 2 Waxwings flying over were unexpected and perhaps indicative of local breeding. Redpolls were common including a fine male feeding om grass seedheads only yards away. A Woodcock flew over in the evening and nearby we had an elk and fox. A well worn animal track up from the fjord to the cabin which continued under the veranda was presumeably from an otter. Nearby farmland turned up a surprising flock of 13 Ruff which comprised both males and females all of which appeared to be juveniles. The size difference between the sexes was very obvious with the males appearing twice as large as the females. Also nearby a flock of 15 GoldenPlover and a single Shelduck, 3 Yellow Wagtails and a family party of Spotted Flycatchers.

A day trip to visit relatives at Røsvik (north of Fauske) had us passing Klungsevika which is a well known bay which often holds good numbers of duck, divers and waders. There were many duck but without a scope I had trouble identifying them at distance. There were definitely many hundred Velvet Scoter plus over 100 Goldeneye and Eider, 3Long Tailed Duck and small numbers of Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Red Breasted Merganser along with 7 Black Throated Divers. We also passed Kvittblikvannet where again a telescope would have come in handy. I did pick out a couple of Slavonian Grebes, a family party of Whooper Swans, Wigeon and Tufted Ducks. Røsvik is a small village by a bay in a fjord and we were greeted by glorious sunshine and 23 degrees. There were many hundreds of gulls here including Black Headed which must have bred nearby as there were many newly fledged young. Eiders, Goosanders and Red Breated Mergansers were on the see and waders were represented by Oysrtcathcer, Redshank and Curlew. 2 porpoises were also glimpsed. A Golden Plover in a small cemetry under large trees was an unexpected sight. 2 Reindeer along the road must have been tame animals but 3 elk by the road on the way home were definitely not and included the first horned male I have ever seen.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Værøy, Røst & Bodø

We took the ferry back from Værøy to Bodø today via Røst. We all took sea sickness tablets after the uncomfortable journey out but in the end had a relatively gentle trip. The birding was quite rewarding a well worth getting cold for. Birds seem to be most numerous between 1 and 2 km offshore and in sight on the breeding cliffs with relatively little to see further out or closer in. Highlights were in total 13 STRORM PETRELS close to Røst which is a norwegian tick for me despite having taking this same ferry route 3 times previously. Also 4 Great Skuas were a good bird. Puffins were easily the most numerous bird and in addition to many flocks of birds on the sea they could be seen distantly swarming around their breeding sites on both Værøy and Røst. Razorbills and Black Guillemots were seen in 10's but I noted only a single Guillemot. Kittiwakes were also numerous including a breeding colony on a house in the harbour at Røst which you can just about mak out in this picture. I also saw my first Fulmars of 2010 and noted a single Cormorant amongst numerous Shags.

On Thursday I noted Ring Ouzel on Værøy and also saw a single seal.

Here are a selection of pictures showing Værøy from various angles and in different weather conditions. When the sun shines it really is a beatiful place. In the middle picture the pond to the left of the picture was the location for the King Eider.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Still on Værøy

Another day on Værøy. Off the north of the island were good numbers of Kittiwakes plus a few Goosander (rather than Mergansers). A pair of Lesser Black Backed Gulls looked to be closer to the race Intermidius although apparantly there might be a hybrid population in this part of Norway between Graellsii and Fuscus which rather complicates matters . Highlight was a light phase Arctic Skua. On land a Cuckoo seen twice perched on wires and dropping down for food was possibly a returning migrant bird as were 2 Whimbrels on the shore. Overhead 2 adult White Tailed Eagles were circling over the cliff top.
Back around the wetlands near the harbour the female King Eider was still present on the same pool alongside a female Pintail with 7 young in tow.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Lesser Black-backed Gull ssp.Graellsii
Female King Eider
Spending a few days on the island of Værøy which is one of the outer Lofoten islands. Birdlife is scarce here (if you don’t count the seabird colonies which are only accessible by boat). Around the harbour were numerous Herring and Common Gulls with smaller numbers of Great Black backed Gulls. Amongst them were 2 Lesser Black Backed Gulls which were of the British race Graellsii. Birds of this race apparantly breed in Lofoten alongside fuscus. A couple of Kittiwakes were year ticks as were a couple of Gannets seen distantly over the sea. A few Common Terns were fishing in the harbour to add to a couple of Arctic Terns seen yesterday on the ferry ride over (this was a very very choppy ride with much vomiting!!). Eider ducks, Greylag Geese and Red Breasted Mergansers were common and all had young along with a a handful of Mallards including a female with 3 young. Best duck though was a female King Eider which gave great views and was even heard calling. This bird had a large amount of fishing line around its body which probably explains why it was here at this time of the year.Waders were represent by a pair of Runged Pover, Redshank and Oystecatcher. Passerines were represented by numerous Redpolls pluss maller numbers of Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, House Sparrow, Starling and Willow Warbler.
A scan of the sea at the north of the island had close in Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Shag and distant groups of Puffins flying past.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

North of the Arctic Circle

Spending a few days in Bodø which lies just north of the arctic circle. Little to report birdwise so far with just a White-tailed Eagle, a Black Guillemot and some truly wild Greylag Geese to liven things up. The following picture was taken at quarter to one at night!
The midnight sun unfortunately was not visible as it was behind an island but here you can see the light from the sun as it rises!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Further mountain sightings

Bygdin Lake

Rainbow over Valdresflya

Haugseter hotel from Vinstre lake

We were unexpectedly without internet the last week of our stay in the mountains so I was unable to post any updates. We moved down slightly below the tree line to the town of Beitostølen for the last week. Here birdlife was richer than at Haugseter. Around the town regular species included Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Bluethroat, Golden Plover, Redshank, Lesser Whitethroat, Teal, Cuckoo, Redpoll, Willow Warbler, Wheatear, Reed Bunting, Swift, Swallow and House Martin. A little more special was an immature Golden Eagle on 8 July and rarest of all a hybrid Swallow x House Martin on 5 July. This was consorting with Swallows (and was perhaps paired with one) but was seen inspecting nest sites under the eaves of a barn that would have been more suitable for a House Martin. I saw the bird well and noted the general Swallow appearance but with White Rump, short tail streamers and much reduced red throat and chest band. This is the second I have seen in Norway after one in Bodø about 10 years ago. Another trip to Valdresflya on Friday 2nd July did not reveal too many more species. This time I walked around the lakes to the east of the road and yet again was struck by how few birds there were. On the lakes 2 males Long Tailed Ducks were very nice as was a male Scaup but otherwise there was just a pair of Tufted Duck, a female Teal and a handful of Common Gulls. Waders were represented by 4 Golden Plover, 2 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover. A single Rough Legged Buzzard was the only raptor and passerines were represented by a nesting pair of Wheatear and a single Shorelark. The most numerous bird was Raven with 16(!) spread around the area mostly feeding on the ground – presumeably looking for insects of some kind. Such a high density of Ravens must surely have a negative effect on breeding ducks and waders especially when rodents are lacking. Best sighting was probably reindeer which unfortunately are not wild but nonetheless an impressive sight.

Otherwise we tried to identify the butterflies we saw. There appear to be at least 3 different types of Fritillary butterfly in these parts and below are pictures of what I believe are 2 different species:

Thursday, 1 July 2010


We went up to Valdresflya today one of the most accesible areas in southern norway for mountain specialities. This area is one of the most reliable for Long Tailed Skua in Norway but their abundance along with many other species is dependent on the rodent population and this year appears to be at the bottom of the cycle with no sign of lemmings at all. Correspondingly there was little to see today. We did find one Dotterel though - a male that was acting as though we had disturbed it from its nest. Dotterel is one of my very favourite birds and a trip to the mountains does not feel complete without seeing one.
Otherwise there were a few Wheatear and Meadow Pipits, three singing Shorelarks, a fine singing Lapland Bunting, a single Rough Legged Buzzard, just one Ringed Plover and most surprisingly only one Golden Plover. Normally I would have expected to see many tens of Golden Plovers along with Dunlin and maybe Purple Sandpipers aswell as Skuas.
Driving back along Vinstre lake there were more Ducks visible than previously and one flock contained 3 Scaup alongside 13 Tufted and 13 Goldeneye.

Yesterday evening I was out from 2130 until 0130 (which involved getting locked out of the hotel) in a quest to find lekking Great Snipe. Despite is being virtually windless and this perfect listening conditions, and despite the habitat looking good I was unable to find any. I did have 2 Woodcock in an area of birch trees and an Elk above the tree line but the only Snipe were 2 singing Common Snipe one of which was at the hotel.