At the end of June every year we are lucky enough to borrow a cabin along the coast south of Oslo. My blog posts from these stays are normally about butterflies and Red-backed Shrikes although I do visit the same area both spring and autumn to sea gaze.
We are staying at the cabin now for a long weekend and given the time of the year and some southerly winds forecast I had some high hopes for sea gazing. Second half of May is when there is a chance for Pomarine or Long-tailed Skuas, White-billed Diver, Brent Geese, sea duck and maybe a scarce tern.
Thursday evening when we arrived I could see some Common Scoter on the sea and I felt this was promising. I was up early the next morning and 3 hours gave me not a single Common Scoter.... I did have 10 Velvets going south but the only tern was a single Common. The only real evidence of migration was provided by Red-throated Divers with 17 birds noted. I did have one bird though that made the 3 hours worthwhile and that was a summer plumage White-billed Diver!
I gaze from the patio of the cabin (see picture) which gives an OK view with the scope but the angle is limited and I will miss birds flying close. The diver was indeed flying close and only just popped into view and if I had been at my usual watchpoint would have shown very well. As it was I enjoyed it for one second in the scope, ran to get my camera fom the table, struggled to get the camera to focus on the white sea and managed 5 grainy and blurry pictures of the bird flying away from me. Not exactly the best way to enjoy a bird of such quality...
Saturday morning gave me not a single migrating bird in 2 hours...
Sunday I slept in but occasional scans of the sea during the day revealed no sign of movement.
Monday morning however was much better. I was watching from 05:45 and initially the wind was a bit northerly but then it swung south although frequent rain made things a bit difficult. The absolute highlight was a pale phase Pomarine Skua with a Gannet, a large mixed flock of waders, Long-tailed Duck, Honey Buzzard and Hobby also good. Quite a few Common and Velvet Scoters and Red-throated Divers were the most numerous birds. I was clearly not fully on the ball though as far more was seen both south and then later north of me.
I had not expected much on the butterfly front as it was so early in the year but yet again my expectations were not met. It was actually very good even though quantity wise there was little. I saw fresh examples of both Grizzled and Dingy Skipper which are species I have only previously seen here but at end of June when they are tatty. The real butterfly highlight though was an embarrasing affair which I would have been scathing of were it a bird and another observer... but it also confirmed the importance of always documenting your records which I try to do. I saw a blue butterfly which I took a picture of but as I assumed only one species flew so early in the spring I did not look at any details. I posted the picture along with some others on Facebook and labelled it as Holly Blue (vårblåvinge). Luckily someone called me out and my first ever Green-underside Blue (kløverblåvinge) was a fact. This is a red listed species and wasn’t on my radar and I see now that an even rarer species Chequred Blue (klippeblåvinge) also flies early so I should be careful with the assumptions I make if I hope to add to my butterfly list!
There were plenty of other birds to entertain and with most of them singing it was a pleasure for the senses. Wood Warbler (including one with very short trills veryreminiscent of Western Bonelli’s Warbler), Garden Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Pied Fly, Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were just some of the birds.
|the view from the terrace|
|and a much improved view from the neighbouring cabin|
|White-billed Diver (gulnebblom) - this counts as a record shot doesn't it? The bottom left picture even shows the bill....|
|Pomarine Skua (polarjo) - this definitely counts as the "spoons" are visible :-)|
|male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett)|
|Wood Warbler (bøksanger)|
|mixed flock of Common and Velvet Scoters (svartand og sjøorre)|
|mixed wader flock - at least 3 species including Redshank (heard) and Dunlin (ID from photo)|
|Orange tip (aurorasommerfugl)|
|Small Copper (ildgulvinge)|
|Grizzled Skipper (bakkesmyger)|
|Green Hairstreak (grønnstjertvinge)|
|Dingy Skipper (tiriltungesmyger)|
|Green-underside Blue (kløverblåvinge)|
|2cy Goshawk (hønsehauk)|
|Hobby (lerkefalk) with prey|