Monday, 31 May 2021

The mountains report part I

I am back from three fantastic but very intense days in the mountains around Valdres and Beitostølen. I visit this area every year either with the family or guiding and it is one of my favourite areas in Norway, one I know well and an area where many exciting species can be seen. A visit at the end of May or beginning of June when there is still lots of snow and ice and lots of birds impatient to start breeding offers many opportunities for close views of birds as they congregate in the few snow/ice free areas.

This trip was with Conor C staying at his cabin and enjoying his hospitality whilst I provided the guiding and birding knowledge. It was a good combo 😊

The weather was perfect with it suddenly being very warm, sunny and little wind after a period of bad weather. Birds were keen to get on with breeding and there was lots of song and display.

Up on Valdresflye there were lots of Lemmings and they were both running over the snow and along the side of the road. As we drove along with the windows down we could here them calling! I have never seen so many Lemmings up here and one would expect large numbers of raptors and owls but that was now the case at all and in fact I have never seen so few raptors up there as I saw on this trip which is a hard one to explain.

A pair of Long-tailed Skuas showed exceptionally well and they are the Lemming eating specialist one most hopes to see so the lack of raptors wasn’t dwelled upon too much although it would have been nice to see Short-eared Owls.

Great Snips showed at my lek with 4 males displaying and a fifth bird that was probably a female. They were already in action in sunlight at 9pm when we arrived (a bit later than planned) but the level of activity was lower than at the same time last year. I also discovered a new Great Snipe lek which was in a large field and a much different type of lek. Here we had 4 birds displaying but they were rather spread out over the field and activity here was also not great. So, I have now discovered two Great Snipe leks and most likely a third (displaying birds in the daytime but I never visited in the evening to confirm) which I don’t think many birds can say.

Rock and Willow Ptarmigan both showed very well with and surprisingly we had Willow higher up on Valdresflye than Rock. Dotterel and Shore Lark only showed at long range in the scope which was a bit of a disappointment but Lapland Bunting and Temminck’s Stint showed very well.

Bluethroats were every where and gave photo opportunities that were almost unrivalled.


I upload over 2200 photos and video onto my hard drive and after a number of hours I am down to “only” 700 so it will take a while to go through everything and the photos will have to come in a few instalments. I will start with some landscape shots taken on my phone and showcase some excellent in habitat flight shots of the Long-tailed Skuas that Conor took.

A lot of ducks and waders were concentrated on the small ice free are of this lake 


a rare picture of me. Taken at 940m on a hot day!

Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) Photo Conor Cunnigham

Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) Photo Conor Cunnigham

Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) Photo Conor Cunnigham

Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) Photo Conor Cunnigham

Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) Photo Conor Cunnigham

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