Anyway, this time, the bird was reported at a harbour in downtown Fredrikstad. Even though close to the rubbish tip, it was seen at the same place twice and happily was attracted by bread. I decided to give it a go!
Starting 2 in the morning from home, ment driving all night. Advantage by driving during the night is that you save an hour because you don't need to meet all those driving in 60 km/hours (and believe me, there are lots of them! )The disadvantage - especially in winter is the number of moose (elg) along the roads. I almost got hit by one and a near moose death experience made the trip a bit more exciting than I liked. Because of the forestry industry and that Norway has eradicated all large predators that feed on moose, Norway has an extremely high moose population. Some believe that bears and wolves are dangerous, but the really dangerous animal in Norwgian forests is the moose. Several people get killed each year in car vs moose accidents. This time I managed to stop the car only 5 meters in front of moose, that pretended to be king of the road for a moment. I didn't dispute him. I hade 3 moose crossing the road in front of the car dueing this trip, but only one close one. Moose out of the way and 600km later I was surprisingly bright and shiny - ready for some gull action Fredrikstad.
But the story repeat itself...all day throwing bread in all different directions, but no caspian gull. About 7 years ago, I was at the same place for the exact same reason, and did the exact same thing - offering the finest bread I could buy for all gulls in Fredrikstad without the caspian taking the bait. Although a few caspian look alike, the star himself didn't want to put on a show. I wanted to try the next morning again, as I felt pretty sure the bird was in the area. Later that evening, news came out that the bird had been seen at Øra, the rubbish tip. The challenge was on - or the nightmare if you prefer...
|My view for the whole day. Some gulls, but not any caspian....|
Well, next morning after some more bread throwing exercise without any luck downtown Fredrikstad, I made my way to Øra. My hope was very slim but sometimes even I get lucky. Two hours searching, and suddenlly there it was. Sitting amongst a few hundred other birds. Flat head profile, white head and breast and pale upperparts. A small black eye, and long relatively slim blackish bill. I am far from any gull expert, but this individual stood out quite well from the rest. The most important feature though, was obscured by other gulls. I didn't manage to see the length of the legs properly. One gull moved, and I managed to see briefly one of the legs. Suddenly, as the only gull in the flock, it took to the wings, but I managed to take a few pictures of the beauty before it dissappeared amongst the herds of other gulls. Despite being in the area for 2 more hours, I didn't find it back. The whole observation only took 1 minute, but what a minute it was! This was not only an adition to my Big Year list, but also a twitch for my Norway list! Big thank you to the finder, that also was the one to find it back on Øra in the evening and made me try a second day. Here is some pictures. Sorry for the bad quality as these are already cropped almost 100%.
While scanning for the caspian, I also came across some other interesting individuals, which I put into the box for variation of herring gull. The distance was very long, and almost all these pictures are cropped and even enlarged a bit. With such bad picture quality, it is impossible to make anything out of it, but I anyway want to show some of them to illustrate the difficulties these gulls represent.
|Different individual than the one above. Again, very pale head and breast,|
and generally pale above reminds us of some of the features for caspian.
With its rounded head shape and short bill, jizz is however all wrong for caspian.
With the caspian gull safely bagged, I started the long drive home. I was planning to try a little owling, but too much wind made all the owls silent. I did however see two tengmalm's owls feeding along one of the many forest roads. A handsome addition to my Big Year list. At 4 am I was finally home after the 1500 kilometers long trip from start to end.
Inspired by the gull fest down south, I did go to my local patch today to feed the gulls. Just a hundred meters or so away from my garden, I was surprised by a Tundra bean goose (Sædgås ua rossicus) - a very welcome garden twitch!
|A rare treat for my garden!|
Well, tomorrow I am off for some family business and holiday in Turkey. So my Big Year list will stand still for two weeks, before I really will start my birding effort in March.
New species: 2