Saturday 12 April 2014

Green-winged teal

03 April

The day started way too early. Already at 3 am I found myself on the road! I received tip of a Lynx (gaupe) that was eating on a roe deer (rådyr) kill a few hours away (thanks to local newspapers!). This is a mammal I have worked a lot with, but never actually seen wild in Norway. I just had to try for this! In short, I didn't see it, but got Long-tailed tit (stjertmeis) as a comfort prize instead.....This was only the start of my journey this time though.  News of a green-winged teal (amerikakrikkand) that seemed to have settled down a bit reached me the other week, I went for a visit :)

Every year, along with the common teal (krikkand) migration, a few of this American vagrants also show up. April is indeed THE month to see it in Norway, so no surprise with timing or the locality which was Starene - a flooded field near Hamar in southern Norway. Actually, this was my first visit ever to this place. A very nice bonus of doing a Big Year is indeed that I get to visit places and bird localities I have never seen before. After half an hour searching - I found the green-wined teal amongst the other ducks. The evening sun was setting, and with no wind and in the company of some local birders - I truly had a nice time at this site. Birding wasn't too bad either as species such as Pintail (stjertand), Long-eared (horn-) and Short-eared owl (jordugle), White-fronted goose (tundragås), Stock dove (skogdue) and a Stout (røyskatt) made an appearence. Only the short-eared owl was new for the Big Year list.

Look very careful here, and you will see the Green-winged teal's diagnostic
 vertical white line in front of the wing. Ths place is very open, and not
 made for photographers as it is impossible to get close to the bird without
 disturbing them - at least that's the excuse I am haning on to in excuse
 for this rather poor and severly cropped image.

I had timed this trip with the weather forecast, to go south for a day with blue sky in hope of searching up a Red kite (glente). The night was again spent in the comfort of the front seat of my car so that the next morning I would be ready for some birding at Kurefjorden, Rygge. A famous bird site that sometimes also get kites flying by - missed it by one day a week ago!

New birds: 3
Total: 153

04 April
Most of the day was spent at this site and I got plenty of migration and new birds for my Big Year list. Nothing rare, but species such as, Marsh tit (løvmeis), Merlin (dvergfalk), Kestrel (tårnfalk), Rough-legged buzzard (fjellvåk), Dunnock (jernspurv), Chiffchaff (gransanger), Green woodpecker (grønnspett) were all new birds to the Big Year list. However, probably the three best birds were a flock of 8 bean geese (sædgås), a Crane (trane) and a Bar-tailed godwit (lappspove) but none of these were big year ticks. While standing looking for migrating raptors I got a message about some Garganeys (knekkand) a few kilometers further south. So since the raptor migration was rather slow, I decided to have a look in the afternoon. Garganeys are semi rare in Norway, so why spoil this chance. Yet again, for the 3rd time this year already, I found myself in Fredrikstad - about 600km away from home.

Two out of 6 Garganeys seen at this place :)

This day also brought me on top of the year tick listers for the first time this year. Many people have seemed a bit worried that I have been displaying so far down on the lists so far this year. I do have a plan, and all that really matters to me is where I am on this list at the end of this year.

New birds: 8
Total: 161

05 April
I spent the night at a friend's place in Oslo before I decided to search for swans. I am really getting a bit nervous that my chance of Bewick's swan (dvergsvane) has eluded me this year because of an unusually early swan migration. Normally last week of March is the peak for these, but this year warm winter made them travel through already first week of March. On top of this, they seem to get a bit harder to get in Norway as only three birds have been seen this year - two of them I missed by only a few hours!

I searched all the traditional places for swans in the inner parts east of Oslo and the large valley all the way up to Trondheim (a roughly 560km drive), but only about 40 whooper swans (sangsvaner) were seen.  I did find a flock of 4 Green sandpipers (skogsnipe) at Hærsetsjøen, which was the only big year tick of today.

The next evening I tried again for the lynx, that still was reported to feed on its kill. I spent three evenings here. That is my excuse for not have kept the blog updated, but more on that later.

New: 1
Total: 162


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