Tuesday 29 April 2014

Tripple yankee doodle doo

Busy times indeed. Blue sky and steady easterly winds all the way from south eastern Europe to Norway made spring bird migration finally arrive! Despite little snow, and early spring botanical wise, birds this year has been rather late arriving due to long lasting northerly winds. But last week all this changed. I was planning a relaxing easter holiday with family, but already on the second day - 19 April, three avocets near Oslo (550kilometers away) made me hit the road. The birds were seen through the day and last updated only 1,5 hrs before dark in the evening. I drove most of the night, but despite being on the spot ready to X at sunrise, the birds were already gone. I searched the nearby area most of the day but all I was left with was the beautiful sunrise in the morning as well as an Osprey (fiskeørn), two Barn swallows (låvesvale) and 4 Northern shovelers (skjeand) which was all new to the Big Year list and brought the total up to 167.

The long drive back went smooth, but uneventful bird wise.

New: 3
Total 167

One day home again, trying to do some raptor watching in hope of any of the kite species (glenter) to turn up. I did find a Hen harrier (myrhauk) and had a pair of peregrines (vandrefalk) mating at a traditional nesting site. Great nature experiences indeed. This peregrine nesting site, me and some friends discoveres already in 1992, and assuming at least one of the birds still are the same individiual, it starting to be a pretty good age for the birds. Golden eagles (kongeørn) also nest in the area and the male did aerial courtship display for most of the day - securing this species to my Big Year list as well.

Several lapland longspur (lappspurv) were seen during a few short days
in my home area during Easter.

Next day, I awoke to the news of a Lesse scaup (purpurhodeand). One hour later, flight tickets were purchased. The lesser scaup being the star attraction of course, but also in the area, only a few hundred meters away from each other, there were also a male Ring necked duck (ringand) and the long staying Surf scoter (brilleand) that I missed on an earlier visit to the area. In other words, a luxury of 3 American species in Europe within short distance!  Landing at Stavanger airport, I had 1.5 hours to pick up my rental car, drive 30 mins to the localities and to see all the birds before dark. I made it both the ring necked duck and some rather distant, but satisfying views of the Lesser scaup. The latter being a lifer for me, so this was well worth the visit!

The last minutes of light was used to search all the swallows in hope of any Red-rumped swallow or  any harrier that would decide to have night roost in the large reed areas of Ergavannet.

The luxury of three American birds within few hundred meters from
each other in Norway. Ergavann in the foreground, the famous Orrevann back
to the right and the ocean on the left.

Ducks are certainly not the easiest to photograph, and difinetly not on either
of these loclaities which are both nature reserves and difficult to approach due to
agricultural land and lots birds you can potentially disturb. They are best viewed
at a distance through a spotting scope. Ring-necked duck on the left (you can barely
get the head shape).

New: 5
Total: 172

Next morning - I enjoyed the nice and warm weather and tried a little bit again for the Lesser scaup, but without luck as most of the ducks were at very long distance. I then went on to search for the surf scoter. Last time I tried for this, heavy waves and strong winds, made searching very difficult. Now, on the other hand, weather could not have been better. Flat calm sea, blue sky and with the sun warming on my back it didn't take too long before I found the bird actively feeding on the far side of the bay. Happy to finally have caught up with this bird, I enjoyed the record influx of ring ouzel (ringtrost) at Jæren (at least 20 birds) before I made my way to other side of the bay in hope of getting a photo of the surf scoter. By the time I made it there, the bird unfortunately had moved far out at sea, and I found it back sleeping way too far away for any pictures....

Searching for other birds, made a few nice additions to the big year list, but nothing rare. I again visited the ring necked duck and saw the Lesser-white fronted goose (dverggås) in that had been in the area for a few days. This species is very high on my wish list, but this particular bird originates from captive birds put out in Sweden in hope of rescuing the species from extinction in Western Europe, and thus not count on my Big Year list. Hope to see this handsome goose on the breeding grounds in northern Norway later in May. In the evening I flew back home, to reach a very early morning flight to Russia the next morning.

The short visit to Russia, could possibly not have been timed more badly, as the strong easterly winds prevailed and brought lots of good stuff to Southern Norway. Though most of these species, I feel I have a very good chance to catch up with during May - which is only a few days away.

I am now going birding virtually every day, and starting this afternoon with a long drive to southern Norway in hope of a black-necked grebe (svarthalsdykker) that has already been present for a few days. A very rare bird in Norway which usually are only two or three times a year in this country.

Wish me luck!

New: 5
Total: 177

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