Saturday 23 August 2014

Lista Bird Observatory

In Norway, we have very few bird observatories. Even fewer that has done long term ringing and observations in a standardized way. Lista bird observatory is the one with the longest tradition, and together with Jomfruland (in the outer Oslo fjord area) – the most important bird observatory in Norway today. The Lista area at the very south tip of Norway, is not only one of the very best places to watch birds in Norway but also a place which attracts a lot migrants. This area is therefore very important to keep track of the bird migration and to monitor the trends of the different species. These trends are very difficult to pick up, unless you do things in a standardized way for a long time. Long time series are therefore crucial for acquiring this sort of knowledge.

The observatory is placed next to Lista lighthouse, where they have been monitoring the bird migration in a standardized way since 1990. As well as ringing and count all the birds, the Lista bird observatory has also made a very informative web site about their activities. I highly recommend to visit it regularly, as here are daily logs put out and also a lot of fun statistics for many of the species that migrate past Lista. To be honest, it is actually one of the more interesting bird web sites I know of, as a lot of information is gathered and put out there in an interesting and informative way.

I also used their website to target in some of the species I needed for my Big Year that I knew would be difficult to see elsewhere in Norway. By using their statistics, you can pinpoint when the migration peaks for the different species are. In that way, if you really want to see certain species, you can increase your chances a lot by using information put out on their web site. I spent most of May at Lista, as this is one of the best places in Norway for birding as well as a very scenic and beautiful place to just be. It is placed on the south tip of Norway, but reachable with bus from Kristiansand from the east or Stavanger from the west. If you drive yourself, it takes about 6 hours from Oslo, 2hrs from Kristiansand and about 2,5 hours from Stavanger (If there is a rarity you will make in 2…).

So if you are a birder living in, or visiting Norway, you should definitely make a trip to Lista. The planning of the trip you will for sure do by visiting their web site which is in both Norwegian and English.

Here are a few pictures from the Lighthouse area.  

Entrance road to the light house and bird observatory area.

View inland from the light house over Gunnarsmyra. Early mornings and
late evenings - this is a very good place to keep an eye on as it has more
than its share of rarities through the years.

The ringing garden in the very right of the picture, and the light house property.
From the top of this hill, it is a very nice view over the ocean and this is where
a lot of the observations are done. On calm days this is also a good spot
for watching the passerine (spurvefugl) migration that will pass just over
your head.

The ringing "office" is the building immediately to the right of the light house.
There is also an information scenter here, where you can get all the latest news. Open
during tourist season and otherwise a few days a week. 

I am still out at sea, and in a little bit of pain as the very first Great black-headed gull (steppemåke) for Norway is in Oslo at the moment. I am stuck at sea until 10 September, but am still hoping for the gull to be real long stayer. At the moment, it seems that early morning and late evenings is the best time to see as it is out in the fjord feeding during day time and only come in to town to roost next to the new fancy Opera house. 


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