Monday, 29 September 2014

Røst 3 - no birds for days, but then...

It is just an hour until my flight leaves, and my stay here at Røst has come to an end. Before I came, I had a vague hope of getting about 15 Big Year birds - I got 4....It is safe to say that bird wise, it has been a little bit of a dissappointment. Despite several birders out in the field every day, trawling gardens and tall grass fields, very few rare birds were found this year. But this is how "island birding" is. It is all up to the weather, and during my 14 days stay, we have had predominantly northerly winds. The polar front has been a little bit further south than normal and probably pushing the eastern vagrants a little bit south of Røst this time. Also, a big low pressure system has been quite steady over northern Finland and north west Russia further pushing birds in a more southerly route than Røst.

So, despite a lot of common migrants in the gardens, no real "sibes" were seen. The very last days, we got a strong low pressure system with 55 knots wind coming in quickly from the West. Such weather give hope of American vagrants, and as soon as the wind dropped and made birding possible, my friend Håvard discovered a Buff-breasted sandpiper (Rustsnipe) - an American wader. This was good news, as this was a lifer for me, and one of the birds I was hoping to see during my stay. Røst has proved to be a good place to see this species in the past.

However, of course things shouldn't be that easy. As my friend was on the phone to alarm me about the bird, the bird lifted and dissappeared far. In short, after walking about 25 kilometers searching, I had still not seen the bird, and had more or less given up on it. While searching, another friend alarmed me about another very good bird - this time an Eastern vagrant - Olive-backed pipit (sibirpiplerke). My friend and I decided to try for this instead and rather go back to search more for the sandpiper later. As we were leaving the area, a small flock of shore birds flew over head. 7 Golden plovers (heilo), 2 Grey plovers (tundralo) and two smaller waders. One was quickly identified to Sanderling (sandløper) but the other - wasn't that? YES, indeed - Buff-breasted sandpiper (rustsnipe) was flying back and forth overhead not really wanted to land. After doing this for a while, the sandpiper finally looked like landing in the area it first was discovered.

Buff-breasted sandpiper in flight before landing, showing the diagnostic
wing pattern of dark "comma" in primaries. The bigger bird being a
golden plover (heilo)

On the ground, showing rusty coloured neck and head. Very long, pale legs.
Lifer, and a long wanted bird on my Norwegian list as well! X

A lifer was safely ticked, and Big Year bird number 289. This bird alone, more or less saved my stay here at Røst for the whole 14 days. 

After this great experience, I went to the north side of the island, where my friends had already relocated the olive-backed pipit and unusual for this cryptic species - it flew up and perched on a fence - letting me see all the id features easily. Great! 

Not very easy to see details on this picture unless you enlarge the image, or
dobbel click on it. Olive-backed pipit (sibirpiplerke) - I promise!

With the pipit also being a Big Year bird, my total is now up in 290. I admit I feel like I am a little bit behind schedule at the moment, and getting to my goal of 320 species seems difficult. I havent given up yet, and at least the record of 311 should still be possible. The next weeks, I need to step it up a bit and just go for every new bird that is turning up in this country. 

I will start tomorrow - with trying for a Woodchat shrike (rødhodevarsler) which is not updated since the storm 3 days ago, and then continue to try for Hoopoe which are seen a couple of places the last days. 

Wish me luck!

New birds: 2
Total: 290


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