Sunday 4 May 2014

May o'hoi!

May has arrived, and as promised in the previous blog, I have made my way south. For most of May I will be having the very southern tip of Norway as a base. I will stay at one of Norway's finest birding areas - Lista. Thats the plan anyway, lets just see if the birds want to have it otherwise.

29 April
Let's just step back a todd. It has started off very good indeed. On the way south, I went by the now, long staying, Black-necked grebe (svarthalsdykker) near Hamar. For once, things was easy, and once I had navigated all the small roads by the help of my phone GPS and Bird Alarm's very handy tool "Find Directions", it took me only three minutes from the scope was up until I found the bird. A beautiful one indeed as it was in full breeding plumage. Very actively fishing and moving a lot back and forth. Suddenly close to shore, then just as suddenly far out. Another birder I met there, and myself sat down at the water edge, and it didn't take too long before the bird was fishing close to our chosen seats. Through my spotting scope, I could study every detail of the plumage, and it was indeed my best views of this species ever. Happy with this delight, I continued south. Stopping by a roadside pool, where 4 male ruffs (brushane) were displaying their odd, but beautiful collars. Two white morphs and two orange ones. A very welcome Big Year list addition. I arrived my destination for tomorrow's birding - Mølen at 1:30 am and had another good night sleep in my car.

Black-necked grebe (svarthalsdykker) silhouette. It was interesting to see how the
 head shape  constantly was changing according to mood. Here it is in a more
 Slavonian (hotndykker) like posture, and it shows that picking out these amongst
slavonians isn't necessarily always straight forward. 

New birds: 2
Total: 180

30 April
Mølen has had its share of rarities through the years, and needless to say, I started the morning with a careful enthusiasm. It was soon proven to be a very nice morning indeed as bird activity was very high, and big year birds startet to appear one after the other. Whitethroats (tornsanger), Lesser whitethroats (møller), Redstart (rødstjert), Common tern (makrellterne), Whimbrel (småspove), and a Whinchat (buskskvett) were all new to my list. I also heard very briefly at 09:15 some calls from what I am pretty sure as a Common nightingale (sørnattergal). A bir rarity in Norway, but from the little I heard, I could just not exlude Thrush nightingale (nattergal) for sure. I waited and waited and waited in hope of hearing it again, but it never did sing. At 17:30, I gave up, and decided I just had to leave this bird unidentified and continued my travel south. In the night, at about midnight, I arrived Lista where another night in the car was awaiting.

New birds: 7
Total: 187

01 May
Up at 05:30 - which was earlier than some birds even - I started the short drive towards the lighhouse area. At Lista, the normal procedure is to start the day at the lighhouse, as many of the migrating birds pass here, and this is a very good spot to get a feel for what is around - both seabird migration and landbird migration can easily be observed. I was just nearly there, when a big white bird flew across the road in front of me. A Great egret (egretthegre) came in to land! A great start on the day, and a flying start on May - traditionally the best month for rarities in spring. It was only a short visit this time, as it took off only about ten minutes later and continued norh west. A great start and a great addition to my Big Year list as this species normally is seen 10-20 times a year in Norway.

Great white egret - the first Big Year rarity for the year that I find myself. 

The day continued at the lighhouse, and one new bird came in after the other. Wryneck (vendehals), Marsh harrier (sivhauk), Yellow wagtail (gulerle) and House martin (taksvale) were all enjoyed and ticked off. Even a short-eared owl (jordugle) made its appearance far out at sea in the horizon. As did a Black crow (svartkråke). It is something special about witnessing the bird migration like this - when you so clearly see it happening. The land birds, that need to cross vast stretches of ocean to reach their destination. However, the bird of the day arrived just as the wind turned a bit. A big group of about one hundred Barn swallow suddenly started swarming around the area we were staying, and then the one that we all hoped for, but didnt dare to mention. The Red-rumped swallow, was suddenly sitting on a wire. It was there for about three minutes before it took to the wings and was never seen again. A real touch and go bird, and for once, with two rarities in one day, and both of them extremely short stayers - I could call myself lucky.

Well, what can I say....when rarities turn up and adrenalin is pumping, you
sometimes forget to focus....Red-rumped swallow on a wire. The bird only
came in with a large flock of barn swallows, and only stayed for about 3 minutes.

New birds: 7
Total: 195

02 May
Pretty uneventful day, with the same weather more or less as the previous days. A bit stronger wind, made things a little more difficult. The only new bird of the day being a migrating Sanderling (sandløper), but my favorite will be three wrynecks that had a singing contest between them. Especially one of the birds was sitting all in the open and gave extremely satifying views....I even made a photo of it :)

In the evening, searched the fields a bit, and found a very handsome flock of 12 Dotterels (boltit). These are beautiful birds indeed. These were also making a show, as they were fighting and flying a bit back and forth over the field. In the afternoon, I finished with two Bar-headed geese that had decided to spend the night at small estuary next to the ligh house. Bar-headed goose does not count on my Big Year list as they are in the same category as the mandarin duck - namely birds that has originated from escaped birds at some stage.

Wryneck, showing off - something which is fairly unusual for this rather
skulky species.

1st of May is often made into a long weekend, and even though Norway has
very few birders, a lot of them find their way to Lista during these days. Early
morning migration counts.

New birds: 1
Total: 196

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