Friday 30 January 2015

Big Year Norway Results

Well, soon it's February. Lots of rarities and semi rarities have already been spotted in Norway - unlike last year - my Big Year. When aiming as high as I did, I certainly needed some luck as well as skills and time to be able to succeed. This year has certainly started better than mine did, and I was almost tempted to go for two in a row. But no...this year I need to focus on my photography business. Yes, I do. Or, do I? hmm. Yes, I should.

Last weekend, I did a presentation of my Big Year for a bird club. It forced me to think back on the year and again realising all the great birding and experiences I had through the year. Despite not taking the record, I must anyway be very happy with the result.

I had a lot of time to do my own birding. This was important to me as the very best birds are always the ones you find yourself - without anyone pointing their whereabouts out to you. In Norway, we call these edelkryss - or the nobel twitches.

And to be honest - to find 254 bird species out of a total of 303 seen in Norway within one year myself is something most birders in Norway is going to struggle to beat. On my list of 254 species, some obvious ones are missing - like corncrake and spotted crake for instance - both realtively easy to find myself with some effort involved. The truth is, that this list was not really on my mind - I just realised while thinking back on the year that 2014 was actually a very good year for birds found myself.

Of the 254 species, these are some of the rarer birds I found myself: Great egret (egretthegre), Surf Scoter (brilleand), Black Kite (svartglente), Red kite (glente), Montagus's harrier (enghauk), Red-footed falcon (aftenfalk), Caspian tern (rovterne), Greater short-toed lark (dverglerke), Red-rumped swallow (amursvale), Olive-backed pipit (sibirpiplerke), Citrine wagtail (sitronerle), 2 x Rose-colored starling (rosenstær), Melodious warbler (spottesanger), Corn bunting (kornspurv). 

My Norwegian list increased by 18.

Of the 348 species recorded in total in Norway during 2014, I missed only 19 that was twitchable. Most of these I did actually try for, but came too late for different reasons - mostly because of work. I have defined a bird as twitchable if it was seen at least once more after it first was discovered with at least one night in between. This means I potentially had the time to get there in time if I would have made the effort or time.

To make 303 species in one year in Norway - you need to travel a bit. This also
means seeing places you never have seen before - some of them extremely beautiful.
This is picture show the sky above Northern Norway somewhere.

The effort can maybe be summarised like this:

- 33048km driven in my own car.  
- 28 nights spent in my own car
- 6 roundtrip flights
- 3 times (total 9 days) rental car.
- Visited all the counties of Norway (3 times in Finmark). 
- Did get yearticks in 61 different municipalities.

So, if you are out there wondering what it takes to do a Big Year - this is at least a guiding line to your planning.

Myself and my Swarovski - two inseperable items in 2014.

- EG -

Tuesday 6 January 2015

The very last..

I have just returned from almost two months working in the Antarctic, a relaxing Christmas holiday and a few kilos added because of too much food - and not the least - a new years eve celebration. The latter mean that my Big Year has come to an end. It has been a fun year indeed, even though as predicted after the rather poor September, the record did not get beaten. My final new bird of the year was a Common crossbill (grankorsnebb), which I saw on my way to airport for my work trip down south.

Common crossbill is normally a fairly easy bird in Norway, but this year has been very poor indeed. Some of the challenge with the crossbills is that you need to see them very well to be able to distinguish the common from the similar Parrot crossbill (furukorsnebb). Many birders think they manage to distinguish them by sound or call, but I emphasize THINK. Because studies has shown that the variation in the call of both species is fairly high, and in my opinion, it is impossible to safely distinguish the two species from each other by call unless you use a sonogram. Believe me, I have tried! Anyway, these birds appear rather like nomads in our forest, depending on where in the Fennoscandia there are lots of seeds on the trees. 2014 was a particularly bad year, and even though my effort for this species remained fairly low througout the year, I didn't manage to identify one safely before 30 October. Common crossbill became my bird number 303, which also was my end result. I was the person that saw most species in Norway in 2014, and as far as I know, I am only the 4th person to reach more than 300 species within one year in Norway. So all in all, pretty happy with the result, even though I would of course liked to have taken the record when so close. A quick look at the observation database for Norway show that I missed 18 species in 2014 which was twitchable. By twictchable, I mean birds that at least stayed until the day after it was first seen. This means of course, that if I skipped work completely, and stayed birding all the time, I would have managed both the record and my goal of 320. Anyway, I love my work, so not the worst place to be, and it gives me money to be able to some awesome stuff also in 2015.

Being so close to the record (309) at the end of October, I must say that I felt a bit annoyed about leaving the country for the rest of the year knowing that November can be a very good birding month indeed. It was with some relief, that I returned and realised I wouldn't have made it even though I stayed home. All that said, spending nearly two months amongst albatross and penguins is not the worst way of spending time either.

I haven't got all the statistics up there yet, but will come back with a summary of the year fairly soon.

Finally, Common Crossbill added to the list. The last new bird of the year.
Total 303, which also became the end result for my Big Year.

2015 will be more about photography for me, and hopefully I manage to produce some great and important stories and pictures. Looking forward to that!

My next Big Year will be in......

New birds: 1
Total: 303