Dec 28, 2011

Dutch Christmas

Cloudy and mild weather during christmas in the Netherlands. Had the opportunity to visit Delfzijl in the north-east. Mainly gulls. Had Caspian Gull and Yellow-legged Gull, both adults, on the same spot. Both species are scarce and present mainly during winter. Both are typical white-headed large gulls and relatively easy to pick out in flocks in early winter, when the northern gulls are not yet white-headed.
Due to this trip I missed the Lesser Scaup on Øygarden...

Yellow-legged Gull. Note large size, dark upperparts, white head with light eye and yellow legs

Caspian Gull. Note large size, dark mantle, though not as dark as on YLG, white head,  small, dark eye and rather slender bill with a darke smudge on the gonys

Same bird. Note the long, white tongue on the inner web of p9, black to and including p5 and pinkish leggs

Large numbers of Common Shelducks and Eurasian Curlews on the Wadden Sea

Barnacle Geese

Egyptian Geese, very common in the Netherlands

Dec 23, 2011

Away to the Netherlands

Today I'm travelling to the Netherlands for christmas. Back next week. Had six flyby Waxwings this morning, otherwise quiet. Hope the Lesser Scaup at Skogsøy will stay...

Dec 6, 2011

Dec 4, 2011

Geese again

After some serious gales (and a busy period working) went out to Øygarden, hoping to find some blown in rarity. But, nothing spectaculair today. The group of four Taiga Bean Geese still present, together with three Pinkfeets at Breivik and a couple of autumn leftovers, being three Starlings and about seven Redwings.

Taiga Bean Geese at Breivik. Note the typical almost swan-like jizz with long neck and long, quite slender bill. Note the variable amount of orange on the bills as well.

Redwing at Davøy

Nov 20, 2011


A walk with Anne in Bergsdalen produced a male Willow Grouse. Otherwise very quiet with Black-bellied Dipper the only other bird.
Northern Pintail still present in Sædalen, only a short distance away from my house.

male Northern Pintail

Anne in Willow Grouse country
and me looking for it

Nov 16, 2011

Bean Goose continued

Checked Kalandsvannet for the reported Bean Goose. Still present with seven Canada Geese. Poor light conditions, but at least a record shot. This is a fabalis, aka Taiga Bean Goose (not yet split in Norway, by the way).

Taiga Bean Goose. Identified as such because of body size (nut much smaller than Canada Goose), quite long neck and long bill with a lot of orange

Nov 14, 2011


Twitched the Gadwall on Breivik today under foggy circumstances. Tried the bird later again in better light, but couldn't find it back then. Did some birding around after that. Highlights were two flyby Snow Buntings, four Little Auks and eight White-fronted Geese on Breivik. Further, a Guillemot at Davøy and  three Great Spotted Woodpeckers around Øygarden.

male Gadwall

Little Auk

Great Spotted Woodpecker on Hellesøy

immature Eurasian Wigeon at Storetveit in Bergen

Nov 12, 2011

Geese and Swans

Øygarden again and Herdla. Found a flock of 13 Pinkfeets with a Bean Goose amongst them on Breivik. Shy birds, so it was difficult to say if it was a serrirostris/ rossicus or fabalis. Size with long neck and bill shape and pattern suggests the latter. Also here a flyby Two-barred Crossbill, a Tree Sparrow and two White-tailed Eagles.
But the trip to Øygarden was a short one, because a flock of four Bewick's Swans was reported on Herdla (rare in Hordaland). When we came, the birds were gone...Here a Bean Goose as well, this one a Tundra Bean Goose (serrirostris/rossicus).  It was among a group of 15 or so White-fronted Geese.

adult White-tailed Eagle, Breivik

Bean Goose, Breivik. Long neck and long bill with much orange on it, suggesting fabalis
Bean Goose in a group of Pinkfeets (left bird)

Tundra Bean Goose

This indivual has the size of a Whitefront and has a bill of moderate size, quite stubby with the orange restricted to a band on the tip of the bill. I would claim it as a serrirostris/rossicus. On Taiga Bean Goose one would expect a larger bird, with a darker head and especially a longer bill with a greater amount of orange. Stand alone birds are often difficult to judge. I've seen thousands of bean geese in the Netherlands. Over there, Tundra is a common wintering bird, while Taiga is present each winter in small numbers, as it seems.
There is much discussion about taxonomy and identification of the Bean Goose-complex. It could well be that more taxa are involved during winter in western Europe than serrirostris and fabalis (it may well be that eastern, large subspecies like johanseni and middendorffii could turn up!). Interesting...

Whooper Swan, Herdla

Nov 8, 2011

Herdla november 8th

Late autumn trip to Herdla. Had a Great Grey Shrike, a group of seven Little Auks, two Slavonian Grebes, some 250 Eider, a late Oystercatcher and a flyby Yellowhammer.

Slavonian Grebe

Nov 6, 2011

6 november

An afternoon visit to Sotra. Tried the Black Redstart that was reported on Breivik yesterday, but couldn't find it. No Bean Geese either, but had a Horned Lark in a group of about 25 Skylarks and a late Northern Wheatear. On the fields nine Pink-footed Geese. Common Chiffchaff on Herdlevær and a Little Grebe on Turøy. Still lots of thrushes, crossbills and Robins all over the place.

Pink-footed Geese

Nov 4, 2011


Kalandsvannet had today three Cormorants. Some say that these inland sightings concern the continental race sinensis. That could be true, but these individuals were too far away to be sure about the racial identification. The feathering around the gape and especially the gular angle is the only steady feature that separates the two (for reading I refer to Martin Garner's Frontiers in Birding (2008)).
There was a shy Mistle Thrush foraging in the fields around the birdwatching tower.

Mistle Thrush

Nov 2, 2011

Radde's Warbler on Turøy!!!

Today I found a Radde's Warbler on Turøy (a month too late). It skulked around the 'house with the boat in the garden' along the main road to the sea. It was a very obvious and sturdy bird with short wings. Greyish green above, yellowish white below with an obvious supercilium, which was somewhat yellowish in front of the eye and long and white behind, bordered by a dark supracilium. Didn't see the bill well, but  it's legs were light orange- yellow. Most obvious were it's contrastingly buff undertail coverts. I saw it (quite well) four times within half an hour, but couldn't get it on camera. Both Terje Hansen and Egil Frantzen came too late. Searched till dark, but without any luck. Next day a couple of birders from Bergen searched for it without luck, so probably it was gone. But Radde's Warblers can be very skulky (I wonder why it is a phylloscopus. It should be classified as a locustella:))
It is a new species for Hordaland and Norway's most northern find (if accepted).
Further a few Common Chiffchaffs (one in the same garden as the Raddes' Warbler) and the Red-backed Shrike on Herdlevær still present, as well as a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Lots of thrushes and crossbills on the move. Sele had an amazing ten (!) Blackcaps, Herdlevær two and Turøy one. Still something going on.

Grey-headed Woodpecker on Herdlevær

Oct 31, 2011

Herdla and Herdlevær

Day off...31 oktober...birding.
Started on Herdla with two Richard's Pipits, a flyby Two-barred Crossbill (a good deal Common Crossbills) and a Little Auk. Got a message while on Herdla about a possible Isabelline Shrike on Herdlevær. It turned out to be a 1st winter Red-backed with a rather reddish tail. Anyhow, nice birding today!

1st winter Red-backed Shrike
Although it has quite a reddish tail, the obvious markings on the upper- and underparts as well as the square-ended tail rule out all other species but Red-backed. On Isabelline one would expect a lighter bird without any barring on the upperparts. On Brown a longer more rounded tail.

one of the two Richard's Pipits on Herdla

Oct 24, 2011

Richard's Pipits in Bergen

Listing is fun and one of the birding fundamentals. One of the lists I keep is a Bergen community-list. 

Yesterday Terje Hansen found two Richard's Pipits near Flesland, Bergen airport. They were also reported this morning, so I went off to try them. They were still present, frequently calling, but very shy. But the pics show at least the identity.

two together

Oct 23, 2011

northern Hordaland: Two-barred Crossbills

Lots of wind today, so Håvard Husebø and I chose not to bird the coast, but try Lindås and Austrheim instead. Found a group of five Two-barred Crossbills (two males and three females) together with four or five Common Crossbills at Leirvågen and a Common Buzzard (scarce in Hordaland). Back in Bergen we checked the large gulls, but no Ring-billed (or worse) yet...

female TBC
another one
male TBC
same individual

Oct 13, 2011


Hernar is a very small isolated island with great potential. Crag Martin and Greenish Warbler have been seen, among others.
So, today, the 13th of october, mother of all days, I went to Hernar with lots of good birds on my mind. The weather was very beautiful: sunny with weak variable winds... may be too beautiful...most birds in the air!
But, I had a good deal of nice species: one flyby Richard's Pipit, two frequently calling Water Rails, flyby Lapland Bunting, Peregrine, four Common Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, five Wrens (I love them), two Reed Buntings, one Bullfinch and a small group of Common Crossbills. Lots of thrushes and Bramblings.
An hour or two seawatching produced two immature Black-legged Kittiwakes heading south, two Great Northern Divers, five Atlantic Puffins, small numbers of Northern Gannet and the usual ducks.
Next time I want bad weather with all the birds on the ground...

Eurasian Starling

my favourite cave-dweller

Oct 10, 2011

Phylloscopus, Anthus, Utsira!

We were a week on Utsira. The first week of october normally is the best period for autumn migration.  It was a fine week indeed, but no cosmic finds. Best bird was a Radde's Warbler, with a Western Bonelli' coming second. This Bonelli's was discovered in the field, then caught and after that rediscovered in the field (by me and another birder). Further highlight include three or four Olive-backed Pipits, one of which I found myself. The picture of this one is bad (hard wind), but I wonder if it had a ring on it (they ringed one the day before and the day after...).
The weather wasn't cooperative with gales and rain, but it was nice birding most of the time with minor finds some Common Rosefinch, Richard's Pipits, Yellow-browed Warblers, Great Grey Shrikes, Common Stonechat and plenty of common species like Common Redstart, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroate, Robin and so on.
On the way back succesfully twitched a Tawny Pipit at Taravika on Karmøy.

Radde's Warbler
Olive-backed Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
(ringed?) Olive-backed Pipit
Western Bonelli's Warbler
Western Bonelli's Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Common Kestrel
Common Stonechat
Common Wheatear
Common Chiffchaff
Grey Seal
Common Redstart
lazy twitcher