Sunday, December 16, 2012

Harsfjord Bru

Weather was kinda rough yesterday ... strong winds all around. I ended up midway Harsfjord Bru after all the regular haunts were still inundated with unploughed snow. By the bridge I managed to get a closer view of the Eurasian Widgeon, they were quite a few of them there together with several pairs of Mallard, Mute Swan, Common Eider and several gulls.

Nazeri Abghani/Dec2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ducks at Madla and Harsfjord Bridge

It was snowing last weekend, then things started to freeze ... thought this was as a good a sunny day for checking out the ducks around Stavanger. With the day being so short these days, there are not many hours to birdwatch even if it's not -5 deg C.

The sun creeps up slowly by 8:30am or 9:00am; there's barely any light at 9:30am. By 3pm things starts to wind down, ducks returning to roost and suddenly nightfall! Including travel to and from site, you probably have only a few hours of prime birding ... if you don't freeze along the way.

We left the house towards Madla around 10:30am and made our way down to the water's edge with difficulty with frozen ice completely covering the grounds. There were a few hairy almost fall flat on your face moments ... fortunately we managed unscathed.

The reluctant birder

Melanitta fusca

Anas penelope

Anas penelope

Anas penelope
First winter gull ... Glaucous or Iceland or Herring?

From the lake edge, it was already clear that things were not quiet with the ducks even at this temperatures. They were pretty active seeking food in the waters, parts of which having the consistency of slurpy. There were about 20-30 Velvel Scoter feeding together in two large clumps. There were also several pairs of Common Scoter about the lake. A group of Mallards as well as a sizable number of Common Eider were slowly cruising near the middle of the lake. Mallards being Mallards, these were the only species that would come up towards you completely unafraid expecting food ... prime candidate for Peking Duck in some places.

The gulls were around too, I'm still clueless at to which is which.

We have seen the scoters before at Jaeren coast, as well as the Long-tailed Duck. A new duck for us at Three Swords was the Common Goldeneye. Another new one for the list was the Eurasian Widgeon which we saw near Harsfjord bridge later in the day.

There were a few other good places for ducks that weekend ... with time being so short, temperatures colder than we are used too, we decided to call it a day. There's no pressure ... the ducks will be there next week.

I was introduced to ducks while in Holland way back. Watching pochards, other ducks and geese on the northern coast bordering Germany in -5 to -10 deg C windchill factor was one winter actvity I dearly missed.

Next stakeout when temperature permits : Stokkavatnet, Mosvannet and Harsfjord waterbody by the airport.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Long-tailed Duck

I've finally ticked Long-tailed Duck ... close to 10-15 of them swimming about near Revtangen when I was there with Ali photographing rocks.

It was meant to just be a short beach trekking trip looking for the round-est rocks we can find, it was by sheer luck we decided to bring a bino along. The only other gear we had was a back-pack for each of us. My pack carried the Fuji G617 and about 8 rolls of 120 films. It was a photo trip.

Through the bino we spotted the usual (Common Eider) and the sought after which turned out to be the Long-tailed Duck. We also ticked a Grey Seal (not a bird) lurking about in the water checking out the eiders.

Temperatures this weekend is predicted to be below 9 deg C, -4 deg C for Saturday and Sunday. Is it worth a trip back to Revtangen with the long lens ...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Backyard tripping

Well, winter is offcially here. There were bits of snow and sleet last week when temperatures dipped below 0 deg C. Though it went back up to single digits later, it remained cold. I remained pessimistic about any potential of ticking off any wader at this time of year anywhere along the coast for now until next spring.

Naturally the attention turned to these little fleeting birds around the neighbourhood. Last fall the landlord decided to trim some of the trees around our house, completely chopped down many of them for his firewood pile. The few that he left behind were nice big trees, which provided plenty of food opportunities for the birds looking for insects and other morsels in the coming months. It also provided clearer unobstructed view for the stranded in the backyard bird photographer.

With some offering from the local supermarket, these little birdies need no invitation to party. The regulars are the Great Tit, Blue-Tit and lurking about the European Robin. The Blackbird is always there but don't think he's picking up any of the party pickings.

An odd visitor or two chirped in and out once in a while ie. Goldcrest, Brambling, unid Warbler and others, but I gather these will be less and more far between as winter progresses.

Here are some images from yesterday. I sat 6 feet away from the feeder in the open with a 400/5.6 in hand. Our big living room glass window provided the function of a reflector. The sun was shining to my left as I faced the feeder directly. And it was cold!

These birds are still very skittish, they get startled everytime the shutter went kaboosh! Hopefully in time they'd get used to the sound and would less agitated during feeding. They should just ignore the photographer and enjoy the food.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dunlin to nought at Revtangen

I was informed by a fellow wader fanatic that there might still be waders lurking around on the beaches of Jaeren this late in the season. He's located further north and has been posting rather to die for shots of Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Arctic Snipe and what not.

It didn't take much nudging to get me out of the door Saturday morning hours before sunrise, dragging the gear and kids along with me in single digit temperatures with high hopes of ticking a Purple Sandpiper. Against my own gut feeling of course as usual (maybe my smaller-used to be big gut wasn't as clairvoyant as it used to be). It was still capable as I was to find out (or it wasn't that small afterall)!

There were waves and waves of cormorant making a flyby from the north heading south, some makinga detour to Orrevatnet. There were flocks of passerines. They were many seagulls. There were several Common Eider feeding at their usual favorite patch by the rocks. THERE WAS NO WADERS! NOT A SINGLE ONE $%@&*! They've all left for warmer climes. Someone ticked an Arctic Snipe just two weeks ago, clearly I'm just way too late in the season.

Cormorants making a flyby, several waves passed by above us that morning.

Dejected at such poor showing and lack of good judgement on my part, I was very glad the kids were around. Together we spent the next 2 hours making little pagodas with glacier-wave-rounded rocks in the shade of the bluff braving windy conditions in absolutely single digit temperatures.

Still dejected when we got home, and decided to shift my attention to the birds that stick around ... our friendly neighbourhood fellas instead. At least the lenses had something to look at after the dissapointing show in the morning.


Chaffinch (female).



Great Tit.

Blue Tit

European Robin.

Great Tit waiting for it's turn at dinner.

The day didn't turn out so bad afterall, I may have just to wait till spring to see the Purple Sandpiper but fret not, these backyard fellas above will keep me occupied all winter long. I heard a Chinese Pheasant calling just this morning ... early!

PS/Wader photogs should date tag their pictures of seasonal migrating birds.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Off to Jaeren again

With the encouraging number of waders and other birds seen last weekend, I thought it'd be a great idea to lug the big gear to the beach to see if an improved image can be made of several of the species seen then. I left the house at approximately 0545hrs and was in Revtangen by 0615hrs, even the cows were still chewing their cud waiting for sunrise.

A very nice landscape emerged as the sunlight slowly crept across the coast.

The boulders here seemed teeming with birds on previous visits, this weekend I was only accompanied by a Common Eider, several seagulls and passing cormorants.

It's low tide day which I wasn't expecting. It has been said that watching waders is best during high tides when they have less space to spread around; they also have the tendency to roost or rest when tide is highest, best times to find the highest concentration of waders for some places.

Both  the Southe and North beaches seemed much quieter than the previous week; the seagulls, crows and cormorants, common eiders were there. There weren't many waders except for a group of 10 Common Ring Plovers  encounter along the way to the North beach.

Once settled in between a big rock and a hard place, which was to be my station for the day, I unpacked and rigged up  the gear waiting for the waders. It was quiet. There were waves and waves of cormorants flying past in a southerly direction; seagulls squawking overhead and small little passerines moving northwards.

The elegant looking eclipsed male Common Eider which spent the morning foraging nearby completely not bothered with my presence.

Several small groups of Whimbrels flew past from the bluff probably from their roosting site somewhere along the Orrevatnet. More cormorants. Even the Dunlin were scarce. I sat there amusing myselft with some snails and admiring some very neat rocky beach landscape.

After close to two hours communing with the large boulders and devouring half a banana with only a few shots of an eclipse male Common Eider, my time was up. The waders were flying past without stopping; the ones that did stop were rather too few (probably two) which got lost amongst the boulders.

The cormorant which decided to land elsewhere. His brethren flew above the waves making their way south in big numbers (hundreds) that morning along the same beach.

The rounded rocks which scattered all over the beach, willing subjects.

This Ruddy Turnstone was the only one spotted on the way back to the car, it was kind enough to stop for 5 seconds and afford me the best shot of the day with the 600mm.

Nevermind, there's always next week. On the way back to the car I bumped into a willing Ruddy Turnstone which was kind enough to pose for a photo of the week!

Words and images by N. Abghani/NO-2012.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wader tripping to Jaeren, finally

After making several recce trips over the summer, I finally managed to make the first wader trip proper for the season to check out what's out there on the surf at Revtangen. Decided to travel light with only the digiscope set-up and the cameras without the 600/4.0 mm. Initially I was hoping to make some videos with the Sony attached to the scope.

I left the house bright and early 0645 hrs and was at the beach proper by 0715hrs, a total travel distance of 28km one way. The winds was extremely strong and surf looking very nasty when I arrived. There were surf spray all over. With the winds blowing so strong (must be gale 2.0 if not 1.5) all attempts at video failed miserably due to the high magnification factor and huge movements in the entire setup. It would have been even worst with the 600mm, it'll probably wobble like a sail. It was also quite cold!

Southern end of the Revtangen beach.

The northern end of the beach.

The particular patch at Revtangen held several clumps of waders but they proved very skittish. After about 1 hr on the south beach managed to get a good view of Sanderling, Common Ring Plover and Dunlin. Decided to move over to the northern end of the beach near the Revtangen birder's hytte. Also made the decision to pack up the digiscope set up and only move on with the backpack equipped with cameras and 400/5.6mm.

With the wind not letting up, it was a good decision to leave the scope in the car. An extra outer layer of heavy duty windbreaker made the cold a bit more bearable. Another crucial piece of gear that is a must is something warm for the exposed head.

Stationed myself by some big boulders on the beach and waited for the waders to come around. In less than 10 minutes the beach was attended to by Common Ringed Plover, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones and Dunlins. By being still on the beach, the waders slowly approached to within 1.5-2.0 meters. The 400mm again proved it's in dispensability in these kinds of situations. It was light enough for handholding so does not require a tripod. Limited movements during phottaking encourages the birds to move closer and closer.

The surprising sight of the day was a pair of Peregrine Falcon regularly mobbing the waders at the water's edge. The beach being located below a 20m bluff provided excellent vantage point and lift for the tiny predators, the strong winds helped them in making their spectular sorties. Here the 400/5.6mm again proved it's usefulness in it's ability to make very quick maneuvers to get to capture an amazingly fast predator on the hunt.

These are some encouraging images made during the a few hours on the beach.

Ruddy Turnstone.

Dunlin, my first, apparently they are the most common wader in the and is apparently the standard for small waders in these part.


Dunlin again, it move cautiously and slowly to withing 2m of where I was.

Peregrine Falcon overhead, there was a pair operating on the beach. These are magnificent predators and very fast.

There were a numbeer of turnstones working the same stretch of beach.

Revtangen seemed best to be worked out slowly, early morning seemed the best option. With such strong winds in the area (at least today) I am not sure if a hide or wraparound camo cloth would be ideal. It'll definitely be a challenge to keep these things still in the face of such windy conditions. Dress camo and dress warmer. What to do with the 600/4.0mm in these conditions? The groundpod perhaps to avoid big movements. Must also remember to wipe off salt from the equipment.

Looking forward to the next trip to this place.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sandlo / Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

With the arrival of the Gitzo and Wimberly in the airfreight last Friday, it seemed a waste not to revisit Tungenes again for the Nothern Wheater and Common Ringed Plover or whatever else the area might have on it's shores.

We reached the site in about 32 minutes from home greeted by a bright but cloudy weather. There was nobody else on location other than several families visiting the lighthouse, I guess it was still too early for summer trippers.

The plover seemed more skittish than the previous visit but stayed around within safe distances. It made several alarm calls and executed broken wing ruse to lure us away from their expected location.

Only realised that there was a nest nearby after observing one of plovers sitting on the grassy part of a patch not far from where we set up the tripod. A bonus definitely to be able to observe it on the nesting, what might also be young plovers in a few weeks time.

There were other birds in the area as well. Northern Wheater was busy bringing insects and larvae to it's nest to feed it's brood. It too had an elaborate ruse to confuse would be predators to the actual location of the nest. The situation is better for the wheater since the nest is well hidden, as opposed the the plover's which is well out in the open and rather prone to disturbance.

There were also several families of Common Eider at the water's edge each with 4-5 fluffy ducklings. The ducklings were busy foraging just below the water. It looks to be going well for the ducks, hopefully it'll be the same if not better for the plovers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

On Bru with the family

Even with the maps all planned out and GPS turned on, we picked a "wrong" from behind some horse shed which led up right to a hill, considerably higher than the surroundings. I wasn't sure that we were even supposed to be there but since the farmhands that were around didn't seem to object ("Bloody tourists!" probably went through their mind at least once I suspect).

We saw the usual birds: Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Northern Wheater, Greenfinch (quite a few), Northern Lapwing, Oystercatcher, European Starling, and Black-eared Wheater. Gulls were overhead. One beautiful bird was the Rosenfink / Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus.

The two routes we took on Bru, we ain't done yet I assure you.

Along a different route on the way back we saw Great Cormorant, a group of Red-breasted Merganser, and Common Eider in the water. We also went back to the rock near the bridge to gawk at Arctic Tern and incidentally spotted a Redshank in breeding colors by the waters edge.

This is our first and definitely not last visit to the locality. The underground tunnel was a bit scary to say the list, but hopefully with more trips we'll get use to it soon enough.