Thursday, May 31, 2012

Off to Mosvannet

Aisya's been saving up her leftover breakfast bread daily since we last visited Mosvannet over the weekend. So today even with the temperatures touching 16 degrees, she's determined to visit the lakes again to feed the ducks. Off we went all bundled up into the car with the breakfast bread safely tucked under Aisya's arm. We drove directly to the lake after dropping Mommy off at her office in Risavika.

Armed with the Lowepro the contents of which included the trusty 400mm we briskly walk towards our intended destination after parking the car. All along the route Norwegians were either walking, running or cycling along the path either to work or from work. We must be the only three oddly overdressed folks for the summer, Ali with his face wrap and Aisya with her Laplander's headgear. The birds were obliging ...

Ali and Aisya sharing their left over bread with new feathered friends at Mosvannet. They've started naming each birds ... Flamby (the Mallard), Pingu (the Swan) and Kingsley (the Tufted Duck).

I had the shock of my life when I peered through the viewfinder to find a swan flying high above the trees over the Mosvannet. Having always seeing them gracefully paddling the lake, I somehow have forgotten they haven't lost their ability to soar higher than the lake surface.

Two Great Crested Grebe in the middle of their ritual courting, this pair dicn't quite complete the whole ritual. We saw them offering each other weeds (maybe checking out nesting material) but they didn't go further than that.

Sparkling sunlight over the waters at 16 degree temperatures.

Tufted Duck having a good splash after a good breakfast courtesy of Ali and Aisya. It's the smallest bird in the fray but was definitely the fastest, it readily splashed and dived to get to the little morsels even before the gulls could get to it.

I didn't see any new birds today but it was great fun to see the kids having such a good time connecting with the common birds at Mosvannet. I forsee that it wouldn't such a major challenge to get them to go birdwatching again soon.

At the bookstore later I found out that there's a coffeetable book, "Birds of Mosvannet and Stokkavannet" (in Norwegian) which features beautiful images of the common and not so common birds of the lakes. Apparently in the colder parts of the year, rare visitors do pop by these parts even dippers ... I better start saving more left over bread for the coming winter.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Walkabout around Sandneset

It was a Sunday, a sunny Sunday at that so we decided to do some walking around Sandneset near Lundsvagen, a nice spot with gravel trails all around. We were there the day before briefly. It's a nice quiet area not 10 minutes drive from the house, when we arrived, there weren't any other cars parked at the parking bay other than those belonging to several residents in the area.

The walk was pleasant enough especially when we were in the sun out in the open path. And the view was stunning to say the least. From where we were standing we could clearly see the mountains and the folks who were already out hours before us in their boats, kayaks or just simply doing the same as us, walking or jogging while taking in the fresh air.

There were birds too. Grey Heron were the first the make their presence heard, there was actually a colony high up in the pines, and they were noisy. Their croaking can be heard from a fair distance away. Then there were the Oystercatchers, sounding off their loud alarm calls whenever disturbed by trailwalkers or their dogs. On warm sunny days like this there were quite a few people out in the open, quite a din in the meadows. Northern Lapwing were happily foraging in the pastures together with the Rook, Blackbirds and White Wagtails.

In the water were a couple of skittish Mallards, though slightly larger than your park variety. The seagulls were aplenty (I'm still not conversant with seagulls, definitely a species requiring some time to get familiar with) and among them were the now familiar Black-headed Seagull. The best had to be my first sighting of the Common Eider, one of the marine ducks. I saw them first on my initial pre-move visit back in September last year but only of a couple females at the port in the city.

A calming mid morning vista towards the fjords, I could almost see myself paddling a kayak to explore the nook and crannies in the area.

Mallard flying away.

Northern Lapwing in the pasture.


White Wagtail chasing insects.

My first male Common Eider.

The folks at the Lundvagen Nature Skole were out early for their kayaking lessons in the waters nearby.

Sandneset looks like a great place to chill out with the family on sunny days, biking, walking, and perhaps even fishing looks like a possibility in the area. We are definitely coming back to this spot, it's literally in our backyard. When the Gitzo arrives in our air-freight, I hope there'd be enough sun and birds for the 600mm here at this very spot..

Sunday, May 27, 2012

All the birds I wanted to see in one place at Mosvannet

After our shopping at the biggest grocery store at Amfi Mall at Madlamark, we decided to go for a jaunt around the lake in the greeneries (it's summer time) as compensation. Temperature was hovering around 26 degrees and the skies blue. We packed shrimp salad in ciabatta for lunch and off we went to the woods.

It's a huge piece of woodlands with an expansive lake in the middle, the verge of the lake is surrounded by tall old trees. This tme of year they are all fresh and green. Plenty of activities along the path : jogging, strolling, walking the dog, biking among others. There's also a kunts museum along the way for those who prefer a slower pace stimulation. Birdlife was also very lively amongst the foliage, on the waters it's close to being fabulous.

The birds in the foliage reminds me very much of birding in the rainforest, you can hear them calling from all over the place, but you are extremely lucky to get a quick glimpse. If you peer hard enough, you'll probably see them since they are either black, brown or brownish. In Borneo, they are most likely green, so you may not even see them.

Those on the water are different, another story altogether. They maybe flitting about amongst the reeds happily ekeing out a living, bring out the sandwich and they'll be all over you like some imported Labuans from Jupiter 8. So this day I had my fill of some of my once rare and sought after birds (in Malaysia anyways) at a park in Norway while eating shrimp sandwich on a bench. I must thank that cute little blonde girl who brought her leftover breakfast bread to happily feed the denizens of the lake.

Eurasian Coot. I remember birding in pouring rain with Musa Musbah and Sara Wong out in Pujut 7 Lakes for what we thought was a coot, turned out to be Common Moorhen.

Black-headed Seagull. Closest view I had of this guy previously was on a tiny sandflat in Lawas during MNS Waterbirds and Wetlands Habitat Survey, it was a tiny dot amongst thousands of terns at the time.

Tufted Duck. We (Musa, Sara and I) may have seen it one heavily raining day at Pujut Lakes but was never certain. A few of them came along for lunch today.

Great Crested Grebe. I saw this fella many times while living in Holland, always from a fast train or from a car going to some other destination. I hope to capture their pre-mating ritual on these pages one of these days, Mosvannet could be a great place to start.

Chaffinch. A new bird for me.

I'm glad we made that Mosvannet trip, within the week I cleared all my "must see rare Malaysian ticks when in Norway" list. What is rare for some, are common as breadcrumbs in other places. That's how nature works out the distribution map. Now that I'm over my "maybe rare" list from Malaysia, I 'm hoping to see more less familiar birds as I spend my days in this new birding patch of mine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Morning brief look see Hafrsfjord at the Sverd i fjell

Everybody here does grocery shopping on Saturday apparently. Eventhough we do have a couple of small sufficiently stocked supermarkets near our house, we had to go to Ampfi Mall near Madla to have a look at a "proper" well stocked purveyor of fine foods and other sought after foodstuffs.

Off we went, however gracious thanks be to Odin we have a wee bit of time to go check out the Sverd i fjell, a pleasant lakeside spot where 3 large sculptures of viking swords stood or sculptured to made to look like they fell from the sky, straight down. I haven't read up on it yet so don't ask what they meant.

Where there's a waterbody, there's bound to be birds, so I wasn't to be the one protesting. We saw some gulls, plenty of House Sparrow flitting about, little flying rat some unappreciative folks call it. But there's other stuff too.


One unhappy camper as I approached closer towards his oysterbed with the 400mm.

A White Wagtail in the grass, as fast as any other wagtail.

Greenfinch (female) looking for a bit to drink amongst the moss covered rocks.

Another finch I'm guessing but not quiet sure of the id.

I initially thought this was the common House Sparrow, looks to be not. Another finch perhaps.

There's also a small babbling stream which pours into the lake. There were a few skittish birds there too which I was unable to photograph, perhaps a Fieldfare or a Blackbird I can't be sure. I was kind of hoping too for the Brown Dipper but perhaps that was being rather overly over enthusiastic. All the images I've seen so far of the dipper were taken in Bergen.

Surely I'm positive with more time to explore there are a few more birds I can add to the list.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gratrost / Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Took the kids out for a drive a bit north of we we are staying hoping to recce potential birding site later during the summer. On the map, noticed quite a few walking paths with beaches and small hills. Kids being kids, two minutes into the walk they are already whining about the heat (can you imagine that ... in Norway!!!) so instead of walking quietly they were whining loudly and picking up dandelions along the path.

We got lucky with one bird that was feeding young, I think it's a Fieldfare from the Thrush family.

Heard some raucous duck calling from just beyond the pines by the beach, unfortunately none of the kids had the will to walk over that little bump to get there. And I had not the will to push them further.

Common birds around the house

One thing for sure, this blog will include all kinds of birds, common birds as well as rare birds if ever I'm so lucky to be blessed with the fortune of photographing one or several. Perhaps one day as my northern bird geography gets more polished, there'll be increased accounts of the harder to see birds.

Which best place to start birding other than your own backyard? On the morning of our second day of our arrival we were greeted by many calls rather different than that of our former home. It took a while after some furtive lurking around the little backyard woods that these new birds presented themselves.

From the top : Wood Pigeon, House Sparrow (male), Blackbird, Magpie, House Sparrow (female)

Birding in Norway

This blog will be an account of A Miri Birder birdwatching in Norway and the northern lands. Having moved from the rainforests of Borneo where many birds are threatened, most colorful and almost always hidden in thick green foliage in deep jungle environment and sometimes subject to being main course of the day to a land where most birds are not threatened as lunch, in open country and less loud colorwise, A Miri Birder is hoping to further increase his education in all things related to birds and it's conservation.