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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Walkabout Harfsfjord water's edge

After dropping off the kids at ISS on Wednesday, I found myself alone on my own finally after almost two weeks in my new playground. What's a birder to do alone on their own : birdwatch of course except this time without pesky kids around.

I started off from Kiwi supermart at the start of Harfsfjord Bru and walked 4kms along the water's edge. A few nice birds popped up, one was new to me.

A common sight on the water's edge all over these parts, Oystercatcher, most often you'll hear them first.

A Great Cormorant suddenly popped out of nowhere looking a bit annoyed at the presence of an intruder (yours truly).

A juvenile Siland / Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) also decided to join our party.

He made some awkward gesture, popping it's head, opening it's beak ... silently without any ensuing sound.

The Meadow Pipit was more than noisy. This tiny bird kept flitting about excitedly around me, most likely it's got a nest of young someplace nearby.

Common Eider, male and female just under the Harfsfjord Bru, apparently a guaranteed site for this species.

The 3.68km route I walked in my loafers.

It's definitely satisfying to watch all these without hindrance, however these days it feels much more gratifying to be able to share it with the youngins despite their whining. For this short walkie they'd probably appreciate the view, the birds and the numerous picturesque pit-stops; I'm not so sure if they'll appreciate the 4km distance walk with their short legs though.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Hot on the trails of the Rodnebbterne / Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) at Sokn, I figure a second trip to Tungenes was in order. This time we entered in an actual address into the GPS: "Tungenesvein 217".

We made it over in 30mins from home to be received by a drizzling morning rain. Odin be with us, the drizzle stopped after about 5 minutes, the sun rolled in bringing along blueskies and thick white clouds.

Immediately upon opening the car door we were greeted by a friendly Linerle / White Wagtail Moticilla alba and almost in succession a pair of Rodnebbterne hunting at the little harbour and Storskarv / Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo flying across. We had two pairs and a half of storkarv that single morning!

And it didn't stop there ... there were more on the rugged coast as the morning progressed including an Aerfugl / Common Eider  Somateria mollisima bobbing up and down at sea! The Oystercatcher and seagulls are of course all over the place.

White Wagtail with an insect for the young.

A little fish for breakfast for the Arctic Tern.

Arctic Tern in a most graceful flight along the rocky coast.

A pair of Great Cormorant making a fly-pass. We ended up seeing five of these at Tungenes.

A male Steinkvett / Northern Wheater Oenanthe oenanthe with a treat for the youngins.

This female Northern Wheater went through a complex flight plan everytime it brings food to the nest to deceive potential predators and draw them away from the nest. All the while we were watching not five metres away.

The last icing for the day has to be what we saw as we slowly ambled towards the car, a pair of Sandlo / Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. I spent a good 20 minutes admiring this confiding plover as it went back and forth towards me.

My last  actual sighting of this beautiful plover was back in 2009 during our DIY Wader Workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The single sighting was made by our group at Lok Kawi Beach. Over the years one single sighting of this plover is made every year at Lok Kawi by birder friends in KK.

Tungenes rocks! There's still Bo the explore, not to mention the entire rocky coast north of Tungenes, betcha there're some niceties there too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rodnebbterne / Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Maps ready stamped in our minds, routes perfectly etched. This is our foray in an attempt to slowly complete our house and my fairly mild attempt at doing a recce of surrounding birding sites in preparation for days to come. So first we pinned IKEA, Kvadrat ... then a look and see around Tungenes and Boraunen.

At least that's what we thought anyways. The shopping at IKEA went through harmlessly enough followed by lunch and some more shopping. By 13:40hrs we left the shopping grounds heading for Bergen and the planned turn-off at Randaberg to find the lighthouse at Tungenes.

We failed to make our turning and ended up in a very long dimly lit tunnel with fast moving cars underneath Bru for what seemed like a mini eternity and emerged light starved in the middle of Sokn. Still dazed we quickly rushed to what looked like a parking lot in the first open space we saw. No lighthouse today!

We found a nice big rock by the shore just beside the bridge to rest. Other the view there were several flitting birds around the same place. Over yonder on another rock in the sea we could see more birds, seagulls, terns and a swan among them. There was also a duck somewhere in the midst. 

Close to where we were sitting was a pipit, it was calling forlornly and above, a tern expertly doing acrobatics in strong winds. The pipit turned out to be Meadow Pipit and the tern was Arctic Tern. Two new birds! There's a reward afterall.

Our foray didn't exactly ended up where we wanted, but it could not have been a better place. IWe stumbled on a great spot we weren't initially planning for. Rodnebbterne / Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea  is a new bird for me, and so is the Heipiplerke / Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis. It was a good day to be taking wrong turns.

Well, we did turn around and made it to Bo and almost to Tungenes, we'll save those for another sunny day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rodstrupe / Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

We were walking along a gravel path near Sandneset for a shot of cold fresh air  (14 degrees with windchill) one fine evening when we noticed a little brown bird hopping along from branch to branch until it disappeared into the pine forests. We made a complete loop of the trail and the bird kept popping up at every corner, each time announcing it's arrival by perching on a very prominent branch as if saying, "I'm still here!". 

It's nice to see robins again, cute as buttons. We used to have one in our garden in Assen over several winters, friendly and confiding especially when there's crumbs of bread to be had. Perhaps it's the same with the robin here, maybe they are quite used to presence of people, most of the time conveniently associate them with food.

The robin that came to see us when we were walking along a path in the pine forest within the Stavanger Botanical Gardens.

The robin we bumped into at Sandneset which followed us on our evening walk.

When we were walking along in the Stavanger Botanical Garden, another robin popped by, doing the same. It "followed" us all the way to the end of the trail, all the while keeping a safe distance. It only flew away perhaps after assuring itself that there's no food coming from us. Maybe we'll bring some this coming winter.

Gronnfink / Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

While walking near Sandneset with the kids the other day we stumbled upon a Greenfinch Carduelis chloris male feeding on grass. The light was superb in the later part of the afternoon, the male was obliging enough to sit still to be captured with the 400/5.6 handheld.

The female in the second picture was photographed earlier last week at Sverd i fjell, it was seen basking in the sand by the shore.

There are already plenty of smaller birds in the woods, you can hear them all over, it's hard to see them with these old eyes for sure without the aid of binos and scopes. Hopefully both seafreight and airfreight arrive without too much funfare later on.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Toppand / Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

At Mosvannet again yesterday before meeting up with Mommy for an evening of shopping for essentials.

While waiting for Mommy, we managed to roam the bookshop right after Mosvannet. There's basically a few required fugler books for Norway I think, at least for the Stavanger area, and as far as I can tell these are :
a) Fugler for Folk Flest (Birds for Most People) - in Norwegian
b) Fugler of Mosvannet og Stokkavannet (Birds of Mosvannet and Stokkavannet) - in Norwegian
c) Fugler (Birds) - in Norwegian
d) Birds of Europe - English version
e) A Birdwatcher's Guide to Norway - English version

The first two can easily found in most bookshops, both are beautifully photographed coffeetable books, the latter concentrating on Mosvannet and Stokkavannet only. Fugler is a summarised photoguide of birds of Norway and nearby. Birds of Europe is the definitive guide for Europe at least when I bought it back in 2001, still is I think.

The last book in a very comprehensive and very valuable addition to birdwatching in Norway by Bjorn Olav Tveit, a Norwegian (an Oslo local) who wrote the book out of frustration for the lack of detailed local information on Norwegian birds in the country. I love it at first glance and ordered it direct, it arrived two days later in the mail. All my future birdwatching trips is now sorted, all that's left are leave days.

Now back to Tufted Duck, we went back to Mosvannet during the late afternoon hours to check out the more favorable front lighting. These are some shots I got:

Only now I noticed the subtle purple wash on the males face, beautiful ... front lighting rocks!