This brief narrative is followed by a list of all species.
(permission for reproduction granted to all)
I had the pleasure of spending the summer in Norway, mostly in the small college town of Ås, about 30 km s-se of Oslo. With my non-birding spouse, 5 year old, and 2 year old, we did some travelling: to Hardangervidda, Dovrefjell, Andelsnes, many of the fjords from Romsdalsfjord south to Stavanger, Jæren, Lista, and Mandal. Birding was often limited by family responsibilities (i.e. hardcore birding opportunities were very limited).
Nevertheless, birding in Norway is a delight. The scenery varies from picturesque to breathtaking, native habitat is easily found, and it's a free country -- that is to say, under Norwegian law any person is allowed to walk and even camp on anyone's property (except near homes or on cultivated fields), making about 96% of the land accessible to birders (in contrast to my home county in California, where "no trespassing" sign on private land and liability concerns on public land make about 10% of the land accessible).
I set a modest goal of 100 species, and ended up with 109. Prior to the trip, I made a list of common birds, and found 71 out of 96; a list of uncommon birds, finding 23 of 66; and birds of the fjords or mountains, finding 15 of 46. About 30% were lifers, but most felt like lifers, as I hadn't been to Europe since I was 12 years old (yes I kept a bird list then). I watched 25 of the species feeding young, which was a special thrill. Special thanks to many on Fugle-Nett who gave great and often detailed advice: Morten Gunther, Per Ole Syvertsen, Geir Andersen, Alf Tore Mjørs, Bjorn Einar Sakseid, Torklid Jensen, and Christian Steel. (Morten, feel free to forward this to Fugle-nett; I've lost the address.)
My birding may be broken down into three catagories: birding around Ås, the trip to Hardangervidda and Eidfjord, and the trip to Andelsnes and all the fjords south to Lista on the southern tip of the country.
June was great, with so many birds singing all day (which lasts about 20 hours!). I devoted myself to local birding and learning the calls and songs. Common yard birds were: PIED WAGTAIL, FIELDFARE, CHAFFINCH, GREENFINCH, MAGPIE (very different in voice and behavior from our Yellow-billed Magpies in Calif.), GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, WILLOW WARBLER, BLACK-HEADED GULL, WOODPIGEON, LAPWING. Things got quieter by mid-July, and the woodland passerines became tougher to find (and I suspect some of this had to do with the immense number of free-roaming house cats, surely the biggest blight on the Norwegian landscape). I developed a "yard list" of 76 species, including a HEN HARRIER on June 10 (unusual time of year), a HAWFINCH feeding a fledgling (there are fewer than 10 local breeding records), a SAND MARTIN (BANK SWALLOW) amidst other swallows on June 20, and a pair of fly-over RAVENS on July 4. By July WOOD SANDPIPERS became regular at the southern tip of Årungen lake, where I birded the most. RED-BACKED SHRIKES and WHINCHATS also made this a nice place. In mid-August, the birds began moving around and migrants caused my yard list to swell again. Highlights included all three wagtails (PIED, YELLOW, and GRAY WAGTAILS) in the same square meter, with an OSPREY overhead. An immature GREAT CORMORANT, many gorgeous CURLEWS, and a migrating BLUETHROAT (with some blue on the throat, finally) also added to the local birdlife. My biggest local miss was Thrush-Nightingale, which had stopped singing before I had a chance to look for them.
On the way across the gorgeous countryside, I added REDSTART, BRAMBLING, and WILLOW TIT to my list, as well as MERLIN apparently defending a nest at Skurdalen south of Geilo. Hardangervidda is a high mountain plateau, essentially with an arctic tundra ecosystem (complete with lemmings, caribou, and arctic foxes). Seeing many GREATER GOLDEN PLOVERS and singing LAPLAND LONGSPURS on the breeding grounds was a wonderful experience here. Other birds including many NORTHERN WHEATEARS, MEADOW PIPITS, a DUNLIN, a SHORE (HORNED) LARK (endangered here), and a GREATER SCAUP. I didn't make it all the way to the marshes at Langvassmyra, but I had a good time nevertheless. I also missed Snow Buntings and Dotterels, which tend to stick to the highest peaks. Down at Ovre-Eidfjord (one of Norway's hundreds of valleys which rival Yosemite any day), a pair of REDPOLLS captivated me, while a downy COMMON GULL chick on a nest enthralled my kids. A DIPPER (the national bird) just below Voringfossen (the largest waterfall) made that hike even more memorable -- I can still vividly recall the sun glistening on the black mist-soaked cliffs and the fern forest at the base of the falls, giving it all a Na Pali Coast (Kauaii) type of feel.
The first stop here was the old refuge of Fokstumyra. I strategically put my 5 year old on the trail ahead of me, and he did exactly what he was supposed to do, flush a GREAT SNIPE. I got fairly good brief looks at this rare and local species. Also present were numerous BLUETHROATS (though I never saw a male with a blue throat), many REDPOLLS, WILLOW WARBLERS, and a YELLOW WAGTAIL. A COMMON CRANE called from over a rise, but I never saw it. I didn't do the full loop trail, so missed other breeding waders. A hike out of Kongsvoll up to the highlands produced 7 MUSK OXEN, along with a GREATER GOLDEN PLOVER and a WHEATEAR on the tundra, and many BRAMBLINGS in the birch forest below.
At my wife's urging, I sacrificed going to the famous seabird colony at Runde in order to visit Trollstigen (the Troll's Road), Geirangerfjord, and the glacier at Briksdal (which was awesome). The Norsk gods smiled upon me, and I was compensated with a fully adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE soaring along with the boat for about 10 minutes through Geirangerfjord, a nice complement to one of the world's most beautiful places. A fly-by BLACK GUILLEMOT on Sognefjord was the only other addition to the trip list in the fjords.
A visit to the islands in Bknfjord n of Stavanger allowed great opportunities to study GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS. There was once some discussion on BirdChat as to how to separate them from Western Gulls (though the two are unlikely to meet). I found the GBBGs bigger with a slower hawk-like wingbeat, a much darker mantle (often flecked with white at the secondary and primary bases), surprisingly paler greyer pink legs, and the obvious different bill shape and head shape. Next stop was the sand dune coast of Jæren, where I saw about 6 COMMON REDSHANKS, one SPOTTED REDSHANK (mostly in breeding plumage), one RINGED PLOVER, a SHAG, a flight of SHELDUCKS, and a flight of CURLEWS, calling beautifully. My wife's long-lost relatives live in Lyngdal, which is a bit like having family in Pt. Reyes Station, CA, as it's a 20 minute drive out to Lista, Norway's premier rarity hotspot (near the southern-most tip of the country). My big morning at Lista produced a PEREGRINE FALCON, a GREENSHANK, a GREY (BLACK-BELLIED) PLOVER, two SNIPES, GREAT CORMORANTS, and more COMMON REDSHANKS. Rough weather prevented me from finding some rarities that were reported the same day (great skua, hobby, red-footed falcon). Back near Lyngdal, a got a brief unsatisfying look at a TEMMINCK'S STINT and a GREEN WOODPECKER. In general I found shorebirds hard to come by, and a trip to Kurefjordan and other seemingly good habitats failed to add any to my list (I missed Little Stint entirely). Do these birds overfly Norway? (I'm used to the flocks of hundreds of peeps in Calif). I enjoyed gull watching, especially the LESSER BLACK-BACKS. Are these intermedius or fuscus?
Here is a list of birds seen, in the order I saw them, date and location of first sighting, how often I saw them in the Ås area ("local" means I saw them regularly but only at one spot), and if I observed them tending young.
observed tending young FIRST SIGHTING status ** in Ås species date location in Ås * elsewhere ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 COMMON GULL June 10 Fornebu daily * 2 BLACK-HEADED GULL June 10 Fornebu daily * 3 BLACKBIRD June 10 s of Oslo often 4 CANADA GOOSE June 10 s of Oslo Aug 17 * 5 MAGPIE June 10 Ås daily ** 6 FIELDFARE June 10 Ås daily ** 7 CHAFFINCH June 11 Ås daily ** 8 PIED WAGTAIL June 11 Ås daily ** 9 MALLARD June 11 Ås daily ** 10 WOODPIGEON June 11 Ås daily 11 SWIFT June 11 Ås daily * 12 HOODED CROW June 11 Ås daily 13 HOUSE MARTIN June 11 Ås daily ** 14 WILLOW WARBLER June 12 Ås daily ** 15 GREAT TIT June 12 Ås daily ** 16 BLUE TIT June 12 Ås daily ** 17 NUTHATCH June 12 Ås often 18 STARLING June 12 Ås daily 19 JACKDAW June 12 Ås daily 20 TREE SPARROW June 12 Ås daily 21 HOUSE SPARROW June 12 Ås daily ** 22 GREENFINCH June 12 Ås daily ** 23 GREY HERON June 12 Ås daily 24 HEN HARRIER June 15 Ås 6/15 25 GARDEN WARBLER June Ås often 26 SWALLOW June Ås daily 27 SONG THRUSH June Ås few times 28 ROBIN June Ås often ** 29 TREECREEPER June Ås few times 30 PIED FLYCATCHER June Ås daily ** 31 YELLOWHAMMER June Ås often ** 32 MARSH TIT June Ås often 33 SKYLARK June Ås daily 34 LAPWING June Ås often 35 STOCK DOVE June Ås few times 36 LESSER B-B GULL June Ås daily 37 BUZZARD June Ås few times 38 WHINCHAT June n.of Årungen local ** 39 LINNET June n.of Årungen local ** 40 MUTE SWAN June Årungen local ** 41 REED BUNTING June Årungen local ** 42 COMMON TERN June Årungen local ** 43 GOLDENEYE June Årungen few times 44 MOORHEN June Årungen local 45 SAND MARTIN June Årungen June 2 46 HERRING GULL June Årungen few times 47 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER June n.of Årungen often ** 48 REDWING June n.of Årungen few times 49 GREAT-SP.WOODPECKER June Ås few times 50 GOLDFINCH June Ås often ** 51 GREAT B-B GULL June s. of Oslo 52 HAWFINCH June e.of Årungen June 2 ** 53 SISKIN June e.of Årungen few times 54 JAY June e.of Årungen June 25 55 BLACKCAP June n.of Ås few times 56 COLLARED DOVE June Ås few times 57 TEAL June Årungen few tims 58 GOLDCREST June Ås few times 59 WHITETHROAT June Ås local 60 COAL TIT June s.of Ås June 2 61 SPARROWHAWK July 1 w.of Ås July 1 62 COOT July 2 Årungen local 63 RAVEN July 4 Ås July 4 64 COMMON SANDPIPER July 4 Årungen local 65 RED-BACKED SHRIKE July 4 Årungen few times 66 WOOD SANDPIPER July 4 Årungen few times 67 GRAYLAG GOOSE July 7 Oslo 68 GREAT CR. GREBE July 9 Ostenjovenett, Ås local 69 MARSH WARBLER July 9 Ostenjovenett, Ås local 70 TUFTED DUCK July 9 Ostenjovenett, Ås few times 71 REDSTART July 11 s.of Skurdalen 72 MERLIN July 11 Skurdalen 73 WILLOW TIT July 12 Skurdalen 74 BRAMBLING July 12 Skurdalen 75 MEADOW PIPIT July 12 Hardanger-vidda 76 SHORE LARK July 12 Hardanger-vidda 77 GR.GOLDEN PLOVER July 12 Hardanger-vidda 78 GREATER SCAUP July 12 Hardanger-vidda 79 NO. WHEATEAR July 12 Hardanger-vidda 80 LAPLAND LONGSPUR July 12 Hardanger-vidda 81 DUNLIN July 12 Hardanger-vidda 82 COMMON REDPOLL July 13 Øvre Eidfjord 83 DIPPER July 14 Voringfossen 84 PHEASANT July 15 Alby, Jeloy 85 OYSTERCATCHER July 15 Alby, Jeloy 86 RED-BR.MERGANSER July 15 Alby, Jeloy 87 DUNNOCK July 21 Ås local 88 BLUETHROAT Aug 3 Fokstuamyra Aug 22 89 YELLOW WAGTAIL Aug 3 Fokstuamyra local in Aug 90 GREAT SNIPE Aug 3 Fokstuamyra 91 COMMON CRANE Aug 3 Fokstuamyra 92 WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Aug 6 Geirangerfjord 93 COMMON REDSHANK Aug 9 Jæren 94 SPOTTED REDSHANK Aug 9 Jæren 95 RINGED PLOVER Aug 9 Jæren 96 SHAG Aug 9 Jæren 97 SHELDUCK Aug 9 Jæren 98 CURLEW Aug 9 Jæren local in Aug 99 PEREGRINE FALCON Aug 10 Lista 100 GREENSHANK Aug 10 Lista 101 COMMON EIDER Aug 10 Lista * 102 GREAT CORMORANT Aug 10 Lista local in Aug 103 GREY PLOVER Aug 10 Lista 104 COMMON SNIPE Aug 10 Lista Aug 22 105 TEMMINCK'S STINT Aug 11 s.of Lyngdal 106 GREEN WOODPECKER Aug 11 s.of Lyngdal 107 OSPREY Aug 17 Årungen Aug 17 108 GREY WAGTAIL Aug 17 Årungen Aug 17 109 ROCK PIPIT Aug 18 Alby, Jeloy
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