lørdag 22. mai 2010

May 22nd

This would show to be a day of gulls. The day started off with a Lesser Black-backed Gull ssp. intermedius (Sildemåke). This was my species number 50 on Svalbard. This bird was a two-year-old, and gave great views, and a good opportunity to photograph it. But when the bird finally flew off, my camera figured it was time to play the game on its own terms, and I didnt manage to get it to work as I wanted before the bird was far away. Maybe its time to swap the D200 with a D300 soon?

I found the Lesser Black-backed Gull at about 04.30 in the morning, and in the afternoon it was nowhere to be seen, but instead there was now an adult Common Gull (Fiskemåke) at the same location. It was rather photogenic, and I got some nice photos of it.

I then drove the normal route towards Bjørndalen and found the Tufted Ducks (Toppand) again, and then turned around and drove up the valley. When I arrived to the area around Mine 6 I slowed down the speed of the car and started looking for yesterdays Common Gull, but what caught my eye was a Great Skua (Storjo) that came flying over. Unfortunately it flew a bit too quick so I was not able to get the car stopped and the camera ready before it had disappeared off. I continued up towards the mine, and looked for Galucous Gulls (polarmåke) with color-rings. I found two gulls with rings, and in addition I found two two-year-old gulls. It is not that often that these young gulls are seen, so that was a nice ending of the day.

May 21st

The fun birds just keep on coming, and some of them are showing off well too. On the 21st I first got the chance to photograpg a lovely couple of Long-tailed Ducks (Havelle). The male really showed off his long tail as to display why they have got their english name.

As I drove towards Bjørndalen, two little dots on a pond caught my attention. There were the first pair of Tufted Ducks (Toppand) of the season. They were not afraid of me when sat inside the car, so they gave me a good opportunity to photograph them.

When I had photographed the Tufted Ducks I drove back into town, and drove down to LOFF-huset, the viewpoint over the Adventvalley Delta, as I usually do. At first there were no special birds to be seen, but after a while I got aware of a sound that I had heard a couple of days earlier. I lifted the camera, and just managed to get a few pictures of an adult male Common Teal (Krikkand) as it flew by.

As I stood there, hoping for the Teal to come back so that I could get some better photos of it, I heard a strange, Black-headed Gull-like (Hettemåke) sound. I took up my binoculars and tried to see what bird was coming, but I was not able to see anything against the white mountains. And then, suddenly, out of nowhere came two Ivory Gulls (Ismåke). the binoculars were quickly swapped for the camera, and I managed to get a quick picture of the last bird flying past me.

I then continued my drive up the valley, towards Lomdammen and Mine 6. When I thought I had seen the birds that were of interest I turned around to go home again, and then I got to see a little gull that was sat on the wet tundra. There a Common Gull (Fiskemåke) was sitting all on its own. This was the two-year-old that I had seen earlier outside my house and in the delta.

fredag 21. mai 2010

Rarities of Svalbard so far in May.

As I am sat here at the airport with little else to do, I thought I would make a little report on the rarities I have managed to see here in Longyearbyen so far in May. It begun the 10. of May, when I was driving back from a trip up the valley came to see a little dark gull with black wing-tips sat with two Glaucous Gulls (Polarmåke) at the dogyard next to town. after having put the car into reverse and having moved back hundred metres I could see that it was an adult Common Gull (Fiskemåke). After my five years in Tromsø I have gotten to know this species well, so it was nice to see it again.

I saw this bird again on the 11th, but then it was gone. But it didnt take longer thatn until the 14th before I got to see the next Svalbard-rarity. This was a Goldeneye (Kvinand). A nice male that after a while gave great views of it, and this one is still present in the area since I got to see it on the 20th.

On the 15th I got to see a new couple of rarity-species. First a Golden Plover (Heilo) was walking around outside my livingroom window, and to my girlfriends dislike I occupied the couch to be used as photographing-area.

The same day I came across, or rather it came across me, the Black-headed Gull (Hettemåke) that was spotted by another guy the day before. It showed well for a couple of days, but at most at quite long distance.

On the 16th I finally got to see my first Ivory Gull (Ismåke) of the year, but were not able to get any photos of it. But another Arctic gull however, I managed to catch on film/memorychip. An adult Iceland Gull (Grønnlandsmåke) was sitting next to LOFF-huset, and gave a good possibility for me to take photos of this species for the first time. I have uploaded one picture of the Iceland Gull on its own, and one where it sits next to a Glaucous Gull for a comparison of similarities and differences between the two species that look very much alike.

Due to the fact that I was not able to sleep the night between the 17th and the 18th I was sitting reading in the livingroom when I got to see that there were some gulls sat on the tundra outside the house. I found my binoculars, and there were the second Common Gull of the year and a Herring Gull (Gråmåke) together with some Glaucous Gulls. The livingroom window was again used for photographing, and after a comment on the age online, the Common Gull was identified as a third calendar year, or two year old bird.

The 19th of May was a very good day for birdwatching, and it wil therefore have to be divided into several parts. First three Common Scoters (Svartand) were lying in the delta, and on the 20th there were seven (!) individuals, three couples and one single male, of this species present in the delta.

And when I were watching the Scoters I heard a familiar sound, and I managed to get my camera up just in time to photograph a male Common Teal (Krikkand) as it flew by.

When I was driving away from the delta a little gull caught my attention in between some Glaucous Gulls, and then the third (!) common Gull was a fact, and it was documented by the camera.

Feeling quite happy about the day I drove in the valley to look for geese and Glaucous gulls with colour-rings I saw some Red-throated Divers and some King Eiders on the ponds and thought that the day was over regarding new species. But that was not the case this day. In a little pond close to Endalen I got aware of a little black and white duck. After breaking down and reversing the car a hundred metres I could document the first Tufted Duck (Toppand) of the saeason on Svalbard.

All in all this month has been quite rewarding so far, but its not over yet, and I'll be out there to document the rarities that appear in front of me.

torsdag 20. mai 2010

Spring and the fun stuff has arrived!!

After a long and more or less cold winter, spring has finally desided to come to Svalbard. And along with spring came the birds. Large flocks of Fulmars (Havhest), Brünnick's Guillemots (Polarlomvi) and Common Eiders (Ærfugl) started the show, followed by large amounts of King Eiders (Praktærfugl), Kittiwakes (Krykkje) and Glaucous Gulls (Polarmåke). To see a flock of about 350 King Eiders lying on smooth water in bright sunlight is a truly magnifisent sight.

When the calendar told me that the month was May, I knew that I didnt have to wait long before something rare would come down from the sky in Longyearbyen. I had allready had a pre-start of the rarities with a White-billed Diver (Gulnebblom), which is a very rare sight up here, but I wanted more. And the birds of May will be presented in the next blogs.:)