April 2011

Siberian Stonechat hemprichiiThe first Dunnock of the year turned up on the 2nd, followed by a Common Chiffchaff the day after.

Not a lot happened the next few days, Common Linnet and Western Jackdaw appeared, and it was not until the weekend of 9th–10th April before any migration became evident.

Several new species for the year arrived: Common Greenshank, Common House Martin, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Lesser Redpoll. Of these, the first was the earliest ever while the second was earlier than average. A white-winged gull passed without a real name.

The best bird, however, was a Eurasian Stonechat of the subspecies variegatus (Sveinung Larsen, Geir Mobakken et al.) in one of the northern fields.

This is no less than a new bird for Utsira and Rogaland!

Although it stayed for a couple of days, for some reason it never got popular with the twitchers, none of whom came to see such a distinct subspecies of Stonechat.

There is only one previous Norwegian record:

1983 Vestfold: male, trapped, doc., Ilene, Tønsberg, 15th–19th June (Terje Axelsen, Tor Ivar Bjønness et al.)

On the 11th a Common Moorhen was in the lake, after a blank year in 2010. The next day both Barn Swallow and Tree Pipit were new for the year, while Black Redstart was new in on the 13th.

Black RedstartGreen Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper got the same status on the 16th. More news in the days to follow, with Great Grey Shrike, Hawfinch, Sand Martin and Carrion Crow. A flock of European Golden Plovers came and settled, and numbered 72 at the most. A smaller flock of Lapland Longspurs joined them.

From the 20th the weather changed to a little more temperature-friendly one with southeasterlies in the wake. Such weather on these dates always means the first proper migration of the year including sub-Saharan songbirds.

Even though exotic birds always are on the radar on Utsira in this period, it nevertheless turned out very much as the usual Norwegian bread and butter: Stock Dove, Eurasian Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail flava and flavissima, Bohemian Waxwing, Stonechat, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Wheatear, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, European Pied Flycatcher, Eurasian Tree Sparrow and Twite were the species typical of the period. Of these, Wheatear occurred aplenty, to some extent also Redstart but not Twite.

In the ringing forests the conditions were near-perfect, with a maximum of 267 birds on the 23rd. The best catches these days were three Common Kestrels (one with a Swedish ring), four Wrynecks, Ring Ouzel, two Common Grasshopper Warblers, Great Grey Shrike and like April last year, a Eurasian Treecreeper was trapped.

The last few days of the month gave Tufted Duck and Great Skua as new species for the year, and also a little odd spring record of Little Auk – and a northerly airflow.

On the fjord the Red-throated Loons were in evidence in such weather systems and 91 moved north on the 29th.

A Greater Short-toed Lark (Sveinung Larsen, Øystein B. Nilsen) also passed over on the same day, exactly one year after last year´s first.

April´s last day gave several redpolls in the nets, one of which was identified as an Arctic Redpoll.

Here follows a selection of photos from April (all photos taken by Atle Grimsby and Sveinung Larsen):

altaltWhite-tailed Eaglealtalt