Monthly report April 2020

General: coverage and weather
Highest temperature was 14.4 degC (21st) and lowest 0.4 degC (3rd). Total precipitation was 28.3mm. Most precipitation in one day was 5.1mm (7th). Strongest wind speed was 37.3 m/s and the highest daily average 25.4 m/s (25th). Total number of species ended on a respectable 113 species versus 119 species in April 2019.

Six different raptor species in April is good. A full adult Pallid Harrier over Nordre Merkeskogen on the 18th and a Red Kite on the 29th and 30th were the most notable records during the month. Merlin was noted with a single bird on the 20th. Sparrowhawk records were few and far between while White-tailed Eagled were observed daily throughout the month with two to three birds. The local Peregrine Falcons were also noted.

Reasonable numbers of geese during the month with 20 to 30 pairs of breeding Greylag Goose. Seven Pink-footed Geese were present between the 10th and 12th, while a Canada Goose paid a brief visit in Tuevågen on the 18th. 66 Barnacle Geese were on passage on the 27th. A Wigeon was noted between the 10th and 16th and two to three Teal were present between the 10th and 28th. Six Tufted Duck rested shortly outside Djupvikshaugen on the 26th. There was little movement on the seabird front, but a few divers were noted from the 17th until the months end. The best day was the 28th with two White-billed Divers, a Black-throated Diver and 15 Red-throated Divers.

The most notable bird in this category was full adult Laughing Gull flying over Hovland heading north over the island. A Stone Curlew present at Austrheim between the 12th and 16th was also a good record.


Stone Curlew (Photo: Torborg Berge)


Black-tailed Godwit are less than annual and an islandica was together with Golden Plovers between the 26th and 28th. Golden Plover were well represented throughout the month with a maximum of 25 on the 16th. Water Rail were reported with one to two birds between the 10th and 19th. A Crane was flushed from a puddle along the road from the lighthouse out to the decca-station on the 17th.

Sub-species were of focus this month: Geir Mobakken found a nice ‘southern’ Bluethroat (cyanecula) in Søre Merkeskog on the 18th and Atle Grimsby found a Masked Wagtail in the scrape out towards Pedlestemmen on the 29th. Both were new sub-species for Rogaland and the Masked Wagtail was only the fifth record for Northern Europe since it was the same as spotted in Sweden 2 weeks prior.  


Masked Wagtail (Photo: Bjørn Mo)

The Firecrest from March was still at the dump until the 8th. Short-eared Owls were recorded with single birds at various locations between the 20th and 25th. A Cuckoo and a Bullfinch were noted on the 29th. The record numbers of Stonechat that were reported in March (up to 13 in a day) continued into April with single birds until the 21st. Black Redstart was reported daily in various plumages at various localities from the 20th until the end of the month.

There were four days of ringing in Merkeskogen during the month. A total of 67 birds of nine different species were ringed. The best day was the 10th when 32 birds were ringed of which Lesser Redpoll (17), Chiffchaff (8) and Willow Warbler/Blackbird (2) were the most numerous. The previous April gave 390 ringed birds of 20 species in nine days of ringing.

Year ticks:
April gave us 43 new species for the year: Linnet, Blackcap and Swallow (5th), Lesser redpoll and Wheatear (6th), Goldfinch (7th), Willow Warbler and Puffin (10th), Brambling and Stone Curlew (12th), Fulmar and mealy Redpoll (16th), Common Sandpiper and red-throated Diver (17th), Canada Goose (18th), Crossbill (19th), House Sparrow, Short-eared Owl and Merlin (20th), Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Green sandpiper (21st), Wryneck (22nd), Hawfinch and Ringed Plover (25th), Redstart, Sand Martin, Black-tailed Godwit and Tufted Duck (26th), Wood Warbler, Laughing Gull and Barnacle Goose (27th), Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, White-billed Diver and Black-throated Diver (28th), Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Dunlin, Whimbrel and Red Kite (29th) and House Martin (30th).

Rarities/local scarcities:  
Masked Wagtail (Motacilla alba personata), new for Utsira and second for Norway.
Laughing Gull was the second record for Utsira, the last in March 2001 by the same observer.
Stone Curlew was the third record, the last in May/June 2015
Red Kite the third record, the last in March 2018
Canada Goose was the 24th record (non-vagrant), the last in September 2019
Crane was the 28th record, the last in April 2018


The 5 other records of Masked Wagtail (Motacilla alba personata) in North-Europe are:


  • 2020 Sweden: 2cy male, Stenshuvud, Skåne 12.4-14.4
  • 2019 Sweden: 1cy/2cy female, Getterön, Halland 24.11-21.3.2020
  • 2016 UK: 2cy male, Pembrokes, Wales 29.11
  • 2006 Sweden: ad male, Glabo, Öland 29.4
  • 2003 Norway: 1cy/2cy male, Nordhasselvika, Lista 15.11-9.4.2004

Incredible enough is the third record in Sweden (Stenshuvud, Skåne 12.4-14.4 2020) identical with the bird at Utsira. Here is a comparison done by Björn Malmhagen in the Swedish rarity comittee: