Little GrebeUtsira in the middle of the winter is traditionally a very quiet place for birds. So also this year with few exciting birds to broadcast.

The year opened with a Tufted Duck in North haven together with the regular Little Grebe the same place. Three Whooper Swans moved around on the island from the 7th January. Up to two White-tailed Eagles have also roamed the isle, one of them an adult.

Other records have been a couple of Eurasian Teals, Common Goldeneye, Common Wood Pigeon, Bohemian Waxwing, Song Thrush and a Long-eared Owl staying on from last December. A lot of snow and for Utsira´s part a very long-lived cold period, with temperatures down under 10 minus degrees, are the main reasons for the absence of many species and numbers too that normally occur on the island during January.

Had the cold stayed on the mainland and Utsira escaped it, the picture would be very different indeed. One negative consequence of the cold is all the Eurasian Woodcocks found moribund and dazed. Quite a few have been taken by the local Hooded Crows when playing hazard in the open and making themselves easy targets for the scavengers.

altFebruary opened with a locally rare Bean Goose, that stayed a couple of days in the northern fields. The Long-eared Owl and the White-tailed Eagles turned into residents, the same goes for a Northern Lapwing in the southern harbour.

Common Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon were seen early in the month, while a Merlin on the 10th February was only the third winter record for the island. Later a Northern Goshawk was also seen.

Mistle Thrush were recorded a couple of times early in the month. A flock of ten Red Crossbills roame the spruce plantations. The species is scarce on Utsira at this time of year; the autumn influxes usually call it a day during December.

Other birds in February was a rare winter occurrence of Great Northern Loon on the 13th and a record 200 Purple Sandpipers the next day. Two more Whooper Swans arrived mid-month, while the year´s first Eurasian Skylark (10th) and Eurasian Curlew (16th) were later than normal, again related to the weather.

A lone Yellowhammer late month was believed to be the most colourful birdie in a whiter-than-normal winter period.

Photo: Eivind Sande