A Hoopoe Upupa epops is lingering half an hour drive from Bergen, at Berland on Askøy. It has been present since late September. This afternoon the heavy and wet clouds covering the county lately disappeared. Arild Breistøl and me decided to make a try on it, and speeded out to find it before dark. It was a close race...
On site we met local twitchers Egil and Laila Frantzen, but it seemed the bird had gone. The landlord at the farm where the bird usually hung about, did however tell us the bird was present about 15:00. In our search for the Hoopoe we found one of the hits this autumn, a Yellow-browed Warbler. A good bird for Askøy municipality, with only a couple of previous accepted records.
The darkness descended and the four of us kida gave up on the army bird (Hoopoe in Norwegian). After kissing eachother goodbye, Arild and me drove a last resigned tour on the narrow roads nearby. And wow, suddenly the Hoopoe appeared on a wire. We gathered again, and all got great views of the impressive looking little bird.
Last weekend was reserved for bush kicking and late night meetings with the board in the Hordaland branch of Birdlife Norway. The event took place at Fedje, a small island northwest of Bergen (map below). Fedje is one of the best sites to look for rarities in Hordaland county, but unfortunantely the island is rarely visited.
On our drive to the ferry, Arild Breistøl and me almost smashed a juvenile Goshawk languishing close to the road in the bad weather. When we arrived the ferry terminal, we still had an hour or so to kill, and went to Krossøy, 10 mins away. Not much to find in the dusk, but a Yellow-browed Warbler called intensively during our short stop.
After spending half an hour on the ferry, accompanied with Meshuggah on max volume and some appropriate refreshments, we arrived Fedje. We met up with the other nerds, and spent the evening to prepare our notebooks, minds and other gear for the coming day. Saturday was a bit windy at times, but during the afternoon conditions became rather good. There were lots of birds around, with good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The latter with an all time high at Fedje with at least 30 individuals. Sunday was weatherwise worse than Saturday, but some good birding was carried out after the rain and wind had terrorised most of the morning.
We ended up with nearly 80 bird species, which was quite a decent number in the rather harsh weather conditions. The highlights were Little Grebe, Peregrine, Jack Snipe, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Dick's Pipit, Ring Ouzel, late Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers, a putative Siberian Chiffchaff, nearly 30 Two-barred Crossbills and a first winter Scarlet Rosefinch. The island did also get a new non-flying species during the weekend, namely a Lehmannia marginata. All in all a great weekend, with everything being as it should be in early October - and not much more, except for the Siberian Chiffchaff.
Notes on identification of the Siberian Chiffchaff
The Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis is a rarity in Norway. Possibly overlooked and under reported, but there are less than a dozen records up to date. The Chiffchaffs are variable, and 3,5 subspecies occur in Norway. Abietinus is the common breeder in most of the country south of the Polar circle. Collybita is more scarce, but breeds along the coast of southern Norway. Tristis is rare, but the intergrades between tristis and abietinus, so-called subtristis or fulvescens, are recorded regularly in autumn.
The bird at Fedje was located while feeding in some shrubbery. It was very active, and gave a greyish brown overall impression. It was quite approachable and gave nice views. I was searching for yellow tones in the bird, but was not able to see any in the head region or on the underparts. When it flashed its wings, some yellow was observed on the axillaries and underwing coverts. The bill was jet-black, with only some yellow on the inner part of the cutting edges - possibly only on the upper mandible. The legs were also jet-black including the toes, but a hint of brighter soles appear in a few pictures.
The dark bill and eye were combined with an surprisingly visible dark lores. Quite some time was used searching for traces of yellow in the supercilium and eye-ring, but none were detected in the otherwise bright buff supecilium and eyering. Mantle and scapulars were olive brown, and the rump similar, but with a greenish hue. Greenish color was also present on wing coverts and on the outer webs on both primaries and secondaries. Brighter edges on the greater coverts formed an easily observed wingbar. The throat and chest had a buffish hue, but were almost as bright as the white belly and vent. The ear-coverts hint of rusty buff color.
With these field marks observed we suspected it could be a pure tristis. When the bird kindly provided us with its call, a rather thin and straight "eeeep", we decided to call it a Siberian Chiffchaff.
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