Norway Pre-trip Jun 30—Jul 07, 2012

Posted by Brian Gibbons

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Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons grew up in suburban Dallas where he began exploring the wild world in local creeks and parks. Chasing butterflies and any animal that was unfortunate enough t...

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Days 1 and 2. We drove from Oslo to the NordreØyerenriver delta, south of Lillestrøm. Our first stop was on the east side of the delta where there is a mixture of marshland, open water, and farmland. Highlights here were a close Hobby hunting insects and a young male Eurasian Marsh Harrier quartering wet grassland. We also had good views of a vagrant Blyth's Reed-Warbler, singing his heart out in the vain hope of finding a mate. A number of more common farmland and waterbirds added to our species list. We drove over to the east side of the delta to the small wetland at Merkja where we had close views of a pair of Mute Swans and a Gray Heron. Driving to our hotel in the town of Horten, we stopped in the valley of Maridalen directly north of Oslo. Here we had close views of a Wryneck feeding young in an old woodpecker hole and a pair of Red-backed Shrikes taking food to their young in a well-hidden nest. We then drove an hour south of Oslo to the town of Horten, situated on the Oslofjord. After dinner we took a little walk to the local park to find Rooks. We saw a few birds, but they were tucked in for the night and it was hard to get much of a look.

Mute Swans with young at Presterodkilen

Mute Swans with young at Presterodkilen— Photo: Brian Gibbons

Days 2 and 3.  After breakfast we visited Borrevannet, a lush lowland lake. We eventually had brief views of Thrush Nightingale after hearing concealed birds singing. The breeding colony of Great Crested Grebes showed well from the bird tower and we enjoyed good views of a number of other birds including Osprey, Common Buzzard, and Eurasian Kestrel. We had lunch at the site of Møringa, overlooking the Oslofjord. Here we saw an unseasonal Bar-tailed Godwit alongside the breeding Common Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Eurasian Oystercatchers. We continued south to the town of Tønsberg where we visited the shallow tidal bay of Presterødkilen. Here we had a selection of shorebirds and ducks including Common Shelduck, Eurasian Green-winged Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Greenshank, and Common Redshank. We then made our way to our hotel in the small coastal town of Stavern.  This afternoon we had a couple of hours to explore this picturesque little town.    

Days 3 and 4.  In the morning we visited Mølen which attracts many birds at migration times. On our visit we saw Horned Grebe, Bar-tailed Godwit, White-winged Scoter, Northern Wheatear, a singing Marsh Warbler, and many Greater Whitethroats. Out in the bay we had a single harbor seal, drying his flippers. Heading towards our hotel in Drammen, we stopped at the lake at Gjennestadvannet. We were very successful here and had a pair of Common Cranes with a youngster, a pair of Whooper Swans, Common Cuckoo, Pied Flycatcher, Common Buzzard, and best of all, two close Honey Buzzards. On the outskirts of Drammen we visited Linnesstranda where we had a good selection of gulls and shorebirds including Common Ringed and Little Ringed plovers, Green Sandpiper, and Common Greenshank.

Days 4 and 5.  We headed north from Drammen towards Geilo. On the way we made various stops where we saw species such as Crested Tit, Eurasian Jay, Green Woodpecker, and Wryneck. A stop at Skurdalen did not reveal the hoped for Siberian Jay, but we did have good views of a pair of Merlins and a family party of Willow Tits. Driving on towards Geilo, a roadside pool held a pair of Arctic Terns. North of Geilo we switched to a smaller bus to visit Budalen. Here we had good views of a pair of Arctic Loons, a single Common Crane, nesting Yellow Wagtails of the race thunbergi, and a female Bluethroat.

Yellow Wagtail at Budalen

Yellow Wagtail at Budalen— Photo: Brian Gibbons

Days 5 and 6.  We drove west from Geilo on to the Hardangervidda plateau where we could see the Hardanger Glacier and still frozen lakes at an elevation of 1,300m. We drove down the narrow road to the lake at Tinnhølen in the heart of the national park. A calling Eurasian Dotterel did not allow itself to be seen even though it sounded close to us. More cooperative were Horned Larks and Temminck's Stints. We had distant views of a Peregrine Falcon and Eurasian Kestrel and some of the group saw a beautiful male Lapland Longspur. There was a lot of evidence of lemmings, but this was from last year as the population crashed last summer after two peak years. The lack of lemmings this year explained why we did not have more raptors, owls, or jaegers.On the lake at Tinnhølen there was a selection of ducks including Black Scoter, Greater Scaup, Tufted Duck, and Common Goldeneye. After admiring the waterfall at Vøringfossen where House Martins were nesting on the cliffs, we visited the valley at Isdalen. Here we had many fleeting views of Bluethroats, breeding Yellow Wagtails, and another Arctic Loon. Driving through an impressive corkscrew tunnel, we descended over 1,000m from the Hardangervidda to our hotel in the town of Eidfjord which was at sea level, although hundreds of miles inland at the end of the Hardangerfjord.

Days 6 and 7.  After an early breakfast we walked through an area of riverside woodland looking for the rare White-backed Woodpecker. We did not manage to locate one this year, but had various other woodland species including Marsh Tit. Our journey continued to Bergen with a scenic ferry journey over the fjord where we saw a pod of harbor porpoises jumping over the still water.