Glimpse of the northern spring

This spring has been very restless with travelling between north and south, but it has been quite a few interesting things to report from Nordland during the short stays in March, April and early May.

To start with the highlight so far; driving northward 9th May we did a brief stop at Engasjyen in Mo i Rana. And the first we spotted was a couple of small, white geese: Ross’ geese!

After a closer study, and more photo material, our suspicion was confirmed: a ring on one of the birds’ right foot leaves no doubt this is the two famous geese that showed up in Trøndelag, Norway last fall. They later followed pink-footed geese to the wintering grounds in Belgium, where the birds’ identity was confirmed by the ring. The goose was ringed in Nunavat, Canada in 2017, and that prove they are true vagrants!

This spring the birds have been seen in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Estonia, before they surprisingly turned north-west and showed up in Mo I Rana!

Mostly our short trips to Nordland have been to Røst, and the first where in late March. On 19th March we were surprised by a massive downfall of trushes!

No less than 300 blackbirds where counted, and a few days later the total was over 600! This is a species we hardly see in two-figured numbers, and now they were accompanied by good numbers of redwings and fieldfares.

The downfall also included a couple off mistle thrushes and early song thrushes.

The first ringed plovers for the season had also arrived.

A more surprising guest was a little grebe in the harbour area.

Our next stay at Røst was with students in mid-April. Now we got the chance to get out to the bird cliffs to welcome the seabirds back for the season. Puffins, razorbills and shags were seen in good numbers.

We also got a closer look at the new “kittiwake hotel” on Røst, built to house the kittiwakes that traditionally was breeding on the roof of an old building being restored. This has been a great success: only weeks after old nests from the roof was placed into the new nesting boxes on the hotel, it was nearly fully booked!

On the main island the biggest surprise was a little gull, eagerly feeding on flies with the local black-headed gulls.

A few days later we went on to Værøy, where we went hiking up to the last rests of winter snow. To our surprise we found a couple of rock ptarmigans sitting on the snow patch – still in their white winter plumage. They are normally very stationary, and the nearest population is found in high altitudes in mainland Lofoten. These two must have blown out with one of the hard winter storms.

A single snow bunting on Værøy. 

Our last visit to Røst was in early May, and again a little gull was in focus. This time an adult bird, apparently claiming territory in the marshland. It was also accompanied by a bird, probably the same we saw in April.

The first turnstones of the year is always wonderful sight!

Back in mainland Lofoten a couple of interesting geese attracted our attention at Fredvang: a white-fronted goose and a brent goose were grazing with the local greylags.