Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Europe Part 7 - Birding Norway I

Common Tern
After looking around Oslo (see following post) Ketil and I drove up to the Krysbmyra Forest in the mountains near the city. Our drive was followed by a 30-minute bicycle ride and a hike through the beautiful spruce and pine forests.

Ketil in Krysbmyra
We were looking for Pine Crossbill and encountered 4 parties, seeing two birds briefly. This was the fifth lifer of the trip for me. Tree Pipit showed nicely.

Tree Pipit
We flushed a pair of Eurasian Nightjars.

Eurasian Nightjar - Pic by Ketil Knudsen
We had a delightful lunch with the Knudsen family in Oslo before travelling south to the family's equally delightful coastal villa at Tasken, near the mouth of the Oslo Fjord.

Lunch with the Knudsens
Here we took a boat ride around the fjord, with Ketil at the helm.

Tasken, Oslo Fjord
Birds on the islands included Rock Pipit, numerous Greater Black-backed Gulls and Northern Wheatear.

Greater Black-backed Gull
Common Terns were nesting on the islands but they are suffering greatly from increasing predation by gulls, which have fewer fish to catch, evidently due to warming waters in the fjords.

Common Tern
Many male Common Eiders were coming into breeding plumage. Other waterbirds included Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser.

Common Eiders
Around the villa were Eurasian Linnet, Common Wheatear and nesting Greater Whitethroat.

Eurasian Linnet
Driving east towards the Swedish border we found several Western Marsh-Harriers, including one that had caught a large vole.

Western Marsh-Harrier
Yellowhammer and Whinchat were quite common.


We spent a day wandering the streets of Oslo, seeing the Parliament, the waterfront, the Royal Palace and Akershus-Festning Fort, among other things.

Oslo waterfront
Akershus-Festning Fort

Friday, 23 June 2017

Europe Part 6 - Copenhagen & Oslo

Barnacle Goose
Following our stay in Berlin (see following post) we took the bus north to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. It was an entirely relaxing mode of transit after our extensive travels in the hire car. We crossed the Baltic Sea on the ferry from the German port of Rostock.

Amalienborg Palace
In Copenhagen we had an Airbnb homestay in the district of Norrebro for 3 nights. We wandered the city centre and suburban streets, taking an on-off touring bus again, and were delighted by the beauty and general ambience of this place. We were told we were fortunate to be there for rarely warm summer weather; thousands of scantily clad (some naked) Danes were sunbaking by the numerous waterways.

Copenhagen canal

Copenhagen inner harbour
We took a ferry ride through the maze of canals and harbours.

City Library

Little Mermaid statue

Stock Exchange tower
We saw the Amalienborg Palace where the royal family lives; the imposing Christianborg Palace complex that includes the Parliament; the iconic Statue of the Living Mermaid along with City Hall; and other sites including the Opera House, Tivoli, Rosenberg Castle and the Botanic Gardens.

Hans Christian Anderson grave
In Norrebro we admired how the Danes have turned a cemetery into a fine suburban park. Here we saw the grave of Hans Christian Anderson.

Jackdaw was abundant in the city streets.

Oresund Bridge
 After Copenhagen we took another bus north, crossing the Oresund Bridge to Sweden, the 10th state to be visited since arriving in Europe a month ago. We crossed southern Sweden into Norway, arriving in the capital of Oslo and the home of our friends Ketil Knudsen and Bente Mjomen Knudsen.

Barnacle Goose
After Ketil picked us up at the bus depot, we stopped at the quaintly named Middle Aged Park in Oslo for the third lifer of the trip - Barnacle Goose. I've seen this species in many European parks but not ticked it previously. The Norway birds evidently have established a large and permanent breeding population; the extent to which this is an entirely natural phenomenon is impossible to determine but climate change is affecting other waterbird breeding behaviour. In any event, the Norway population is a mix of wild and birds originally introduced but is now accepted as wild.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Common Gull
Common, Lesser Black-backed, European Herring and Black-headed Gulls were all numerous.

In Oslo we visited the Vigeland Park with its famous sculptures and the adjoining Western Graveyard - together creating a vast area of wonderful parkland in the city's heart.

Vigeland Park sculptures
 Common Goldeneye and Tufted Duck were among the waterbirds on the lakes.

Tufted Duck & Common Goldeneye

Viking Ship Museum
We enjoyed a visit to the Viking Ship Museum.

Common Eider family
We had a look at the Holmenkollen ski jump and the woods and coastal coves around the Nesodden Peninsula. Here were several Common Eiders with ducklings in tow.

Common Tern
Common Tern was feeding in the shallows.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Eurasian Oystercatchers were about.

European Robin
European Robin, always a nice bird to see.

In a field nearby I finally connected with Redwing - my fourth lifer for the trip.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Europe Part 5 - Germany: Bavaria to Berlin

Murnauer Moos
Following our stay in Switzerland (see following post) we opted to travel to Germany through western Austria. Bad move. We were not aware we needed a tollway sticker to enter Austria as we assumed it would be like elsewhere in the EU - you pay tolls as you go along. We were waved through by the Austrian border guards (no warning signs that we could see) and then pulled over  by the Austrian police and hit with a 120 euro on-the-spot fine for not having the sticker. We were left with a sour taste in our mouths - Austria sucks!

Murnauer Moos
After leaving the neo-fascists following a brief drive through western Austria we entered Germany for a stay in the delightful Bavarian town of Murnau. Here I checked out the beautiful moors and grasslands of Murnauer Moos, with their dramatic backdrop of the Alps in that neo-fascist country to the south.

I looked unsuccessfully for Spotted Crake, including before sunrise and after sunset (when they are supposed to be more active at this time of year) with no success. I heard several Corn Crake, a species I had seen in Kenya, and although none showed, they were most interested in my tape recording of the Australian frog Psuedophryne coriacea.

Common Cuckoo
Plenty of Common Cuckoos were about.

Common Chiffchaff
Willow Warbler
Coming to grips with the Palaearctic warblers was a challenge. I eventually sorted out Willow Warbler from Common Chiffchaff - both plentiful.

Blackcap Warbler
As was Blackcap Warbler, Eurasian Reed-Warbler and Sedge Warbler. A couple of Western Bonelli's Warblers showed.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker was about; no sign of the White-backed reported to be here.

A couple of Fieldfare were nice to see.

Long-tailed Tit

Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit was there along with plenty of Great Tit, Eurasian Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit. An unexpected surprise was a Eurasian Beaver which surfaced within a couple of metres of where I standing on a creek bank in the early morning.

Nymphenburg Palace, Munich

Nymphenburg Palace, Munich
After leaving Murnau we headed north to Munich to visit the historic Nymphenburg Palace on the city's western outskirts. The elaborate collection of carriages was particularly impressive.

Greylag Goose
Among the waterfowl on the palace lakes were plenty of Greylag Geese and a few Common Pochards.

Common Pochard
We decided to overnight in the pleasant village of Schleiz before confronting Berlin's mayhem. We stayed in the Hotel Luginsland, where a wall of pictures is devoted to Australian motorbike rider Roger Barker, who died outside the hotel in a 1957 accident.

Fields outside Schleiz
From there we drove a short distance to the village of Modlareuth, one of many German towns to be divided by the old border between East Germany and West Germany. This fine site includes a museum and remnant stretches of the border wall that was dismantled in 1989.

Modlareuth - East German border post & fence

Section of original border wall that divided German village of Modlareuth
Here also were House Martins and Barn Swallows nesting in the old buildings.

House Martins on nest
From Modlareuth we had a tortuous drive to Berlin, where road repairs and a couple of spectacular motor vehicle accidents (no speed limits on the autobahns) meant it took 5+ hours to travel 240kms. We checked into our hotel and dropped the car off, having clocked up almost 4000km since leaving Rome 19 days earlier.

Brandenburg Gate

Checkpoint Charlie
Berlin is a delightful city. We indulged in the usual el fresco dining and beer-drinking. We took in sites including the Berlin Cathedral, Checkpoint Charlie, Alexanderplatz, the Reichstag (Parliament), Charlottenburg Palace and the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Cathedral
Charlottenburg Palace display