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.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Europe Part 8 - Birding Norway's Mountains (Eurasian Dotterel, Great Snipe, Capercaillie); Sight-seeing the Netherlands

Eurasian Dotterel
After pottering around Oslo and the southern Norway coast (see following post) we headed north to Lillehammer, where we looked without success for Pine Grosbeak, making do with more numerous fare such as Meadow Pipit and Common Redstart, along with some fine alpine scenery.

Common Redstart
Mountains above Lillehammer
We continued north to the Knudsen family's lovely cabin in the Synnfjell Mountains in the district of Nord-Torpa, stopping to look at a pair of Slavonian Grebes with chicks. 

Slavonian Grebe 

Nord-Torpa cabin

Like so many cabins dotting the length of Scandinavia's Langfjellat mountains, the roof is adorned with a flourishing garden of wildflowers (abundant at this time of year), grasses and small shrubs. The weather was chilly but pleasant and sunny.

Great Tit
A pair of Great Tits were feeding a clutch of young in a nest-box on the cabin wall.

Pied Flycatcher
Other birds about the cabin included Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Siskin  and Willow Tit. Glenn was fortunate to see a Long-eared Owl.

Eurasian Siskin

Spruce forest, Nord-Torpa
The forests in this part of the world are mostly spruce with pockets of treeless moor. 

Siberian Jay
Walking the road through the forest behind the cabin I found Siberian Jay on four occasions, with a maximum of 3 birds at one spot.


I stumbled upon a female Capercaillie being highly protective of a couple of chicks by the road. I also saw a single female Black Grouse briefly. A juvenile White-tailed Eagle overhead was unexpected.

White-tailed Eagle
I had seen Brambling just once before so it was nice to track down a singing male.

We drove further north to the spectacular Valdresflya Plateau where plenty of snow was about, notwithstanding the time of year.  On the way we were surprised to find a Hawfinch by the road.

This beautiful area is a mosaic of highland moors, snowfields, lakes, forest patches and mountains.



At Valdresflya it took a couple of hours to track down a prime target – Eurasian Dotterel, which nests on the rocky mountain hillsides. An adult showed nicely as it watched over two small chicks.

Eurasian Dotterel
Other birds in the area included the distinctive regional race of Bluethroat, Shore Lark and Western Yellow Wagtail. A Wood Sandpiper in breeding plumage was nice.

Wood Sandpiper
Also an Arctic Tern along one of the lake shores.

Arctic Tern

Ketil sets up the hides at snipe lek
We moved on to the Hersjomyrin Nature Reserve at Storhosaestren where Ketil knew of a Great Snipe lek. Here we set up two tent hides and waited until “sunset” at 11pm. Night at this time of year consists of 3 or 4 hours of dim twilight, and that is when some birds such as snipe are most active.

Great Snipe displaying at lek - pic by Ketil Knudsen

Great Snipe
We weren't to be disappointed. We had 15-20 Great Snipe in full swing at the lek with a cacophony of bill-snapping, whinnying and whirring noises. They shut up when a Short-eared Owl soared overhead. A Merlin also flew over while Red Grouse was heard. Mammals in the area included Mountain Hare and Field Vole.

Common Snipe - Pic by Ketil Knudsen
On the way back in the semi-darkness we encountered Eurasian Woodcock and Common Snipe (with a noticeably longer bill than Great Snipe) on the road.

We had a couple of Moose cross the road.

We're extremely grateful to Ketil and Bente Knudsen for their warm generosity and excellent company during our 10-day visit to Norway. Then it was on to The Netherlands, the last of 12 countries we visited during our 6.5-week sojourn to Europe (the others were, in order: Italy, Vatican City, Monaco, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway).

Haarlem & Great Church of St Bavos
St Bavos concert

Haarlem's Adrian windmill

We stayed near Amsterdam in the historic city of Haarlem with the tower of the Great Church of St Bavos shadowing our comfortable apartment; the constant ringing of its 5-tonne bell offered mixed blessings. The huge pipe organ in the church was played by Mozart when he was 10.

We checked out the sites of Haarlem and Amsterdam including, in Haarlem - Teyler's Museum, the city's bustling Saturday market in the town square and the Adrian windmill. We enjoyed the splendid mosaic of canals in both cities.

Amsterdam - marijuana shop


In Amsterdam we saw Westerkerk, Hermitage and the Auschwitz Memorial. We contemplated the plates along canal footpaths commemorating the Jewish people taken from their homes and murdered by the Nazis. The whiff of marijuana in crowded Amsterdam back streets was in the air.

Amsterdam - Jewish people taken from their homes and killed by the Nazies WWII
Near Haarlem we did not expect to find a large area of natural wilderness along the coast in Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. Fallow Deer were common here.

Zuid-Kennemerland National Park

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