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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Monday, 30 June 2008 10:13

Runde 2008 – delayed season

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Four days of the last June weekend 2008 that we spent on the Norwegian Runde Island brought a lot of interesting but one little disappointment as well – the Atlantic Puffin that is the main attraction of the island were a bit delayed this year and so one of the main goal of our trip – to watch the puffins bringing small fishes from the sea to feed the chicks in the nest, has not been fulfilled.

The fact that this season would be delayed was already apparent from the early spring weather – during my first visit in the middle of March the whole island was still covered with snow and even the ban to entrance the restricted areas, which normally runs from 15.3. was postponed – there were no birds to disturb – and to watch! The only inhabitants of the cold March Runde Island were the species staying at the island through the whole year round or at least for the major part of the year – Gannet (Morus bassanus), Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). There were no puffins at the island yet – at that time the first frocks of puffins were observed near Bergen traveling northward – maybe to Runde either…

So few words about our June visit. 1D3_2178PSAfter first doubts the weather got nice and through the whole stay on the island it was ideal with clear sky interrupted by sporadic showers and pleasant temperature up to 20 degrees Celsius. Because it was shortly after the longest day of the year, it was possible to observe the birds and make pictures of them almost permanently - with exception of ca. 4 hours between 23.00 and 03.00 during slight dusk. The number of tourists at the island was also still quite OK although it increased to several tens at the rock with puffin colony after 20.00 each day, when the puffins were expected to come from the sea. To come early in the morning didn’t help either – the puffins were most of the day out at the sea and perched close to the watching point only scarcely and individually – not in tens or even hundreds of birds as one might expect. This year´s winter probably caused the delay of the puffins´ nesting and lying of their eggs – the chicks were not hatched yet and so the adults were not busy with feeding. Because neither the early morning nor the late evening watching produced any better shots of puffins, I decided to focus on the other birds.

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From the photographed birds let me mention those most active on the island at that time. The most noticeable bird inside the island was with no doubts the Great Skua (Stercorarius skua), which obviously thrives here and number of which increases constantly – unfortunately with a bad impact on the other sea-birds. In these days Great Skua occurs in the whole area at the flat top part of the island; it can be often heard yelling from the dense grassy undergrowth when some intruder approaches or it can be seen flying over the island or towards the cliffs where it searches for a prey. Once I have seen 12 birds at the same time flying over the island. If you wake up early in the morning you can be lucky to meet skua sitting on the touristic pathway running to the rock with puffin colony. Skua is very brave bird; you can usually get as close to them as few meters. When threatened close to their nests they can be very awkward and one gets goose skin when they pretend an attack, flying meter over your head with outspread claws.

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The Gannet (Morus bassanus) colony is not that easily accessible – the steep cliffs can be best approached on the boat – the organized cruises operates daily if there are enough people to go; the price for the cruise is 180 NOK/person. It takes 2 hours altogether and it really is worth to go – although the cruise is not suitable for photography – sometimes the waves are quite rough and it is almost impossible to hold the camera still then. In March this year Gannets could be observed from the rock beyond the lighthouse (Runde fyr); in June the Gannets were feeding in different part of the sea and did not fly over the lighthouse do there were not many chances for good picture.

Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) can be seen in large colonies around the island with largest concentration at “Skarveura”. Although partly accessible from the land, better watching can be done again from the hired boat. Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is present in a few smaller colonies that are good for shooting of the birds and bird pairs resting on the cliffs as well as shooting the birds flying gracefully over the sea in attempts to approach the nests on the steep cliffs. Worth to mention is the Common Raven (Corvus corax) – the annual inhabitant of the rocks at Kaldekloven or the colony of Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) in lower levels of the cliffs. At one of such cliffs I have observed a fight of two Kittiwake adults for the nesting spot.

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I was surprised that these birds that look otherwise so calm and friendly can also be so aggressive – both birds (probably males) fought for about 30 minutes. It was always the same scenario - after landing of one of them to the spot on the cliff the other one fles directly onto the first bird and attacked it with the beak. After terribly-looking whirling fall they both usually ended up 10 meters lower on the hard rock of the cliff. Beaks stained with blood and torn feathers said the story clearly – the good nesting spot during the breeding season is priceless.

This short report is rather a goodbye for the summertime as I will be away till the middle of August. If you plan to watch puffins feeding their chicks on the Runde Island you should come in the period between approximately 7. July and the middle of August – there will be for sure a lot of to see and to photograph.

Another major update of the website and the pictures from Runde Island as well as from other places will be added in August at the earliest. Till then, have a good light; I wish to all of you a lot of nice pictures and great moments in the nature.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 February 2011 08:44
 
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