When you are spending most time birding along the outer coastline it is always very rewarding to do an altitudal climb. Only kilometers away from the open sea, the mountains of Bergen emerge. Some of them reach heights of 1000 meters above sea level.
This evening I drove to lake Osavatn, about 25 minutes from my home. Near the car-park a Dipper fed actively in the waterbed, and two Common Sandpipers called distantly. A nice warm-up. However, my goal was to find Dotterels at Austrerinden summit. Dotterels are typically found at the most elevated points, and the summit is at 800 m.a.s.l. (parking my car at 300 m.a.s.l.).
On lower elevations (from 300-600 meters) the highlight was a singing Ring Ouzel at about 400 m.a.s.l. Other species were a handful Willow Warblers, flyby Redpolls and Sisikins, a singing Dunnock, Cuckoo, Chaffinch, Tufted Duck, Blackbird, Meadow Pipits and a few Song Thrushes.
When reaching 700 m.a.s.l. Golden Plovers appeared. At least three different couples and three "single" birds were seen during the hike.
When I crossed a ridge near the summit, some Golden Plovers started calling. In between the calls I heard a more discrete "ply" that just had to be a Dotterel! After a few moments of scanning the slopes I finally saw a female a couple hundred meters away. Just like the Golden Plovers it was actively calling by now, and flapped its wings regularly. When The Golden Plovers lifted, the Dotterel did as well. With her was another individual, but I could not be sure of the sex. On my return I flushed them again, and they apparently flew back to the original spot.
Dotterels have not been found breeding in the Bergen mountains, but it would not surprise me if they do. However, they are usually found in small parties from mid May to mid June, and are thought to be birds stopping over.
Other birds observed near the summit were a calling male Ptarmigan, two feeding Barn Swallows, good numbers of Meadow Pipits, and 4-5 couples of Wheatears.
The spring has been cold in Bergen in 2015, and the snow melting is behind the normal at present. Still it was no problem walking in the mountains, but I suppose the breeding phenology for many of the alpine birds is delayed.
I chose the "shortest" and steepest way to the summit, and spent 90 minutes climbing to the top, with lots of stops scanning for birds.
When we published the Norwegian online report system for birds in May 2008, the next goal was to release a new joint Norwegian/Swedish version a couple of years later. However, handling nearly 60 million records from 30K reporters has been a great challenge. Hard work since then, by more than a dozen developers and biodiversity professionals from Norway and Sweden, has finally come to an end.
The World's best report system for birds
Two days ago the database was shut down before migration to the new platform. Tomorrow we'll publish the long awaited new site. This will be huge milestone, and I am confident that reporters will be satisfied. The two similar report systems, artsobservasjoner.no and artportalen.se have been and will still be (by far) the best report systems in the world. I have tested most major report systems globally, and none of them match our system when it comes to data quality, result pages, data organization for the user, or the tools available for validators.
Three days with no report system has been challenging to cope with for many birders in Norway. They can't report their sightings, and they can't see what others have found. Hopefully the new site has been worth waiting for. Launch is set for tomorrow around noon - and then we'll let the addicts in!
Everything comes to an end, as does the massive yawn of the Great Black-backed Gull that has been heading the former site. The picture was shot during my bachelor-party in April 2007, and is for sure the most viewed picture of mine - ever. A fine Puffin will replace the gull in the new version that will be launched tomorrow.
Artsobservasjoner (Norway) and Artportalen (Sweden) is a collaboration between the two countries species databanks and several NGO's (like Birdlife Norway where I work).
November 2018: Fieldwork in three IBA's in Nepal