During the winter 1982-1983 the first complete waterbird-count was carried out in Bergen, western Norway. The project included counts of all waterbirds in the municipality on one date in each winter month from November to March. The data is not yet punched in the new report system for birds, but they will be in the near future. These numbers are a valuable historic document of the occurrence of wintering waterbirds in Bergen. Since then we have unfortunately not done similar counts again. However, during this winter (2013-2014) we will do the same count again. Last weekend we did the first of three counts, and 14 birdwatchers dedicated the weekend for the purpose. Eventually it will be exciting to see the results compared to the ones 30 years ago.
The diversity of waterbirds is probably not too different from the old count, but the numbers of the different species have changed. Despite not having compared the numbers, I am quite sure some species have decreased dramatically, and some have increased. I predict that the wintering population of Great Cormorant, Eurasian Coot, Herring Gull and Grey Heron will show a positive trend, and species like Common (Mew) Gull, Black-headed Gull and Tufted Duck will show a decrease.
The highlights in our part of the count were a drake Eurasian Teal (rare winter species here), a Moorhen, 2-3 putative hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gulls and the long-staying first-winter Lesser Black-backed Gull (the first winter record in the county).
Back in May 2007 Torstein Solhøy (RIP grand man!) invited me to the Nes peninsula in the Hardanger fjord (western Norway). The peninsula is a nice blend of rich deciduous forest, surrounding a well driven small-scale cultivated landscape. The reason for the invitation was initiated by the site's dark future. Industry was about to tear the beautiful nature apart, planning a huge road and an even larger shipyard. Local development driven by commercial interests typically outcompeted all other interests. Despite good alternatives for the dramatic intervention, the developers wanted Nes as their breeding ground. It is hard to argue against the activity this shipyard would generate for a local community in need.
Anyway, with Torstein as a driving force, nearly 40 voluntary scientists were engaged in surveying the peninsula. Zoologists, botanists and geologists scrutinized the area, and discovered a site with many qualities. I worked with moths and birds, doing mothtrapping from 2010 - 2012, and bird surveys in 2007 - 2009. The mothing has been great at Nes, with nearly 350 species identified so far. Birding is also good, with species like White-backed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Goshawk and White-tailed Sea-eagles being present year round. The data collected was supposed to culminate into a book at some time, and now it is here! The editor Svein Nord has done a great job. The book is only available in Norwegian, but is full of high quality images and most species are referred to with scientific names.
The book describes the natural and cultural history of a traditional agricultural land in Hardanger. The peninsula is kind of unique in itself, being rather flat topographically - not common in the steep-edged Hardangerfjord. It is a document of a healthy interaction between man and nature, and the diversity of plants and animals discovered underline this. For now the plans of a shipyard at Nes is put on ice, but suddenly some clever dude will wake them up. Let us hope the peninsula and its well documented qualities will continue to exist as the pearl it is in the future.
My humble contributions to the book are some articles about moths and birds, as well as a dozen pictures. Three of the printed pictures can be seen above (however with wrong credits in the book). The slideshow below includes unpublished moth pictures from Nes.
November 2018: Fieldwork in three IBA's in Nepal