Early birds in Stavanger

By Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo, University of Stavanger

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My task for Work Package 1 will be to trace the history of the Revtangen ornithological station at Jæren, and to investigate and report the background and development of the yearly backyard bird count in several European countries.

Partly to learn more about birding and the people involved in it in Rogaland, I signed up for a guided bird walk on May 26th 2020. Due to the Corona-virus restrictions, there were limited spaces, but the 20 lucky ones met at 6:30 am Saturday morning at Byhaugen café.

Bird walk
(c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

In the middle of the above photo is ornithologist Øyvind Gjerde who guided us. He has been birding in the Stavanger area since 1977 and participates in a large range of birding activities. To help us identify the birds, Gjerde brought large bird cards and listened carefully for bird sounds. As we followed him towards the lake, we heard more bird songs than we were able to spot, because the lush green forest gave camouflage to all but the Blackbirds. The walk went on a path covered with leafy trees towards Lille Stokkavatn.

The other participants were of different ages and walks of life, one mother with a five-year-old, some groups of friends, some couples. None of us were experienced birders. We made friends and shared ideas on birding, gardening, making compost and communal farming which seems to have become more popular lately.

When we came down to the lake, we saw swans, different types of ducks, mostly mallards with ducklings, and the main attraction, according to Gjerde – a Great Crested Grebe. He explained that the movement we observed was a “dance” where the partners stretched their necks against each other as part of the mating process.

Great Crested Grebe
(c) Per Erik Skramstad (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

After we had heard and seen pictures of Chiff Chaffs, Wrens, Blackbirds, Starlings, Chaffinches, Mallards, Great Crested Grebes, and several others, and having spotted many of the birds, we returned to the starting point. The local neighbourhood organisation of sustainable living, which organised the walk, provided an organic sandwich from a local baker. All the participants even received a bag of flower seeds for the bumble bees. What a perfect way to start the weekend!

(c) Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo

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