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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)

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010 22:47

Going north to south – trip to Dovrefjell (Norway)


I used this strange title to show how relative things are – if I was in my home country and drove from my home 150 km to the north, I would leave Southern Bohemia, cross the whole Central Bohemia and get to the North Bohemia. Here in Norway, if you drive from Bergen (which itself is some 8 hours drive north of the southernmost tip of Norway) 500 km north-east, you are still in Southern Norway and still far before reaching borders of Middle Norway! But I do not want to write about the local geography, I want to write about Dovrefjell and Fokstumyra nature reserve, which is one of the most famous birding spots in Norway.


Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica):




If you ever set off for Norway do not forget to visit the area of the National parks in the northern part of Southern Norway – the Parks of Jostedalsbreen, Jotunheimen, Dovrefjell and Rondane belongs to the pearls of Norway and are a must-see, especially in summer when the snow melts and in the Autumn when the flood of deep colors covers the mountains and valleys.



Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) during nest building:



I have planned the visit of Fokstumyra nature reserve for some time. Many people know Norway especially because of the Runde Island and its colonies of Puffins and other cliff species but who knows the small place in between the mountains? Ornithologists know this place better than photographers and when the budget and time are short to travel to far North, this place is always a very good choice!



Sunset in Dovrefjell. Fokstumyra nature reserve with the small ponds in the valley on the right side of the picture:



The Reserve is especially known for the occurrence of Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica) and hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) but there are of course many more species here, some just passing and some even finding a breeding grounds here – you can easily watch Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica), Lapland Bunting (Calcarius lapponicus), Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus), Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), Common Crane (Grus grus), Great Snipe (Gallinago media) and other – some 150 recorded species in total.



Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus):



It always happens – you imagine the whole trip, how the place will look like and what you will see but the reality is always different. That is also the beauty of the unexpected encounters in the nature – I do not understand the people who travel somewhere to get a picture of certain bird and then they are disappointed if they do not make it while there are another 10 interesting species flying around … I was hopping to photograph Bluethroat and Hen Harrier and to watch Short-eared Owl and Red-necked Phalarope – I made some pictures of Bluethroat as well as Short-eared Owl, Hen Harriers were always in safe distance and there was no sign of Phalaropes at all. But the unexpected sighting was the number of Cuckoos (I have never believed I would ever see them from a close distance!) and the beauty of the landscape was just overwhelming!



Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus):



That beauty cannot be told by words and shown in pictures, that must be experienced – the tundra landscape with preserved permafrost covered with a thick carpet of grey-green moss; small groups of birches in the vast fields of heather and snow caps on the horizon … it only takes to leave the fence of the campground and head up to the hills – we struggle up alone through the heather, no people around us, it is one hour to midnight and the very last sunbeams touch the slope in front of us, it is June but still quite cold – we are in more than 1 000 meters elevation … the call of Golden Plover sounds from the nearby hill and just a stone cast away the Great Snipe takes off unexpectedly – it might be their breeding ground – it would be worth to check this spot early in the morning, we might be lucky to see their mating displays … but we have to head back to the cabin, the midnight comes fast and we have to get to bed to be able to wake up at four in the morning – the sunrise is even earlier but it takes some time for the firs sunbeams to crawl over the mountain tops … the Bluethroat in the bushes near the pathway sings us the goodnight song …



female Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) hunting:




Stone cast from the campground: Golden Plovers calling from the stone hills, Sandpipers flying over the marsh in the foreground and Redwings sounding from the birch woods behind the marsh...



I have spent four good days in Fokstumyra Reserve but the place is so beautiful and it offers so many opportunities that one could easily spend several weeks here! Such a land is also a great refresher – one gets so tired at home from the instant work on PC. Here, far from all those devices, gadgets, TV signal and internet, you wake up early in the morning, take the whole day trip, get to bed before midnight and the other day you are fresh and ready to start over again.



Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)



Well, I should be writing about birds, not about the feelings … Fokstumyra is a marsh (myra = marsh) in the valley between mountains of Dovrefjell National Park, ca. 15 km east of Dombas city, on the left side of the road leading to Hjerkinn. During breeding season the reserve is closed but the 7-km loop wooden trail is open for public. The trails goes through all the biotopes – moor, bushes with passerines, swamps with waders, reeds with Buntings, birch forests with Warblers as well as ponds where you can watch the Black-throated Diver. If you are careful observer and watch and listen to the bird calls, you can easily spend half day on the trail.



Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava thunbergi)




Fokstumyra Nature Reserve – swamp in mountain settings:



The most common species in the reserve was the Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) – interestingly to me, we have not hear a single Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) here. Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) was another abundant bird in the reserve and some spots hosted number of Yellow Wagtail, some of them in the form of thunbergi with dark head. Blueathroat was present though the whole reserve but sometimes it was quite difficult to recognize them according to the call; Bluethroat is a good imitator and I regret I was not able to record call of one individual that excellently imitated a call of Geese taking off!



Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica):



Quite regularly Hen Herriers were seen hovering over the reeds but I was not lucky enough to see them from close distance – they had a nest quite close to the trail. Cranes were also regular sights in the reserve but they were always very shy and made flock of 4 individuals in maximum. The Short-eared Owl were seen many times during a single day in as well as outside the reserve – their hunting spot was well away from the trail so I could not take better shot than just a casual snapshot of the bird flying over – when shooting Owls one has to be very attentive and watch the sky all the time as they fly very silently. I remember a moment one morning when I was crawling to take the picture of Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and in the very same moment Short-eared Owl appeared on the horizon and right after that the Greenshank took off from the swamp – I did not know where to look first! I will write separate article about Cuckoos, for now it will do to say that we saw these birds in almost every place and I only regret that no action shot was taken … well, I should be happy that I have seen Cuckoos so close and that I had the chance to take some pictures!



Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)



It is quite clear that this locality is a charming place to visit and that it has great potential for interesting observations and photographs. I do not know when I will come back again but I know that it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in Norway!

One important note at the end – Fokstumyra is a nature reserve established to provide shelter to breeding birds so respect this during your visit. It is also not exactly a place where you come and take great pictures right away – most of the shots were taken as a matter of coincidence and you have to be quite patient and watchful all the time. Take into account that you can also leave the place without any good shot. But the real enthusiasts will always enjoy Fokstumyra and I’m sure you will agree with me after you visit the reserve in the morning and will see the bleating Snipes in the air, listen to a confusing call of Bluethroat from the bushes and watch the graceful flight of Short-eared Owl above the heathers…



Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea):



List of observed species:


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus)

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Rough-legged Buzzard (Roughleg) (Buteo lagopus)

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)

Common Crane (Grus grus)

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Great Snipe (Gallinago media)

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

Mew Gull (Larus canus)

Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Common Swift (Apus apus)

Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)

Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

Northern Raven (Corvus corax)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

Eurasian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)

Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:22
Comments (96)
  • renka  - Paráda

    Jirko, díky za článek, chodím k Tobě na webík odpočívat, cestovat, toulat se... Nejen pěkně fotíš, ale i velmi čtivě píšeš. Výlet musel být parádní, umím si představit, jak bych tam žasla na každém kroku... Tak ať se daří dál, už se moc těším na další povídání. R.

  • Jirka Slama

    Dekuju Renko, je to radost kdyz me povidani nekomu udela radost :-) (to je ale veta!). Vylet byl opravdu uzasny, necekal jsem, ze je na severu tolik zivota a same zajimave druhy! Pristi rok tam chceme jet alespon na dva tydny protoze 4 dny to bylo akorat tak na to prochodit ta nejblizsi mista v okoli...

  • Ondřej P.

    Pěkné, moc pěkné. Láká mě to tam už dlouho :-) Díky za provokaci. Ondra

  • Jirka Slama

    Ahoj Ondro, to misto je opravdu uzasny, dalal by se tam prozit cela sezona, nebo jeste lepe cely zivot. Stejne jako na Hardangervidde - to je velka nahorni plosina v. od Bergenu - jeden mistnak pise na svem webu ze se proste muzes vydat do hor, do mist, kde nikoho nekolik dni nepotkas a sledovat ptaky jako jsou sovy, Lyskonohy, Slaviky modracky, Chaluhu malou, Kuliky, dravce, Strnady severni, Skrivany ouskate a dalsi...zacinam objevovat Norsko a je to super!

  • Zdeněk Souček

    Jirko, je to zajímavý článek a moc pěkné fotky. Já jsem teď byl zase na Runde. Příští rok budu muset vyrazit na jiné místo Norska a může za to tento Tvůj článek.

  • Jirka Slama

    Ahoj Zdenku, jsem rad, ze se libi, je to tady opravdu uzasne, jen jsem o tom donedavna nevedel :-) ted dokonce vysla perfektni knizka - pruvodce po norskych lokalitach, myslim, ze dalsi 3 roky se budu zdrzovat prevazne v Norsku ;-)

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