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Tuesday, 13 July 2010 00:01

Gullfjell – the golden mountain


Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), male:



Gullfjell (987 m.a.s.l.) is the highest mountain and one of the best places to watch mountain and arctic bird species around Norwegian city Bergen. Gullfjell can be translated as “Golden Mountain” – I do not know where the original name comes from but maybe the author had the same experience as I had recently when I made the early morning birding trip up to that mountain slope lit by the golden light of the first sun beams and around the trails the Golden Plovers sang their piping songs.


Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), female:



IMG_6814PSI am repeating myself for a several time now but I have got a new taste for Norway this year – after June visit of Dovre Park I just fell in love with Norwegian mountains and their avifauna. There was something I missed in Dovre though – the Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) that I wanted to watch and try to get some picture. When we came back to Bergen I realized that Gullfjell mountain is also an every-year nesting place for Golden Plovers and thus one Sunday I woke up at 4.00 a.m., which normally would kill me, and set the direction towards Gullfjell.




Pair of Golden Plover, female in front:



1D3_8440PSHalf an hour driving East took me to the parking lots east of Gullfjell mountain – in that day – 4.July - the sunrise was still at around 3.45 in the morning but the high walls of the mountains on eastern side cause that the first light lits up the slopes as late as ca. 6.00 a.m. and so I still had enough time to be with Golden Plovers in time. It is 4.45 and I am – still sleepy – taking on the heavy photo-bag and set off for the unpredictable morning trip. It is pretty good hike – I have to make 500 meters elevation to get up to the place where we have heard the Golden Plovers piping last time.





Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), male:



But before I start to climb up very first meters of the mountain trail, I am delayed by the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) lingering in the stony creek and the Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) male singing on the juniper – Im trying to crawl up to the better place but every time I am almost there, the bird flies away so I give up after the third attempt. In the forest I left behind I can see pair of Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) – this might produce some nice pictures but I decide to continue my journey and hope the day will get better – I mean that the memory card of the camera will not be empty as sometimes happen during my birding trips.


Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe):



The trail up is bordered by dense juniper bushes with Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus) and Meadow PipitsWillow Warblers have their bills filled with the caught insect that they feed their chicks with – I make a few pictures in very bad light conditions and leave the place to give the birds their rest again. Only few hundreds meters further I startle the Blackbird that flies away and sits on the rock few tens meters further – I’m looking closer with my binoculars – it is not Blackbird, it is Ring Ouzel! The white stripe on the chest is quite clear! I knew this species breeds here but for me this is my very first observation of Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) – beautiful bird I must say! We are watching each other for a while before I set off for the trail again. I am now almost in the middle of my climb, I will pass the Redningshytta mountain cabin soon – from there the trail turns to the west towards the Austefjellet mountain – so in fact the destination is only one of the lower peaks of Gullfjell mountains.


Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus):



The Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) nest around the top part of Austefjellet and the ridge that runs north-south (called Austerinden on the map). As I approach the top part I can see a few Plovers on the elevated posts as they watch me with their upright necks – they are watchful birds but they always betray themselves by their piping call when you get close to them. The Plovers start to move around and get closer to the trail I’m staying on. I’m lying down on the ground, take put the camera and take first few pictures – it is the right time – the sun just surpassed the highest mountains in the east and makes the Golden Plover even more golden – what a beauty! There are several pairs of Golden Plover in close distance – I spend about one hour with them and then follow the trail again.


Morning in Gullfjell:



Now, happy, with the memory card full of Plovers pictures, I take a stroll around the top of Austefjellet and enjoy the peace of the mountain landscape decorated by the white and fluffy cotton-grass. There is still a lot of snow on Hardangervidda in the east (Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in northern Europe and also one of the greatest bird spots in Norway by the way!) while the western view provides vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I greet the sheep at the very top of the mountain – I must be the very first visitor today – and head back to the parking lot to finish the mountain trail loop; it is almost 8.30 a.m. I encounter Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) on the way back and see the very first tourist on the trails below me – no doubts the best time to leave the mountains.


Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea):



The very last descent before the parking place is bordered by dense bushes of juniper and birches where the Willow Warblers and Meadow Pipits linger. The sun warms up the air nicely so I sit down into the wet grass close to one juniper shrub and watch the closest branch – birds are very busy with the nesting and every moment there comes a bird with the bill full of insect – these are mostly Willow Warblers, the Meadow Pipits are scarcer – they obviously prefer the dense grass for nesting. A bird with red spot appears in my viewfinder – I get nervous – will I manage to get it into focus before it flies away? – I have made it! Two pictures are quite OK, the other ones only capture the Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea) flying away from me.


Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis):



The last bird of the day is the Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) – it sits down on the branch to do the proper morning hygiene but it looks more like a tough workout – the bird drags on, ruffles up, clean the loppy feathers and twists the head so it is wonder that it does not break the neck :- ) – very skilful and cute bird, indeed! So now is finally the time to turn back home and finish my morning sleep-lag. It was small but very nice birding trip close to Bergen city – if you ever happen to pass by, do not forget to visit the golden Mountain…


Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), male:
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:13
Comments (27)
  • renka  - Paráda čtení jako vždy, Jirko.

    Zase jsem si článek vychutnala, píšeš moc fajn a fotky jsou super... Dík. R.

  • Jirka Slama

    Dekuju Renko, jsem moc rad, kdyz nekomu fotky a cteni udela radost!

  • Jana  - Diky

    Perfektni fotky. Priapdam si, jako bych tam sama byla. Dokonce mam takove podezreni, ze ani v realu by to nevypadalo tak dobre :-)))

  • Jirka Slama

    Diky Jano, popravde, v realu to vypadalo jeste krasneji jen jsem nemel cas fotit okoli, soustredil jsem se jen na ptaky...ve skutesnosti je priorda vzdy nejkrasnejsi, fotky jsou dobre pokud se podari zachytit nejaky nevsedni okamzik...

  • samaanoor

    ارخص شركة نقل عفش

    ارخص شركة نقل عفش بالرياض

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