Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Tawny Owl

Still hot and still surprisingly few birds. I decided to do Maridalen thoroughly today which did result in my first Dunnock and Song Thrush of the year but I was expecting so much more. Rain that is forecast for tomorrow and Thursday will hopefully shake things up a bit.

I spent a lot of time gazing skywards and there was a trickle of Chaffinches and Wood Pigeons, three small flocks of Pink-footed Geese totalling 140 birds, a flock of 6 Greylags and best of all a pair of Cranes that spent time circling before heading south. The only raptor I could muster up was a local Goshawk. The silver lining though is that a lot of birds must be waiting to come north so we will hopefully get a big rush when it happens.

I also discovered nesting Tawny Owls and had good views of one of the adults roosting in a tree.

Tawny Owl (kattugle) 

This pair of Twite (bergirisk) even sang a bit 

here you can just see the pink rump of the male
the first two Cranes (trane) of the year in/over Maridalen

a band of Jays (nøtteskrike) 
my first Peacock Butterfly (dagpåfugløye) of 2017 
and my first Song Thrush (måltrost)

Monday, 27 March 2017

Adding up

Temperatures dropped to zero overnight - I find the 20C drop in temperature just as amazing as it being (+)20C in March in Norway. It ended up being warm again today but there are still remarkably few birds and the large passage of Pink-footed Geese and a few raptors that I hoped for today did not materialise.
Pink-footed Geese had continued migrating through the night and I heard a flock as I went to bed but this wasn't the start of the mass exodus from Denmark that I expected although I did note a few small flocks today.

I visited Årnestangen where rarest bird was a heard only Rock Pipit but it was exciting to see that the mighty Svellet was now ice free and already had 220 Black-headed Gulls and 300 Crows feeding on it. A few Lapwing were the only waders but hundreds of Curlew will turn up soon.

The main interest in Maridalen was non-avian with 3 adders including a black one basking in the sin, a couple of lizards and a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

The Black Adder!  This black individual is, I am told, a male 

tongue out shots just wouldn't be in focus 
except for this one but then there's that twig....

here the black male has joined a female (again so I am told)

the female

and this third individual was a lot smaller and apparantly born (hatched) last year

a lizard (brown means female?)

a Small Tortoiseshell (neslesommerfugl) catching some rays
there was the odd bird to see today including this Crane (trane)

and a few flocks of northward bound Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Maridalen first!

On Saturday I couldn’t drag myself out of bed to join Halvard H for a pre breakfast jaunt but luckily didn’t miss anything too exciting. In the afternoon I had the rare treat of some time alone with Mrs OB and we cycled up into Maridalen. Here we had remarkably few birds but were able to tick off a long list of Oslo’s finest birders. Almost the only bird we saw was a White Wagtail which was my first of the year.

This morning though I did manage to drag myself out of bed (the clocks changing seemed to help) and beat Halvard into the Dale. Very unexpectedly I had a Maridalen tick and not one I would have predicted. On one of the small ice free areas of the lake I spotted three geese one of which was much smaller than the others. The light was behind the birds and it was a bit difficult at first. I saw that the two larger were Greylags and suddenly suspected the smaller bird would turn out to be a Lesser White-front (from the failed Swedish reintroduction scheme). However, it turned out to be a Brent Goose! The markings show it, unsurprisingly, to be the same bird seen elsewhere over the last week but that it would turn up in Maridalen hadn’t even crossed my mind.

There was no large arrival of birds but Oslo’s first Mistle Thrush and Redwing of the year were noted and a flyby Wagtail from the car was possibly a Pied rather than a White but couldn’t be relocated. The Great Grey Shrike was singing very loudly and was giving a version of its “song” that I don’t remember having heard before.

In the afternoon temperatures reached an astonishing 20C!!! This brought with it Pink-footed Geese and I had three flocks totalling over 300 birds over the house. Two flocks came over just before sunset and with all lakes still being frozen may well have decided to continue migrating through the night.
you only realise how small Brent Geese (ringgås) are when you see them next to a Greylag or Canada Goose

Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) over the house 
and three minutes later another flock

Twite (bergirisk) in Maridalen

currently there is only one pair of Lapwing (vipe) in Maridalen and I really hope more turn up. They were displaying today with the male appearing to make a nest scrape to impress the female 
Mistle Thursh (duetrost)

Friday, 24 March 2017

A SUCCESFUL wild goose trip

For what must be the first time in my loooong birding life I saw all 7 common(er) goose species on the same day and to make it even more impressive it was in Oslo & Akershus.

Getting a goose full bag was not the plan as I started the day but was a nice addition to what would have been a good day anyway. I started with one of the bird world’s best singers: Woodlark. This species is expanding in Norway presumably as a result of a warmer climate although numbers remain small. Today I had birds at Akershus only known locality with 3 singing males and a fourth individual which was presumably a female. Two males were battling out very close to each other and this is where the additional individual was so they were presumably vying for her attentions. The Woodlarks are close to Gardemoen Airport and have changed their favoured sites over the years as tree growth has made the initial location less favourable and they have moved around but now seem to be settled again.

After this I wanted to give the Taiga Beans some attention to see if any additional birds have turned up (there is one ring that was seen in Scotland this winter that I haven’t seen). The birds were split between the fields and the river and were too distant for any meaningful ring reading but I counted 128 birds which compares to the 129 last week so there is no sign of any new arrivals. On the fields there were 4 Cranes which were missing yesterday and on the river 99 Pink-footed Geese were resting.

With Canada and Greylag Geese I was now up to four species of goose.

Zak had found 4 White-fronted Geese at Årnestangen on Wednesday and this was as good an excuse as any to visit Nordre Øyeren. The geese were easy to find feeding with 220 Canadas and a few Greylag. The White-fronts consisted of an adult and 3 2cy birds. One of the 2cy had a very orange bill although it did become pinker towards the nail and another of the 2cy had a distinct orange tinge. I considered the possibility they were of the Greenland (sub)species flaviostris but there were no other plumage or structural difference from the 2 obvious albifrons. Reading up I see that albifrons can rarely have a largely orange bill so this must be what I saw but it was striking to see such a bird.
A small flock of Pink-footed Geese migrated north here and an adult White-tailed Eagle circled in the distance. The ice is starting to melt 17 Lapwings were a nice sight and a taste of the wader bonanza that will occur over the next 7 weeks.

The White-fronts were goose species number 5 and it was now I thought that I could stop off at Bygdøy on the way home for two more: Barnacle and Brent (the Østensjøvannet bird had turned up on Bygdøy this morning). These were bagged straightaway and gave time for the obligatory check of Maridalen.

The stubble fields held 7 Snow Buntings today which showed well. Incredibly after the 23 birds I had on Wednesday morning a flock of 100 birds was reported on Wednesday afternoon and also yesterday. Surely an Oslo record.

Still no flock of thrushes today with 6 Blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush and 1 Fieldfare being the total. Chaffinches are more common and I had flocks of 15 and 20. With no trickle of birds at the moment we can hope for a mass arrival which always makes for exciting birding.
Woodlark (trelerke) 

4 White-fronted Geese (tundragås). The three that we see the heads of are 2cy birds due to a very limited white patch above the bill, a black nail on the bill and no black barring on the belly 
three of the White-fronts with the adult in the middle plus Canada Goose and Greylag Goose
here are the heads of all four of the White-fronts. Note how the two left hand birds have a definite orange tone especially the second bird.
here we see the bird with the most orange bill in close up but note that it is pink towards the nail. Note also that teh bill is the same shapre and size as the other two birds and the plumage tones are the same. Therefore there is nothing apart from bill colour to suggest this is a flaviostris

the four White-fronts with a Greylag 

the orange bill taken with the superzoom (all other pics were with the bazooka)

the adult White-front
Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås)

Brent Goose (ringgås) 
Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) and a plane
distant Taiga Bean Geese (sæggås) with Cranes (trane) and Whooper Swans (sangsvane)
the Glomma River from Udenes Kirke. There are 99 Pink-footed Geese and 24 Bean Geese out there
Two Great Grey Shrikes (varsler). I have only ever seen birds this close to each other when they are paired. Even though the habitat is good the species will not breed here and these birds have presumably paired up on their way to their breeding grounds
A Reed Bunting (sivspurv) in Maridalen. Hopefully there will be a Lapland Bunting in the same spot in a few weeks

9 Roe Deer (rådyr) in Maridalen. I've never seen so many together before. Note the lake is still very frozen
adult White-tailed Eagle (havørn)
Whooper Swans
the Snow Buntings (snøspurv) in Maridalen were incredibly difficult to see and in the stubble and snow