Saturday, 12 June 2021

Hazel Grouse youngsters

After having been told of the of the Hazel Grouse nest on Wednesday I have checked it both subsequent days in the hope that I would see the young. I had read in BWP that the female “leads brood away from nest within 24 hours of hatching” so I thought that would mean I had a chance of seeing them on the nest if I visited every 24 hours…

When I arrived on Friday morning I immediately saw there was a youngster sitting nestled into the breast feathers of mum. It was fabulous to see!! I saw a single egg shell nearby and hoped that I would witness other young hatching. The female however was motionless in my presence so I thought it best to retreat out of her line of sight. Over the course of the next two hours I checked on her 4 or 5 times and each time she was sitting in exactly the same position. On the second and third checks I did not see the youngster who must have gone underneath her but it was visible on my next check along with the beak of another youngster sticking out behind the wing.

I left the birds at 11am and then the original finder of the nest, Tobias Gjerde, visited 6 and a half hours later. Tobias is a very talented and award winning photographer and on instagram 

but what impresses me most is his skills as a birder and bird finder. I really hope that he keeps the birder in him alive 😊.  By the time Tobias got there the birds had left the nest and he sent me a photo showing 9 egg shells. Finding the birds took a lot longer and it was a rather distressing event that led him to them. Tobias heard a strange noise and then found a loose dog chasing the Hazel Grouse mother. She, thankfully, avoided the dog and the dog moved off. It is currently mandatory to have dogs on the lead in the whole of Norway but many owners do not obey the law and this incident shows just why the law exists. Tobias never saw the owner but if he had then I am sure he would just have received an earful of abuse if I he had told the owner of his responsibilities.

The mother did eventually lead Tobias to her young and she started brooding them although Tobias only saw 7 with certainty and it is therefore possible the dog had taken a couple of them.

I will visit the area again but I expect the chances of stumbling across this family are now minimal.

female Hazel Grouse (jerpe) and recently hatched youngster

note the egg shell

2 young visible

the breast feathers are just amazing

the second youngster

and the first one which looks to be in a rather uncomfortable position

the nest as Tobias found it. The lower eggshell is the one that was visible to me.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Only birds - I promise

Over the last couple of days I have mostly looked up and have not taken a single picture of a butterfly or dragonfly!

A plan to get good views of sky dancing Honey Buzzards didn’t turn out as hoped but I did see one male bird flying quite distantly which may well have been the same bird (based on plumage) I saw sky dancing over a week ago.

Otherwise in Maridalen there were two singing Common Rosefinches today and one of them, a nice red male, showed well but this species is definitely scarcer than last year. I also had a pair of Red-backed Shrikes that looked like they were breeding and one of the Wrynecks showed briefly.

The real highlight of the last couple of days has been seeing Hazel Grouse on the nest. It is “my” female but I wasn’t the one to discover the nest. I am not the only person to have discovered this pair and younger and keener eyes than mine initially found the nest (and kindly told me about it). She sits completely still whilst you watch her and has chosen an open nest site close to a path. I did not stay too long with her and she barely moved a millimeter in that time. The male has now completed his job and is feeding over 200 m away from the nest and will probably have no more to do with either the female or young until the autumn when he thinks about attracting a mate again.

female Hazel Grouse (jerpe)

not easy to find

the male was showing really well but I felt I had enough pictures of him already

yet another distant Honey Buzzard (vepsevĂĽk)

female Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

and her mate

this young Redwing (rødvingetrost) didn't move a muscle as I walked past. an adult was giving a high pitched call nearby which I took to be a warning that there was danger afoot (I did also have the Beast with me)

male Common Rosefinch (rosenfink)

the Whooper Swans (sangsvane) have six young this year

it was a joy to see these 3 small baby Lapwings (vipe) with mum. I believe these to be from the nest that was marked out by the farmer and where a bird was sitting until a few days ago

A trip to find Nightjars a few nights ago with Per Christian revealed none of the sort after birds (despite conditions being perfect) but a barking Roe Deer was new for us and a really large Fox Moth (bringebĂŚrspinner) was interesting.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

It’s butterfly season!

I decided I had to do something about my not having seen Common Rosefinch this year and visited Sørkedalen on Monday. Here two stops gave 4 singing males and them when I went to Maridalen later I heard one there so they are clearly a bit like busses.

Maridalen also produced calling and clearly territorial Red-backed Shrikes, the nesting Wrynecks, Icterine Warbler collecting nest material and singing Marsh Warbler. These species are all scarce migrants in the UK amd the sort of birds that can make a day om the east coast in late spring but I have all 5 of them breeding on my local patch in Oslo đŸ˜Š

I have not seen the Hobbies again but have discovered a Hooded Crow’s nest where they were calling. I have read up in BWP and it looks like they visit a number of potential nests before choosing so I will have to wait and see if they nest here. Even if they don’t then the chamces are high that they attempt to breed somewhere in Maridalen.

A large number of geese are now flocking in Maridalen to moult and 2 Pink-footed Geese and a couple of Barnacle Geese are amongst the Greylags and Canadas.


Butterflies received a lot of attention today. I visited the same site where I discovered the Green-underside Blue on Sunday. There was less sun than on Sunday and the butterflies I found were not flying around so frantically which meant I worked out what they were. I had a total of 6 Green-underside Blue, 1 Mazarine Blue, 5 Dingy Skippers, 2 Grizzled Skippers, 2 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 1 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 1 Wood White, 1 Orange Tip, 1 Small White and 1 Green-veined White!

Both the skippers were my first sightings in Oslo and the Wood White only my third ever of the species. This site clearly has lots of potential - I thought it was good last year but have now added 4 additional species in just 2 visits this year.

Wood White (skoghvitvinge)

Green-underside Blue (kløverblüvinge)

and another one

and yet another one

a Mazarine Blue (engblĂĽvinge) - very similar but smaller spots on forewing and more spots on hindwing and a smaller area of blue rather than greeny blue dusting

same as above

Grizzled Skipper (bakkesmyger)

Dingy Skipper (tiriltungesmyger)

a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (brunflekket perlemorvinge)

and a Pearl-bordered Fritillary (rødflekket perlemorvinge) - the two species are very similar...

same as above

Marsh Warbler (myrsanger)

same as above

male Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

my first Common Rosefinch (rosenfink) of 2021

Wryneck (vendehals)

Bullfinch (dompap)

Monday, 7 June 2021

There is still life in The Dale

 This last week the blog has been devoted to posts from my most excellent trip to the mountains the previous weekend. I have been out and about in Maridalen though and this post is a summary of a week’s sightings and experiences. It has been very hot and this of course means that the dragonfly season has finally started although butterflies are still rather limited in variety. One mayor butterfly find though was my second ever Green-underside Blue (kløverblĂĽvinge) which is also the first record for Maridalen. This red listed species seems to be having a good year. This time I also managed to identify correctly in the field!!

Birding highlights have been a Honey Buzzard displaying for quite a long time over the valley plus a pair of Hobbies that seem settled and call a lot. When I first heard the call I thought it was a Wryneck until the Hobby appeared and the two species can sound VERY similar. Should they breed then it will be the first breeding, as far as I am aware, for not just Maridalen but also Oslo. Icterine Warblers seem to be here in good numbers but I have yet to see (or hear) Common Rosefinch and of the nocturnal singers I have only heard a single Marsh Warbler but then again I have only been on a single nocturnal trip.

I had previously worried for the fate of Maridalen’s Lapwings as I did not believe that the farmer at Skjerven had saved the nests as he usually does when ploughing the field. It looks like my worries were unnecessary though as he marked out a nest when sowing the field and there was clearly one family and probably two in long grass. A couple of days later I also saw a half grown youngster feeding on the field with a watchful adult nearby.

I have resisted the temptation to drive a 3 hour round trip to hear Norway’s second ever Little Crake which is singing in Fredrikstad. What would have been tempting though was to make a quick trip to VĂŚrøy where John Alsvik (one of the group who I visit the island with in the autumn) found 7 (yes SEVEN!) Blue-cheeked Bee-eatears when he visited for a few days at the beginning of June but strangely enough he had nothing else of note.

a male Honey Buzzard (vepsevĂĽk) doing his skydance over Maridalen.

he was quite a distinctive looking bird so hopefully I will identify him again later in the year

calling, and territorial, Hobby (lerkefalk)


mum Tawny Owl (kattugle)

I have only found this youngster which surprises me

spot the owl(let)

I was beginning to think the Whooper Swans (sangsvane) had failed in their breeding but the young finally hatched. Mum drooped her wings over the nest to shade the young from the sun

male Whitethroat (tornsanger)

I saw the male Eider (ĂŚrfugl) again 8 days after Jack found him. He was still feeding like a dabbling duck

marked out and saved Lapwing (vipe) nest

there were clearly young Lapwings in the long grass and this adult repeatedly dive bombed the non breeding Whooper Swan (sangsvane) pair. They clearly had enough of the abuse and flew off

my first fritillary of the hear - a Pearl-bordered (rødflekket perlemorvinge)

a Northern White-faced Darter (østtorvlibelle) - my first dragon of the year

a Norfolk Damselfly (klypevannymfe) - a very scarce species in Oslo but which seems to be established in Maridalen

Brook Lampreys (bekkenioye) - it is well worth reading up about the life cycle of this fish

half grown Lapwing (vipe)

dandelions seeds seem to be an important food source at this tme of the year - here a male Bullfinch (dompap) eating them

Green-underside Blue (kløverblüvinge) - maybe I have just overlooked this species in the past? This was flying with 4 other blues in an area I checked a lot last year but this was the only one that landed. Last year though (and a bit later in June) it was only Mazarine Blues (engblüvinge) I found in the same spot