BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Guess what?


There is lots more action on the Pine Grosbeak front and although I keep thinking I have posted enough there is always something new to report or another pictures that is perhaps better than a previous one….

I have previously written how I was interviewed last Wednesday for the Norwegian Radio station P1. Well the next day the sister station P3 (a much younger target audience) had a rather long piece making fun of the previous days interview with the main theme being that birdwatchers must be hiding something and you can’t trust them. I challenged (on Facebook) Markus, the amusing but slightly mouthy presenter, to come out with me to find out what I was hiding. This caused some more amusement on the Friday morning show but Markus rose to the challenge (after some goading from his two co-presenters) and today he and a cameraman met me for some live radio (you might, like me, wonder why a camera is needed for radio but there was talk of putting a video out on the world wide intraweb but they have published this picture on Instagram). It all went very well and Markus proved to be slightly more interested in birds than his radio persona had let on. And, yes we saw Pine Grosbeaks ūüėä

Some more news on the Piney front is that Stig Mr Grosbeak Kalvatn found a ringed bird on Tuesday (which I then saw yesterday). With the help of good pictures the ring was seen to be Finnish with the code P389925. Stig duly reported it and got the answer that it is the furthest control for a Finnish ringed Grosbeak and had travelled 1080km after being ringed on 9 April this year. The bird would have been ringed before the breeding season so this does not tell us where this years invasion birds have originated from as it could well still have been migrating further north or east when ringed. I have previously seen a ringed Grosbeak in Oslo but my pictures that time did not allow any information to be gleaned. It is very rare that a photo allows a number to be read off these tiny metal rings (the large colour rings on gulls are something else) but the confiding nature of the Grosbeaks means they are close enough for high res pictures to be taken.

Markus and Daniel from NRK P3 Morgen with a flock of Pine Grosbeak in the rowan tree behind them

a new selfie with a Piney 
the ringed male Pine Grosbeak


and here I have managed to read off the code as being P389925 MEUM (?) ZOOL. FINLAND

the ringing data



And here are some picture of birds other than Pine Grosbeak. I do have a lot of new Grosbeak pictures which I reckon are better than I've taken before but I'll post those later.

Jay (n√łtteskrike)

Waxwings (sidensvans), part of a flock of 100 birds



Whooper Swan (sangsvane) and Goldeneye (kvinand) on Maridalsvannet on a misty day

Whooper Swans did not breed successfully in Maridalen this year but this family party may have not travelled too far

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Big dump of snow


Snow fell this weekend with a really solid dump on Monday morning although already by Tuesday it had turned to rain. The snow though gave some opportunities for new photos on the continued theme of variation on a theme. I tried yesterday to find over 100 Grosbeaks in Oslo but “only” managed 88 with a single group of 44 and today I found 70 without visiting half the areas I visited yesterday. I also added the species to the garden list with a flyover.

With the snow I had a real hope to get a picture of a Groz pulling off a rowan berry from a snow covered bunch of berries and then have snow drizzling down on it. Even though I saw that happen I did not manage to capture it digitally and due to there being fog the light was also so poor that the pictures I did get are of poor quality. Still, it gives me an excuse to keep on taking more shots!

I also noted and took pictures of some other species for a change ūüėČ


Waxwing (sidensvans)

Dipper (fossekall) - this bird was singing

Willow Tit (granmeis)

Grosbeaks are turning up in the town now with these berry trees having held up to 19 birds for a few days now
this bird was right over a road (car passing beneath it)

dislodged snow but not the picture I had pictured in my mind



7 birds


a clump of snow did fall down but doesn't look that cool


by the metro






one bird landed on the ground and I played around with the exposure...





3 red males together

Two very differently coloured red (adult) males

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Do YOU want to see Grosbeaks?


If anyone is reading this thinking that I would like to come to Oslo and be guided to those fantastic Pine Grosbeaks well please contact me. Today my parents got to see them (special family rate of course ūüėá ). I expect them to be around at least until the New Year and we now have snow which makes for great photo opportunities. Here are a few (I will try to limit myself) pictures from today and yesterday.

⚦ Pine Grosbeak (konglebit)




Thursday, 7 November 2019

Grosbeaks becoming famous


What a great couple of days I have had!

Wednesday started with a radio interview on Grosbeaks that went out live at 07:50 (with the family eating breakfast and listening to it on the radio) and then went straight into two days of fun and successful guiding.

The radio interview also resulted in a web article including some of my pictures which you can read here.

I was guiding Peter Law (see blog here) and Ewan Urquhart (see blog here and also author of the Helm Stonechats Guide) who had read the article for Birdguides last week on the Grosbeak invasion and decided to hop on a plane to see them!

Whilst being interviewed for the radio there were 4 Grosbeaks to look at (not really that important on the radio but they wanted it to be authentic) but when I returned with Peter and Ewan a couple of hours later the glum faces of a handful of birders/ photographers told us the birds were no longer there. Luckily I had done my homework on Monday and it wasn’t long before we were at another site and enjoying loads of Grosbeaks in great light! We enjoyed these birds both days and had a minimum of 34 birds with the largest single group being 18 although there was lots of coming and going with the birds frequently being scared off. Sparrowhawks were in the area and this seemed to spook the birds but what could have been a fantastic experience happened when a Pygmy Owl shot over with its eye on either a Grosbeak or a Waxwing but it all happened too quickly and all the birds disappeared from sight without me seeing what the result was.

When we saw the Grosbeaks on Wednesday I commented that I wished that they had fed in one particular bush because the background could give some very interesting pictures. Well they did feed in this bush on Thursday so you can judge how interesting the pictures turned out…

Apart from the Grosbeaks we looked for Little Auk (a good find by Peter that gave amazing views), Hazel Grouse (heard singing repeatedly at ca.30m but we just couldn’t see it) and Great Grey Owl (a real long shot which didn’t pan out).

Although the Grosbeaks fed in rowan bushes a lot they also frequently disappeared in spruce trees where they ate buds. We also saw them feeding on the floor below a spruce (not sure what they were eating) and eating buds of pine trees and an unidentified deciduous tree (not birch) so showing how varied a diet they have.

Pine Grosbeak (konglebit) - adult female or  youngster




from a distance I thought I had found another Grosbeak but it turned out to be a berry eating rat 4 meters up a tree!

Peter and Ewan fulfilling their dream

a rather close Little Auk (alkekonge)


adult male Grosbeak


and in the bush I had hoped for. With the fjord, the city and a flag in the background. Only problem was getting angles right and composing the picture I wanted before the birds moved on which happened too quickly








9 birds together

and here in the unidentified deciduous tree where some were eating buds. 15 are visible in the picture and there were another 3 further down

spot the birdy

the Grosbeaks briefly joined some Waxwings (sidensvans) in a feeding frenzy


Nutcracker (n√łttekr√•ke)
a slightly small billed Parrot Crossbill (furukorsnebb)

still sources of air pollution in Oslo