Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Free to gaze

My Covid quarantine has come to end and I was able to extend the radius for today’s exercise/birding. In the end there was no exercise as I just stared at the sea at Krokstrand and then took in some drive-by sites on the way home. I knew that the wind wasn’t strong enough but I still harbour a hope of finding a Leaches Petrel which remains the most glaring absence to my Norwegian list and there have been some storm driven birds further south in Sweden in the last few days. There was of course no petrel or phalarope, or skua or shearwater and not even a Gannet or Fulmar but 11 Kittiwakes allowed themselves to be blown north by the wind and made it feel a bit seawatchy. When the 1cy birds go through at speed it is very easy to try to string a Sabine’s Gull which is something of a popular pastime in southern Norway each autumn. Documented flyby Sabines Gulls are an extremely rare occurrence in Norway despite birds often being described as having flown past at "close range" or having been "seen really well feeding offshore" so it was very refreshing to see nice pictures of an undisputed one recently.

Auks were the most numerous birds today with Guillemots in the majority along with a few Razorbills and best of all I had a Puffin which flew north with a couple of Guillemots. Despite being a common breeder along northern coastlines, Puffin is nearly as rare as Sabines Gull in the Oslofjord. I did not get a photo… ūüėČ

One entertaining sighting was a young Peregrine that attacked a couple of flying Guillemots and when they flashed through the telescope field of view I assumed I was watching a marauding skua. The falcon was unsuccessful in his hunt and in the end flew inland. I also had a Sparrowhawk flying low over the water and for not the first time it took quite a few seconds to work out what I was looking at.

On the way home I added Common Buzzard and Kestrel to my raptor tally.


My eBird checklist for Krokstrand can be seen here.

over wintering Kestrels (tårnfalk) are less than annual close to Oslo so this bird was yet another sign of the ample numbers of rodents

I don't know how to age and sex Kestrels other than adult males but believe that the streaking rathen than spotting on the underparts makes this a 1cy

Monday, 23 November 2020

Tits and the like

I needed a change this morning and walked at Fornebu before then taking in the sights in Maridalen.

The Bearded Tit pair showed exceptionally well in their normal spot and are clearly looking for more of their kin although I suspect it is now too late for any more to turn up. Otherwise there was disappointingly little to see although a Little Grebe was new for me.

In The Dale I had no Buzzards but suddenly Great Grey Shrikes were back with two sightings 1.7 km and only 25 minutes apart. One of the Hawkies showed very well selling his wares by the side of the roads but an hour and half wait did not reveal the Grey-headed Woodpecker. Close sightings of Jays were a distraction but I kicked myself for not digitally capturing the young male Goshawk who just failed to catch one of the Jays that I was watching only 6 meters from me (in the car).

Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis) pair

both a mustache and a beard, or is it two mustaches?


Jay (n√łtteskrike)

Nuthatch (spettmeis)

and a Treecreeper( trekryper)

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Weekend birds

Snow fell on Friday night and despite temperatures quickly rising above zero the snow remained on the ground in Maridalen through the weekend. Proper winters with lots of snow are one of the things I love about living in Oslo and hopefully this winter will see lots of the white stuff.

Dog walking in The Dale and the incidental birding that goes with it revealed the usual suspects with both Hawk Owls being on show, two Common Buzzards in their usual areas and the Grey-headed Woodpecker again turning up on the feeder. I saw him at a similar time to when I saw him on Friday suggesting (hopefully) that he has a routine that will make him more predictable to see.

Singles of Chaffinch and Common Snipe were also noteworthy as these species normally disappear by the end of October.

The pale and distinctive Common Buzzard (musvåk)

The male Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspett) was shy

but this Jay (n√łtteskrike) which is normally shy has got used to people at the feeders

socially distanced photographers filling their boots with Hawkie

I do sometimes take pictures of things other than birds...

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Grey-headed Pecker

I found a male Grey-headed Woodpecker in Maridalen on30 September. What looks to be the same bird based on plumage features has visited a feeder a few times since then and posed for some stunning photos but has evaded all my attempts to catch up with it again.

Today, as I drove past the feeder I thought I saw something that looked the right size and colour but due to an annoying middle aged man on roller skis who was in the middle of the road listening to music I was unable to stop and had to drive past and then turn around. Luckily the bird was still there and allowed me to drive fairly close. If it hadn’t just eaten the last food that was there then I reckon it would have hung around but in the end it flew off much too quickly but I did manage a few snaps. This species does often come to feeders if there is fat on offer but the visits are often brief and difficult to predict. A bird that wintered in Maridalen in 2011 (when this blog was in its infancy) visited a feeder but took an enormous amount of effort to see it. Hopefully this years bird will settle into some sort of routine and will play ball again.

male Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspsett) - I species I see less than annually in Oslo and always a treat

look at those claws

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Leucistic Fieldfare

Yesterday and during the night we felt the remains of an Atlantic hurricane which gave us warm temperatures, rain and strong southerly winds. All that suddenly changed at 7am when a new weather system took over and strong northerly winds and clear skies caused temperatures to suddenly drop to zero. The winds luckily died down during the morning and my daily Covid exercise in Maridalen was a nice affair. A large flock (for the time of year) of around 80 Fieldfares was looking for worms on a favoured field and contained two Redwings and a very striking leucistic Fieldfare. One day when I scan a flock of thrushes I will find something rare but for today at least I contented myself with the misfit.

Hawk Owl and Buzzard continue to thrive in the Dale on the abundance of rodents although surprisingly it looks like all the Great Grey Shrikes have moved on.

leucistic Fieldfare (gråtrost)

Fieldfare and Redwing (r√łdvingetrost)

One of the Common Buzzards (musvåk) still in Maridalen

Hawk Owl (haukugle)

enter stage left

Monday, 16 November 2020

My Hawkie lifeline

Myself and Mrs.OB have tested negative for Covid so luckily remain in quarantine instead of isolation. It lasts another 8 days but does allow me to go outside for necessary journeys so having to take the dog for a walk in areas of Maridalen where we can avoid other people has become my daily therapy. Everyone is now healthy and symptom free but being stuck inside most of the time is testing. Taking the test itself was also very unpleasant and something I hope I don’t have to repeat anytime soon.

It is all very grey and wet at the moment and if it wasn’t for the Hawk Owls then there really would be nothing to talk about from the dog walks. Luckily though there are good doses of Hawkie to be procured ūüėä so me is a happy Covid Camper for the time being.

I had expected to see less of the Hawk Owls when it was raining but they are still out hunting rather than relying on any larders they have accumulated

from the right angle it can look like you are in the taiga forests