Friday, 9 October 2015

Oslo's valleys

I wasn’t intending to go birding today with other matters that needed attention but after an errand I found myself close to Oslo’s second best valley – Sørkedalen and thought that I would give it a drive through thinking that the time is just right for a migrating Rough-legged Buzzard or Great Grey Shrike to turn up and sure enough sat on the top of a tree was a GG. Nice!

Buoyed by this luck I then tried the same in Maridalen but had to accept that on this day, and this day only, Maridalen may have been Oslo’s second best valley. The Whooper Swan family showed flying in from the NW (presumably exploring the area and feeding on one of the many lakes in the forest) and the young look to have become very accomplished flyers in the course of just a few days
Great Grey Shrike (varsler)

The Whoopers (sangsvane) coming into land

there are great autumn colours at the moment

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Time to give Østensjøvannet a chance. In the autumn an unusual duck or two can stop here for a few days and indeed a male Long-tailed Duck was reported yesterday. I saw the Long-tail which was in a different plumage to the one off Fornebu last week but found no other interesting ducks although there were 72 Wigeon which is a good count. Best bird was a Water Rail which I glimpsed for a couple of seconds in a ditch before it disappeared into reeds. This species probably breeds here but is very rarely reported and this is only the second time I have seen one in Oslo although I have heard them here a couple of times before.

In Maridalen the Common Scoter had moved on but a Great Crested Grebe on the lake was a reminder that something new can turn up every day at this time of the year.
male Long-tailed Duck (havelle)
wonder whether this late young Coot (sothøne) will make it

In Maridalen this roadkill squirrel proved tempting for a Crow

1cy (left) and 2nd cy Herring Gulls. I puzzled a bit over the 2cy

female Pintail (stjertand) at Østensjøvannet

Teal (krikkand) at Østensjøvanet. It is clearly flightless as its flight feathers are still growing out

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Oslo Islands

I took Oslo island hopping to a new personal level with 3 islands in 3 hours. With the boat running once an hour then this is express option. I visited Gressholmen, Nakholmen and Lindøya and was able to confirm what others have told me before namely that Lindøya has the best potential for turning up a good passerine. There are a lot of small cabins on the island and the gardens and some areas of woodland have a fantastic potential if the island cold be relocated to the west coast of Norway.

Today was yet again not the day that I would find an Oslo Yellow-browed Warbler but with a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs then it felt like there was a good chance and twice I did think I heard a distant Yellow-browed but think that my mind was playing tricks on me. The fjord was very quiet today with nothing exciting and no migrant sea ducks at all.

Maridalen had soe sea duck though with a sleeping group of 6 Common Scoters. Highlight of the day though was seeing that the Whooper Swan family had made it to the main lake. I would love to know how they did it. I am sure that they would have not managed to walk there so would have had to make a very hazardous first flight. The youngters did seem to be very pleased with themselves and were flapping wings amd preening as though they  couldn’t wait for their next flight!

I started feeidng in the garden yesterday and already today could note 8 species including a smart male Brambling. There is an elder bush in the garden which usually attracts multiple Blackcaps each autumn. This autumn I have not seen a single bird and there is no evidence that any of the berries (and there are many) have been eaten – further proof, as if it was needed, that 2015 has been a terrible breeding year for warblers.

The successful family. Whooper Swans first bred in Maridalen (and Oslo) in 2010 when 2 young hatched and 1 fledged. In 2011 they had 4 small young in June but were not seen again so presumably failed. In 2012 they raised 4 young from 6 hatched. In 2013 they were on eggs but failed and in 2014 birds were present but there was no sign of  breeding. They chose a new breeding site this year which may have been a factor in the return to successful breeding.

a male House Sparrow (gråspurv). Interestingly the two islands with cabins (Nakholemen and Lindøya) had House Sparrows whereas uninhabited Gressholmen had Tree Sparrows (pilfink)

todays Goldcrests also responded to pishing

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Almost visible viz mig

Looking at the weather forecast yesterday morning it looked like today would be a very good day to observe viz mig from Hvaler in Østfold. I therefore woke at 5am and was in place at first light at 7am. Trouble was that weather forecasts are not exactly a science and the wind was much stronger (7m/s) than expected. I was not alone though in hoping for some movement and had the company of Magne Pettersen for 3 hours. We found a place out of the wind which allowed us to hear the passing birds and did have some movement to observe and count. 1190 Chaffinches/Bramblings passed over with at least 60% being Bramblings, 720 Wood Pigeons had the company of 4 Stock Doves but other species were in small numbers even though we had a variety of species. A Great Grey Shrike that perched briefly on a cabin’s flag pole before quickly moving on was the highlight.

There were not many birds in the bushes and trees and a few Goldcrests and a single Chiffchaff were the most exciting.

This Goldcrest (fuglekonge) responded very well to pishing

a montage showing the bird being blown off a branch!

bird of the day - a Great Grey Shrike (varsler) which quickly passed through

a few Mistle Thrushes (duetrost) also passed through

Monday, 5 October 2015

All quiet on the Oslo front

A little bit of birding today in fantastic autumn light and landscapes gave few birds. Five flocks of Pink-footed Geese heading south had me thinking that a large passage was taking place but it fizzled out. At Fornebu there were a handful of Chiffchaffs, a single Swallow and 5 Lapwings as the only remaining summer visitors and in Maridalen the Whooper Swan family was still in residence by their nest site. The young must take their first flight soon and I still have concerns as to how they will cope as they will have to take off from a field and I am sure that it is normal that they normally practice on lakes where they can take long run ups and crash land relatively safely.
I stumbled upon this snipe and before I saw the bill had hoped it was going to be less than Common

these were the only wing bars I saw today - Siskin (grønnsisik)

the young Whooper Swans (sangsvane) in Maridalen are fully grown but have yet to take their first flight

And a little highlights video from Mallorca:


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Back in the hood

The last week has been spent in Mallorca on a family holiday and not birding during primetime in Norway which means that it was not me but rather Håvard Eggen who discovered a second for Norway (and a very rare WP bird) in the form of a Baltimore Oriole on, yes you’ve guessed it Værøy! It goes to show that timing and weather mean everything with island birding in the autumn – the obvious solution would be to move there..

Back in Oslo today I took Oslo Birder Jr on a cycle ride to Maridalen where we twitched the valleys only second ever Shovelers and best of all had a Pygmy Owl. I heard a bunch of very irritated passerines and knew they were mobbing an owl. We walked up to them and stood under the tree where all the commotion was going on. I was thinking Tawny Owl and was therefore looking for something big and it too me a looong time to notice the tiny yellow eyed predator sitting just 5 metres above me on a small branch. I managed two poor photos before it flew off with a Brambling nipping at its tail.
this Pygmy Owl was perched very close in good light but unfortunately it flew off right after I got this picture. It didn't help that I was desperately trying to get Jr onto the bird
Our week in Mallorca involved little birding despite us staying in a hotel on the edge of the fantastic S’Albufeira wetland nature reserve. I birded very little and had no ‘scope and only took the old 70-300mm lens. There was a small hide overlooking a pool only 5 minutes walk from the hotel so I did of course visit that every day J

Best record was a flock of 32 Marbled Teal which I think originate from reintroduced birds as do the couple of Purple Gallinules I saw. In addition there were Black-winged Stilts, Flamingo, Audoin’s Gulls, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Stonechat, Fan-tailed, Cetti’s and Sardinian Warblers, Firecrest, Serin, Eleanora’s Falcon, Stone Curlew, Kingfisher plus plus so not too bad for a non-birding trip.
the smartest of the large gulls - Audouin's Gull (middelhavsmåke)

Black-winged Stilts (stylteløper)

a distant flock of egrets and a couple of Eleanora's Falcons against the distant mountains

Fan-tailed Warbler/Zitting Cisticola (cistussanger)

Two firecrests (rødtoppfuglekonge) - can you spot them?

young Flamingo


Alien sex

Kingfisher (isfugl)

Little Egrets (silkehegre) in the rain

Marbled Teal (marmorand) with Mallards

flock of Marbled Teal and Mallards

same flock in the rain

Marsh Harriers (sivhauk) were common

Purple Gallinule/Swamphen (sultanhøne)

using its feet to hold the reeds it eats

Speckled Wood butterflies look different here

Stone Curlew (triel

male Stonechat (svartstrupe)