Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Lapwings and Taigas back!

In my last post I predicted that I would see my first Lapwing, Mistle Thrush and Snow Bunting this week. The week is still early but the first two fell today along with Linnet and Twite and despite lots of snow on the ground and temperatures below zero in the morning there is a definite feeling that the gates have opened and nothing will close them again.

I have been following the plots of the two GPS tagged Taiga Bean Geese excitedly the last couple of days and yesterday (a sunny day with temperatures rising to +8C in the afternoon) I saw that they had decided to head north again after a week’s holiday in warmer clines. Interestingly they had split up the previous night and both birds had spent the night feeding on fields (normally they roost on water) but the next morning they headed north independently and followed near identical routes. I went to look for them today and found only 74 birds along with 18 Pink-feet and a Barnacle. I noted 6 collars which means 2 that I had seen previously seen were missing - I still hope that more birds will turn up as the flock size is small compared to previous years. Hardly any other wildfowl is moving yet though with only Whooper Swans moving in any numbers and I noted no dabbling ducks apart from local Mallards.

I went searching for Woodlarks but they do not seem to be back yet but 2 Great Grey Shrikes were some compensation.

I saw Lapwings at three different sites today including 3 birds back in Maridalen. The fields are still covered in snow and they were stood forlornly on the ice. I suspect that they will now disappear for a few days but will pop in every now and again to see if conditions are suitable. All three looked to be males which would make sense as they usually return first.

a slighly later arrival date than the average

not much food to find there

Taiga Beans (taigasædgås), Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) and a single Barnacle Goose (hvitkinngås) back on a south facing field where the snow has melted

in this picture the 2 tagged birds 5 (black right leg) & 6 (orange left leg) can be seen together as well as V8

6U on the right

their movements on the 19th when they ended up splitting up

and on the 20th when they both flew north and eventually joined up

small flocks of Whooper Swans (sangsvane) flying north made a lot of noise and gave a real spring feeling

one of 2 Great Grey Shrikes (varlser) which were most likely spring migrants

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Little Grebe

The wintery conditions continue and it was -15C in Maridalen this morning. We are forecast to have quite a bit more snow tonight but then temperatures will rise just above zero and rain is forecast next week. There is so much snow on the ground that it will remain for a long time but I suspect we will start getting snow free patches and this will be all that is needed for new migrants to come and I would not be surprised if I notch up Snow Bunting, Lapwing and Mistle Thrush in the coming week.

Yesterday I paid a trip to Bygdøy which is normally the first place in Oslo to get new migrants but it was all very wintery. Over 30 Oystercatcher had arrived though and Stock Doves were inspecting nest sites but the fields were deep in snow. I enjoyed the waterfowl in Frognerkilen and got some of my best ever pictures of Little Grebe.

Today I dropped into the reclycling pant at Alna as I was driving past and my first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year was my reward and I then visited Maridalen and with lovely blue skies I had a hope of a White-tailed or Golden Eagle flying over but will have to keep that hope for another day. The Great Grey Shrike showed well though as did a female Three-toed Woodpecker. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are still the only species I have heard drumming yet but the others will start soon.

Little Grebe (dvergdykker) coming into summer plumage

female Goldeneye (kvinand)

and a pair

female Goosander (laksand)

and a male

Little Grebe and Mute Swan (knoppsvane)

this Moorhen (sivhøne) has been at Frognerkilen the whole winter seems to have survived the winter in good shape

Stock Dove (skogdue)

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) - the thin white wing bar indicates this is a 1st winter bird

Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett)

the white forehead shows it to be a female

Roe Deer

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Spring -what spring?

Winter really roared its snowy head yesterday with a good 30cm of snow falling and the trees are still decked with all that white stuff today. Not surprisingly there have been no noticeable new arrivals since my last post except for Whooper Swans arriving at Maridalsvannet and despite it being frozen they have hung around on the ice for a few days.

I have not visited the Taiga Beans but have kept tabs on them via their GPS plots. Despite the plummeting temperatures they remained on the same field where I saw them last and continued roosting on the river (which I expect had frozen again) however yesterday’s heavy snow was too much and after initially flying from their roost to the field this morning I see that they decided at 10am to head about 65km south to a site they have occasionally used before. By my calculations they must have flown at over 80km/h. It will of course be interesting to see how long they stay before returning north.

Otherwise I paid another trip to the Hazel Grouse but after yesterday’s snow I think it will be a few weeks before I visit again and today a Pygmy Owl was sunning itself by the road.

male Hazel Groise (jerpe) singing. For once a he was just about in the sunlight

the feathers clearly act as very good insulation

Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)

these 2 Little Grebes (dvergdykker) in the harbour had to content with icebergs

Red Squirrel

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Stonechat, Iceland Gull and Hazel Grouse

Winter has returned and spring migration, what little of it there was, has stopped up. Temperatures are below zero 24/7 for the next week and will fall as low as -15C although no new snow is forecast.

I have still had some very good birding since my last post and really should blog more often so as to avoid such long posts.

On Friday I headed into the forest and despite the snow coming up to my knees in places I was able to get around quite easily and a close encounter with “my” Hazel Grouse pair was the my reward.

At the weekend Jr Jr was competing in a competition in Jessheim which is close to the Taiga Beans and with long gaps between her appearances I was able to pop down on both days. The flock on Saturday was unchanged from the 87 birds and 2 Pink-feet I had seen previously but on Sunday there were 86 Taigas and 3 Pink-feet, go figure.. I was able to read a leg ring (Y6) which I hadn’t seen before and also noted two birds with just metal rings, one on its left leg and the other on its right. There must be birds that have lost both collars and plastic colour leg rings. With the winter weather this week I will expect the river to (re)freeze over so it will be interesting to see if the geese head south for a bit.

Monday started well with a twitch of a Stonechat at Østensjøvannet that had been found on Saturday. It was a nice male that seemed to find some food but which will also suffer in the coming week if it tries to hang around

And today I made a short visit to the waterfront in Oslo to twitch an adult Iceland Gull which is the first time I have seen this age close to Oslo.

male Hazel Grouse (jerpe)

low shutter speeds in the daak forest can lead to some action picture

here it was about to nip off and eat the bid

Taiga Bean Geese


3 Pink-feet in this picture

male Stonechat

a very photogenic bird

spot the adult Iceland Gull (grønlandsmåke)

the first Whooper Swan (sangsvane) of the year back on Maridalsvannet. Is this one half of the breeding pair meaning perhaps that the other bird is no more?

the Great Grey Shrike (varsler) still turns up occasionally

Goldeneye (kvinand)

bathing Starlings (stær)