Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hard going

I was undecided as to whether to head for Kurefjorden to chase an Avocet seen yesterday or go to Nordre Øyeren. In the end I drove far more kilometres than I intended and visited both and also Hellesjøvannet and all this after a pre-breakfast Maridalen trip – you have to love the expectation that spring brings even if the result more often than not does not live upto expectations.

Maridalen was very quiet on the migration front although I did entice a female Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett) to briefly show herself so there is still the chance of a breeding pair.

Kurefjorden did not have an Avocet to offer as I had expected and was painfully quiet. Not a single dabbling duck and only 5 Ringed Plovers (sandlot) and 2 Curlew (storspove) of any interest on the wader front. An Osprey (fiskeørn) was my first of the year though and Greylag Geese (grågås) already had small fluffy young on the water.

Driving to Hellesjøvannet I hoped to find an interesting duck or wader. Instead I just found what has been hanging around recently minus the Green-winged Teal (amerikakrikkand). Best of all were a pair of Marsh Harriers (sivhauk) performing their “sky dance” display very high up accompanied by a lot of calling. A group of 4, also calling, Buzzards (musvåk) and a Kestrel (tårnfalk) joined them at one point to almost make me believe I was somewhere else. A 1st summer White-fronted Goose (tundragås) is with the Greylags here and the female Smew (lappfiskand) and male Common Scoter (svartand) are also hanging on.
I stopped at Svindal which gives a view over Årnestangen and Nordre Øyeren and could see that there are enormous mudflats which seem even larger than they normally are at this time of year. Birds were all very distant but I could see there were some large groups of dabbling ducks. The only raptors I picked up were three Ospreys.

Svellet still has a lot of Teal (krikkand), 2200 today which is a huge count for Norway. Amongst them still 6 Wigeon (brunnakke) and my first 2 Shoveler (skjeand) of the year. Curlew numbers have fallen to 31 with no new waders to replace them.
male Marsh Harrier


Monday, 21 April 2014

Maridalen Smew

Up at 5am again and home before half the house had woken. Sunny weather and no cloud or wind didn’t make for very exciting birding but it was a very pleasant way to start the day.

First port of call was Svellet. I arrived here before sunrise and heard my first Willow Warbler (løvsanger) of the year singing his little heart out. The water levels in Svellet have risen a bit but there is still lots of mud and conditions seem perfect for Teal (krikkand). A huge flock of 1150 birds was feeding here. I went through the flock many times and in quite good light conditions (the rising sun illuminated them all nicely from my vantage point to the east of them) but apart from 6 Wigeon (brunakke) I could find nothing else. Amazing that there wasn’t an American cousin in amongst them!

Waders numbers are now declining before they will rise again at the end of the month. Only 38 Curlew (storspove) and 12 Oystercatcher (tjeld) but amongst them my first Redshank (rødstilk) of the year.
Continuing to Maridalen there was very little to see but talking to Anders Simonsen I was informed I had overlooked a female Smew (lappfiskand). After a bit of searching I found it and only my second sighting of the species here. But that was about the only interesting bird apart from a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett) and the single Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås). The Whooper Swan pair is spending its time on the lake suggesting they may not breed this year although the arrival of a third bird caused a lot of calling and shaking of wings.

Whilst I am struggling here I received a text from fellow NSKF member Kjell Mjølsnes who, as I have described before on this blog, lives in undoubtedly the best birding house in Norway. The view from his lounge is like sitting in one of the plush hides at a WWT reserve in the UK. Kjell’s text, and I quote, read as follows: “Lesser Scaup, ringnecked duck and lesser whitefronted goose visible from my garden now. When do you come visit?:-)”. My reply that they were all category D or E birds bears a strong whiff of jealousy!
Redshank and Oystercatcher at Svellet

female Smew with a pair of Goldeneye. This bird could well have come from a site on the other side of Oslo where a female Smew had been trying very hard to get the attentions of a male Goldeney

Svellet and a few hundred Teal

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Maridalen tick.....Gadwall

Getting home (fortuitously) at 1930 gave me a chance to rush up to Maridalen. The lake was completely flat and with a number of geese and gulls on it. I made my way through them and finally found the male Gadwall (snadderand) – a Maridalen tick and not just for me but as far as I can see the first record ever. Not a particularly exciting bird my attention soon went to finding what else was on the lake. I had in total 113 Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) of which 106 flew off north at 2030 as the sun was setting leaving the single bird on the fields. Also 34 Greylag Geese (grågås), 2 Whooper Swans (sangsvane), 200 Common Gulls (fiskemåke), 10 Black-headed Gulls (hettemåke), 5 Teal (krikkand) and 3 Black-throated Divers (storlom) but sadly not the pair of Slavonian Grebes (horndykker) that had also been seen earlier in the day.

male Gadwall

with Pink-footed Geese


Easter has been spent away from home meaning I missed the three Avocets found at Svellet, Nordre Øyeren on Friday. This was a bit annoying as I have plans to give Svellet good coverage this spring and Avocet would have been a Norwegian tick for me.

Instead we were in Sweden just south of the Norwegian border and a flyover Serin (gulirisk) here was probably a rarer bird than the Avocets bur far less satisfying. At dusk I also had a flyover harrier sp which I only saw in silhouette and without bins but was a small slim bird and probably something interesting.

We are now staying in Tønsberg which is an area thst can definitely turn up good birds but instead I am getting itchy feet after seeing a report of Gadwall from Maridalen - definitely not a rare bird but scarce enough and most importantly a patch tick!

The weather forecast for the coming week shows just sun, sun, sun. Coupled with easterly winds this may produce some raptors but what we really need is some rain to bring down migrants.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


This morning didn’t quite live up to expectations. A strong southerly wind, low cloud cover and a promise of rain was supposed to produce a Maridalen full of birds. This didn’t quite happen although one of the first birds I saw was a Rook (kornkråke) which is barely annual as a passage migrant through Oslo as it travels to its limited breedings areas in the middle of Norway. The bird was with crows and a couple of times flew around in circles calling as though looking for its kin but both times returned to feed with the crows.

The wind was so strong today that seawatching would probably have been a better option today so I await to see the results if any others actually had that idea.

There were a couple of pulses of goose migration but the total was only around 400 birds with a few Greylags amongst the Pink-feet. The single Pink-foot remains on the fields and I also had a Buzzard (musvåk).
only my third or fourth record of Rook in Maridalen

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Today offered up the chance of an hour long post breakfast trip to Maridalen which wasn't lng enough as there was clearly a significant Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås) passage occuring today. During the course of the hour I had six flocks totalling 930 birds and when I arrived home another flock of 140 flew over. I'm sure that during the course of the day many thousand would have passed over.  The cause of this movement was that after a few days of northerly winds we now have southerlies again which the birds understandly prefer when heading north. The single Pink-foot that has been feeding on the fields for the last few days flew up to try to join one of the migrating flocks but ended up returning to the lake so is presumably weak or injured.

On the deck were three feeding Curlews (storspove) and my first Maridalen Wheatear (steinskvett) of the year.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Green-winged Teal and mate- today's documentation was no better than last weeks

Pre-breakfast trips don’t have to be Maridalen. This morning I was up at 5am and set course for Hellesjøvannet hoping to reacquaint myself with the Green-winged Teal (amerikakrikkand) and hoping for a booming Bittern (rørdrum) or something else rare.

On the drive there I again had moose feeding in fields – I reckon that there is little food in the forests at the moment and the new shoots in the fields are irresistible to them. At Hellesjøvannet I had my first Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) of the year - a male hunting over the reedbeds, a male Pochard (taffeland), a female Smew (lappfiskand) and after a bit of searching the male Green-winged Teal – all in all a good haul in inland Norway.

The teal yet again did not allow good views as it fed along the edge of the reeds although I managed a bit of super zoom video. He had the company of two female teal – one of which he was paired with and courted with (bobbing head up and down) and another female who seemed also quite enamoured with his charms.

A check of Svellet on the way home revealed that there was nearly no water left at all and enormous mudflats were exposed. Curlew (storspove) numbered 151 with 14 Oystercatcher (tjeld) and most excitingly a single Bar-tailed Godwit (lappspove) for company. In 2/3 weeks time it will be very exciting to visit here especially if there are southerly winds and some rain – I almost can’t wait!
Hellesjøvannet highlights. Clockwise from top left: Marsh Harrier, Smew, Green-winged Teal, Pochard

Bar-tailed Godwit with Black-headed Gull and Curlew

Monday, 14 April 2014

Three toes

Three-toed Woopecker (tretåspett). The same bird from different angles

Another day, another early pre breakfast Maridalen trip. Blue skies, nearly no cloud and a northerly wind meant that visible migration was a non event. I therefore thought I would have a go for Woodpeckers and turned up a female Three-toed (tretåspett) at the same spot as I had the male a couple of weeks ago. She came very close although I didn’t check my camera settings (it was set to F11) and therefore missed what would have been a good photo opportunity.

The Great Grey Shrike (varsler) was perched up in exactly the same tree as last week and on the lake were 7 Black-throated (storlom) and 3 Red-throated Divers (smålom). Two of the Red-throated were displaying to each other with serpent like necks and at various times there was a bird flying around the valley calling – definite signs that they are planning to breed here.

Great Grey Shrike (varsler)